All posts by Crystal Traylor

Chasing the Red Dot

Posted on May 18, 2016 | Download

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 The Red Dot If you’ve never owned a cat, I’m sure you have at least seen funny cat videos online. If you haven’t, you’re in for a treat, but be sure to set a timer – the next time you look up, hours will have passed. I saw a video recently of cat after cat, time and time again dropping everything to chase a red laser-pointer dot. Anytime the dot appears, it’s game over and their attention is immediately redirected. There’s no stopping to think about it, it’s immediate. The cat could have been eating, playing with something else, or sitting and relaxing, and then all of a sudden – PING! WHOOSH! All you see is a streak of fur dashing down the hall to chase this red dot. Cats will try to run up walls, jump onto counters, off of couches, and into boxes that are ever so slightly and deliberately balanced just at the top of the stairs. All of this to try to catch this little red dot. Watching these cats made me think about all of the many things in life we chase. We chase after money, we chase after careers, we chase after people, we chase after ideas, we chase after knowledge…and if there’s enough time at the end of the day, we might chase after God. We each need to refocus on God because we get so easily distracted.   Listening to Jesus Jesus is straightforward. Yes, Jesus taught in parables, but when it came to the really important stuff, he was candid. “Follow me”, “love each other”, “seek me and you will find me”, “ask me and you will receive”, “put me first”, and “remember me.” These are all clear and concise commands. This is a blessing for my analytical brain because I tend to over-think and complicate everything. In a world full of confusion it's so good to have a Messiah who is straightforward!   Focus on Jesus With all of the “red dots” in our lives, it is so important to keep our focus on Jesus. For some people the red dot is Facebook, for some it may be inappropriate humor, for others, the red dot is ditching responsibility to ‘have fun’. The red dot can be anything that takes our focus away from God. The enemy is fixing traps for us and baiting us with these little red dots. The enemy knows that we may not jump into a trap willingly, but we might if we are distracted by chasing after something. What will it mean for you if you finally catch this red dot? You have to count it as loss. You may argue that what you’re dreaming and chasing after is not inherently a bad thing, but despite any good intentions we may have, if anything is taking God’s place in the center of our lives, it has to go. We can’t want that dream or goal or project more than we want Jesus.   “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” -Philippians 3:7-8  

God’s Seamless Workmanship

Posted on Apr 20, 2016 | Download

  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28 Was that really God’s plan? I’ve seen this verse used so many times to support statements like, “you were running late because God saved you from getting in a car accident.” But I think this Bible verse is misapplied in many ways. When people go through hard times they turn to this verse and say that “it will all work out because it was all part of God’s plan.” I don’t see this verse that way. That way of thinking can be a crutch that allows people to cope with poor decisions made by humans because it puts the blame and responsibility off of them and onto God. Applying this mentality to my own past, I could say that it was God’s plan that I married the wrong man, and all of the pain I went through was worth it to finally find the person I’m with now. And while I do have a beautiful marriage now, I would be wrong to think this way. It wasn’t God’s plan that I divorced. I didn’t have God at the center of my first marriage. To be frank, I didn’t have God at the center of anything in my life at that time. But I do believe that if God was in the center of that marriage, that marriage could have been saved. At that time in my life I would say “I must be doing something right, because God keeps blessing me.” I said this all the time, while continuing to live in sin. Looking back, I even said this after the Holy Spirit tried to convict me and lead me back to Him. He was telling me, “I’m fixing this for you, but I’m letting you know that this isn’t the way it was supposed to be.” God will never approve of you sinning and living a life in opposition to Him. I don’t believe that it was God’s plan for me to go through the things I put myself through. God is not the one responsible – it was my choice to marry the person I married, and it was my choice to do the things I did and take the path I took. God, with His abundant grace, and mercy, and love, took my bad decisions and worked them for my good and His glory. When God Saves Our Supper I was making dinner with Kora, my 11-year-old daughter, when she decided she wanted to cook a box of Mac ’n’ Cheese. The instructions said to boil and drain the noodles, and then to add the milk and sauce mix. She didn’t fully read the directions and added the sauce mix and the milk into the pot when it was still full of the water used to boil the noodles. I didn’t get upset with her, but had her step aside for me to finish. I was able to save the pasta and it tasted just as good as if she had followed the directions correctly. But just because I was able to save it doesn’t mean that it was ever my plan for her to “mess it up.” That’s how I see Romans 8:28. We need to be aware of when He steps in and “saves our supper” so that we can avoid some of the mistakes we keep making. His way is perfect and He works all things for our good. But it’s not His plan for us to ignore His instructions. It all works out perfectly and seamlessly because God is awesome in power. He makes it so seamless that it’s sometimes hard to imagine that it could ever have been any different. And just like me fixing Kora’s misstep, just because He fixes our messes doesn’t mean that it was His plan to have us mess it up all along. Sometimes horrible things happen to us and sometimes we make mistakes. The goodness of God is that He takes all of those things and makes them into something that will be for good. God wastes nothing. That is an awesome God!

Too Busy For Church

Posted on Feb 16, 2016 | Download

 Hebrews 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” Too Busy for Life My weekends used to be filled with a long to-do list that I did not have time for during the week. At one point I was working and going to school and taking care of three kids. It was one of the hardest seasons I have faced. I was stretched to the max and felt like I had no time for anything other than “To Dos.” I had a love-hate relationship with the weekend. It was my time to get caught up on household chores and homework, and then squeeze in as much family time as I could. Life was too busy for church. Too Busy for Church Church always seemed to fall under the list of things I wanted to do, and things that I needed to do often took precedence. After writing out my schedule in detail I could tell you that there literally was no time for church. Any weekend that seemed to have a break coming would inevitably be filled with time consuming drama. On the rare occasion that we woke up with our day “free,” I would very easily become discouraged and justify not going for the simplest reasons. Even if we were only going to be five or ten minutes late I would just give up and not go. As many who have gone through this can tell you, this pattern cannot last long before you reach an ultimatum. I could either give up trying to make time where there was none and just wait for a season in life that was less hectic, (waiting for this season is a painful waste of time; it’s like the phrase “tomorrow never comes”), or I could resolve to eat on paper plates all week so that I could go to church instead of cleaning the kitchen. One little sacrifice, (though at the time it didn’t seem so little), for an opportunity to fellowship and be encouraged, all the while praying that the fight would be worth it. Too Busy Not to go to Church God is faithful and the message was something I could carry with me all week. With determination (I can be pretty stubborn when I want to be—sometimes it’s a gift, other times not so much) I did the same thing the next week, and then the week after. And a weird thing happened one day while at the grocery store. I passed the aisle with the paper plates and looked at my list and remembered that I didn’t need them because I knew we still had plenty. I hadn’t needed to buy any in a while. I had been going to church regularly, that was the only thing that had changed. Also, I no longer saw church as a want but I realized that it had been a need all along. Seeking God above the chores, seeking God above a lazy day off of work, seeking God above all else had rearranged my life in the best possible way. The house was kept clean, the dishes were getting done, and the laundry was all washed. Even all of the pointless and time consuming drama seemed to fade from my life. God Rewards Those Who Seek Him And that is only how my life changed on the outside. I can’t even begin to tell you how much better I felt on the inside. I could see a difference in my whole family as well—we could all feel the change. I made room for God and somehow everything else fell into place. I’ve talked to several families and they have all said the same thing about life going wrong on church days. I thought it would get a little easier when we found a church service on Saturday nights instead of Sunday mornings, but I was wrong. I can’t help but laugh because now my Sunday mornings are easy as cake and my Saturday evenings sometimes offer a struggle. But it’s a lot easier now to battle those little inconveniences of kids not finding their shoes or running a little behind. I realize now that it is better to be a little late than to miss the whole thing. Make room for Him and He will change your life.