Posts tagged ‘Faith’

September 6, 2011

In the Stillness

The busyness of life causes so much noise it can be difficult to hear the Lord. Sometimes we ache to hear his voice, sit in his comforting presence, or long to draw close to him. Frantically we search for him. But sometimes, He calls us to sit and let him find us.

Quiet my child. I am with you. I will comfort you. Be still.

Being still is foreign. It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. We are faced with ourselves – our doubts, fears, sins, our past, our futures and our questions.  Our pain can seem magnified in our stillness. But God still calls to us into the stillness.

Listen, I will speak. I will call to you. Trust me. (He whispers.)

Psalm 46:10 Be still and know I am God.

Trust me. I am in control.

1 Kings 19:12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.

Listen. I will not always speak loudly to capture your attention. Stay alert. I am as gentle as a breeze.

Do not be afraid of times of stillness. When you seek for wisdom and discernment – do not grow weary in waiting. There is a purpose in silence. Be alert to when He does speak. He will – in his perfect time.

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September 2, 2011

Faith Defined

Faith means…

Getting up tomorrow and doing it again

Faith means…

Saying goodbye to something that’s not good enough and trusting God to bring the right thing

Faith means…

Throwing off whatever grips your anxious heart at 3 am and knowing God is in control

Faith means…

Trusting an unknown future to an unseen God

Faith means…

Speaking the truth when you could risk losing something or someone

Faith means…

Believing God will do what he said he would do…even if it takes longer than I think it should

Faith means…

Not giving up

Faith means…

Believing that there is a purpose in today

Though we grow weary at times, faith will get us through. Faith will bring hope. Faith will bring joy.

Believe.

What does faith mean to you?

August 15, 2011

Sweet Freedom

It’s been one year since this journey began.  With the exception of the past two months, I’ve surprised myself that I’ve been able to keep this blog up and running. I sat down multiple times over the past two months and tried to write but the blinking cursor just stared at me – almost mocking me. What did I have worth saying? Nothing.

Last year was riddled with the question, why? Why me? Why now? Why not? And why God?

But today, I’ve been able to look back at the past year and finally see some answers.

If my world had not fallen apart, I would not have come to trust God more fully. I saw my faith and it was weak.  I had to live what I had claimed as true and I’ll be honest friends…

 It. Was. Hard.

In fact, on three separate occasions I seriously considered turning and walking away.  (Does that make me Peter? – Kidding) I can’t tell you how scared that made me. Yikes. But PRAISE GOD He didn’t let me. Oh sweet Jesus thank you.

But this made me realize my depravity and then that I was living by works. (We know that doesn’t work well.) I was exhausted. I couldn’t do it anymore. I stepped out of ministry and out of a community I loved so deeply because I couldn’t separate “doing” from authentic faith. It hurt. I didn’t know who I was if I was not a “leader” or a “servant.” And without those things, I didn’t know how to see my faith or God.

How do good things get in the way of the best things? I had to return to the basics.

Why didn’t I understand that Christ’s blood was for me? How desperately I needed his grace! I had prided myself in being a Christian for twenty something years and serving in various capacities but how had I missed the fact that no matter how hard I tried to become perfect I would never be able to measure up and how much I needed Jesus’ precious blood to cover me.

So I gave in.

I’m letting His blood wash over me. Hallelujah!

I’m free.

I’m free.

I’m free.

Thank you dear Jesus for not giving up on us. I can’t wait to see what next year will hold.

Isaiah 41: 9-10 …”’You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

 

June 12, 2011

One Word Project: A Six Month Review

Six months ago I wrote about the One Word Project – a yearlong commitment to live by one word of the person’s choosing. I chose the word, faith.

As I walked into 2011, I was determined it would be different from any other year. I was confident God would show up – though I had no idea how or had any indication He was near. I am not a person who naturally has strong faith or strong courage (often needed to face the unknown), but I have been convicted that faith is not a feeling, but a choice. This revelation has helped me step out in faith and begin to see God’s hand.

So far this year, God has shown up. Praise the Lord!

My passage for the year has encouraged me to continue on with this process. Every time I step out in faith, I am met with a conflict – fear or trust. I don’t always succeed but each time I choose to trust, my faith grows a little more.

My passage is Hebrews 11:8-12 “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would rather receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”

I’m looking forward to the next six months. If I can see how God has changed my heart through my faith in just six months, I can’t imagine what He can do in another six months. Often change is slow, but it produces great results. I don’t want to live by my fears and lack of trust in God – just the opposite. I want to step out in faith based in a decision to trust God. Faith and trust in the Lord now breeds excitement and anticipation over how He will choose to show up – not fear and anxiety. The Lord is faithful to produce growth in our lives!

 “Doubt sees obstacles, faith sees the opportunities.” – Lord, Change My Attitude Before It’s Too Late by James MacDonald p. 178

What about you? Did you make a commitment to the One Word Project? How’s your year going? If not, did you set goals for yourself this year? How are they going? Take some time for a mid-year evaluation. 

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June 1, 2011

Better Together

All of us started somewhere. For that matter, we’ve probably all started over from time to time. It’s at times like these when you realize how important community is.

Hebrews 10: 24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Community can do so many great things for us:

Spur us on toward love and good deeds

Keep us accountable

Encourage one another

Starting over can be hard but it’s so important to get plugged in. Have you changed jobs? Made a move? Decided not to be a part of a Bible study? Reconsider and think of getting involved. No one can do their faith walk completely on their own. At some point we all face a challenge we find insurmountable or stagnant in our faith. And let’s be honest, there are times we all need to be kicked in the pants to get it in gear! Wherever you are today, invest in tomorrow by being involved in a body of believers that meets regularly.

May 8, 2011

In Due Time

My pastor gave an amazing sermon today. He preached on 1 Samuel 1 – where Hannah fasted and prayed for a child. She probably prayed a hundred prayers and implored God to move. I can identify with Hannah – I’m sure many of you can too. Do you ever feel like you pray a prayer a thousand times and when you say “amen” you wonder if you were even heard?

Well, He heard you. I promise you, He did.

1 Samuel 1:20 says, “and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said ‘I asked the Lord for him.’”

You see, God hears our prayers. He’s just waiting for the right time to reveal his plan.  

This past year I have personally wrestled through letting go of my plan and seeking the Lord’s direction with my life. For an entire year (if not more) I’ve wondered why every step I’ve tried to take has failed and have felt stuck.

Has this ever happened to you?

But what happens when He calls? Are you ready? When your number is drawn and you’re asked to fight, or assigned an unexpected challenge can you do it?

God has given me Joshua 1:9 as my battle cry.

Joshua 1:9 “This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

We are commanded to have courage and to be strong. Whether we are waiting in our current circumstances and yearning to hear God’s voice or direction or if after a season of quiet, you are quickly given a challenge – we must rely on Him. He is with us always.

In due time He will reveal himself. We can trust that.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

May 2, 2011

Dear God, Are You There? It’s Me, Traci.

Ignored – much like this blog for the past month. That’s how I’ve felt. Surely I am not alone. I think each of us comes to a point (multiple times) in our faith walk where you feel like you’re at a crossroads. It may not be anything dramatic but there you stand clueless about where to go next or how to take one step forward.

If you’ve been there for any significant length of time you may begin to feel like living at the crossroads is normal. The danger in that is that we can forget to pray or seek the Lord. You “know” the right answers that God will come through and reveal in His timing but do you really believe it? Have you gone to Him and asked? How often do you and God have a heart-to-heart?

I was convicted when I read Isaiah 65.

“The Lord says, ‘I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name.’” Isaiah 65:1

“…For when I called, you did not answer. When I spoke, you did not listen. You deliberately sinned – before my very eyes – and chose to do what you know I despise.” Isaiah 65:12

How convicting! God wants to give us an answer. He may be waiting with clear directions but instead we forget to ask! How many times do we confide in friends and self-help books but forget to go the One with the plan? In our impatience, we run ahead and take matters into our own hands – often deliberately sinning in the process. We also then run a risk of damaging God’s perfect plan for us.

It is not easy to wait – but in the process, talk to the Lord. He is ready to respond. He’s anxiously awaiting your attention. Run to Him.

Image Source: Google Images

April 1, 2011

Puzzle Pieces

Occasionally, in the late afternoon I step out of my office and into the activity room (I work at a senior center). I enjoy spending time with program participants and have grown particularly fond of “Alice” (not her real name). Alice is a feisty, determined (read sometimes stubborn) elderly woman who is a die-hard puzzle queen. She often invites me to help her tackle whatever 500 piece puzzle she happens to be working on that day. Truth be told, I’ve grown to love these moments with her.

In the time I’ve spent with Alice and our puzzles, I’ve noticed something. Alice’s determined nature often finds her forcing pieces into places they don’t belong because in her mind they “should.” She will push a piece into another and become so focused on one area of the puzzle she misses the obvious pieces that lie just off to the side.

Image Source: Flicker

This made me think of how often I try to fit into a piece not designed for me. It doesn’t mean those pieces aren’t good or a part of the larger puzzle but they aren’t the right fit for me. God designed me to be unique and He has a plan for my life – a plan that fits into His larger plan.

How often do we become so focused on one area of our lives that we miss the right piece of the puzzle that’s lying off to the side? Have our outlooks become so myopic that we can’t see what else is out there? Are we so unwilling to wait that we force ourselves into place because we “should?”

Like so many, I struggle with waiting but finding the right fit will be worth it. I want God’s best. I hope you do too. As you wait, consider embracing your uniqueness. Who are you? How are you gifted? What are your talents and passions? And whose are you? Where is your identity? Have you placed it solidly in Christ?  If you are made new in Christ, what do you know of His character? Allow the Lord’s character to sustain you, provide you hope, and give you peace.

Whatever you’re waiting on  – wait for the right fit. The puzzle will come together in His perfect time.

Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ.”

March 29, 2011

Star Gazing

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” – Persian proverb


Have you ever noticed how much junk gets in the way of hearing God or seeing what He’s trying to teach you?

Busyness.

Relationships.

Work life.

Even ministry life.

And have you ever experienced what happens when He yells your name and says STOP!? Just stop. Listen to him.

Where did you allow yourself to be surrounded by a fog? Where did the enemy creep in and say a crammed schedule was ok because it was full of good things? Or, whisper that if you just read the umpteenth book on spiritual life, you could control the great sense of guilt you carry with you? Of if you just worked hard enough at your job, it would be enough?

The sad thing is we often take half-truths and twist them just enough that even the “good” things in our lives become a distraction and even an idol. Sometimes it takes going into a dark season to remind us to look for the light. In the darkness, we remember who we are and can find truth if we look for it. God wants a relationship with us. He will allow us to go through times of darkness in order to call us back.

Are you willing to give up the junk? Even the “good” junk in order to draw nearer to Him?

Will you ask yourself who you are and who you belong to?

Will you stand for the truth?

Can you see through the darkness? Do you see the light?

Shed the fog and cling to the light.

 

March 22, 2011

Spring Rains

It’s finally Spring  – and with it comes the promise of new beginnings. Fresh starts; a turning of the page; and grace. Sweet grace.

But also hope.

Hope. (Insert pause – breathe it in. The reality of it.)

The spring rains have come. Yesterday I sat looking out my window and thought of all being washed away by a beautiful spring storm. God brought Hosea 6:3 to my mind.

Hosea 6:3 “Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the dawn or the coming rains in early spring.”


(Image Source: Flickr)

It’s an inevitable part of spring that the rain washes away the dirty remains of winter. The air seems a little sweeter and smells of the promise of new life. It happens every year. It’s a sure thing. God’s response is the same. He will respond. Why we doubt that He would respond is foolish because it is a sure thing. We must press on to know Him – to crave Him. How are we to hear His response if we are not seeking it? Are we even listening? Or are we so busy grumbling about our current situation or are we too focused on ourselves to even hear His response?

Be reassured that God will respond as sure as the coming rains in the early spring. Let us know Him more deeply and listen to His voice. He is near. There is hope.

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