Tag Archives: Christ

In need of restoration…

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In need of restoration…

This post has been brewing for some time now.  It’s been boiled, kneaded, folded and just plain smushed in my head for a few weeks.  I have been wrestling with the Lord.  I don’t recommend this, it’s painful, confusing, painful, distracting, did I say painful?

I have a reputation among a small group for being a Jesus-freak.  That is complimentary if you don’t take is as a title.  Once you take it as a title you remove the dependence, you remove the worship, you remove the peace that comes from when it is a description.  I don’t know if I am a rarity in this area, I suspect not, but I like to think I’m doing good.  I like to think I can take the tools God’s given me and go to work.  I like to feel the approval of others.  I like when my children reflect the “godly parent” I am.  I like when I know the answer.  I like when my sacrifice pays off, especially if many see it.

Sickening…

I have recently been struggling with attaining the beautiful worship to Christ that I once was submerged in.  My quiet times have become tough.  My desire to do anything really has become tough.  I have coasted on my past worship to get me through.  And all the while thinking it must be something I’m being subjected to instead of something I was subjecting to.  Did you catch the difference?  One, I’m a victim, the other I’m a participant.

Sickening…

As a well needed bolt of reality was delivered yesterday morning through a sermon by Paul Washer on Romans 3:23, I lay on the floor weeping.  I was embarrassed, broken, sad, and convicted to my core.  “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  That’s what the verse says, this is what I decided on my own somewhere down the line…ALL but Traci have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Sickening…

How did this happen?  I had become what I despised most.  I had shucked the awe of my Lord and embraced the satanistic worship of self.  I had really blew it.  And worse I set a horrible example for my children.  Oh, the wicked webs we weave…

Sickening…

The pain of this knowledge resonated through my body all day yesterday.  The broken heart bled, all day.  The layers of realization of what I had robbed my God of and the undeserved title I given myself (unconsciously but still very real) made me want to vomit.

I am effectively broken and humbled.   Yet I am sooo very thankful for a Father that would put this sermon in my path to shake me into consciousness of my sin.  I am so grateful that He did not forsake me and leave me to the path of hell I was walking.  I am still bleeding and weeping, but I am full of hope because I know He has forgiven me and is willing to help me back to the path where His light will show me the way.  His book has promised me this and because I know every word of that book is true and alive I can have full faith of His promises.

I am sharing this because I think all too often us, “Jesus-Freaks” never show the cracks, the wickedness, and the sin we wrestle with.  So many times we are lumped into some kind of super-good-but-not-like-me status.  I want to tear that wall down.  I want to blow it up and let you know I am as wicked, as selfish, as scared, as sinful, and as blaspheming as the next guy.  I can determine what everyone else sees, but what man can see isn’t always truth.  Our eyes judge by deeds, God’s eyes judge by the heart.  And thankfully so, because a broken heart, a humbled heart is something attainable.  Perfection is not.  I want to demolish the idea that Traci is somehow good, instead I want to exalt the fact that unless Jesus is acting in me, I have no good.  My deeds are filthy rags, but His deeds in me are…HIS DEEDS, that is the only good I can offer.

I spent my morning reading Psalm 51.  Picking my memory verse from that chapter and also renewing my hope in that chapter.  Crying in that chapter.  Praising in that chapter and yes, WORSHIPING in that chapter!

As a true, born-again, Christian I have hope in my ugliness, I have His power in my pain, I have His healing in my broken heart.  And I have His restoration in my soul.

“Restore the joy of Your salvation in me, and give me a willing spirit.”  Psalm 51:12

Paul Washer Sermon:

What brand are you?

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What brand are you?

People, people, people…where have we let the devil invade our worth?  Everywhere.  We are of such value, yet we allow Satan to lie to us, rob us, and destroy us.  (I believe God warned us of this…1 Peter 5:8)

Through our lack of accepting value in what God created us to be, we are never fulling the purpose God made for us.  Many never see salvation because they were never taught that our Creator made them, loved them, and valued them.  They will suffer for eternity because a generation of parents failed them.  I have read that ungodly parents are Satan’s best tool and I am sold that that is true.

Then you have those that are born-again yet have accepted the comfort of our culture.  They choose to either hide in the wealth and success, or poverty and tragedy only to pass down to their children that we not victors but rather we will become victims unless we become “successful.”  Their children never see the value their lives have in the plan of their Creator.  Therefore, they too will see Hell or hell on earth as a believer that steadily chooses self over God.

We have believed the lie that seeing our value in Christ is somehow self-exalting.  So we become self-proclaimed martyrs or shuck the idea all together and believe that only our effort gives us value.  These lies have given birth to heretical “christian” theology all over the place.  The problem is the true definition of our value in Christ is not an easy road and so we don’t like to talk about it, much less teach it and therefore we give Satan an easy hole to slip through.

We have GREAT value to Christ, not because we are so special per se, but because we are His creation.  The Mona Lisa would not be near as valuable if I would have painted it.

I recently learned that many stores buy from the same clothing manufacturer, put their label on the clothes and sell them.  So depending on what store you go into, will decide what price you will pay.  Same clothes, same manufacturer, but because of who is claiming them different value.

Can you see where I’m going here?

If you want to strap an evolution tag on you…go right ahead.  They can sell that junk at the discount stores. But I know I was hand-painted, well thought out, designed and appreciated in completion.  Loved even.  That doesn’t mean I’ve done anything, it means The One that designed me did everything.  AND it means I have value.  And what’s even cooler is that He isn’t selling.  Our Manufacturer isn’t a 3rd party, but the Designer, Creator and Owner.  We don’t have to worry about getting lost, stolen, broken…nothing.  He makes us, grows us and at the right time gives us the option to remain His or be sold at the discount stores.  If we choose to remain His then He gives us a job.  He provides for us, protects us, directs us, makes all the tough decisions for us, and loves us like the unique valuables we are.  But if we choose to go to the discount store we can expect just what the clothes in there receive.    Most times they are worn as necessity and when they are no longer usable tossed in the trash to be incinerated.

How sad.  Those wearing the discount store version never took notice at the hand-painted color or the intricate weaving together of the fabric.  They didn’t notice how perfectly they fit.  This is no accident.  Satan is about.

This is the result of a war that we cannot see.  This is why faith is so important.  The evidence of things not seen is all around us, faith is hoping in The Jesus that we cannot see, but have absolute certainty in His title as Christ.

We must receive His tag and we must accept His job if we truly want our children to know a better life than the lies of self-esteem, self-made, or self-established.  No one self-(fill in the blank) is valued as much as the one that is created by an Amazing Creator, cared for, and put on display as a beautiful work of art!  Nor are they ever as fulfilled.  Do you want your children to live on the teeter-totter of happiness and despair?  Or do you want them to live fulfilled in the Hand of One that can and will do what He says.  And even if the outside doesn’t take on our idea of a masterpiece…fortunately there is One that knows far more than we, and He can compose them into such that we could never know.  That my friend equals peace…for you and them.

How much would you pay to make sure all your children’s needs are met and they are completely peaceful all their days?  I know Someone that paid with His life, and I pray you know Him too.  More so, I pray your children know Him and accept His value for them.  

I know Who created you…but I ask what brand are you?

Humble Passion

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Humble Passion

As I am preparing for this summer’s church camp, I am drawn to look at the past church camps for reference on what is good…what needs improving…what I did wrong…and how to help others learn from my errors and triumphs.  As I lay sleepless doing this and asking God to show me what He sees in this, I begin to hear the words, “humble passion” over and over in my head.  And as I break each word down in my usual analyzing way, I catch it!!

Let me beckon all of you teachers of Christ to learn these words.  To adopt them as your goal.  No long look to the number of people you have led to Christ as a measuring stick, but how many did you show humble passion to?

First we must determine what we are humbly passionate about or we could get real squirrely real quick.  I’m talking about humble passion for a Jesus that would pick me up out of a gutter and love me with a tenderness I have never known.  I’m talking about a humble passion for a Savior that said, I will pay whatever price I must to have you…and did.  I’m talking about humble passion for a Lord that will watch me abuse the very grace He provides and still love me enough to correct me.  A humble passion for a Father that reminds me He values me just because I exist.  A humble passion for a conglomeration of words that never fail me and always guide me in the right direction.  A humble passion to please and love the most amazing God/Lord/Savior/Father anyone could ask for.

Ok now that we are square on what we are humbly passionate about let me now paint you a picture of that humble passion in action.  These two little words demand a balance that is not easily acquired.  When I teach or even speak I want to show the passion that makes my skin explode off of me…or maybe I should say my “fig leaf” explode off of me (see Genesis 3:7).  I want to be so authentic and vulnerable that it demands attention.  Yet I also desire the humility that can take decades to carve into my soul.  So humble that I know that the passion that leads me to action and demands attention; is NONE of me, and all of Him.  So humble that when one thing goes right I immediately praise and thank my Lord for the great power it took to use me as a facilitator of this work!

I dare you to change your goal in teaching God’s Word from how many are saved…to how many saw humble passion for God in me?  How many were not drawn to my intellect or even love; but saw the love of a Savior and the Mind of infinite wisdom?

You see we have gotten it all wrong in our quest for the American Dream.  The American Dream builds little kingdoms for ourselves.  The American Dream brings glory to my results.  How successful I am in the eyes of men become my value.  Even in ministry.  How sad.

My American Dream is that I could live humbly passionate for Christ.  I will not seek to be a martyr, nor to lead X amount to Christ.  I will not always look like the good Christian woman…because sometimes mere men cannot see my accomplishments.  I won’t often be accepted because neither was Jesus.  But my hope, my dream, my longing is to love Him with a humble passion that cannot be denied.  And when I fall to my face in His amazing presence, He will say, “Rise my good and faithful slave, you have done well and I am pleased.”

I pray teachers of The Word, this too is your goal.  And with transparent vulnerability we could love each other thru the hurt this brings.  And encourage each other to continue being humbly passionate…yes excited…bursting…and energetic to allow God to be seen in our stead.

Only by His grace.

 

Christian Maturity

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Christian Maturity

This is a great teaching on Christian maturity.  I think this is one area that we not only fail so many times at, but most that call themselves Christians, don’t even desire to seek and fulfill!  A testimony of that is the USA.  Mature Christians would have more wisdom than what our country shows.

I pray I never lose my desire to run the race.

Marks of Christian Maturity, Philippians

The performance beast raises it’s ugly head again…

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The performance beast raises it’s ugly head again…

Since reading a post from ‘Raising Godly Children’ about “raising little Pharisees” (an excellent post by the way), I have fallen under great conviction.  As I read it and my children matched up to the criteria of Pharisees and my parenting style matched up with the criteria of a Pharisee, I was stopped in my tracks.  I began re-assessing all kinds of things in our daily life.  I began to realize that although my intentions to fill them with the ways of the Lord, the way I was doing it was very wrong.  I had done the very thing that God has NOT done with me…made things of the law.  Not that I yelled at them all the time (but I am guilty), not that I sacrificed animals with them, not that I never show them love and not that I myself perform spiritual rituals with no true love for the Father.  I do love the Lord, with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.  But I was intensely trying to force them to obey Him because I loved Him…not teaching them in a way that they would obey because they love Him.  Now I do believe that my kids love the Lord, but my harsh teaching style when it came to life lessons was probably giving them reason to doubt, AND was not creating repentance in them.  It was creating little law abiders.  Oh they love the law!  Because they are generally good kids and are able to most times fulfill it.  And heaven knows they have learned to spot those that are NOT fulfilling it. Little Pharisees.

So I have been trying to take complete inventory of what I’ve taught them and more importantly what I’ve shown them.   The way I have let Pharisee law creep into our home is by disciplining them when I was angry.  Or disciplining them more when I was frustrated because I was wanting to do something  and they were interrupting me.  Or by telling them that those that love the Lord follow His rules, so why are they not doing that?  …By rating them on their performance.  This is hard to write and was even harder to face, because I, being raised on the principal that performance is what counts was trying so hard not to let my kids learn that wicked, never relenting message.  Yet here I am almost 10 years into parenting with 2 little Pharisees.   Prided when the did right and quick to point out those that don’t.  Hearts that were hardening to the gospel because they thought, ‘We’ve got this” since they could follow the law most of the time.

I thought I was giving grace.  There are many times I didn’t give what they would deserve.  And mercy because I gave them freedom when they didn’t deserve it.  But I was so harsh when I did give them consequences, and so harsh when they failed to perform that they were learning the disease I have been fighting against in my own mind, so hard, …all my life…performance based grace.

My inability to see it makes me cry even now.  I am so blessed that God has opened my eyes while I have time to change; albeit not much.

I see it so many times in my husband and I both…we are frustrated and will pierce their hearts with how badly they performed; instead of taking the time to teach them and bring their hearts to repentance.  Sometimes out of laziness, sometimes out of selfishness, sometimes out of bad insight on how to make them change, but always saying the same thing…you didn’t measure up and somethings wrong with you because of it.  Yeah somethings wrong…WITH ALL OF US!  It started with Adam and Eve and until my Lord comes for us we will all be wrong in our performance.  That why Jesus came.  How did I miss this?

My youngest daughter will probably struggle with this more because she is already inclined to self-righteousness by the fact that it is her nature to over-achieve.  So like me we can easily think ourselves to be the pride of the Father because we are performing so well.  I hate it.  I wished so badly I would have fought this ugly monster for her earlier.  I know in my own life how hard it is to fight after it’s taken hold.  This blog post is the very proof that I don’t even always see it manifesting itself.

And my poor older daughter that is inclined to laziness, possibly because I’ve made it impossible to achieve for her since her nature is not to over-achieve but to enjoy everything she sees around her.  Who has time to enjoy when there is so much to be done?  (my wretched motto)

I’m broken about this, but also encouraged that the Lord is shining light on it, telling me He has stepped in to change it.  I cannot change it.  I have failed to do the very thing that I desire the most…to give my girls a love for the Lord that surpasses anything else.  To make them realize their value is in God’s love for us, not our own accomplishments.

I love the Lord so much because He has been the only one in my life that did not expect me to perform.  He has been the only one I can remember that said, “I just want your heart, nothing more, because I love you just as you are.”   All those years I spent trying to prove I was good and worthy to be loved ended in the same place, heart-broken, frustrated and wondering where I hadn’t done enough.  A place that would send me into a heel-digging, overachiever, determined to do EVERYTHING PERFECT the next time phase.

Finally I picked up a bible and started reading it.  Finally I heard the heart of THE PERFECT ONE and finally He got it thru to me that I needn’t prove myself to Him.  Well I say “got it thru,” maybe getting it thru is a more honest statement.  Obviously I am still struggling with this performance beast.  But thankfully I have the Lord on my side now.  So when I end up in this heart-broken, frustrated, and wondering where I haven’t done enough place…I can repent, ask the Lord for help and have hope shine on me…love shine on me, just because He thinks I’m worth it.  Broken, sinful me is worth it to Him.  And so are my little Pharisees, to both of us.

Please read this with this in mind, God loves us freely.  He teaches us kindly.  Deals with us patiently.  And He values us regardless.  Do the same with your children.  And pray that God will heal me and mine.

How to become a child of God

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How to become a child of God

I pray this falls on humble hearts and open ears.  God bless Your holy word.

How does one trust in Jesus?

I believe we are all born with a yearning inside, every one of us, for The Creator.  Some try to fill that yearning with different things (money, men/women, kids, knowledge etc.).  But the only thing that fits that empty spot inside us is Jesus.  And He promises in His word that He will reveal Himself to every man.  “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse”  Romans 1:20.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit calling you, applying pressure to seek God.  I believe the next step in coming to know that you need Jesus is seeing Jesus and God for who they are.  Once we know who God is and what He did thru Jesus, and I mean know and believe with our heart…we can’t help but call out to Him because we see our sins and life compared to a perfect God, a perfect God that loves us, and we are humbled.  Thru that humility our heart is softened, our pride is gone, our need is exposed and we are ready to accept the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

So let me tell you a little about who God is.  He created all.  I mean all.  Read the first 2 chapters of Genesis (first book of the bible), and see how He did it.  He just spoke it and it happened.  I mean literally said, “Let there be light” and it was so.  If He can just speak things into existence then how could we ever question His ability to handle us or our lives?  In Romans 5:8 it says, “Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God’s love for us.”  So think about this…He loved us while we were spitting on Him, beating Him with an instrument designed to rip flesh off, lying about Him, rejecting His love, slapping Him, humiliating Him, turning our backs to His pain and ultimately killing Him, yet He had the power to speak whatever He wanted and it would happen?  I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time loving someone that has only lied about me, and if I had that kind of power…wow would I be dangerous.  So let your mind sit in this place for a minute…yeah, He loves you that much.

His love for us is beyond what we can comprehend, His power is beyond what we can imagine, and His patience is beyond human possibility.  So that is God in a very small nutshell.  He loves us, He is capable of anything, and He is perfect.  I don’t measure up…I don’t even qualify to get on the scales.

This is the part I was saying humbles you.

(“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:10)

Now for the next step in this process…  Once you see yourself against the backdrop of God’s perfection and realize that you are not worthy, or able to be in His presence, you have to realize that there is way to be His child.  He made that way thru suffering and enduring.  Romans 6:23 tells us that the cost to pay for your sin and mine is death.  That’s it.  There is no other way.  I still stand empty.

Ok here’s the suffering and enduring part, Jesus which is God in human form came to this earth thru a virgin birth walked with us for 33 years without committing a single sin.  During that time He revealed a way of life that was fulfilling and satisfying to that emptiness in our soul.  Then He willingly allowed us to beat, spit, humiliate, reject, slap, and kill Him.  This was the price for our sin.  This was the death that was required.

I want to let that sink in a minute…

Ok now here’s the rest of Romans 6:23…”but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Three days later He was resurrected.  Showing and proving that He was God.  Showing and proving that He loves us more than we can understand.  He endured death and came back to pay for our sins so that we could spend eternity with Him once we trust Him with our souls and life and accept His gift of payment.  John 14:6 says, “Jesus answered him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me.’  Romans 4:24 says, “but also for us. Our faith will be regarded as God’s approval of us who believe in the one who brought Jesus, our Lord, back to life.”  “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”  1 John 5:12

Now you know.  It’s simply but not easy.  It’s a gift accepted thru weeping and sorrow, but it’s a gift we could never get ourselves.  It’s forever.   It’s not just words, thru our love and dedication to Him it’s a life change.  How could it not be?

Now you stand in a place to make a decision…will you see yourself as He sees you?  Will you humble yourself enough to trust Him?  Will you accept or reject Him?  Will you make your own way that leads to hell?  Or will you call out for Him and accept His way to heaven?  He wishes for all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), what do you wish?

How does one trust in Jesus

Raise your hand for heaven…really?

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So I’m laying in bed overcome with what I believe is righteous anger for about the last hour.   As I replay all of those times I’ve been sitting in a sanctuary and heard, “Now if everyone will bow their head and those that wish to have Jesus and go to heaven will raise their hands and recite this pledge (they usually say ‘this simple prayer,’ but pledge is much more honest), we will welcome you into God’s family and you may grab a bible on your way out.”  I WISH I COULD SCREAM LOUDER THAN CAP LOCKS!!!  I really can’t see Peter at Pentecost telling THE REAL CHURCH to raise their hands and sit quietly in their seats while they get their hell immunization.

Yesterday morning my preacher stood yelling “IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU!  OUR PURPOSE IS TO GLORIFY HIM!  STOP MAKING OUR LIVES ABOUT OUR COMFORTS AND START MAKING THEM ABOUT HIS GLORY!”  That shouldn’t be so newsworthy, but it is!  That is exactly what we do.

By his own account, Billy Graham said only approximately 5% of those professed salvations at his preaching were true converts.  Another 20% was added as local pastors followed up with those that came forward.  Wonderful, but what about the 75% that came forward and were still headed to hell and didn’t know it?  AND THOSE 100% ACTUALLY WALKED THE ISLE!!  So now in modern-day convenience and “me” religion we’ve decided to shorten the path and add numbers.  Did we do that so that those poor sinners that don’t want hell won’t damage their self-image by coming forth in front of the “body of Christ,” or was it so the “body of Christ” could keep their lunch plans?  Or maybe it was just simply to pad the numbers?  Take your pick, but none of them sound like the God I love.

Do I sound angry?  You dang right I’m angry!!  I serve a God that is powerful enough to move a sinner into sorrow and repentance and abandonment to their own self enough to walk anywhere to receive the beautiful gift of grace He offers.  And piling up in a heap of brokeness at His altar is only a start!  My bible teaches that we come to conversion thru sorrow and weeping, not joy and celebration.  I didn’t celebrate my sin when I realized it against the backdrop of the cross the first time and I don’t celebrate it now!  Walking with the Lord surely brings joy and celebration, but that first time of seeing my wretchedness in contrast to Christ’s sacrifice was sickening.  Yet we want to sell this “it’s-all-about-you,” “free-ticket-ride,” religion so that we can appeal to more?  Whatever!  I want to have a better night’s sleep after I leave an altar call.  I want to see brokeness, a change of life, a new creature and a REAL fellow christian.  The plan is simple, not easy!  The gift is free, not painless!  And the Lord is merciful, not your genie!  Jesus really died!  He was really beaten!  He really felt the pain of bearing our sins!  And He actually sacrificed every minute of His precious time here to teach someone about the Father or to save someone who was broken.  He went hungry to talk to a woman at a well, He lost sleep to pray, He didn’t have an American dream to chase and He bled so that we could live.  Does that sound like an emotional guy or does that sound like true committment?  Because I don’t think an emotional response to hope that someone will come in and clean up your life is what He is looking for.  I think He is looking for all-in committment and whatever-it-costs-me sacrifice.  Conversion only takes a second, but preparing the heart to be “good ground” takes time, sacrifice and the ability to see beyond ones self…and here I’m talking about the body of Christ not the lost person coming forward.  Once we’ve got our “free-ticket” we hide in our houses, our families and our busyness and forget about tilling the soil.  Sure we want to see people saved, as long as it doesn’t cost us anything.

We want our dinner in 15 or less, our coffee hot but don’t inconvenience us with having to blow on it, our TV with no commercials, to raise our kids with no sacrifice, and grab our ticket to heaven as we roll on to the next idol in our life.  It’s wrong, it’s sick and I pray that those that raised their hand because of an emotion and pledged to a preacher will be touched by conviction from the True God before they face Him holding nothing but a church document.   Lo, you preachers that spread that false doctrine!  For my bible teaches that you will stand in a higher account for those souls.  And lo us christians that fund and support that heresy!!  I’m not shouting to offend, I’m shouting to shake loose this idea that we can have it all and have it for no cost, with no committment, with no change.  I want someone to stand up and say, “No we won’t do those loose alter calls anymore.  And if the whole church has to stay here all day to “till the ground” or teach salvation to a lost soul then that’s what’s going to happen!  And furthermore if that’s not the kind of church you want, then you might need to go somewhere else.”

The conviction that God lays on a lost person to accept Him is heavy and won’t be escaped except by those that are very hardened.  So relax, sacrifice your time and stop trying to create a church like we now add friends to Facebook.  There is no “like” button that you can painlessly press from your comfy home on the bible that makes you a friend of Jesus.  Neither can you buffer yourself with a computer and call it ministry.  We’ve got to get uncomfortable sometimes, we’ve got to get OUT sometimes and we’ve got to care more about God than us ALL THE TIME.

That walk down the aisle is the first work of witness those truly converting will have…don’t steal it from them and don’t ease the work of God.  Instead reap the blessings that working for that God, thru His power and our weakness brings!  Surrender!  Don’t be afraid!  He is good.  He will enable.  It might hurt, but man it is worth it!  It might cost but dear God let me pay, for my cost is nothing in comparison to Yours!!  True conversions have fruit, sometimes painful fruit.  True conversions also have joy and free consciences when in close fellowship with the One that saved them.  True conversions will see the inside of heaven for eternity.  We all fight selfishness, but none of us believers want to watch a soul getting sent to hell because we were too busy, because we had lunch plans, or because it was easier to let them believe they conveniently received Christ from their seat than to take the time to till the soil or test the fruits.