Archives For peace

I spent some time in the mountains recently and was once again awed by the beauty and creation of God.  There is something about getting away from our man-made surroundings and into the natural world God created that reminds you of His magnificence and beauty. In our busy and harried world, we spend too little time taking a break and getting quiet with our Creator. We were not created for the bombardment of impulses affecting us every day. We were not created to fill every minute of every day with (mostly) mindless activity.

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It’s okay to be still. In fact, the sons of Korah realized the wisdom in this and wrote what God had said to them: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). When the Israelites were preparing to take the land promised to them, God told them to be still and He would fight for them (Exodus 14:14).

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Christine Caine made a great analogy between our physical heart and our spiritual heart. She said, “Your physical heart muscle pumps and regulates your blood flow. That blood carries oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. If you exercise that muscle with cardio workouts and feed it healthy nutrients, it grows stronger. But let it languish and feed it junk food, and you know what happens: the arteries get clogged, and the muscle grows weak.

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The same is true of your spiritual heart… What happens if you let your spiritual heart languish and you feed it junk food, the ‘earthly things’ that do not satisfy? It also gets clogged, grows weak, and sends toxicity pumping throughout your life.” How are you nourishing your spiritual heart?

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St. Ignatius of Loyola said, “Teach us, Lord, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to seek for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will.” Commenting on this statement, author Richard Foster summarized, “The Christian life is one of strength and endurance in the face of suffering.”

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How different this is from the experience of most who call themselves Christians in the Western world! Regardless of our modern culture and misunderstanding of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus, it cannot be denied our lives bear little resemblance to that of our Savior. If it is our true desire to love and honor Christ, we must examine our motives and activities.

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I recently heard David Platt share a quote that requires a lot of contemplation. He asked the question, “Is Jesus living in me or through me?” The difference between the two is huge. We live in a culture of casual Christianity, led to believe all we have to do is say a magical prayer and Jesus will come to live within us.

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Even if such teaching were true (and I believe there are compelling arguments to be made it is not), inviting Jesus into your heart is not the point. Unless and until we allow Jesus to live through us, we will be missing out on all the power and peace He intends for us.

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There is much pain and loneliness in the world. Every day people disappoint us. It’s difficult to keep your head up and keep going. It seems so easy to forget how much God loves us; we forget this is the only thing that matters. We love Jesus because He first loved us.

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When we come to understand who He is and what He has done for us, we cannot help but love Him more than we love anyone or anything else. None compare to Jesus. When we live in this truth, the disappointments and discouragements of this world begin to matter less. Only Jesus is worthy of our affection.

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We just completed a season of Advent. The word advent simply means “coming.” More specifically in Christian circles it means the coming of Christ. We celebrate Advent at Christmas time in memory of Christ coming to earth as a baby who would grow up to die for our sins. Now this season has passed, we look forward to a new season of advent.This is the second advent, the second coming of Jesus.

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With Christmas in our rear view mirror, we now turn our focus for the next year to building His Kingdom on earth in preparation for His return. This is the future advent. While we celebrate the Advent of His birth in memory of what He did, we celebrate the Advent of His coming again in honor and praise for what He has yet to do.

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I’ve been investigating the concept of minimalism a lot lately. For those not familiar with the idea, minimalism is essentially stripping your life to the essentials of things that add value or bring joy (for a great expansion on this topic, see Joshua Becker’s article, “What is Minimalism?”). The reason I mention it here is I believe minimalism ties in directly to being a disciple of Jesus. In fact, I would argue Jesus Himself was a minimalist. Minimalism is consistent with Christ’s teaching to sell your possessions and give to the poor (Matthew 19:16-22).

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It aligns with the fact Jesus had no home of His own (Matthew 8:19-20), with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), and with His instructions in the well-known parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46). You don’t have to become a minimalist to be a disciple of Jesus, but if you are serious about living as He did, I believe you will be drawn towards minimalism.

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Isaiah 26:3 says “You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.” Reflecting on this verse, A.W. Tozer wrote, “The only fear I have is to get out of the will of God. Outside of the will of God, there’s nothing I want, and in the will of God there’s nothing I fear.” As long as we are in the will of God, He has promised to keep us and to give us peace.

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What else could we possibly want from life? It feels as if that question should be rhetorical, but so many professing Christians seem to answer with things like happiness, safety, and success. These are all temporary affections promoted by an American Christianity, not by Biblical teaching.
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Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies. We want to draw closer to God, to experience more of His love and character, but we rarely slow down enough to actually take in His glory. We spend our days jumping from one task to the next, and that busyness spills over into our spiritual lives. When we finally get around to praying, studying, and concentrating on God, our minds are so hurried we cruise right through what He is revealing to us.

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He gives us an epiphany for service and we quickly file it away so we can get to the next verse or the next name on our prayer list.  And we wonder why our spiritual life isn’t more vibrant!
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In a recent sermon, Greg Boyd said, “You can’t live out the Kingdom and not be countercultural.” Living the way Jesus lived will make you stand out from the crowd. You’ll definitely look weird compared to the standards of your society. Of course, for those of us who have committed our lives to serve Christ, we don’t mind the long stares, awkward conversations, or sometimes outright hostility.

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We understand it comes with the territory and realize the mission of Jesus is far more important than any of that. Still, too many professing Christians want to build God’s kingdom, but they want to build their own along the way.
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