Thursday, November 7, 2013

Unbreakable Peace

Doing my homework for a theology class and rediscovered this golden egg:

 “I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Comforter instead of me*—and by the Comforter I mean the Holy Spirit—He will teach you much, as well as remind you of everything I myself have told you. “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 14:25-27(NLB)

The peace which Christ gives is infinitely more valuable than that which the world gives. The world’s peace begins in ignorance, consists with sin, and ends in endless troubles; Christ’s peace begins in grace, consists with no allowed sin, and ends at length in everlasting peace. As is the difference between a killing lethargy and a reviving refreshing sleep, such is the difference between Christ’s peace and the world’s... Let not your heart be troubled, for any evils past or present, neither let it be afraid of any evil to come. Note, Those that are interested in the covenant of grace, and entitled to the peace which Christ gives, (and) ought not to yield to overwhelming griefs and fears. - Matthew Henry

Peace Defined (by someone smarter than me): The Meaning of Peace. In English, the word "peace" conjures up a passive picture, one showing an absence of civil disturbance or hostilities, or a personality free from internal and external strife. The biblical concept of peace is larger than that, and rests heavily on the Hebrew root slm, which means "to be complete" or "to be sound."  God alone is the source of peace, for he is "Yahweh Shalom". The Old Testament anticipated, and the New Testament confirmed, that God's peace would be mediated through a Messiah. Peace with God came through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The verb conveys both a dynamic and a static meaning"to be complete or whole" or "to live well." The noun had many nuances, but can be grouped into four categories: 

  • (1) salom [l'v] as wholeness of life or body (i.e., health); 
  • (2) salom [l'v] as right relationship or harmony between two parties or people, often established by a covenant 
  • (3) salom [l'v] as prosperity, success, or fulfillment (see Lev 26:3-9 ); 
  • (4) salom [l'v] as victory over one's enemies or absence of war. 

The peace my Jesus gives is not rooted in my present circumstance.
The peace my Jesus gives is not about how I feel or what I think.
The peace my Jesus gives has nothing to do with my heath, my work or my bank account.

My peace begins with God's grace. HIS extension of Himself in ways I could never deserve and can hardly imagine. My peace begins with Jesus. Not earthly blessings. Not a life time of days filled with nothing by butterfly kisses and rainbow filled skies. God's peace does not mean that my life will be stress free or strife free. Real life has ebbs and sways. There is good and bad, easy and not so easy, songs of praise and rivers of tears. Sometimes I see God's hand at work, and I think "wow, that is amazing. Isn't the way God worked all of that out so cool!" Other times, there are moments when all I  can think is "I will never understand this. It's so wrong. It's so unfair. It's so not the way it should be!"

God's peace does not solve the struggle of this human life. God's peace does not sugar coat hard times, heart aches, and the valleys of darkness that we sometimes walk through. God's peace doesn't mean that I will always understand, always be happy and that things will always be fair. But God's peace does remind me that this is not my home. This is not my final destination. This is not how the story ends. And I am NEVER ALONE!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Life is Too Short

Today we prepare for our 3rd funeral in four months. Later this week will be the 4th service in 4 months. This really sucks.
Don - a friend and a father
Josh - a friend and a son
Eddie - a friend and an uncle
Dr. Ken Johnson - chair of the Engineering Department at Olivet Nazarene University, mentor

Each left a lasting mark on the world and on the hearts of those who had the privilege to know them and share life with them for a while. Loved. Missed. Never to be forgotten.

So here are my thoughts for the day. Give them a read, or roll 'um and smoke 'um - it's really up to you. But remember this: Life is short, it goes by fast, and it really has a strange way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it so...

  • Don't wait to get right with God. Death waits for no one - and He loves you so much.
  • Don't be defined by the opinions of others, in the end, God's opinion is the only one that counts.
  • Don't be afraid when God asks you to do what seems crazy or impossible.
  • Don't be afraid to ask God hard questions and seek fervently to discover His truths.
  • Don't waste time holding on to hurts from the past. Unforgiveness is a poison that slowly rots the soul.
  • Tell Satan to shut up  when he tries to define you by who you use to be - you are a new creation.
  • Start every day with Jesus. It may not change what happens that day, but it will surely affect how you handle it.
  • Treat Prayer as a first resource and not a last resort.
  • Anyone can make a short term change; only God can transform
  • Give people the freedom to move on from the failures of their past.
  • Kiss your mamma and your daddy, your babies and your grandparents - regardless of your age or theirs.
  • Make the most of every moment, we never get them back.
  • Say I love you whenever you can.
  • Be quick to say I am sorry and mean it - whenever it is necessary.
  • Marry your best friend, and work every day to protect and grow that love.
  • Pray with your spouse daily and hold hands.
  • Take a break and live an unscheduled life every now and again.
  • Rejoice when your friends rejoice and cry with them in the hard times.
  • Pick your battles wisely and remember that timing is everything.
  • Take a deep breath when the kids act like kids.
  • Raise your kids to be Christ centered, functioning adults.
  • Socks on the floor are not the end of the world - neither are empty milk cartons in the fridge or empty cereal boxes on the shelves. Not replacing the empty toilet paper with a fresh roll is NOT cool, and if you should happen to take out the trash - good job, now take 5 seconds and put in a new trash bag.
  • Good character is more important than good grades - but good grades are good.
  • Accept that the things of greatest worth in this world cannot be bought.
  • Treasure trusted friendships, they are not easily or quickly replaced.
  • Eat dinner at the table. Ask dorky questions and listen to the answers.
  • People may not always remember what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
  • Do what you can, when you can, and put it all in God's hands.
  • Every once in a while eat chocolate cake for breakfast.
  • Be the best Jesus you can be to everyone you meet - they may only get to know Him thru you.
Search me Oh God and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting. Psalms 139:23-24

Monday, November 4, 2013

Praying My Way Out

One day last week a friend of mine on Facebook had the following post:


I have to admit, I "liked" it - a lot. My patience seems to be thin; I just don't have much sympathy or patience for the miss use of prayer and the misplacing of blame. Don't get me wrong. I am a huge fan of prayer. It should be where we start, where we live, and where we finish in all things. A first resource and not a last resort.  But here's the rub for me: What about all of those times when I do this or I do that? I think about it and decide it's the right choice. I talk it over with some friends. I do what I am gonna do, get the ball rolling so to speak and then pause and say..."hey God where are ya, why isn't this working out like we had planned?" It makes me crazy when people get mad at God when they find themselves in a place in life that they "chose their self into". Stop blaming God for your poor personal choice.

Well, funny thing. God decided we would just chew on that for awhile. It wasn't fun, at 3am on Saturday morning. Yeah.

It started with the almost audible voice of God saying to me "Without me dear daughter, where would you be?" Honestly - Hell. "And did you behave yourself there?" Honestly - Yep. "And how did you change that?" Shoot - A prayer of confession. "So basically you prayed yourself out of where you had behaved yourself into?"  Yeah God, but that was then and this in now. "And now is it your belief that you are doing it all right all of the time?" Well, what can I say to that.

Just 'cause a girl is saved, doesn't mean that sin isn't gonna try and trip her up. Sometimes we make poor choices that are rooted in sin. We run ahead of God, even with good intentions, and then realize that God seems no place to be found . We might drag our feet and later have to face the truth that delayed obedience is in fact disobedience. We make the willful decision to do, say and think things that are contrary to God's character and we violate our love relationship with Him. Prayer and repentance will deal fully and completely with the eternal consequence of every sin. Divine forgiveness doesn't negate the earthly consequences that may follow - regardless of spiritual repentance. Prayer changes things. Big things and little things. Physical things and eternal things. Emotional things and psychological things. BUT - earthy choices often carry earthly consequences. There are times when we make choices that are not sin at all, but they are not smart choices and they come back to bite us.  Matt and I have made some poor financial decisions in the past, not sin - but not smart.  Pray as we might, we still had to live with the consequence. It doesn't mean God wasn't there and it doesn't mean that God didn't care. Prayer should not be viewed as the cosmic eraser that I can use to "fix" things that I have behaved my way into. Sometimes I just have to learn the hard way - and God still holds my hand.

God - show me the offensives ways in me.
God - lead me in your everlasting.
Let me hold tight to you when my consequences hurt or are hard.