Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘peace’

I have studied wisdom in the scriptures off and on for some years. Wisdom, as she is personified female in Proverbs, intrigues me. I had forgotten, until now, that wisdom reappears here in James. And she is freely available to me, if only . . .

James 3:17
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

First of all, I think it’s important, in this case, to remind myself (and you, dear reader) that the kingdom of God is within me by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And yet, as big as God is, obviously, not all of God is within me either, just my share. But, as surely as that portion is within me, then my portion of wisdom is there as well. Both wisdom and the Holy Spirit are part of me, working in me to bring about my sanctification, my fullness in Christ, the light, released in totality, my actions a mirror of what is good and right, living through generosity, sacrificial letting go, and holiness.

These are the kernels which I have not yet appropriated from wisdom: purity (of thought, actions, motives); loving peace more than being right; being considerate of others without judgment or obligation; submitting my way to the Holy Way; offering mercy first; manifesting the good fruit of love in action; impartiality toward those who are rich or poor, sick or well, strong or weak; and above all sincerity and authenticity, plainly in view.

Wisdom is my fraternal twin who I have ignored most of my life.

What prevents our closeness, our unity? Envy and selfish ambition. These are my step-sisters. They are the ones I brought into my Christ relationship years and years ago. I hid them in the closet, believing they might still be needed one day, their personalities tempered by the Presence. Instead, when they came out, they were the same. And like Cinderella’s step-sisters, they were still cruel taskmasters, who take advantage of my every situation, point out what I am lacking, what I should have, who I could be, where I could live, if only . . .

They are the drum beat that never stops. They are the ones who taught me that what I have is never enough. They are the ones who encourage perfectionism. They are the ones who surround me like 360 degree mirror to show me all of my flaws and weaknesses and drive me to run faster, harder, longer.

Envy, Selfish Ambition, I want you to meet my other sister, Wisdom. She is going to live here now too. She is strong and knowledgeable. She is my advocate.

And she wants me to try on the glass slipper.

Read Full Post »

I am not very good at waiting for the fruit of anything. I am a product of my culture and generation. I want it now. But faith in the good ending of a situation is the cornerstone of hope and takes time.

Hebrews 12:11
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

It takes practice to believe in the good end despite the circumstances. It also takes experience. The more personal examples I have of God’s reliability, the easier it is to trust God the next time.

And, apparently, each instance of my faith and hope in God, lays a path for others to follow. That is a by-product of my journey, my willingness to hold my hand to the plow.

I live in northern Maryland near the Pennsylvania line and a few times a year, we take a trip up into the Lancaster area where many Amish communities have evolved. I really enjoy watching the spring planting season as the men work the ground with teams of horses or mules and plows. It’s clearly hard work but it is also a kind of dance. Like any farmer, these men are trusting that their labor will bear a plentiful harvest. Outside forces can impact their efforts, but they still carry on, believing that all will be well.

A God follower is similar to these farmers, willing to cultivate the land of human, believing the ground can be tamed, seeds can grow and new life can flourish.

But, like the farmer, this process is long and painstaking. I cannot rush through it. Just as plants grow on their own timetable, so do souls.

In the Amplified translation of this verse, righteousness is expanded to mean “conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God.” This is true human and this is the harvest we are intended to pursue here on Earth. And with this relationship comes peace within.

This is the promise, the ultimate fruit of discipline.

Read Full Post »

Empty Room by Tom Burke

Believing in a future is part of the faith package. We can’t know what that future will actually hold for us, but that does not preclude us from embracing all the possibilities. So much of tomorrow hinges on today.

Philemon 20
And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.

Paul believed he would be cut loose from prison. He asked his friends and his followers to believe the same thing, despite the circumstances.

I can function fairly well in this part of the equation, but I’m not so good when that future I had prayed about, asked for and even envisioned, doesn’t happen. I am disappointed. This is a trap for me.

Intellectually, I understand what it should be. I can preach about it and I can teach about. I can offer all kinds of advice, quotations, and scripture references. Honest, I get it. But the reality of living the other answer is not always my best day.

Instead of disappointment, when the alternate future presents itself, I need to joyfully envelop it and give thanks because God, all sovereign, heard my prayer and took my future onto a different way. When I don’t get “out of prison,” when I don’t get the job, when my kid doesn’t go to college, when my project is not accepted, when . . . when . . . when, it’s no less intentional from the God perspective.

I’m reading a book by Steven Furtick called Sun Stand Still. He’s a young, exuberant pastor from Charlotte, North Carolina, who planted a church that grew into the thousands in a very short time. He’s all about audacious prayers and expecting God to do impossible things. He has seen such prayers answered every day. His faith is infectious. He challenges his church to do the same, like Paul, he says, “do as I do, believe as I believe, trust as I trust.”

Have a I become too jaded in my walk to drum up this kind of enthusiasm? I don’t know. It’s not that I don’t believe God can do great and wondrous acts. God can and does. But I want to be able to walk on through despite the outcomes. I want to have a faith that isn’t wrapped around the answers. Because, quite honestly, my requests are not always in the best interests of the whole picture; I know that instinctively. I can only dream my dream and put my desires out there. But I could be way off.

When I was younger and went through those terrible years of barrenness, I came to a peace when I accepted the reality of my body. It was no less God’s plan and, in the end, we built a family through adoption, three kids who didn’t know that God had prepared a room for them here.

Everything is connected, every dream, every future, every room. Keep me mindful Lord, when I step into the room prepared for me today, that I don’t forsake it just because it’s not painted the color I had imagined or it’s not furnished with the expected furniture or populated by certain people.

Help me dream and even dream big still, but help me engage in today fully as well. Today is part of yesterday’s dream.

Read Full Post »

Photo by Mike Dykstra

How often do we need to remind someone? In my house, we must remind teenagers every day (and more than once a day) to clean the cat box, empty the trash, and put the dishes in the dishwasher. And how many more times if we added, “choose what is good today.”

Titus 3:1-2
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
[NIV 2011]

I haven’t been able to verify this piece of information, but I did read somewhere that parents, in order to teach a small child or toddler to say “please” and “thank you,” must be remind the child at least 10,000 times before he or she will remember. That’s daunting. In a year, that’s 27 times a day. And if one has more than child . . . you do the math.

Apparently, it’s not much better with adults who must learn the basics of walking out the faith, the very faith they have chosen to follow and even profess. They must be reminded to choose “good,” to obey authorities, to be considerate and to be gentle towards everyone.

If we must be reminded, the implication is clear: we’re not doing it. I’m not doing it either. Why?

As Samuel Johnson is quoted as saying: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Is it really just forgetting to do it? That’s what my kids say, “I forgot.” My husband is particularly irked by his ignored requests, taking that behavior as a choice and therefore lack of respect.

Maybe it’s just our human tendency to take the easier way, the wide road. After all, choosing to “do good” might take me out of my way or inconvenience me. Being obedient might entail putting that person’s request above my own plans. Or, it could be a type of laziness.

But what about the other elements of this teaching from Paul to Titus? What excuse would there be for not keeping the peace or conducting oneself gently? Is it easier to be argumentative and domineering? Perhaps it’s a safety issue again, a control issue. Somewhere along the line, the idea of being gentle feels too much like being a door mat and keeping the peace may mean giving way to my ideas or my decisions.

Or, maybe I just need to be reminded.

Where do the reminders come from? Sermons? Reading? Small group meetings? Blogs? Music? Yes to all of these and more. We immerse ourselves in these mediums to help us remember.

Other faith traditions do the same thing, keeping feasts and festivals and rituals to help the people remember the why’s of faith.

Today is Good Friday, 2011. It is a day for us to remember the Christ who died, crucified, and the mystery that would be revealed. And as we do, we might also remember the rest of the story, the part that leads us to choose a better way each day.

Thanks be to God.

Read Full Post »

It’s the verbs and they all say the same thing: persist, persevere, adhere, apply oneself, carry on, conduct, continue, cultivate, engage in, hold to, keep on, maintain, perform, ply, practice, proceed, prosecute, see through, tackle, work at . . . This is Christ-based engagement.

II Timothy 2:22b
. . . pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Righteousness, faith, love and peace are the foundations of our faith walk (and if we were honest about it, these are roots to most faiths in the matter of behaviors). They are essential to “human.” If I could live out righteousness (and I love how the Amplified defines this: “all that is virtuous and good, right living, conformity to the will of God in thought, word, and deed”), build my faith (and trust) in a truly sovereign God, love others as the sacred souls they are, and promote peace in my circle of influence, my world would be different. I would be a change agent and like a pebble thrown into a pond, the circle would expand.

Influence comes out of authentic living in the Christ.

But all of this kind of talk is so general, it’s a concept, it’s knowledge, but what will it look like today? When I enter the “prayer of examen” (as Richard Foster writes in his book, Prayer), will I recognize the words and actions of any of these four pillars? Can I be more mindful today that I was yesterday or the day before? Can I be conscious in my choices?

Each day, I spend time in confession, asking God to forgive me my missteps, my harsh words, my judgmental thoughts. But, can I as well, give thanks for those other times, those times I actually connected with the Holy Spirit in a viable and observable way? That would be a good thing.

Read Full Post »

I suppose the quiet life is relative. At first, I was going make a joke about my life being far from quiet and yet, I’m sure government leaders, high-profile businesspeople or emergency room personnel would consider my life downright idyllic.


I Thessalonians 4:11b-12a
. . . make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders . . .

I think many people think of the quiet life as that time when they can lounge around on the deck sipping mint juleps and watch the sun go down, the perfect retirement, let’s say. Or, perhaps the dream is sitting on the beach or overlooking the mountain side. Our current culture equates the quiet life with down time. I’m not so sure that is Paul’s intention here.

Instead, the quiet life is about steadiness and consistency. It’s being responsible and lovingly caring for ourselves and those around us. It’s commanding the small things first and then moving outward.

But in my life, I tend to heap on tasks from the outside first and overload my day so that my small world stuff is lost. My house becomes chaotic within and the stress begins as I try to juggle them all, thinking my outside job and volunteer work is more meaningful than cleaning out the refrigerator.

Truthfully, as much as I love sitting on the beach or walking in the woods, if I neglect the little things in my world, my respite is surface only. The small world does not go away. There is indeed such a thing as “daily life.”

I can’t afford a housekeeper or a secretary which means these responsibilities fall to me and those who share our home with me (but that’s another story). Let me just focus on my part of the puzzle.

If I sit still and work from the still point within, then the things that need to be done next will show themselves. The quiet life begins within. It’s one of the reasons we are all encouraged to pray or meditate or still the heart before the day begins in earnest.

“Be still and know that I am God.” [Psalm 46:10]

Read Full Post »

We are asked to cultivate unity by using the “bond of peace.” A bond is something like a rope, handcuffs or Gorilla Glue. It’s a connection, a relationship, a hookup. It’s a union, an agreement, a promise. With these, unity is possible. And without, what do we have? Just watch CNN.


Ephesians 4:3-6
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit . . . one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

A bond of peace cannot be achieved alone. It takes at least two. Oh, I suppose there is inner peace, but even that comes from an agreement between the mind, soul & spirit. Peace is not achieved by threat, dictatorship or commandment. That is just an absence of conflict. A true bond of peace comes out of mutual desire, love, commitment, and compromise.

There are a couple of people I know from my work who have learned one of the first steps toward creating bonds of peace. One of their distinguishing characteristics is not taking personal offense (even when it’s intended). I watch them in difficult or tense situations and it’s like the verbal attacks or innuendos float across their spirit lakes. They know how to listen fully. They don’t grab onto words or tone of voice and prepare a response ahead of time. They know how to wait. It’s disarming in the best way. In this way, they open a door to unity and understanding.

I want this but I’m not very willing to practice. I confess, I’m always taking offense. I’m always expecting the worst in a situation. I critique the tones, the eyes, the body language and if I come up with an attack assessment, I ready my own arsenal. I’m quick. It doesn’t take long to raise the battle flag.

Unity is all those “ones.” One body, one spirit, one God and so on. Can I let go of mine long enough to enter the One? It begins with small steps, I think. Bonds with family and friends. A peace driven by love.

And so I take a breath today. I take a breath and ask for mindfulness again, to remember, to make peace.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: