Warm Wednesday Words: Peace

I was a child of the 60’s and blossomed in the  70’s, “the Peace Movement decade”, which was anything but peaceful.  The lingering Vietnam war, campus riots, the Jim Jones mass suicide/murder case and many other social injustices brewed anger.  Peace signs were everywhere from wall graffiti to embroidered on our bell bottoms, purses, and book covers.

embroidered peace patchThe Beatles came on the scene and turned pop rock culture on its head, not only because of their pleasing abandonment to energetic musical expression, but also because they used their platform for political and social expression in a period when everyone wanted new and public venues of expression.

second pic of the BeatlesThe church embraced the peace movement in so far as connecting with the culture and we sang songs such as the one below.  Youth groups became the poster child of the traditional church, meeting in coffee houses and other such non traditional settings.

Often the most vociferous protestors for peace seemed to emanate the least amount of it.  But in spite of a decade or more of clamoring for political and public peace, it remained illusive on many levels.  That’s not really surprising because true peace is not about our circumstances or world affairs that effect us.  Circumstances may rock our world, but they can’t steal our inner peace once we have time to reflect on God’s perspective.

peace protestorsOswald Chambers said in his August 26 “My Utmost for His Highest” devotional, ‘Are you painfully disturbed just now, distracted by the waves and billows of God’s providential permission…is all barren?  Then look up and receive the undisturbedness of the Lord Jesus.  Reflected peace is the proof that you are right with God because you are at liberty to turn your mind to Him.  If you are not right with God, you can never turn your mind anywhere but on yourself….Lay it all out before Him, and in the face of difficulty, bereavement and sorrow, hear Him…’  John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”

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Warm Wednesday Words: Fresh Starts and a Grateful Heart

photo.phpFresh morning starts for me involve breakfast and coffee with Tony, cool morning air (preferably sitting on the “chicken yard bench”,  a scripture promise to focus on throughout the day, some worship time with music and a grateful heart.

ytyGod really is greater then all my concerns and as a friend texted me this week…”Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—”(Eph. 3:20).  There is so much in that one verse!  Yes, He is able.  He can do so much above and beyond what I even ask or think!  Last is the catch, if there is one.  It works according to the power that works in us, which hinges on our belief and trust in Him.  This morning I am again thankful for fresh starts to to humble myself before Him and let His power be at work in me. 

forgiven much loves much

As our pastor said in another great message Sunday, we have to make a choice who we will be like, the prideful Pharisee who was consumed with a judgmental, critical spirit, or the humble woman known as a sinner, who could not stop her tears of gratefulness for her Savior.  (Luke 7:36-50) Though the Lord is exalted, He takes note of the humble; but He knows the haughty from a distance.”  Ps. 138:6 HCSB

“Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning great is Your faithfulness! I say: The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.”  Lamentations 3:22-24

Warm Wednesday Words: What is Needed in the Storm

friends pick us up

I’m going through a season of storms, changes and stretches in my life, and so are several of my friends.  Looking back I know that God put many details in place in my life in preparation for this time.  That He did this and impressed several scriptural promises on me beforehand gives me confidence as I walk this path.  Just as I take shelter in a physical storm, I often take shelter in stormy life seasons.  I allow myself the privilege of being hidden in Christ in more meaningful ways then times of “clear skies”.  Making time for deeper and more personal Bible study, reading, journaling, prayer time and worship are all helpful during life storms, even if I have to give up on something I normally make time for.  Just as in a physical storm I might not put myself in the same places as in clear weather for practical and safety reasons, so in a life storm I allow myself to pursue supports that are helpful and loyal, and am cautious about places that may be hurtful.

storms change usOther then my sweet and dependable family members, who I do not take for granted, and especially my husband who prays often while he drives during the day and who is a great listener,  God put other supports in place. They would include prayer warriors, those who encourage, concerned and empathetic listeners, good church leaders and teachers, a generous friend or two offering their skill sets, and a mentor who pours herself into exhorting me and believing in me when I need it the most.  She often asks me to choose her role for the eye of the storm, and if it’s possible she fulfills it.  All of these supports are just the vessels God has used to pour out His love.  They are special, very, very special, but they simply point to a personal God who seems to be saying through them, “It is Me!  I am with you in this storm.

your silent presenceOswald Chambers said (Aug 12 “My Utmost for His Highest”), ‘There are stages in life when…a crisis arises that we instantly reveal upon whom we rely.  If we have been learning to worship God and to trust Him, the crisis will reveal that we will go to the breaking point and not break in our confidence in Him.”

blessing while going through your own stormWhen Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He didn’t suddenly run out of energy when he asked Lazarus’s friends to remove the grave clothes.  He wanted them to be a part of the burden bearing and therefore the bonds that come about from shared burdens and the joy that comes about from answered prayer and miracles.  What is needed in the storm are supports that get us through.  And, interestingly, this is a mutual need and blessing.  What supports has God put in your life to get you through stormy seasons?  Do you see Him in them?  How do you provide support for your friends when they are in a stormy season?

Warm Wednesday Words: BUT TAKE HEART

Tonight I am torn between two worlds.  The one my feet are in is full of burdens and heartaches.  There are sweet moments with family and friends but oh how I long for the world I really live in in my heart and soul.  The one my soul is in is full of celebration and good cheer.  My God doesn’t waste difficult circumstances.  He makes hearts soften, turns them radically toward Him, proves His Word and glorifies His Name.  When I focus on this, how can I not rejoice no matter what circumstances I find myself in?

Recently I was thinking about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel chapter 3).  I had always remembered their story as one of God dramatically rescuing them from their trauma although they had boldly alleged their trust in God no matter what He chose to do for them!  But God didn’t rescue them immediately.  They first fell headlong into an intense fire that consumed the guards standing at the top.  And we don’t really know if they had immediate assurance that they would be brought out of this fiery furnace quickly and restored to their “normal” life.  We DO know that there was divine protection while they were IN the fire, and that they were aware of the presence of the very Son of God with them!

And that’s the promise we have.  We will always have God’s divine presence in fiery trials when we have made Him our Lord.  Whether or not we have deliverance before we end up in the midst of a trial is not the important thing for those of us who love God and devote ourselves to Him.  His presence is precious and personal and gives us strength and that is the important thing.  The joy of knowing His deeply intimate love in fiery trials is truly worth the suffering and heartache.

9ac24c0816603ad346de59b79bb522d9As Oswald Chamber says, “God does not give us overcoming life:  He gives us life as we overcome.  The strain is the strength.  If there is not strain, there is no strength.  Are you asking God to give you life and liberty and joy?  He cannot, unless you will accept the strain.  Immediately you face the strain, you will get the strength…If you spend yourself out physically, you become exhausted, but spend yourself spiritually, and you get more strength.”

if there is no strain, there is no strength