buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Peace of God”

Curve Balls

You just can’t tell when life will throw you a curve ball. Swoosh! Car accident. Swoosh! Fall off a ladder and break a leg. Swoosh! Someone you know dies suddenly. Those balls can come fast and furious. In every event, a new normal takes shape. Life continues on; we move on, sometimes slowly; but we go on. Things will never be the same again. However, nothing is a surprise to God. He saw it coming. In His Sovereignty, He allowed it to happen. He could have stopped it from happening. But for some reason, that “thing” happened. But God always has the last word on it.

I started this blog posting about three weeks ago. However, there was another word that was pressed upon me at the time. I woke up this morning with these words circling in my heart. You just never know when life will throw you a curve ball. What a difference a year can make or even a month or even more a day. The future is uncertain right now for me and my family. There is a season for everything, and the season is about to change. It’s a matter of when not if. A new normal is about to take shape.

Three weeks ago, my family celebrated my Dad’s 90th birthday. Today, he lies in a hospital bed. We don’t know the time when God will call any of us home. We just never know when things will happen that will change our future. Sometimes we ask why and we only get silence. We want life to be fair, but it’s anything but fair. We want justice, but there is no justice to be found. How can we live with this uncertainty with a peace beyond our understanding? Because of Jesus. When Jesus is in the picture, there is peace.

Peace beyond understanding. God is still Sovereign and on His throne. He is still glorious. His ways are still higher than ours. His thoughts still transcend ours. God still triumphs over evil – even when it looks like evil is winning. Whatever Satan has planned, God has a counter move. What Satan has planned for evil, God will make good out of it. It’s just the way God works. Satan can throw whatever he has at us, but when we have the peace of God, nothing will move us away from Him.

Satan will attempt many things to throw us off-balance. The curve balls can be his attempt to move us away from God. When we walk with Jesus, we are Satan’s target. Those curve balls will try to separate us from the only one who can keep us in the game. I heard a statement Tuesday night attributed to a singer who was questioned about Jesus being a “crutch” for all us Christians. The singer replied Jesus isn’t a crutch to him; Jesus is his stretcher. Jesus carries us. Sure we lean on Him, but it’s so much better when Jesus just picks us up and carries us through.

Levi Lesko wrote a powerful book written from a place of brokenness after he lost one of his daughters several years ago during the Christmas season. Right after they said goodbye to their precious one, Levi’s wife asked him to hand the hospital staff an invitation to the Christmas Eve service. In the midst of his pain, he handed the staff an invitation to make good out of a bad situation. Because of that invitation at a time when these parents could have walked away in their grief, they reached out and two of the staff came to know Jesus. Levi didn’t just lean on Jesus during that time. He couldn’t have delivered a message that would change people’s lives unless he was carried through it.

We never know how God will use the time of our greatest pain, but He will. We have to be open in those moments for God’s glory to come through. We have to be able to see the curve balls for what they are in this moment in time – God’s grace and mercy for such a time as this. There are hurting people all around us. Let us give them the gift of hope and let them be carried to the throne room of grace. Good can come out of a bad situation. Let God have the last word on it. And hit the curve balls out of the park, the game is already won but we can add to the number!

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

Advertisements

The Anchor

As I was walking up the sidewalk to my church building on Sunday, I noticed two women coming out of the first gathering. They were talking with one another in a different language. Isn’t it amazing that we can all gather together no matter the language barrier and worship the same God? No matter the color of our skin, the language we speak, the culture we grew up in – God is God of all. He knows every one’s name; knows every one’s heart and He loves us anyway! God’s family is so diverse, and we can be a part of it. My local church body represents about eleven different nations under one roof. I find that amazing.

Contrast the unity I experienced on Sunday with the divisive experience we are having in this country at this moment in time. My perspective will be totally different than one whose skin is darker than mine. I cannot walk in their shoes. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have empathy and compassion for their struggles. I wish there wasn’t a struggle. I wish we could live like we’re supposed to live – as one who loves another – not as tolerant people, but ones who truly love one another and even love all our differences. Differences make the world go round. If we were all the same, how boring would that be? Yet, we were all made differently AND all made in the image of God.

It’s interesting that this week of all weeks I was studying “shoes of peace” in the Armor of God study. The week that has been without peace shows our greatest need of peace. But it will not come at the expense of removing guns from the hands of individuals – if one wants to kill, they can find any method available to do the job – sure guns are the most available and impersonal way of killing; but there has to be another way to solve the problem. The very simplistic answer is Jesus. He is the only peace we’ll find in the craziness of this world. And Scripture tells us, it’s going to get worse not better. There doesn’t seem to be much hope in the future, does it?

In Andy Stanley’s message on Sunday – actually it was an interview of sorts – he made the comment about the diversity in the early church. For the first twenty years, the early church dealt with a great deal of racial tension. Between Jews and Gentiles, slaves and freed men, and then throw women in the mix; it was just all kinds of tension going on. Jews did not associate with Gentiles on any level. The women were considered second class citizens. Before the early church even got off to a running start, God had to deal with the racial tensions, or else the movement would have fizzled from the start. Jesus elevated everyone to the same level.

Jesus had already addressed the idea of “clean and unclean” in a message to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were concerned with the disciples’ unsanitary eating habits. Jesus said it wasn’t what was on the outside that made a person unclean but it’s the heart that matters. The Pharisees had a heart problem, and it would keep them out of the Kingdom of God.

The heart is still the problem today. Nothing has changed much in 2000 years – actually since the beginning of time. We still have issues that need to be resolved; not through violence but through love. But nothing will change unless hearts are turned toward Jesus. Jesus told His followers that we will have trials and sorrows; it’s part of life. However, He came to give us a new life and a new hope. He is the only one who can give us peace. We cannot have peace of God if we do not have peace with God.

Apostle Paul likened peace to the shoes of a soldier. A Roman soldier wore sandals with knobs. It helped the soldier stand firm in the face of the enemy. Peace is our anchor; it holds us firmly in place when the craziness of the world around us feels off kilter. Jesus is the answer we seek to overcome the strife we find in this current world. He is our anchor in the storm. Peace is available for every individual who calls upon the name of Jesus. He provides what we need to calm the storms in our lives.

I wish we could all live in harmony now, but I know it is impossible through our own human effort. But what’s impossible for us to do, God makes all things possible. One day it will be different. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. One day it will be realized. One day all things will be made new. That’s the hope of our future.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

The Perfect Place

Last week, I wrote about my love for waterfalls. I would love to live in a place where I had access to such natural beauty. Ideally I would have a view of mountains, a lake or a beach. When I was twelve, my parents and I moved to the North Carolina Mountains. When I went to college, my parents moved further into the hills of NC. Their house was placed amongst rhododendron with a small stream running along the back of the property. A waterfall provided the stream up the hill from the house which flowed beyond our house into a lake. You could sit outside on the deck with the sunlight filtering through in perfect peace. My parents eventually moved back down to the flat lands soon after I graduated from college. I didn’t appreciate those moments when I had them to sit in that perfect place in perfect peace. I was restless to move on.

I think I would be more creative in natural surroundings. I think my creative juices would flow best if I could hear the rustic sounds of nature just outside my door. Right now, I’m here in the midst of the blaring music, dogs barking and rushing cars flying down my neighborhood street. One day maybe I’ll pack up and move to a less hectic place. But where would I go? As I contemplate my perfect place, I realized as I walking my neighborhood one morning there is no perfect place. There is always something that would cause me some irritation.

I do not like critters – snakes, spiders, or crawling bugs invading my personal space. If I was at the beach, there would be all sorts of bugs encroaching on my territory. If I was at the mountains, there may be a few bears, lots of snakes, and other sorts of critters that would keep me in constant flux! Maybe if I moved to an island in the Pacific, I would find peace amongst the swapping palms; if the mosquitoes didn’t eat me alive. I’ve been to Maine and Alaska in the summertime. There are issues with bugs there too, not to mention the unfavorable weather for a hot climate girl like myself.

Maybe the perfect place is the place where I am right now. God gave me instructions to move here several years ago. Until I get direction to move again, I am in His perfect place. Every time I have moved in my life, God has given me opportunities in those new places to learn something about Him that I might not have known if I stayed where I was. Sometimes we have to move in order to grow. Sometimes in the midst of staying we learn patience and endurance. God has placed me in different places for different reasons. I can be content right here and right now because God has something for me to learn in this place and in this time. I can’t rush the process of learning. Is it perfect for my creativity?

My house may not be in the ideal place for my creativity. But I have made a place in my little area where birds are welcomed; where squirrels lounge on my deck; where flowers bloom and trees grow. I have a little space of quiet in the midst of a busy neighborhood. And God has given me peace here. No matter what my circumstances, I have found my rest in Him. I have found my perfect place. And it has nothing to do with my physical dwelling. I will stay in this place because I don’t want to be anywhere else a part from Him. I am resting in Jesus’ loving arms, feeling His presence and soaking in His peace. Thank you Jesus for being my perfect place!

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Psalm 23:1-3(NLT)

Calm in the Storm

In the last few weeks, God has been pressing upon me about suffering, about pain and about storms. I don’t know why yet, but He is preparing me for something. In the midst of these impressions, I experienced a tropical storm named Andrea. My family and I were at the beach for our annual vacation. For the last twenty-three years, we have gathered at the beach under one roof to enjoy a time together and have a restful (so to speak) vacation. I look forward to those trips. Each year has been a different experience, and this year proved just as different. We have never encountered such a storm at the beach.

I experienced another tropical storm in Houston years ago. There was massive flooding and winds rocked the hotel where I was staying. I really didn’t get the full effects of the storm since I didn’t really go outside during it. The storm I experienced at the beach was completely different. My nephews went out to the beach in the middle of the wind and rain to see the waves. I stayed at home in complete safety until the rain subsided, and the sun was shining. I went out at that point to walk the beach. The winds were still active, and the waves were in turmoil. I held my camera as steady as I could while I was snapping pictures of the waves, and the sea grass bending in the wind. It was an awesome sight. As I was walking along, I had the sense of the wind to my back pushing me forward. But when I turned around, the winds were against me, and I looked up to see a dark cloud before me. I had no idea the cloud was behind me as I was walking along, but the minute I turned around I knew I wasn’t going to make it back to the beach house without getting wet.

It wasn’t until I was back at my home and was contemplating what God was impressing upon me that I found a new perspective on the storms in life. In the midst of the tropical storm I was experiencing peace – whether in the house or out on the beach. I knew God was right there with me. There was no time in the storm that I felt afraid, even during the night when the wind and rain were beating against the house. Whatever God is impressing upon me about suffering, pain and storms whether it’s on the upcoming mission trip or whatever happens next, God is with me in it. He will never leave me in the storm, but will offer me a sense of His peace. My eyes have to be focused on the right thing – not on the waves and wind – but on Jesus in the midst of the storm. When Jesus calls me to cross a great divide, He will protect me to get me to the other side!

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. Luke 8:22-25

Post Navigation