Category Archive: Peace

O Come Emmanuel

qtq80-rNB6zW‘Tis the week before Christmas … and we’re done! Both Don’s and my families celebrated together a week ago, due to travel schedules and availability of various family members. And yet, we’re far from finished. Advent is “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” This, especially the four weeks preceding Christmas, is a season of anticipation.

Jesus-followers rejoice in the celebration of the coming of the Messiah, the Savior, the Prince of Peace. As we remember His first coming to earth, we rejoice that He is with us today. He is with and in His followers, guiding, directing, giving us hope–hope which we can then share with others who are hurting in a variety of ways.

The immediacy of television, social media, and the internet keep us constantly battered–earthquakes here, ongoing bombing and multiple orphaned children in Aleppo, car bombs in Istanbul. Not only do we hear news real-time; its immediacy makes us feel that we are involved in what is happening around the world. This feeling of intimacy with events is not real, but it does arouse fear in us. What’s next? When will another terrorist attack occur? Where will it all end?qtq80-L0GhQz

Oh, we need a Savior. Even with our Deliverer, we sometimes despair. The constant influx of negative news wears on our spirits. We can’t hide from it. Where today we have instant replays one after another, Jesus and His disciples walked from Jerusalem to Bethany, or Cana, or the Jordan River–walks that could take from a few hours to a couple of days. During those walks Jesus taught them along the way. And they could process the events of their day, which were also exceeding frightful.

I feel that in the busyness of American lives (some of our over-scheduling self-inflicted, no doubt) we have lost much of that time and opportunity to process. Instead, we move from crisis to crisis, bad news to more bad news.

But our Messiah, our Savior, has come!

“Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;healing-glory
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.”

          * Lyrics by Chris Tomlin

I often feel the need to be released from my fears and sins, to find rest in my God. So I will never be ‘done’ with Christmas. How about you?

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The Blessing

We typically look for affirmation, acceptance, and unconditional love in a variety of ways.

  • The sexually abused daughter who grows up to become promiscuous, believing physical intimacy is the way to gain the blessing, or approval, of men.
  • The son who has never been able to please his father, continues to push himself, trying ever harder to get an “atta boy”.
  • The perfectionist who continually beats herself up because she could have “done it better,” never satisfied despite awards and recognition.

blessings rockWhat we’re looking for is a blessing. God gave one to Moses for priests Aaron and his sons. This 3000-year-old blessing still carries deep meaning.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26 ESV

When his face shines on us and he gives us peace, our spirits are at rest. In his blessing we find unconditional love which remains constant, not because of who we are or what we do, but because of who HE is. God has chosen to delight in me. I don’t have to earn His love. I can’t. I simply need to receive it, bask in it.

And how can I give the blessing to others? In a video, an impatient man is given a pair of “all-seeing” glasses.blessing joyce meyerPeople who before were irritants or interruptions are seen through a new lens—recognizing one needs a hug, a woman just lost a dear friend, a man lost his job. Seeing their pain, the man responds very differently than before.

Pray God for eyes to see and ears to hear, so I can bless those around me…with a warm smile, a listening heart, a “thank you” to store clerks, health care professionals, and others who serve me. I want to intentionally affirm those I love and those who need encouragement.

What choices will you make this week to receive and give blessing?

“We Need to Race Toward You”

Mourning in Nice

Mourning in Nice

Another three officers gunned down this morning, this time in Baton Rouge, LA. So much hatred. Sorrow … grief … horror. The Bastille Day attack in Nice, when a truck driver drove into a crowd, killed 84 and left 303 injured. Among those were three generations of a family taking an evening walk, a French father who protected his pregnant wife, two of four sisters, and ten children and teenagers.

Turkey’s recent coup killed 265 individuals, with over a thousand more injured. Days before that, five police officers were shot and killed in Dallas; and a few weeks before, 49 persons were killed by an ISIS supporter in Orlando. Each of those killed or injured leaves behind someone to whom they matter–a parent, lover, child, friend, employer. The individual impact is deep and will carry long-term repercussions in the lives of those affected. Seen in context of multiple deaths and injuries, it is colossal. My heart goes out to the families of those who have been killed and hurt.  The senseless terror must pulverize the mind.

All this in the midst of an election year that is full of contention, seemingly more so than usual. How do we respond?

Franklin Graham has asked Christians to pray between 12 and 1 o’clock Eastern time Monday, just before the opening of the Republican convention; and again the following Monday before the Democratic convention. I Timothy 2:1-2 tells us “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prayed at a service at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church this weekend. Part of her prayer:

“As a nation and as a people, we need to race again toward you, into the embrace of your loving arms,” she continued. “Dear Heavenly Father, we pray for guidance, we pray for wisdom for our leaders, and we pray that each and every one of us will leave this place justified by faith and secure and confident in your deep, deep love for us.”

I plan to join Franklin Graham in prayer for our country, both ongoing and before the RNC begins in Cleveland tomorrow, and I hope you will too.

Isaiah 51:11: Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

 

Maintaining Mental Health

After reading last week’s blog, one of my close friends commented about her husband’s “hellish experience” with benzodiazepine withdrawal. Her caution is wise; using drugs to address mental illness is a personal decision between the individual and his/her healthcare provider, one that needs to be considered carefully and prayerfully for potential addiction, withdrawal challenges, or further impacts on a person’s state of mind.

Healthy Life

Healthy Life

In a seminar last weekend, Dr. Jeremiah Johnston shared ten tips for maintaining mental health. While there are situations where more direct intervention or care are required, these seem like good guidelines for normal life situations and speak to me. Here is the list.

  1.  Say “no” more often. This is hard for me. A pleaser by nature, I want to say yes to those I love. But my schedule fills up so fast that I lack time to be still, to rest, to enjoy the day. I said “no” to two things this week. It felt good, freeing.
  2. Take frequent, short sabbaticals. Jesus said “Come apart and rest awhile.” This doesn’t have to be a month, a week, even days. Don and I sometimes go out for a relaxed breakfast on the beach. That brief time of “coming apart” refreshes us in body and spirit.
  3. Develop and sustain peer support. Last summer four college girlfriends and I spent a couple of days together after not being all together for forty-three years. What a joy! My “Fab Friday” Bible study gals are a tremendous support; and my close girlfriends have walked with me through joy and sorrow. I am grateful for each of them.
  4. Monitor the balance between work and personal life. This is a tough one for me. Always has been. Still working on it even though I’m retired.
  5. Establish and adjust priorities based on a periodic review of your values. What needless things are taking up real estate in my mind and heart?
  6. Proof your thoughts against scripture. The apostle Paul challenges us to “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8.
  7. Regularly assess your spiritual fitness. Am I spending time letting God’s word infuse my mind and heart? Am I allowing God to change me through what I read and hear?
  8. Never make a decision when tired or discouraged. I’ve learned this one. When I’m really down, my first corrective is generally rest.
  9. Prioritize your physical health. Am I eating healthy? Am I getting some exercise to help my body balance and work out stress?
  10. Watch where you park your mind. This ties in with #6 above. Romans 12:1-2 tells me that renewing my mind comes from being changed from the inside out.

Great list. I plan to review it periodically.

Is there one of these that is the most challenging for you? What can you do do address that issue?

“All the Way my Savior Leads Me”

I think Kelly got in her 10,000 steps today! We’d been away on a trip, and after a warm and wet welcome home, she was on my heels all day. This morning, unbelievably, Don and I spent three hours preparing for our housecleaner. And that was after unpacking, doing about six loads of laundry (not only from the trip, but from having our broken washer/dryer replaced while we were gone), and cleaning up yesterday.

So this morning I walked …

* from the bedroom to the den to put away some paperwork

* from the den to the kitchen

* from the laundry room to the bedroom to put away clean clothes.

Back and forth, forth and back. And every step of the way, she shadowed me.

I thought, this is what Jesus wants from me – that I delight in His presence, want to stay by his side, to remain close every step of the way He leads me. 

There are differences, of course, major ones. Jesus is my Lord and Savior, infinite, all-knowing, loving, just, compassionate, wise. And He has promised never to leave me. He won’t take off for a couple of weeks to travel. He’s always available.

But do I stay close? Often I don’t. I get busy and allow life to box me in, stretch me, pull me this way and that and when there is distance between my Lord and me, I know it’s not Him who’s pulled away.

In 1875, Frances (“Fanny”) J. Crosby penned the words to the beautiful hymn, “All the way my Savior Leads Me” (beautifully sung by the Haven Quartet in the link below). Crosby played the piano, harp, guitar, and organ, and wrote over 8000 hymns, despite being blind from shortly after birth. Crosby once said: “It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.”[33]

Despite my tendency to wander, I want to walk close to my Savior, to rely on Him moment by moment, to follow His leading, to trust Him as my little Kelly-shadow trusts me.

What’s a song that ministers to your soul and reminds you to lean in on Jesus? I’d love to hear about it.