Monday, December 29, 2008
But I'm going with the flow of the disruptions: the greatest paradox of peace lies in what is my source of power and am I connected? As I read on God's peace I have been startled by how often God's peace first necessitates some disruption of tranquility. A couple of days ago one of friends told me at dinner she has been challenged many times this month with the blog posts. Looking at her facial expression I gather it's "disturbed" her peace also.
My husband, John, didn't waste a moment when he knew he could die at any moment after his lung cancer diagnosis in March this year. He used his words to make peace with all of his family. He was a peacemaker and a godly head of the household speaking the blessings into his wife and his children. Whenever someone is soon to die they choose to speak the most important truths to those around them.
Likewise, Jesus told the disciples just before His death,
"I am leaving you with a gift: peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn't fragile like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." John 14:27 Living Bible
Here is where our paradox comes in: peace the world gives is quite different from the peace God gives. Peace as the world understands it is a negative concept: no conflict or disturbance. Families assume they have peace because there is no quarreling between family members. Sometimes I can get irritated with others and I will mistakenly think, "Don't bother me, let me have some peace."
This week we will wind up our month of exploring true peace that only Jesus Christ gives us as believers. Each day we will look at the paradox of peace of the world and heavenly peace.
Today let's begin with me. Until I am at peace with myself I can never be a peacemaker as Jesus calls me to be in the Beatitudes. Jesus made it clear what Christianity will cost: "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me" (Mt. 16:24).
I admit when things heat up there is a part of me that just wants to flee. I have missed great opportunities in Christ because I have quietly slipped out the backdoor when conflict would raise its head. My greatest failures in my marriage and as a mother come from trying to find "cheap peace" to avoid quarreling.
I've mentioned previously that my childhood had many issues. I'm sure I had wounds from hearing horrible fights between my parents from birth until I was 4 years old. I have no recall of that time, but from what I have heard it was a battleground most days.
Conflict is always over power and acceptance. What some people consider valuable enough to war over baffles me, but the fact is that to them it's worth fighting over. Pride and competitiveness set up to be sure my power base is secure and my acceptance is in place. I can become so passionate in grabbing what I see as my entitlement that I leave my peacemaking to becoming a trouble maker.
C. S. Lewis explains this quite clearly:
"If you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronize me, or show off?’ The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with everyone else’s pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive – is competitive by its very nature – while the other vises are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone."
One way to describe the Christian life is to say that it is made up of paradoxes. That means that there are things in our lives that don't seem to make sense, don't seem to fit with other things in our lives. And yet we Christians have seen enough of God's power and wisdom and love that we believe with good reason that the paradoxes of our lives really do fit together in God's mind, even if we can't always figure them out. With our hearts passionately surrendered to whatever Father God desires in us; we obey what we read in the Word and what we sense He is calling us to do.
When my power cord died on my laptop I could not connect to the internet or use my laptop. Similarly when I lose my connection with God and look to any other source of power I am useless in the Kingdom of God. When I realize truth: that God is my power source and provider my peace is secure and nothing can shake my faith.
How's your power source?
Sunday, December 28, 2008
In the West, vertical transmission from mothers to infants is virtually eradicated; in Africa and Asia, vertical transmission is a relentless killer. The epidemic traces trucking routes in one nation and drug routes in another, trafficking in this country and sexual taboos in that.
In the West, governments are increasingly unwilling to pay for the treatment of those who previously died but now stay alive. In Africa and Asia, dying predominates, devastating workforces, economies, families and nations – and governments, unable to stop the epidemic with public policy, adopt a stance of public denial.
Thus, globally, while we have one epidemic, it takes as many forms as the cultures that host it. But look: The church is already at work in as many cultures as is the virus. While governments divide, the church could unify. While policies are being debated, preachers could speak the truth to power. While nations war over the price of a barrel of oil, the church could point out the price of human life.
In his text on the American pilgrims, scholar Perry Miller tells this story of sturdy pilgrim faith. A heated battle has broken out between hundreds of Native Americans and forty pilgrims. Eventually, thirty nine pilgrims are dead and the Indians are closing in for the final kill. At this point the lone surviving pilgrim puts down his blunderbuss, folds his hands, looks heavenward and offers this prayer: "I thank Thee, God, that Thou hath given to me alone this victory."
This is the kind of faith-born confidence needed to defeat a virus as stubborn as AIDS. We need, if we are to win, people driven by a better spiritual vision. It enables us to climb over the debris of the first fifteen years of this epidemic when gay men were stigmatized and shunned, when children were "innocent victims" meaning adults were "guilty." Confession and commitment are doors out of this era.
We can acknowledge that our silence was an act of fear, not piety; of ignorance, not faith. And having done so, the church can take up the battle against those still motivated by fear and still armed with stigma, protecting – rather than judging -- those who are most vulnerable. Science is our partner in this epidemic, our friend, a gift of God. Scientific researchers have given us life-extending therapies for which we, in turn, give thanks.
But human beings are more than bodies: We are fathers and sons, mothers and daughters. We have callings and responsibilities. We need purpose as much as pills. We are more than survival-seeking organisms. We are outfitted with souls that matter. And this is where the church has a special contribution to make. Let me illustrate, if I may. In Zambia we are setting records for testing and enrolling people at risk of AIDS. But once we have mothers on life-prolonging therapy, they are often unwilling to take the drugs that will stop their wasting because it gives them an appetite, and an appetite demands food, and there is not enough food. They do not want to starve their children, so they quietly put away their pills. Their souls are bent toward their children. We are not mere survival-seeking organisms.
So, we are creating new resources for women in AIDS support groups, teaching them to create products for sale in the West. Macy’s is selling a line of Rwandan baskets this holiday season; Oprah Winfrey’s magazine will promote a line of bracelets in a few months. By creating a local economy, we promote the possibility of life not only for women but for their families. We nurture souls as well as bodies…. I’ve spent years in wards where the stench of death is inescapable, stumbling through hospices and orphanages, numbed by the suffering and the dying. But here’s a miracle of irony: For those who truly understand the work of the soul, the AIDS crisis offers an unprecedented opportunity to do God’s work – producing not only satisfaction but joy.
Psychotherapist Thomas Moore taught us all, in his landmark Care of the Soul, that the "great malady of the twentieth century" is "loss of soul." "Emptiness, meaninglessness, vague depression, disillusionment – we yearn excessively for entertainment, power, intimacy, sexual fulfillment and material things, and we think we can find these things if we discover the right relationship or job, the right church or therapy. But without soul, whatever we find will be unsatisfying…." We can be kept alive with drugs if we have AIDS. But we come to life as full human beings when our souls, not simply our bodies, are nurtured.
We can prop up our egos, and our marriages, and our flagging self-images with alcohol too – but until we nurture our souls, we will not be well. Until souls are well, we are broken, whether we are in an AIDS clinic in Zambia or a board room in Kansas City. No crisis in history has produced so much opportunity for people of wealth, knowledge and power to find purpose, meaning and satisfaction in life. The church is the ideal bridge from here to there, from safety to satisfaction. Is each human being, indeed, a child of God? Do you believe that with pilgrim-like faith?
If so, you will know that the global epidemic is not a mass of numbers, not a ledger of the dead and dying, not one story of tens of millions of people -- but tens of millions of stories told one soul-filled person at a time. "Now I lay me down to sleep I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to keep…." One by one, they kneel and pray, orphans at their bedsides at Mother Teresa’s on the edge of Lusaka, Zambia. One by one they call back words from our childhoods, calling us to nurture our souls for God’s safekeeping during sleep. My soul ached, and was filled, when I lifted two-year-old Martin to my breast last month in Zambia: a skeleton of a child, his face all eyes and eyelashes – I knew, then, that it was love that nourishes the soul. Holding Martin, I see Bupe, the fragile child I held years earlier who died before I could adopt him. And I finish the childhood prayer: "If I should die before I wake, I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to take."
I wish you would come with me, alone or with your congregation, in person or in prayer, to blend the work of the church with that of UNAIDS and others. Come whisper to Medicine his life is not over, that his family still needs him. Come laugh with women in the market and men teasing their wives. Come learn from orphan families where the oldest sister plays mother; where the oldest brother will carry the youngest, give up his food for the hungriest, and gently bury his little sister when she dies. Come with me to the dark corner of your city where AIDS is at home, or the teaming squalor of a distant compound where AIDS is king.
Come with me, and your souls will be nurtured in ways you can barely imagine. You will suffer the suffering, if your soul is healthy. You may grope for words, hide your tears, look away until composure returns. But at days’ end, you will hear the orphans’ echo – "Now I lay me down to sleep" – and you will joyfully commit your own, well-nurtured soul to God for safekeeping. And in the morning, when you rise to face AIDS another day, to be the church another day, listen in dawn’s silence and you will hear an ancient rabbi promise you what he promised another congregation long ago:
"Grace to you, and peace."
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I've been concerned over AIDS for many years. I remember the early years of the detection of the disease and its spread. I was a designer for an import/export company that had items made in Haiti. I had to travel to that plant a couple of times. AIDS was new to the scientific world then and Haiti was one of the first countries to have massive outbreaks. I also remember when the first patient positive with AIDS ended up in my husband's medical office. I was so proud of him. The staff was nervous and showed it. He held a special meeting after hours and told us he took an oath to treat sick people and there were no clauses of exception. If anyone could not treat every patient with honor and respect he wanted their resignation.
So.....yes "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" fits wonderfully with heavenly peace and God's call on our lives. May I present Mary Fisher, UN Special Social Representative:
Given the fact that the AIDS virus has found some forty million people and left in its wake 16 million (or so) orphans, numbers are bound to be part of the story. But massive numbers can also stymie helpful responses. Big, grim numbers may evoke more sighs than prayers. A reasonable person may conclude that he is helpless against such a tidal wave of suffering. If she knew the numbers on AIDS, Pollyanna would be hospitalized for clinical depression.
Numbers may convince us that doing nothing is nothing short of doing evil. But we must not imprison ourselves with the belief that the numbers are too big and we are too small to make a difference. Because the truth is, you and your congregations can make a difference far greater than the statistics that measure this plague.
I was a young mother, two preschoolers playing near my phone, the hour I learned that I was HIV-positive. It was 1991. Everyone infected with AIDS was headed for the grave. We knew it. Our doctors knew it. We all knew we were a sorry company of pilgrims marching to our deaths. So I spent those early years doing the only common-sense thing I could do: preparing to die.
The first two collections of my early speeches, published in 1995 and 1996, are full of death and funeral meditations. I started journals for my sons so they would know I had loved them. I wrote and rewrote wills and worried deeply about guardianships. I took on dying as I took on everything: as a project. I accepted it, organized it and planned for it.
After nearly a year of angst, I decided to speak out publicly. Since I had only a short while to live, I needed to make an impact fast. Besides, if people didn’t like what I said, what could they do – kill me? So I took to the stage with the hope that a dying woman could make a difference for the living.
Early on, I and others expected charismatic leaders would bring to us what Martin Luther King brought to the American Civil Rights movement. But it didn’t happen. The church that had birthed powerful preachers like King was eerily silent, often judgmental, almost never our champion. Without spiritual support, hope became a fragile creature.
Friday, December 26, 2008
All along the way they would have asked for directions and arrived on time. They would have jumped right into the middle of things helping deliver the baby, tidy up the stable, and fix refreshments for all the folks dropping in. They would have brought practical gifts that would be geared to the mother and baby; and last throughout baby Jesus' toddler years.
Oh, I'm glad God didn't call wise women.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
When we realize who is in this manager and the significance of His birth; we should have all the confidence we need to receive heavenly sleep every night. What is the significance of this birth? What is Christmas about -- really? Perhaps most of all, "Silent Night" is beloved because it reminds us in its simple, but exceedingly clear way, the truth behind it all -- the truth that changes everything:
"Christ, the Savior is born!"
Sing it again this Christmas and let its gentle peace wash over you and its bold assertion renew your soul.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
AS I read those stories of war life being interrupted because it was Christmas I became convinced God has the power to bring peace in the midst of all battlefields. If German and British soldiers were able to unify (even if only for a moment) in the midst of the battle and sing, "sleep in heavenly peace" surely God Almighty can bring you and me to enough peace to sleep.
God has the power to do this because He doesn't just BRING peace...HE IS peace! Ephesians 2:13-14 tells us that peace is actually a person. It says that we were "without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace."
Yesterday we studied Psalm 4:8, "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone oh Lord make me dwell in safety." We can lie down and sleep in peace even when experiencing a personal storm because we know that God will protect us despite the wind and waves that threaten us.
I recall when I was handling too many things at home, work and at church I felt my head couldn't hold all the "ought's." Finally I learned to go through the list and consciously hand it over to God; and then I could sleep. The sneaky thing about sleep apnea is that you think you are sleeping, but you fall asleep and then your airway is blocked and you have to wake enough to get your breath and this cycles over and over. Most of this occurs without you coming fully awake.
There are ways to help yourself get to sleep. Leave off caffeine after 11 AM. Don't eat heavy meals for dinner, and don't eat anything 2-3 hours before retiring to bed. A warm bath can be helpful approximately 20 minutes before going to bed. Some people are helped with "white noise" in the background or soothing music.
I recall when I was worried by issues I would have to convince myself all offices were closed and nothing could happen in the 8 hours I needed to sleep. Truly this is a matter of trust and choice. If we decide to "sort of" trust God; we are really choosing to limit our belief in His ability to help us. . We can determine to let Him be Lord over everything -- even our sleep. I have figured out ... finally, that nothing is worth losing my sleep over! Ultimately the battle is the Lord's and I must give it to Him. I can cast all of my cares upon Him, for He does care for me.
Psalm 3:1-5 (NLT)
1 O Lord, I have so many enemies;so many are against me.
2 So many are saying,“God will never rescue him!”
3 But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;you are my glory, the one who holds my head high
5 I lay down and slept,yet I woke up in safety,for the Lord was watching over me.
The assurance of answered prayer brings peace. It is easier to sleep well when we have full assurance that God is in control of all circumstances. Whenever we lie awake at night worrying about what we cannot change, we need to pour out our hearts to God. We can thank Him that He is in control. Sleep will come when we trust Him.
Sweet dreams...The Prince of Peace is Here.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
- The guilt of our mistakes
- The people we've hurt and the things that have hurt us
- Our fears about the future
- Our chronic feeling of loneliness, of lostness
All these mountains make it hard to live in peace - to sleep in peace. "Silent Night" is right when it refers to peace as being "heavenly peace." It's only heaven, it's only God that can finally bring peace to the lifelong storms in our hearts. One of the classic scriptures of Christmas suggests why we don't have God's peace and how we can. In Isaiah 9:6, our word for today from the Word of God, the Bible says:
"Unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
There it is. Jesus came to be our Prince of Peace, but we can't have His peace until He's our Prince. Jesus is supposed to be governing our lives. It's nice to have Jesus as a belief, a religion, or a security blanket. But He's the King of kings and Lord of lords. We've chosen to drive our own life where we want it to go, effectively ignoring the God who made us. Only when Jesus Christ sits on the main throne of authority in our lives is He our Prince. Oh, we may sense He is in our churches, but is He in charge of our lives? We may call out to Him in need, but we don't want Him or anyone else controlling our lives. If He is only in our minds; we've missed Him; to be our Prince He must have first place in our hearts.
Peace comes from the Prince of Peace in close relationship with His people. Whenever we are ready to move from a religion to a relationship with Jesus, we are ready to trade the hell we deserve with heaven we could never deserve. We can tell Jesus, "Lord, I'm Yours." Then,belonging to Jesus, Prince of Peace will give us heavenly sleep.
Psalm 4:8, "I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety." Prayer and communing with God is important for me to sleep peacefully. I ask God to reveal what needs changing in me and I repent for whatever comes to mind. I pray for others daily. In fact when I awaken in the night I start going down the list of people in my life alphabetically (I switch it around so I don't always start with the A's).
First, He gives His beloved the sleep of a quiet conscience. Do you recall the passage where we were told that Herod intended to bring out Peter on the morrow, but behold as Peter was sleeping between two guards the angel delivered him? Think of it. Peter was able to sleep so soundly when the next day he was to be slain. He was not disturbed. As Peter lay between the two guards, he slept because he had a conscience at peace with God. He was in the will of God. He had nothing to fear. Peter knew to be slain meant to be present with the Lord.
Christmas: Tribute to the Prince of Peace.........Is He your Prince?
Monday, December 22, 2008
We cannot thrive or live well without once a day shutting down and sleeping. Therefore we know continually that we are not in control. Our work is not indispensable. Sleep seems to be a bold way God shows us the difference in mere mortal man and Almighty God. Isn't it amazing how well He handles the universe while we are zonked out? Peaceful living only comes as we embrace the reality of the sovereignty of God.
Proverbs 3:24 when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Psalm 4:8 I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 121:4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
Peaceful sleep is the opposite of anxiety. God does not want His children to be anxious, but to trust Him. God uses sleep as a way to encourage us to trust Him and to avoid being anxious. When we let concerns disturb our peace we must ask ourselves if we are truly resting and abiding in Him.
Experts estimate that only about 5 percent of people with insomnia seek medical help, and 69 percent never even mention the problem to their doctor. More than 35 million Americans suffer from long-lasting insomnia, with 20 to 30 million others experiencing shorter-term sleeplessness.
Insomnia costs the U.S. approximately $100 billion each year in medical costs and decreased productivity. In the U.S., as many as 100,000 automobile accidents and 1,500 deaths from these accidents are caused by sleepiness.
In one study at least 70 percent of people with depression also experience insomnia.
As many as 25 percent of people with anxiety disorders also experience insomnia.
Psalm 4 v 8
" I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety ".
One of the beautiful revelations of Scripture is that sleep is a gift of God for His beloved. And so David could say, in the midst of pressures and war and things that were going very badly all around about him, “I will lie down and sleep in peace.” Why? Because his security depended on the Lord:
- not on situations
- not on circumstances
- not on the broken promises of men,
- but on the eternal, unchanging promises of God’s own Word.
He said, “For you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety,” in security, in peace. Consequently, when nighttime came and David lay down to sleep, he knew he was going to sleep in peace.
There are so many today that do not have that blessed assurance. When nighttime comes they toss and turn, they are anguished; they’re distressed, they’re afraid, they’re perplexed. The worries and the cares of the day follow them into the night.
Why not take a lesson from David? Why not determine that our security and our peace are found in God, that He can make us dwell in safety, and we will be able to say, “I will lie down and sleep in peace.” If I read this correctly we decide that God is trustworthy; it is a choice to trust Him and sleep.The Prince of Peace has come to give us heavenly peace...we sleep in heavenly peace.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
"So far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" (Rom 12:18). Hebrews calls us to "pursue peace with all men" (Heb.12:14). According to Jesus Christ, if we remember someone has something against us, we are to actually leave our offering at the altar and go be reconciled with our brother (Matt. 5:24). Our inter-personal relationships are a primary concern to the Lord. The Bible says, "pursue peace with all men." "Pursue" means we aggressively take the initiative to make things right. It means we act on behalf of heaven rather than allow another’s anger to serve the purpose of hell.
The truth is that hurting people will likely hurt you. I'm a praying listener. Folks know me from much church work, speaking in women's conferences and through my proteges. I get calls for prayer from folks I don't know or not very well. Honestly I cringe when a new one calls saying, "Do you still pray with folks?" Now, the interpretation for that call is "I'm in big trouble. Someone close to me has hurt me greatly and I'm getting no relief from my church, my family and everyone else praying for me." I always answer "Oh, yes, what' s going on?"
Then the hurt pours out over the phone and I hurt with them. The greatness of their circumstances always baffles me for answers. Generally I have no idea what can be done and within myself I know there is no help. As we begin to "walk" together to see what Father God wants and we begin to see how He wants us to move by His lead. Usually something will trigger a tender spot and the hurt one will usually lash out at me before we get to sure peace and solutions. I have been in this place enough times to know that this is part of intercession. As I lay myself down so that others can get close to Christ; I may well get "hit."
I've been the one hurting; so I know how raw life gets when the pain is great. But I've got to tell you every time another stranger calls and begins the call with "Do you still pray with folks in trouble?" I always sigh.....in my frail human self I brace myself for the ride. I'm an open, honest transparent person. I believe in God's soverienty and power. I don't give much space for whining and continual self pity and doubt of God's power and resources. So it's a given that hurting people have called the gentler more merciful prayer warriors before they look me up. But when they are getting nowhere in their pursuit of help and peace; they dare to call the straight talking prayer lady. Most know I have a common refrain: forgiveness of the one who has caused the pain, and seeking Biblical answers. When they want an answer solely based on their emotional feelings I work diligently to help them realize that "feelings rx" will probably not be where their best longterm solution lies.
This Christmas season I am focusing on pursuing peace to honor Jesus Christ, Messiah...Prince of Peace. But I feel a need to be clear about the possible serious hazards of obeying God to become His peacemakers. When I respond to deeply offended folks, they sometimes get repulsed by the thought of unconditional love for someone who has greatly hurt them. Scripture tells us, "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle" (Prov. 18:19).
If a person has been hurt, they will need trust to be restored and this process of initiating trust can actually be painful to both the hurting one and the helper. As a Christian helper I get my licks when the wounded may lash out at everybody. I'm the closest person available and I realize it isn't personal, but it can still hurt. In my own ineptness I question God in picking me to help some folks when we initially begin our journey. In time, I see that my resilence, compassion and empathy qualify me to join Him in helping them.
A few years ago we rescued a 9 month old dog that had had several owners. He was a big dog and he was extremely energetic. A trainer felt he was a great dog that just needed consistent handling. We had had a near break in so we brought the dog home. Oh, he tried my patience to the limit, but as a few weeks went by and he still had a home, he calmed down and has become the dearest pet we've ever had. For a few years he wouldn't let you touch his head; but now he loves his face and ears scratched. He actually annoys me. Maybe this is a poor example, but I think some people who have been treated poorly by authorities and those close to them are like my Oz. "Dont' touch me!!" seems to be what they are crying out.
What looks like aggression, so often is fear. Love always overtakes fear. Someone will have to put up with their wounded "attitude" over a period of time and show consistent loving strong presence to earn their trust. An old saint once told me the scripture "many are called, but few are chosen" is evident because the chosen show up. Sometimes the greatest Christian things we can do is "show up," be available; no matter what. Sometimes the loving consistent "showing up" is all it takes for the severely wounded to believe God may care about them. When they have one speck of hope; they are empowered to believe; when they believe, faith will bring them out of their hurt.
I read of many glamorous stories in the Christian ministry world. I find Christ in action is usually not so pretty. Someone has to be willing to be wounded and love without love immediately coming back. When the wounded wound us we do not retaliate; then trust is won. Isn't this what God has done for us? His love paid the maximum price. Jesus came to me, but I didn't see Him as Savior at first. My sins and hard heart crucified Him. He didn't retaliate.....He forgave me. I am amazed at His mercy....so many times I expect harsh judgment and His Love is His kind answer. Romans 2:4 even tells me that His kindness actually led me to repentance. He shows me over and over that He is trustworthy, merciful and loving. Yes, like Oz lets me touch his face, now I trust God. I don't need to hide or shield somethings from Him. Oz loves me stroking his face........he knows I'll never hurt him as someone else hurt him in the face. No matter what others may have done with my trust in them; God can always be trusted. He's not the last one I call on...........I call out to God, first in all things.
"Lord, Show us how to pursue peace that pleases You. As You have been to us, so may we be toward others, even those who are hostile to us out of their pain. Establish trust in You so that Your love can heal them. We are willing to allow ourselves to be wounded, repeatedly if necessary, in pursuit of healing relationships. We pray to be trustworthy in deed and word. Whether we face divisions in families, churches or work places, show us how we can establish trust; and healing can begin. Amen"
Friday, December 19, 2008
Here are the Top Ten Uses for Fruitcakes so I never have to eat them again!!!
10. Use aged, hardened slices to balance that wobbly kitchen table.
9. Use as replacement for sand bags prior to floods.
8. Bombs for the military: Capable of harm when dropped from military planes onto the enemy
7. Railroad companies can now have an everlasting short railroad tie.
6. Use as speed bumps to slow down the drive through speeders.
5. Bowling alleys can now offer cake pins.
4. Foundation sinking? These hardened cakes could be your solution.
3. A great filler for next summer's garage sale.
2. For variety fruitcake slices are great in the next skeet-shooting competition.
1. Fundraiser for charities: Have a fruitcake toss and prize goes to the winner!!! No eating of scattered crumbs allowed.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
"Do nothing from factional motives (through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends) or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself (thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves.)" Philippians 2:2-3
- We must be humble, loving, compassionate and courteous.
- We must be willing to forgive quickly and frequently.
- We must not be easily offended and must bless others rather than curse them.
- We must be generous in mercy, and we must be long-suffering (patient)."
(Excerpt form Conflict Free Living by Joyce Meyer published by Charisma House, 2008. This book is an excellent book in helping with our understanding of peace.
She states, "True peace is not found in positive thinking, in absence of conflict, or in good feelings. Our peace in Christ's Kingdom is sure, our destiny is set, and we can have victory over sin."
In Psalm 29:11 tells us that "The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace."
My observation of my own life; and looking at others' lives, I conclude that there is no good living without peace of mind. You can be the richest person on earth, but if you don't have peace of mind, joy will elude you. Fame, riches, and all possessions of greatness will disappoint you if you lack peace of mind. Some of Apostle Paul's most beautiful writings were written while he lived in rat infested jail dungeons with earthen floors. Yet, he calls us to the beautiful peace in the Kingdom of God that he lived in continually with great true joy and fulfillment.
I've worked with the wealthiest people in my community in two different jobs. I recall one of my bosses explaining some of the idiosyncrasies of the powerful wealthy, "Now get ready for them to make big mountains out of tiny molehills. I have discovered since they never worry about what you and I do: paying our bills on time always; they have to make things look bigger than they truly are to have challenges." I don't agree with his conclusions, but I did quickly land in the disharmony of these situations. I would conclude that the false security of earthly riches kept breaking through their consciousness and they lost their peace of mind. God through Jesus Christ offers the only true peace of mind.
So, harmony is worth the pursuit. Our opening scripture tells us we will have to live humbly and not think too highly of ourselves to know God's peace. We will also have to give honor to others and to God Himself.
What value do you place on peace of mind?
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I must remember daily that the peace that Christ promised does not mean the absence of trials, suffering and persecution; but on the contrary a peace in the midst of them, for they occasion sacrifices through which love is expressed. One will never find the peace that Christ promised by running away from trials and hardships of life, but rather by bearing them in a spirit of faith, and trust and love.
I can give an impression of confidence to people who don't know me well. Those close to me know there are times when my knees knock together and my heart races rapidly. But all of us humans have our times and our issues. I am becoming convinced the recognizing and confession of these human frailties is the beginning of God working His power to overcoming these issues in Christ.
John Piper speaks on peace in regard to people running after their own desires instead of God's best, "The reason there are so many angry and hostile and militant people in the world, is because there aren't very many people who really believe that the living God is at work in every situation for the good of those who trust him. And yet the great prophet Isaiah said, "No eye has seen a God besides Thee, who works for those who wait for Thee" (Is. 64:4).
And Jesus said, "Don't be anxious; your Father knows your needs; seek first his Kingdom, and he'll give you what you really need" (Mt. 6:31-33).
Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Mt. 5:9).
St. Paul said, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all" (Rom. 12:18).
And the apostle Peter said, "Seek peace and pursue it" (1 Peter 3:11).
Over and over in the Bible God is called the "God of peace"" (Rom. 15:33; 16:20; Phil. 4:9; Heb. 13:20; 1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Thess. 3:16).
Jesus is called the "Prince of Peace" (Is. 9:6).
His message is called the "gospel of peace" (Acts 10:36; Eph. 6:15).
And in the new age, which he promises to bring, "justice and peace will kiss" each other (Psalm. 85:10).
After several weeks of spending all my spiritual devotional time on peace I come today to know the pursuit of peace:
- Is tied to me taking up my cross daily
- Can only be mine when I surrender to God's best
- Is worth all cost of pain, submission and loss of "my stuff"
- Is God's best for me and He will most assuredly give me peace if I believe in Him wholeheartedly
- Can be mine no matter what is going on anywhere, anytime, by anyone
I love the one verse today, "Justice and Peace will Kiss each other!!!"
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
In Hebrews 12:14 I read, "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord."
Yesterday Chatty Kelly left a great comment on the post, Craving Peace. As much as I would love to think I have come to the glorious peace promised us believers in the Bible I know I am still coming to that wisdom. Craving and pursuing peace: God's way is expensive and cannot be just with the absence of disturbance. In fact, to remove the root causes of disharmony will probably increase disturbances initially.
In an old classic Bible commentary by Matthew Henry I am enlightened with "Peace with men, of all sects and parties, will be favourable to our pursuit of holiness. But peace and holiness go together; there can be no right peace without holiness. Where persons fail of having the true grace of God, corruption will prevail and break forth; beware lest any unmortified lust in the heart, which seems to be dead, should spring up, to trouble and disturb the whole body. Falling away from Christ is the fruit of preferring the delights of the flesh, to the blessing of God, and the heavenly inheritance."
In this information age it is so easy for us Christians to become deceived. We have much human wisdom filling our ears, before our eyes and surrounding us through all the media in our daily lives. Peace as the world understands it is the absence of conflict and disturbance. Nations usually consider themselves at peace when they are not at war with another nation, or not experiencing rebellion or conflict from within.
Families think of themselves at peace when there is no quarreling between family members, and an individual may speak of peace in terms of not being disturbed. “Don’t bother me, let me have some peace.”
Yet these negative concepts of peace - peace as the world sees it - are far from the peace that Christ promised to those who follow Him. The Bible warns us that except for the grace of God even the elect will be deceived.
So, perhaps disturbing me is a part of peace on earth. I pray to be willing to be disturbed where I need to be. I want to please God in my pursuit of peace with all people as I seek His sanctification to be holy in Him.
Have you ever yearned for your own "Do Not Disturb" door sign?
Monday, December 15, 2008
This is a confession: with all this talk of peacekeeping and peacemaking; I must still have much to learn about peace. I don't know that I have "craved" peace. I must even admit I may not have "pursued" it. As I heard that from the woman evangelist, I prayed and am still asking God "How do I crave and pursue peace?"
I honestly believe I thought peace was the by-product of the craving and pursuing of righteousness and right living. Craving and pursuing actually stretches my mind in that I have mistakenly thought of peace in terms of sweet little doves and gentle olive branches. Real life shows me that I have much to learn from Holy Spirit on peace. Today I am seeking wisdom and understanding and believe I have just begun to know about this quest of peace that God gives His children; no matter what chaos and turmoil is around us.
I know about craving: I love food and many other things. I have craved and pursued them. Oh, let me crave an ice cream cone or anything else and I'll find a way to get it. So if I can crave a cone of cream and get it; I am coming into craving and pursing peace.
I identify with Apostle Peter: the good, bad, and ugly of impetuous Peter. So when I think of craving and pursuing peace I read from him in 1Peter 3:10-11, "For whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must
turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it."
I don't have answers on this; I am full of questions on how will I pursue...run after peace. Obviously it is very important to Jesus Christ. Isaiah prophesied that He is the Prince of Peace.
This week the focus will be on how do we
- Inquire for
I know some of you understand these Scriptures and this concept of pursuing peace as a committed Christian better than I do. Please leave your comments. I am honestly pursuing the wisdom and understanding of peace on God's terms, His Way.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
My life standard is the Bible. I find in the Bible that John the Baptist doubted, yet Jesus pronounced His great compliment about John (Matt. 11:11; Luke. 7:28). Then I read that the great apostle, Thomas, had even more radical doubt. Yet in spite of Jesus’ rebuke for his doubt. it led to Thomas’ glorious recognition of Jesus’ deity (John. 20:28).
At any rate, it appears to be evident that doubt can lead to positive growth in the believer’s life.
I'm frankly tired of "plastic" Christianity that implies that once I believe in Jesus Christ as Savior all my problems straighten out and I have life totally under control. No...no...no...that is not my experience.
Christian doubt, defined as a lack of certainty concerning the teachings of Christianity or one’s relation to them, is a very common and painful problem affecting many believers. The doubt is enough to deal with; we don't need to be battling guilt along with the normal doubt. So, if you have some real doubts about things going on in your life in December of 2008; know that God is with you and you are not out of His good presence because you have some doubts.
God will equip you in His Word, and through Holy Spirit and good counselors to work through and conquer your doubts. You will experience renewed peace as you come through your doubts. I'll even state that you and I will probably have a stronger faith because of our honest working out our doubts.
Yes, I doubt at times.....Oh, and Yes, I believe with all that is in me everything the Bible says about my beginning and my end. My doubts are real, my faith is real and my peace is coming back; but please give me some space for my honest healthy doubts!!!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I can take a deep breath, exhale and relax:
God knows where all the pieces go!
Friday, December 12, 2008
My sister has the courage, but not always the skills, to tackle any home repair project. For example, in her garage are pieces of a lawn mower she once tried to fix. So I wasn't surprised the day my other sister, Pam, and I found our sister attacking her vacuum cleaner with a screwdriver. "I can't get this thing to cooperate," she explained when she saw us. Pam suggested, "Why don't you drag it out to the garage and show it the lawn mower?"
These jokes come to us from the wonderfully funny website:
http://www.cybersalt.org/. Make sure you visit with the expectation of
good healthy humor and laughs.
Thursday, 28 August 2008 12:53 At breakfast one day, I eagerly waited for my husband to comment on my first attempt at homemade cinnamon rolls.After several minutes with no reaction, I asked, "If I baked these commercially, how much do you think I could get for one of them?"Without looking up from his paper my husband replied, "About 10 years."
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:14-16, “For Christ Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.”
Now I realize as fact that the Holy Spirit is always with me; is on my side; is the power of God in my life.....I no longer try to live by my strength. I look at this scripture above and see that Jesus died for the sins of all people, not just some. Jesus destroyed the barrier that separates us from one another. But we keep trying to build it up again. He put to death hostility toward others, but we keep bringing it back to life.
So, knowing that we humans cannot love God and others by our own will or power, after Jesus ascended to heaven God implemented the next part of His plan: God sent the Holy Spirit to all who believe in Jesus Christ.
The late Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ often told the true story of a sheep ranch owned who was struggling during America’s Great Depression to make enough money in his ranching operation to pay his mortgage. He was in danger of losing his ranch. Living on government subsidy, he worried every day about how he was going to pay his bills. Then a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area and told him there might be oil on his land, and asked permission to drill a wildcat well. He agreed. At 1,115 feet they struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. Many other wells were more than twice as large. And he owned it all. The day he purchased the land he had received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he’d been living on relief. A multi-millionaire living in poverty. The problem? He didn’t know the oil was there even though he owned it.
Peacemaker...yes, as Holy Spirit empowers me to do what He directs in His perfect love and timing. Living In Christ being peacemaker is natural living.
I'm so looking for your comments today!!!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Peacekeeping doesn't deal with issues but only focuses on keeping peace for the moment. Last Friday I wrote on the difference in peacekeeping and peacemaking: Give Me Some Peace... Help ....Fast,
Unaddessed conflict can destroy ministry or family vitality and longevity. When we fail to address conflict in a constructive manner, it can grow into a huge barrier and hindrance to strong relationships.
Peacemaking doesn't focus on present tranquility but is directly interested in seeking resoluton to the issues that created the conflict in the first place. Conflict resolution through peacemaking often has a short-term cost but yields a tremendous long-term benefit.
In his book, The Peacemaker, Ken Sande teaches the P A U S E principle as a practical acronym for proactively approaching others to resolve conflict:
Prepare yourself for the conversation
Affirm the other person's dignity and worth
Understand the interests of the other person
Search for creative solutions
Evaluate options as objectively and reasonably as possible
Once reconciliation has taken place, Sande also suggests each partner make four promises to each other as a way to avoid rehashing the same issues in the future:
1. I will not dwell on this incident
2. I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you
3. I will not talk to others about this incident
4. I will not allow this incident to stand between us or hinder our relationship
These peacemaking principles will help us not only to resolve conflict in a biblical way but also to keep bitterness from creeping into our ministries and families...
Ken Sande, The Peacemaker 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004) pp. 267-68
Remember this is the Prince of Peace Season!!! He is our model, He is the greatest peacemaker.
Do you have the courage to be a peacemaker? Or are you just going to pull the covers over your "mess" while you try to keep the peace?
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
When I read this term, paint-by-number Christianity, I had an aha moment of connection with this writer. That best communicates what troubled me in church for decades. The programs and boxed in formulas just didn't cut into my pain and needs. When I experienced the Love of God and came to know Him personally in my heart I had the power within me to live vibrantly.In an interview with John Palmer conducted by Bill Dahl of "Next Wave Ezine" I discovered this wonderful article on Chrisitanity that is lived adventurously, yet with peace of mind. (Be sure to read the rest of the article: http://www.the-next-wave-ezine.info/ ).
More from Palmer, "John wrote, 'God is love.' This means much more than God chooses at times to do loving things. God's love is not a spigot that He turns off and on. It's always on because God IS love; love is the personal or intimate essence of every act, every motivation, and every thought, God is offering himself as Perfect Love. If knowing God as Perfect Love was the foundation or cornerstone of our spiritual or religious beliefs, our understandings would be radically altered, and we would be set free."
"What is God's best? It is Himself! Knowing God and being one with God, as Jesus prayed we would experience, is the key to our fulfillment and freedom. This is what God desires for all humankind. In every moment, Jesus was fully conscious and totally awake to His relationship with the Ultimate Source or God, which He called His 'Father,' a relationship of communion and love. To become rooted in and transformed by this Divine Love, to be this Love, as Christ is, is the heart of a proper Christology. I capitalize the word 'Love,' because I view it as Ultimate Reality of God. Love is not some flighty,sentimental, self-focused human emotion. Love is the Creator and Source of all that is real. Humans were made in the image of Love, and so Love is the ground of our being, and our natural inheritance. When someone is awakened to Love, they are awakened to the most transformative reality there is."
" Its power heals, sets people free, makes whole, and puts one at deep peace and joy. One way I experience it is a deep knowing that in every moment I am held in unconditional acceptance. When I allow myself to dwell there, all sense of separation form God is extinguished and I experience oneness with God. Free at last! Jesus prayed we would share in the communion of Love He experienced with the Father. "
Jim Palmers' website is terrific: http://www.turnloveinsideout.com/
I recall when the call of God on my life caused many of my friends to back off. They were church goers, but it was critically important to them to keep appearance in perfect order. My call involved hands on ministry to the needy, prisoners, women in crisis pregnancies, and others in great need. When I would get with my old friends we didn't have so much in common. I sensed that many of them thought I had settled for a life of faith that they perceived as a quiet and dull life.
Oh, my how wrong they were. I have never known such life in living color as the life I live in Christ. At times it takes my breath, and oh, how I long to have the skills to express my joy and sense of fulfillment. So I love Palmer's paint-by-number Christianity analogy. Until we break out the easel, the canvas and dare to "paint" with the leading of the Holy Spirit with the colors, design and technique He directs we are not really living the life Jesus Christ died to release to us.
Peace depends on the sense of being fully equipped, empowered, and lacking nothing. May every Christian give up the paint-by-number religious entrapment that holds them back from a full life connected to Holy God: Who is Love and Life!!!
Monday, December 8, 2008
- a. "a state of harmony, tranquility"
- b. "the absence of hostility, the absence of mental stress or anxiety"
In the Bible, the word peace is used to translate
- a. Shalom (Hebrew) - completeness, soundness, welfare, peace - BDB Hebrew Dictionary
- b. Eirene (Greek) - often refers to the inner tranquility and poise of the Christian whose trust is in God through Christ - Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary
Peace is a quality and virtue that is sorely needed in the world and church today, for... despite poverty, abuse, sickness, death, and loneliness people still find peace. This is the peace Paul talks about in Philippians 4:7: "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Have you had this experience in your walk with God? I agree with Apostle Paul, this peace"passes all understanding," and it must be experienced; but cannot be explained.
When I am reaching out to a "seeker" of spiritual wholeness-salvation there comes a moment in the dialogue where I see that mystified look come in their eyes. They can sense I am telling the truth about my life in Christ and the unexplainable peace and joy I know continually. But they have never known anything like that in their lives. Years ago I would try to explain it....now I know I cannot explain it to them. But the genuine credibility they pick up in my speech, body language and the life I live transparently causes them to hunger for Jesus Christ. At that moment; where they know I have something they do not have; I become: salt and light. Salt always makes someone thirsty. My prayer when I see the "look" come on them is that Holy Spirit will increase their thirst for Jesus and they will "have to" find Him to quench their thirst.When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us and rules our minds, thoughts, and desires, He produces peace and contentment in us.
Will you try to explain the unexplainable peace of God in your heart?
Clean humor and laughter
Thrive In Christ
For several months we will center on this book to pursue Thriving in our Christian journey.
Neil challenges us with: "Do you know who you are in God's eyes? We are no longer products of our past. We are primarily products of Christ's work on the cross. Who we are determines what we do.
You are not who you are in Christ because of the things you have done, you are in Christ because of what He has done. He died and rose again so that you and I could live in the FREEDOM of His love."
That's just the introduction. More to follow.