Practicing Peace ~ Jesus Calling: February 11-24

How do we “practice” peace?

In a previous post, I described the practice of thankfulness as being a discipline in one’s life. And as with any discipline, you only become more familiar with what you are practicing the more that you practice. As with thankfulness, I believe that practicing peace will not only bring Jesus into our daily lives, but it will also bring us closer to the mind of God.

The first element of practicing peace is believing that Jesus is who He says He is. There was much told to us about Jesus long before He was born — 700 years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah prophesied that “a virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14) and “…his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) The exact meaning of Immanuel — God With Us — was then shared by the angel who appeared to Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, in a dream to comfort and encourage him as well as remind him that Isaiah’s prophecy would be fulfilled (Matthew 1:20-23).

When we practice peace, we must understand that peace is not something that can be attained by delving more and more into ourselves, but by delving more and more into the person of Jesus. In the man of Jesus we not only have God With Us, but also the Prince of Peace and the source of all peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) We can dwell in this Peace, we can clothe ourselves in this Peace, we can abide and rest in this Peace. 

The second element of practicing peace is understanding that our thoughts are precious to God. We have to believe that He has an interest in how we choose to go about our day in terms of where our thoughts lead. Not only must we “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) but we must also trust that the Holy Spirit that lives within us will help us to think the thoughts of God. Practicing peace means choosing to spend our time focusing on God’s presence — a choice that we may need to make thousands of times each day — instead of choosing to focus on our problems and limitations.

Practicing peace means abandoning yourself to His will, tackling fear, and relinquishing control. Facing problems as they come instead of anticipating them. Exercising trust and being thankful in all circumstances. Focusing on what He is already doing in your life instead of striving to imagine what you wish He would do. Laying our weaknesses before Him with the assurance that He knows us intimately and that he accepts us completely.

I know, it sounds difficult if not impossible. But we take courage in God’s abundant promises: If you are in Christ you are a new creation — the old has passed away and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Not only is nothing impossible with God (Luke 1:37), but He is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21). And, thankfully, His grace is sufficient for us and, mercifully, His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Friends, enjoy the practice of peace.

Choosing a Mind of Peace ~ Jesus Calling: February 4-10

Many Christians today have heard the talk about “choosing to be Mary in a Martha world” or something similar. I don’t know about you, but that talk isn’t easy for me to listen to. You see, I’m a Martha. A born and bred Martha, from a Martha-mother and a Martha-grandmother before that. I’m not saying I enjoy being a Martha — personally, I’m tired of the struggle to have every dirty dish clean, every toy picked up, and every piece of clean laundry folded before I go to bed. I know that it’s all about choices, and I want to choose a mind of peace.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed — or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42) Jesus was trying to explain to Martha that when our minds turn away from God we grasp for other things. We create unnecessary burdens and unrest. By choosing “what is better” Mary had chosen a mind of peace — she had chosen Jesus.

Choosing a mind of peace means accepting myself and my circumstances just as they are, remembering the God is sovereign over EVERYTHING. All of the things that seem undone and messy, all of the loose ends and things that can’t seem to wait until tomorrow. These are unnecessary burdens and move my focus away from Jesus, who promised us rest for our souls. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

Living a Martha life is exhausting, but we shouldn’t be ashamed of this exhaustion. We can look at it as a platform for moving towards God — one moment at a time, one step at a time, one choice after another. Much of our weariness is a result of our constant battle against the distractions of the world. “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)

We are guaranteed to always have problems in this life, but they do not have to be our focus. God knows our weaknesses and chooses to meet us there. But we must choose to meet Him there as well. Remember that Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind, he became afraid and began to sink. He cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Jesus immediately reached out his hand, caught him, and asked “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14: 29-32)

Jesus Calling: January 28-February 3

Well, my plan to have this post up early this week got blown out of the water. My plate has been full with preparations for my daughter’s 3rd birthday party this weekend! I will, however, offer these thoughts from Jesus Calling January 28-February 3…and hope that they bless you nonetheless.

  • When the Presence of Jesus is the focal point of your consciousness, all the pieces of your life fall into place. The fact that Jesus is with you makes every moment of your life meaningful. Matthew 28:20; Psalm 139:1-4
  • You have the ability to choose the focal point of your mind – this is a sign of being made in God’s image.
  • Let the goal of the day be to bring every thought captive to Christ. Psalm 8:5, Genesis 1:26-27, 2 Cor 10:5, Isaiah 26:3
  • Whatever occupies your mind the most becomes your god.
  • God reads our thoughts, continually searching for evidence of trust in Him. Psalm 112:7, 1 Cor 13:11
  • Keep your mind on the present journey. Walk by faith not by sight. Psalm 18:29, Psalm 91:11-12, 2 Cor 5:7
  • Jesus is renewing your mind – a renewed mind is presence-focused. Train your mind to seek Christ in every moment, every situation. Romans 12:2, Psalm 105:4
  • Fix your eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. Focus on the Living One who sees you always. Romans 8:31, 2 Cor 4:18, Genesis 16:13-14

Regarding All Sentient Beings…

So begins a prayer chanted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the 1994 John Main Seminar in London. This yearly seminar is sponsored by the World Community for Christian Meditation, and was the first time that the Dalai Lama had been invited to comment publicly on the Gospels of Jesus Christ. It was truly a momentous occasion, captured in detail in the book The Good Heart, A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus. I share this prayer – not only because it is poignant and lovely – but because it vividly describes the view that I believe a Christian should have of his fellow man and the world. In Buddhist terms, it beautifully reflects Christ’s example of humility as described in Philippians 2:1-8:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

“When His Holiness resumed his place on a straight chair in the center of the raised platform, the lights were dimmed in the auditorium. He tucked and folded various ends and corners of his robes, shifted and settled his body into a quiet position, took out his beads, closed his eyes, and began to pray. It must have struck many members of the audience who have Catholic mothers and grandmothers how the Dalai Lama’s small preparations and especially his completely familiar, comfortable, easy, and tender way with the beads seemed to cut across the divisions of culture and language. The chant itself did not sound at all like a Hail Mary, but the reverence with which it was sung and listened to was unmistakable.

Regarding all sentient beings
as excelling even the wish-granting gem
for accomplishing the highest aim,
may I always hold them most dear.

When in the company of others
I shall always consider myself the lowest of all,
And from the depth of my heart
Hold them dear and supreme.

Vigilant, the moment a delusion appears,
Which endangers myself and others,
I shall confront and avert it
Without delay.

When I see beings of wicked nature
Overwhelmed by violent negative actions and suffering
I shall hold such rare ones dear,
As if I have found a precious treasure.

When others, out of envy, treat me with abuse,
Insult me or the like,
I shall accept defeat,
And offer the victory to others.

When someone I have benefited
And in whom I have great hopes
Gives me terrible harm,
I shall regard him as my holy spiritual friend.

In short, both directly and indirectly, do I offer
Every benefit and happiness to all sentient beings, my mothers;
May I secretly take upon myself
All their harmful actions and suffering.

May they not be defined by the concepts
Of the eight profane concerns,
And aware that all things are illusory,
may they, ungrasping, be freed from bondage.