Showing items filed under “Tracy Smith”
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As parents, once kid number two, three, and four came into existence, our mantra of speaking settled in quite nicely.  We all have familiar phrases that are drilled into our ever-listening captive audiences – our offspring!!  In this house, the regular phrases that come out of my mouth are “pretty is as pretty does,” “it’s a sign of maturity to eat your vegetables first,” “be a blessing,” “be kind to everyone but share your heart wisely,” “how’s your heart?” and so on. Our children are getting older now, growing up way too fast for this momma and I often wonder if I’ve equipped them to live like Jesus.  An ear full of little sayings won’t produce the kind of heart that loves well . . . only God can take our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh.  (from Ezekiel 11:19)

We built a sheltered life, Chad and I, for the babies God gave us.  But, the sheltered life can have a tendency to create a blind life to those around us who are beaten down by this broken world.  We are broken too but all too often we have the means and support to pull ourselves up while casting judgement on those who can’t, or we would argue, won’t do the same.  It’s a fearful and prideful way to parent.  Don’t be discouraged if you feel like you can relate because this is where sanctification comes in the middle of our pride and fear.  God shows Himself shockingly kind, even to us.

I heard this phrase while attending Sunday service at a church in Dallas and it has simply knocked me over!  I knew God was (is) love, He is just, He is faithful, He is our provider, He is ______________ but shockingly kind?  Now that’s a description this heart craves!  For it’s my heart’s desire that our children live to be kind.   At Colin’s high school graduation, held in our living room, I remember reading a verse from Proverbs 19:22, a verse I wanted him to live by, to become.  It read, “What’s desired of a man is kindness.” 

Kindness is a supernatural virtue.  It’s more than just keeping the peace or being cordial.  It embodies Christ and how He interacted with people—fallen, broken, mean, hurting people.  Christ’s response to the woman caught in the very act of adultery was “shocking kindness.” It was well within the Law to stone her for her sin, but Jesus showed her great mercy and a tender kindness. Kindness that brought her life out of the pit and into a real existence, that’s the supernatural nature of kindness. A power that can change the trajectory of a life.  And where were her accusers?  Gone.  One by one, from oldest to youngest, rocks on the ground . . . gone (John 7 & 8).  Can’t you just imagine that in the quiet of her accuser’s hearts, some came to know the real freedom in Christ because they had witnessed His kindness to the lowly, undeserving adulterous women?  I believe God’s character of kindness is powerful enough to change a woman living in a broken lifestyle while at the same time changing the self-righteous rock throwing accusers.  He is just that kind and we are just that valuable to Him! Shocking, isn’t it, but all together wonderful, and I’m so grateful!! Because I’ve been both, the woman living in sin and the self-righteous rock thrower.  We all have.  Can we be shockingly kind so that the world might have a view of the Father’s unimaginable love?   We can, because nothing is impossible with Christ, not even shocking kindness. 

We homeschooled our kids for years but as of last year everyone has joined the public-school ranks!! This has left me home in a very quiet house and I’ve turned to podcast listening.  Ask any of my friends, I’m almost obsessed with listening to Bible teaching pastors on the daily.  I recently listened to a pastor speaking on God’s kindness and he stated, “As Americans, our greatest apologetic is kindness.” WOW! So much truth and power in that statement . . . and I believe it – kindness is supernatural and unexplainable! Kindness is unexpected and can give room for the Gospel.  In all our spheres of influence, the shocking kindness of Christ modeled in our sanctified lives opens opportunity for relationship, compassion, mercy and humility. I want more kindness, but to get this supernatural virtue I need more of Jesus.  Let’s be honest—the very process of sanctification is shockingly kind. 

Who needs your kindness today?  Your family does, future generations of your family will benefit spiritually from the kindness you show those in your home today.  I’ll close with lyrics from a new favorite song called “So Will I” by Hillsong. Listen as these words describe the ultimate shocking kindness of God and let His unforgettable, undeserved kindness create in you a heart like His.   

God of salvation
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride

On a hill You created
The light of the world
Abandoned in darkness to die

And as You speak
A hundred billion failures disappear
Where You lost Your life so I could find it here
If You left the grave behind You so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You
ve done
Every part designed in a work of art called love
If You gladly chose surrender so will I
I can see Your heart
Eight billion different ways
Every precious one
A child You died to save
If You gave Your life to love them so will I

Posted by Tracy Smith with
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A “day-annual” of Thankful Living

I’m almost to the intersection of I-70 and 64, busily speaking an address into my phone for an appointment downtown in the city.  I’m driving with my thoughts fixed on the day ahead—trying to get to the city and back before the traffic hits!!  A large white passenger van catches my attention just up ahead.  Written on the back of the van boldly stating in all cap lettering “PRISONER TRANSPORT”  “KEEP BACK 500 FT.” Suddenly my mind races with thoughts of those inside that van.  Are they male or female?  Is this their first time in prison?  Is this their final ride in a vehicle, going to a place from which they may never return?  Can they see me as I pass?  Are they looking at the fall leaves for the last time?  What did they do to end up here?  Do they know Jesus?  What will happen to them tonight—their first night behind bars?  You know how the mind works  . . . on and on the questions and scenarios play out in the mind.  My heart aches. 

So, I begin to pray—asking God that there might be someone in the prison system who would point him or her to His Grace, that He would keep them safe, and that there might be hope in their hopeless circumstance.  Please don’t get me wrong—I’m certain sin, choices, and brokenness have landed them in this situation and under the rule of law, crime always carries a consequence as it should.  But . . . as long as there is breath, there is hope!  Maybe my heart is more sensitive to the forgotten ones these days.  My world knows nothing of theirs, and I am both thankful and ashamed.  

As I ponder Thanksgiving, I can’t help but think of Ella, our youngest daughter.  Last Christmas, we gave her a trampoline, the very item she had desired to receive for years!!  Finally, we caved and purchased the monstrosity!!  Finding a warm day in the middle of winter, we went to work piecing it together.  And, would you know that every day, EVERY DAY since that trampoline has been put together, Ella has used it to complete at least two somersaults!!  Every day—rain, snow, sunshine—it doesn’t matter, she has committed herself to completing two “landed” somersaults!!  She began calling it her “annual” until we corrected her by saying, “babe, annual means yearly.”  Now, she jokingly and affectionately calls it her “day-annual.”   These are the things that make a mother’s heart laugh with joy—to see a child in sweet activity and innocence, and to see her commit herself to a discipline, a “day-annual!”  It makes me think of Thanksgiving and how thankfulness must be a discipline or we may forget. 

And, my mind goes back to the prisoners, those whose lives are broken, living in a broken place, a broken system.  I think of the nameless, faceless people at the grocery store, I think of my own children, my nieces and nephews and how really when it gets right down to it—I don’t want anyone to spend an eternity alone without God, void of the GOODNESS of GOD.  And, I wonder where our hope is in this day and age?  I know the answer, it’s God’s WORD—full of hope for the criminal, full of hope for the broken, and full of hope for me. 

 

I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart;

I will tell of all Your marvelous works.

I will be glad and rejoice in You; (not my circumstances)

I will sing praise to Your name O Most High.

When my enemies turn back,

They shall fall and perish at Your presence.

For You have maintained my right and my cause;

You sat on the throne judging in righteousness.

You have rebuked the nations,

You have destroyed the wicked;

You have blotted out their name forever and ever.

 

O enemy, destructions are finished forever!

And you have destroyed cities;

Even their memory has perished.

But the LORD shall endure forever;

He has prepared His throne for judgment.

And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.

 

The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed,

A refuge in times of trouble.

And those who know Your name

Will put their trust in You;

For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.

 

Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion!

Declare His deeds among the people.

When He avenges blood, He remembers them;

He does not forget the cry of the humble.

Have mercy on me, O LORD!

Consider my trouble from those who hate me,

You who lift me up from the gates of death,

That I may tell of all Your praise.

In the gates of the daughter of Zion.

I will rejoice in Your salvation.

 

The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made;

In the net which they hid, their own foot is caught.

The LORD is known by the judgment He executes;

The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.

 

The wicked shall be turned into hell,

And all the nations that forget God.

For the needy shall not always be forgotten;

The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.

 

Arise O LORD,

Do not let man prevail;

Let the nations be judged in Your sight.

Put them in fear, O LORD,

That the nations may know themselves to be but men.  Psalm 9

 

Let’s have a “day-annual” of praise, a discipline of thankfulness, and remember that this life in all its brokenness is not without hope.  Praise God for salvation in Christ, refuge in circumstances, trust that God’s judgments are right, and remember we do not need to fear when we trust Him with this life.  We are not forsaken!  We are not forgotten!  We are remembered! 

He is always Just,

He is always Right,

He is always Present,

He is always Good. 

 A “day-annual” of praise will keep us humbly on our knees for the broken, the poor, the least, the person next to you begrudgingly waiting in the checkout line at Wal-mart.   Have a “day-annual” of constant communication with the ONE who can change the world in which we live.  This is what will change our lives and the lives of those around us. 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks;

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

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