To all who have come across this blog and left comments, I want to thank you. This blog has been officially retired because life is moving on; however, because of the popularity of certain posts and topics I am leaving the blog out there in “cyberspace” so that others may have the opportunity to read and contribute. I will continue to approve comments. Blessings to all.
I realized recently that I spend a great deal of time walking circles around my house, trying to figure out the next thing I need to do, trying to plan ahead to save time, trying to remember something that I’m sure I’ve forgotten. Basically, trying to figure out the future. And this is not a peaceful place to be.
The author of Jesus Calling tells us that trying to figure out the future is grasping at things that belong to God. The “secret things” — and this, like all forms of worry, is an act of rebellion. Doubting God’s promise that He will care for us. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)
In short, we should repent about worrying about the future. Jesus tells us very clearly, “Do not be anxious about your life…” (Luke 12:22) What do we think is going to happen? Do we really believe that at some point God will show us the future? If He did, what would be our need for Him? God is not in the business of showing us the future, but He is in the business of guiding us step by step and opening up the way before us as we go. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8)
God is fully aware of all aspects of our situation. We don’t need to “carry tomorrow’s burdens today” — we need to discipline ourselves to live within the boundaries of today. Receive the peace of knowing that God walks with us in the present moment, helping us to carry the burdens of the present moment. “I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.” (Psalm 73:23) Do you doubt that God has you on the right path? Receive the peace of knowing that when Jesus gave the command “You follow me!” (John 21:22) that He also promised to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105).
The riches of God’s peace are the abundant joy and life that we receive by restoring our focus on Jesus and simply trusting. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) Be bold enough to refuse to worry. Instead, bring the riches of the Peace of Jesus into your life: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Rejoice in the riches of peace.
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.
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)
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
We all have a deep desire to be fully understood by the people we love. This is our life search — understanding from our parents, our spouse, our children. We pursue this understanding relentlessly, forgetting that we are already fully understood by Jesus. The Lord ensured Samuel that “The LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7). When we are in the middle of sadness, we are sure our hearts are empty and no one can understand our despair. Is it possible to rest in knowing that Jesus looks on your heart, sees you, and offers you the peace of being fully understood? As the author of Jesus Calling says, “Do not be ashamed of your emptiness.” You are a vessel waiting to be filled.
We are offered “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) Jesus is this Peace, offered to us moment by moment. We spend so much of our time rehearsing our troubles and multiplying our suffering. Our human nature propels us to try to figure out what will happen next, how we can prepare, how we can avoid trouble. Our first parents desired this knowledge and it led to the fall of humanity. It was then that the Enemy promised the first and greatest lie: “…your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5) The peace that God offered to our first parents — the peace of simply being in His presence and being fully understood — was the peace that we rejected then and continue to reject today.
God promises that “you will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) Seeking His peace moment by moment is probably one of the most difficult things we can do. But we can do it, knowing that we are fully saturated in His grace and fully understood.
As I begin to think about blogging again, I realized that I should probably review my “About Me” page to see if it is still relevant! Probably the most upsetting thing was having to change “thirty-something” to “forty-something” but hey…not much I can do about that. The goal of this blog is still relatively the same, although God has certainly been moving in my life differently since I became a mother almost 3 years ago. I realize more acutely that time is extremely limited and I don’t want to miss a moment of my daughter’s life if I can help it.
This year I will be re-reading Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling devotional and blogging about it each week. If you haven’t picked up this devotional, you should (there’s even a gorgeous leather edition). I can’t count the number of times of the last year that I shared her words with a friend or family member, either by email, Facebook, or even snapping a photo of the day’s message with my iPhone and sending it via text message. It is amazing!! I will of course try to post about other things that inspire me, and I welcome suggestions from any readers out there.
Blessings to you in 2013.
I want to take a moment and thank all of you who have taken time to visit my blog and post a comment. I regret that my blog has been inactive for a couple of years (I’m raising a toddler!) but I plan to begin blogging again soon and hope that you will continue to visit. There have been so many compelling responses to my various blog posts, some creating more reader interest than others, and for that I am truly thankful. Please expect to hear from me soon!
Our precious daughter, Selah Noel, came into the world on February 13, 2010. She is a beautiful, amazing reflection of God’s grace. We were told by the experts that we would likely never conceive a child on our own. More specifically, we were given a 0%-4% chance of conceiving naturally. Glory to God that He had other plans. We did conceive naturally and now have a healthy baby girl as a testament to God’s grace and sovereignty in our lives.
We chose the name Selah because it means to pause and reflect. We pray that our daughter will live life in this way — as a child of God who takes the time to savor life and reflect on the blessings of God at every twist and turn. We love you Baby Selah. You are nothing but pure joy to me and your Daddy.
Haiti suffered a 7.3 magnitude earthquake the afternoon of 1/12. Our friends at El Shaddai Ministries are struggling to communicate and find out the status of the hundreds of orphans in their care. Pastor Louis St. Germain, leader of El Shaddai Ministries who lives in the southern city of Les Cayes, had this update today:
- Global Orphan Project (Christ-centered organization well-connected with local Haitian networks; currently trying to get 1-2 months extra supply of food to the many orphans close to the epicenter of the quake)
- Food for the Hungry (Gospel-centered ministry with holistic philosophy of relief and development, currently with first responders coming from the Dominican Republic)
- American Red Cross (You can text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross relief for Haiti)
- Mission to North America (This is the Haitian church-planting arm of the PCA where you can donate directly to the Haitian locals of El Shaddai Ministries who know firsthand the needs of their own people)