There is much to be said about the word Peace. The dictionary gives the following definition for peace: freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility. Or, freedom from or the cessation of war or violence. There is a third however that is not written in the dictionary, and that is the kind of peace that only Christ can bestow upon his beloved. This peace is tranquil and quiet, yet it is also something else that I have yet to find the word for. It’s the kind of quiet that goes beyond just the noise around us. It’s a calming of the body, calming of the mind and calming of the soul.
Having peace in situations that are difficult, can be difficult in and of themselves, however, through prayer and scripture we see that peace is attainable when one has that relationship with our Lord and Savior. He gives that peace of knowledge that all will be well and all will be dealt with. That He and He alone can settle the most vile of offenses, most obnoxious behavior, and the results of such in observers.
As I have looked around the last year, it seems that the world has gone crazy. There is so much violence, there is so much heartache and people are just well….not behaving appropriately. It is very discouraging and could be very depressing. Knowing the Lord has helped me to focus more on Him and not so much on that which the world would like to throw at us and at me. Having some perspective and knowing that I cannot control people, their behavior or the world in which I live has given me peace. Why? Because it is a burden that is lifted when I read scripture and when I pray. A burden of feeling like I have to hold people accountable to their sin, or that I need to help the weak by taking on their troubles. God has a plan for each of us. He knows that which we are able to handle and that which will make us stronger in our faith and relationship with Him. He makes us stronger in the valley’s so that we can look up and see his glory at the top of the mountain. Waiting on Him to give us that peace is what I think is the most difficult. Sometimes, we feel that if there is not peace at that moment then we have to do something. Sometimes, we just need to sit back and watch, wait and listen. Allow God to be all that He is and let Him take over that which we are not capable.
Friends, I ask you to pray with me this day on the burdens that are around us. Pray that we can do what we can without feeling the burden of making “everything all right”. We are here to assist with what we can, love those who seek our love and learn to accept the peace from our everlasting Father.
I haven’t written once again and although I consider it I am lost in my thoughts without much to say.
I recently commented to a few individuals I respect, how much I cannot understand the sin of the world. It dumb founds me. I mean, I know it is because of the fall of man yet I see so much evil and sin around me that I just have a difficult time understanding it or wrapping my head around it. I think that’s why I haven’t been able to write. I just cannot seem to say what I want to.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16
As I sit here on this beautiful day, I praise God that my family is together, we respect one another, we praise and worship together and we stand by one another. I thank God for saving me and capturing my heart, turning me away from the sin of the world and for saving my husband and children. I know that we will make mistakes and be tempted as long as we are here on this earth, yet I also know that God has instilled in us the moral character of faithful Christians who will recognize temptation as it comes our way so that we will have the ability to turn away and turn toward Him. Oh the blessing of His saving Grace and for His Word that sustains and leads.
Last night we said goodbye to another beloved family member. It’s interesting how life works and how even when a loved one has turned away from God for the purpose of self indulgences, family still stands by out of love for that individual and can pray and weep in mourning together. He may not have been perfect, he had his faults, yet he was loved by many.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Corinthians 13:7
Over the years I sat by and observed how my uncle loved his children and those around him. He tried to be a part of their lives in so many ways. His children unfortunately, no matter how hard he tried, walked away from him in either silence or defiance. Their sin was repeatedly overlooked by him due to his love for them. I never understood why he continued to try so hard only to be disappointed over and over. In the last few years of his life, my uncle had let go of trying so hard and accepted his place in their lives, which by witnessing his lifestyle became apparent he had a hole in his heart he was trying to fill.
I was sitting here this afternoon, resting, eating my lunch, and watching the end of a movie, during which I was profoundly overcome with tears and joy over a discussion that took place in the movie. Let me recap the conversation:
Man: “Do you love me?”
Woman: “What is your interest in me? What do you want? I don’t get it? I’m old, I’m broke, I can’t cook a decent meal, I’m fat…Why would you love a ruined person that ruins other people?”
Man: “Is that it? You think that because you screwed up once you don’t get a second chance?”
(Fast forward through the description of his sinfulness of adultery etc.)
Man: “My kids are still mad. I get a calendar for Christmas. It doesn’t matter if your kids love you or not…It’s not their job to love you….It’s your job to love them! That’s why you were put here. That’s why you’re their mom. That’s why I’m my kids dad. I love my kids so much….”
I thought of two things:
While my uncle had so may years of loving and forgiving his children for their own sin, his love for them was felt and known. Whether or not they accepted it didn’t matter, they knew he loved them unconditionally. He didn’t put prerequisites on their behavior in order for him to love them, he just did because he was their dad. He forgave them time and time again, waiting patiently for them to come to him while still showing them he loved them. With sadness, he never got to witness their homecoming back into his life. It was on his deathbed that one of his children stood over him holding his hand telling him he loved him. His other child lives across the country so it’s unknown what their reaction was. I am betting that there was soul searching and a broken heart.
I listened to the conversation, with ears hearing that of the Father who gave so much for his children out of unconditional love. I know that the movie did not intend to portray that of scripture, yet for me it struck a chord and moved me to finally be able to write what I’m thinking. As a parent, do we love our children unconditionally? Do I love my children and look beyond their sin? Do I show them how much I love them? When I am departing this world will my children be able to say, “Mom loved me and gave me her all. She wasn’t selfish in her own ambitions in life, she was not into self indulgences, she was a woman filled with the Word of God loving, serving and forgiving unconditionally”?
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1John 4:7-11
I am sad for my uncle that he could not see how much his children loved him, yet, as spoken above, I think God has used and will continue to use the examples he set for others to perhaps take note and consider. If not now, then perhaps when and or if the Lord calls them by name. He loved unconditionally and he lived and died unknowing. I will miss his love for my family, especially for my mom. He was there for her from the beginning, always embracing the roll of the big brother, protecting and supporting in some of her darkest moments of fear, rejection and loss. His love for my own family over many years was amazing. He took an interest….. I think that’s the part I have missed and will continue to miss the most. I don’t know whether or not I will see my uncle again as I don’t know where he stood with God. Sadly he did not live a life dedicated to Jesus Christ according to His Word. I only know that whatever relationship he had with God is between the two of them, and God has blessed me with the treasured memories of a predominantly selfless man that will have to last a lifetime.
Perhaps this is a bunch of jumbled thoughts to you dear reader, yet I hope that through my writing I have offered you something. Either sparked a thought, sparked a conversation or sparked an interest in learning more of a loving Father and that in which we are created for on this earth.
The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1Timothy 1:5
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21
God’s care for his people is sufficient! There can be no doubt. Joy comes from knowing who He is, what He has done for us, what he has provided for us, and what we have to look forward to in serving Him. I sat in amazement the other night in church as the teaching was on Approaching God from Psalm 131. It was a very nice follow up to what I had previously that morning posted on my blog. It wrapped up my thoughts and was like a gift handed back. I just had to share it here with you. Hope you will take the time to listen.
The day has arrived. The gifts are strategically placed under the tree. The children arise with excitement while breakfast warms in the oven.
Quickly, the morning passes by. The mimosa’s were sipped and the table was cleared while all who enjoyed sat with full stomachs relaxing to sounds of Christmas music and small talk. It seems as though the day has brought joy and cheer. Yet, there is a longing in the heart for more. Something that cannot be purchased in a store. Something that cannot be planned. Something greater than anyone can explain or put a monetary amount to. The salvation of a lost soul.
Given this day, the awaited Messiah was presented to a fallen humanity. The birth of a child that will save sinners from death. The knowledge of Him and His saving grace is by itself is the greatest gift given on this Christmas day. That we recognize the importance of God’s gracious gift and His unconditional love makes all the fuss of the celebration seem insignificant. The true blessing and true gift of immeasurable splendor…Our Lord Jesus Christ!
From our family to yours, we wish all a Merry Christmas.
Hoping that everyone will take a moment to read this blog post. It’s a wonderful thought provoking post.
Kindness and integrity are something that are rarely seen today. I know the answer to the why question is sin. It still astounds me however, that even as “cultured”, well rounded, and advanced we are as a society and in our understanding of the world and one another we seem to lack kindness and integrity. Lost somewhere between the “all about me” and “life is good” mentality.
Last week I received an invitation from a former doctors office (of which I left 3 years ago). The invitation was for classes that were coming up called “Eliminate Bottom Feeders”. The minute I saw the title I was stunned. Reading more of it I was flabbergasted at the “all about me” instruction I was invited to. It read:
How miserable are you with the toxic people in your life? ARE YOU READY TO BE A BETTER YOU in every life situation no matter who is in front of you?……..instructions to transform your life into one of simplicity and freedom……Best of all, you’ll learn the proven methods to attract positive, loving, and inspiring people into your world today.
I cannot write any more of what is on this flyer. I’m frustrated just writing it. Seriously? The all about “me” worldly viewpoint once again protruding off the page. Call me old fashioned, call me old or call me anything, however, this is down right what is wrong with our society and world as a whole. We fight for ideology, we fight for justice (as long as it benefits us) and we fight for happiness (our own). What ever happened to fighting for others for no good reason or for justice just because it’s morally the right thing to do. Our culture seems to enjoy reality shows where people are glamified in their sins and any redeeming quality that does exist is overshadowed by laughter, criticism and hatefulness.
Is this what is wrong with our youth? Is the next generation going to serve a purposeful place in society? The questions should be considered.
There are several situations that have recently transpired in in the last week where I’ve had to look around and consider how to handle individuals that have taken the “me” attitude. In dealing with those situations, with those individuals I have considered just turning them away because as the class title states, they were bottom feeders. Anyone who knows me however, knows that doing that is not in my personality. I have had to consider in each situation the attempt to overshadow the “me” concept with love, forgiveness and kindness. I’ve prayed over my own heart and asked for guidance in my reactions. In order to understand more clearly I also looked up “bottom feeder” and this is what it said:
bottom feeder – leech, or in other words a total lack of responsibility to provide for oneself. Relies heavily upon friends, neighbors or anyone really for sustenance.
This of course allowed something to lay upon my heart with great pressure. That if someone is a bottom feeder, and they are going to rely on others for sustenance, can’t we assist them by being a good example and steward in what it means to give back? I mean, if they are going to rely on us, perhaps that is God’s way of blessing us with opportunity. Perhaps, that is where He will use us in our service to Him. Just maybe, that person is someone that needs to see kindness so that they too may go out one day and bless another with the same. What if we as a society, stopped watching all of the “me” media and reality shows with our children and rather, began to outsource our energy to brighten someone else’s day with a kind gesture, a kind word, or a smile. What about a meal for someone who is unable to cook, weeding someones garden because they aren’t able, taking in a neighbors garbage can when it blows in the street or even opening a door for someone who is struggling whether it be due to little children or a disability? What about a prayer and an email to someone you know needs the encouragement? Most of all what about forgiveness? The posibilities are endless. Remember, bottom feeder are also the ones that are cleaning the tanks. They are of value and they could be your blessing.
Our culture also tries to make our children and one another believe that every relationship is a fairytale. That every day you wake up you should be singing, laughing and never complaining. I’m sorry to say that you can read self help books till the cow’s come home and you will never find that to be true. If all that is taught is what is in the movies or on reality TV about what they call “true” happiness, one is surely to be disappointed. In fact, maybe that’s why so many people are on antidepressant drugs. Perhaps, rather than instructing one another on how to rid ourselves of people who drag us down, maybe we should begin sharing with one another how we have dealt with struggles in our own lives. You never know, it just may assist in the mind set of someone who has a lack of coping skills. Life is full of challenges and we cannot escape them, we need to learn to cope with them.
John 16:33English Standard Version (ESV)
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Now, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. There are boundaries to everything, and there are priorities. We should not be forsaking our families attention for that of others. We do not put our families on hold so that we can attempt to “save the world”. However, we should be able to balance our families and others who maybe don’t know what it means to not be selfish. Even the example of serving our families can be seen by others. When I was in College, one of our classes required us to read a book called, Give A Man A Fish and He Will Eat For A Day, Teach A Man To Fish and He Will Eat For A LifeTime. A concept we have long forgotten.
As I ponder this week how I may assist in showing that which I know to be good stewardship to all those I encounter, I consider also what it means to be content. Content with this life on this earth. Contentment with illness, with family, with friends, with volunteering my time and with contentment in all things. I hope that you too will consider where our society is today and the culture that is vastly becoming all of our reality. How can we play a part in transforming just one person from being a “me” thinking individual to being a “difference maker”.
(I personally would like to have my own class…6 weeks in teaching others how to go beyond themselves in behavior and in thought.) ha ha ha
ESV — 1 Timothy 6:1-10 6 Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants1 regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.
False Teachers and True Contentment
Teach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound 2 words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and3 we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
Wearily pulling myself out of self loathing yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit with a friend whom is no longer able to walk and is finishing out her young life knowing that she is fading away into the arms of her savior. I was so blessed and refreshed by the visit, that I had to ask God’s forgiveness for the moments prior to our time together. After all, I had been questioning what good was going to come of such a visit when I was so tired from battling my pneumonia for the last 3 weeks. I did not feel like smiling, I just wanted to sleep and rest in the comfort of my living room. Venturing out into the cold was not appealing, even though I had an errand I had to run prior to the visit. I pondered forgoing the errand and the visit. It’s amazing how God uses times like those to touch our inner being, reminding us that there is so much to do and so little time for the joy of the Lord to be shared with others. I came home physically tired, yet spiritually uplifted. My original intention of visiting my friend was because I thought I was going to bless her, yet, God blessed me instead with a sustainable energy that kept me going for the rest of the night and He reminded me of the grace of humility.
There is no place for self loathing or a self serving attitude for Christians who know Him.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you , declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:11-14
For the last year, life has had it’s ups and downs with my diagnosis of Lyme Disease. The loneliness of having a physical disability is only known by those who are also afflicted with such circumstances. For this reason, I was determined that when I felt better, I was going to start weekly visits with my friend whom I had neglected prior to my own illness. I remember having the need to visit her, however, I am embarrassed to admit that time was filled with so many other things to do that I never made the time. I was just too busy, plain and simple. Isn’t that so like our society today? We spend so much time doing so many great things that have such little value. Yet the things that mean so much, we brush aside thinking they are not of great significance.
I challenge you reader to consider your own life and ask yourself this question, “What have I done today that was not for my own gratification?” If you ask yourself that question and find that you cannot come up with one thing, I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and give it a try. If you are only doing for others so that you will benefit, you have not challenged yourself enough. Try taking time out of your day to do something for someone that will not have anything to do with benefiting yourself. Let me explain. If you partake on a mercy mission for someone else, make sure you are not thinking that it’s for your own benefit or self glorification that you are doing it. True acts of kindness, love and humility do not come from knowledge, they come from the heart. Outpouring unconditionally!
Last year there were several wonderful friends who took time out of their days to sit with me or write to me. The fact that they thought of me and prayed for me was enough, but these women actually took the time out of their busy lives to let me know. Unconditionally! From guilt free quilting to those friday pizza nights where I would otherwise have sat here alone. From e-cards of inspiration to the hand written notes mailed through the post, I was blessed by the giving of their time. I can only hope that they too felt blessed by the love they shared with this lonely Christian in her time of need for fellowship.
My friend and I sat together yesterday and began reading a book. Although my friend can no longer read and I am actually doing the reading, our discussions during and afterward were wonderful. We began the first week with the first two chapters of the book and studying Psalm 13.
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep and the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13
We both discussed how blessed we are knowing that we had the fellowship with one another, and the fellowship of the Lord Jesus Christ. David, in writing this psalm, felt alone and abandoned by God, yet he trusted in His love. He knew God was there or he would not have called out to him to begin with, but he cried out for the reassurance. He just longed for the fellowship and comfort of the Lord to help with the loneliness that was overtaking his physical being. Is this any different than how we feel when we are going through trials? As Christians we know God is ever present and we can trust in His love, yet we long for that physical fellowship. It’s in our human nature to have that need, and yet, so many are left in their lonely state.
In both of my studies this week, the same question came up, “Why is it so important to establish a right view of God before adversity hits?” (CBS JOB commentary) Both my friend and I agree that in our circumstances we could not get through all that humanity and disease throws at us if we did not have trust in the Lord and trust in salvation. In saying that, it does not mean we will not have tears and that we will not be discouraged at our current situation. Just as David was discouraged, he still trusted in “steadfast love” which in turn allowed him to “rejoice in salvation”. Rejoice…
Rejoicing in the everlasting love of a creator who has chosen us to be a part of his kingdom. Rejoicing in his blessings of family and fellowship with other like minded brothers and sisters who will share in an eternal life. Rejoicing in the blessing of vision to see that our sorrows are short lived in this world. Rejoicing that Jesus Christ took upon himself the sins of mankind to save. Rejoicing in the Hope and Faith of healing and God’s everlasting care in our lives on this earth. Rejoicing in knowing Him!
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17
I will admit that I have been a cynic. I have for years wished everyone a “Happy Hallmark Valentines Day”. You could say that I just chalked up the day as another way for some to make money and for others to be nice to their loved ones once a year. In my mind, you should be nice to those you love every day of the year, not just one. Well…I admit I was wrong.
I did some checking to see what the history of Valentines Day was and much to my surprise I learned that the day has actually been around since before the 14th Century. Prior to the 14th century it was a day to celebrate the martyrs named Valentine. In 1382 the first recorded writing of Valentines Day being associated with love was Chaucer’s poem written for the first anniversary of King Richard II and Anne of Bohemia’s engagement. There is much controversy as to the exact date that Chaucer was referring to, however, it still remains to be the first recorded writing associating the two.
There you have it, I was wrong. Knowing that Hallmark made it’s debut onto the greeting card scene in 1910, I’d say the celebration of love on February 14 has had it’s mark on history much longer and deserves at least to be recognized as a day of celebration. I apologize to all those who have endured my cynical attitude toward the day in question, I promise to be more “loving” here on out on that “celebrated day of love”.
I know the day held great significance for my parents and they bestowed that upon my brother and I growing up. I mean, it was like Halloween all over again with the candy hearts we woke up to. My children used to get heart pancakes on Valentines Day when they were younger and my husband and I usually have exchanged cards and roses over the years. So when did I become cynical? I guess it happened when I realized that some people only used it as a day to be nice to those they otherwise would not be. I saw the florists rake in the dough on flowers of guilt purchased by husbands who work long hard hours and remember at the last moment that the day is about love. Wrong, yes! Honest, yes! Remorseful, yes! So my friends far and near…
Happy Valentine’s Day!
And in recognition of Chaucer, here is a little piece of history (note that this is only a few lines of the poem that is actually around 700 lines):
The Parliament of Fowls
A garden saw I, full of blossomy boughs
Upon a river, in a green mead,
There as sweetness evermore enough is,
With flowers white, blue, yellow, and red,
And cold well-streams, nothing dead,
That swimming full of small fishes light,
With fins red and scales silver bright.
On every bough the birds heard I sing,
With voice of angels in their harmony;
Some busied themselves birds forth to bring;
The little coneys to here play did hie.
And further all about I could see
The dread filled roe, the buck, the hart and hind,
Squirrels, and beasts small of gentle kind.
Of instruments of strings in accord
Heard I so play a ravishing sweetness,
That God, that maker is of all and lord,
Had heard never better, as I guess.
Therewith a wind, scarcely it might be less,
Made in the leaves green a noise soft
Accordant to the fowls’ song aloft.
Th’air of that place so a-temperate was
That never was grievance of hot nor cold.
There wax also every wholesome spice and grass;
No man may there wax sick nor old;
Yet was there joy more a thousandfold
Than man can tell; never would it be night,
But always clear day to any man’s sight.