Tag Archives: peace

A Walk to Remember

The thing about divine appointments is you don’t get a reminder call or a postcard in the mail like you do for dentist appointments. God just kind of springs them on you when you are seemingly unprepared and unsuspecting.

I was recently inducted into the all-exclusive Facebook page “30 Days of Hustle” created by the talented Jon Acuff. My friend nominated me to be a member, and after a short waiting period, in which I’m sure Mr. Acuff conducted a background check and office surveillance, I was approved. Since I tend to stick to a goal when there is some accountability, I decided to shoot for a goal that I have not been successful reaching on my own, photographing churches for a future project. I gave myself the lofty goal of photographing at least 25 churches within 30 days. On the same day (yesterday) my wellness exercise coach gave me the goal of walking after work for half an hour. I accepted reluctantly, but figured I could lump the two goals together and take photos while walking in the neighborhood.

Throwing on my sneakers I strutted out the door, proud of myself that I’m taking the leap on not just one goal, but two. As I photographed the second church I saw out of the corner of my eye a young woman hesitantly approaching the front door. I turned to her and asked, “Are you waiting on me?” “Uh, yeah,” she replied. “Do you know if it’s open?” I stood up from kneeling and pointed at the church across the street, “They are usually open on Wednesday. I’ll walk you over.”

As we approached we realized that the church front doors were not, in fact, open, so we went around back. Finally we sneaked in through a propped door after the choir director told us it was closed. The young woman told me she had never seen a Christian church sanctuary. I explained the cross and why Christian churches generally don’t have statues or images of God in them, and that the Bible tells us that a church is a group of people who share the same belief in Jesus. I told her that she and I would make up a “church” if we both believed. Church is not about the building.

This conversation led to many personal, deep topics that she was struggling with. We laughed and shared about personal experiences. Before I knew it an hour and a half had passed, and day was quickly turning into night. As she gathered her belongings I asked if I could pray for her. Surprisingly she asked if she could pray for me as well, and then shared that she had never prayed. I asked if I could put my hand on her shoulder and she agreed, and as I prayed I felt the connection we had made and the Holy Spirit there in that church courtyard we had moved to. When I finished she said she wanted to try praying aloud for me. She gently placed her hand on my shoulder and started, “Dear God…” As she finished with “thank you” in the place of “Amen” we giggled and hugged each other. She shared that she was more at peace, and was happy we met. I gave her my phone number, and we walked out the gate together, an unlikely pair now bonded by this walk to remember.

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Family Feud-less

Fun with the family Labor Day weekend 2014

Fun with the family Labor Day weekend 2014

Anyone who has a family knows that family members can get on each other’s nerves. When I was younger I let every little annoyance drive me nuts. If something was going the way I had imagined then it wasn’t worth taking part. As I’ve become older, and hopefully more mature, I’ve come to realize that if anything is guaranteed, it’s that almost nothing will go the way I imagined because my imagination is like a mainstream Hollywood movie where everything falls gently into place. The fact is, people who know each other as well as most families know each other have moments of resentment, disgust, frustration, and the list goes on. Disagreement is a symptom and/or side effect of a close-knit relationship.

After spending one of the best three-day weekends with the family I recognize that my past frustration and annoyances were all about my intolerance of not getting my way. Once I was able to let that go (for the most part) I could really enjoy them no matter what their annoying habit, unorthodox opinion, or deafening TV volume. Maybe with maturity I have found that I have those same quirks within me that perhaps have a tendency to annoy others, but just as I have become comfortable with who I am and all my crazy quirks I have also become comfortable with several other people’s.

Before we took our little road trip up the coast for the weekend I went on the Google Play store to download some new music to add to our vacation playlist. As soon as I logged on I noticed Katy Perry’s entire latest CD was free. Normally I wouldn’t download a whole Katy Perry album, but it was FREE. It turns out there were only a few songs I really liked from the whole thing, but one in particular got my attention. The song is titled “Love Me”, and it’s about a girl who loses herself in fear of losing someone else. It seems we often compromise ourselves to gain relationship with others, or we neglect to compromise at all and lose relationship with others. This is tricky because we don’t want to compromise on the big stuff, but relationship, even among family members, calls for some compromise. Saturday I had a headache and all I wanted was to go back to the house and take a nap, but my mom wanted to take a hike. Instead of complaining I took a nap in the car while she hiked, and our day was so much more peaceful because of it. My mom got out her energy so she could sleep good that night, and I got to take some Advil and nap off some of my headache.

When I reflect on the New Testament I see images of Jesus, after a long day of healing and teaching in crowds of people all wanting his attention (he must have been exhausted), humbly healing one more or praying all night or going out on a boat to preach to a huge audience. And Jesus says that what you do to the least of these you have done for him. When you humble yourself to listen to one more banjo-filled folk song at full volume when all you want to hear is a good worship song, or you stop at Java Detour just so your loved one can get an extra-large oreo latte even though you are exhausted, you are doing this for Jesus because even these simple things are acts of humility and acceptance and love. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13)

So, when your son wakes you up at 4:00 a.m. with nightmares or your mom asks you to repeat yourself ten times or your sister fails to call you back, remember that love is patient, kind, and not self-seeking. Hope you learned as much from my three-day weekend as I did.

Just for kicks I’ve added Katy Perry’s song Love Me to this post. I think it has a positive message and a fun beat, and it was part of the inspiration for this post.

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Find What Frees You

My mom refills her feeder twice a day. Shouldn't we be slurping up the Spirit?

My mom refills her feeder twice a day. Shouldn’t we be slurping up the Spirit instead of chomping on worry?

In our everyday lives we experience ups and downs, but as we experience them we often don’t consider their root cause. I have recently reached a three-year goal of becoming debt-free, and now I am embarking on a new challenge of tackling a life long struggle with stress-management. Since my financial plan worked so well, I am going to use the same ideas from that curriculum to develop my own stress-free plan.

The first step in my financial plan was taking an inventory of my spending for one or two months to find out where my money was going. In the same way, I will take an inventory of my energy. Where am I spending my energy? To do this I have begun using green and pink index cards. I record particularly relaxing moments on the green index cards and particularly stressful moments on my pink cards. At the end of this first inventory period I should have encountered many of each experience. I will collect the pink cards and match them up with scriptures that bring truth, clarity, and perspective to that stressful moment. With these recorded in such a practical manner I will be able to refer to them as they come up again during daily life. Will I encounter new stressors in my life?  Of course I will, but God’s Word can be applied to any life circumstance.

I hope that this technique will inspire me to seek God’s truth in times of tension, and to live a life of complete spiritual freedom. I will keep you informed of my progress and any tweaks I apply to my technique.

And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”

Luke 12:22-32

In all circumstances I will not be afraid, I will not worry, but seek His kingdom, and all these things will be added to me. Join me on my journey to becoming stress-free.

“More Heart, Less Attack”
Needtobreathe

Be the light in the crack
Be the one that’s been there on a camel’s back
Slow to anger quick to laugh
Be more heart and less attackBe the wheels not the track
Be the wanderer that’s coming back
Leave the past right where it’s at
Be more heart and less attackThe more you take the less you have
Cuz it’s you in the mirror staring back
Quick to let go slow to react
Be more heart and less attackEver growing steadfast
And if need be the one that’s in the gap
Be the never turning back
Twice the heart any man could haveBe the wheels not the track
Be the wanderer that’s coming back
Leave the past right where it’s at
Be more heart and less attack
Be more heart and less attack
Be more heart and less attackI stuck my hat out I caught the rain drops
I drank the water I felt my veins block
I’m nearly sanctified I’m nearly broken
I’m down the river I’m near the openI stuck my hat out I caught the rain drops
I drank the water I felt my veins block
I’m near the sanctified I’m near broken
I’m down the river I’m near the open

I’m down the river to where I’m going

 

On Earth Peace, Goodwill Toward Men

Tonight I attended Christmas Eve service with my family. As with any such service the story of the first Christmas was told from scripture. Luke 2:13-14 was read, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” I pondered this scripture throughout the service.
First, what are heavenly hosts? According to Wikipedia “heavenly hosts” are a large army of good angels. This makes sense because right before the verses above Scripture describes an angel giving the message of the King’s birth to the shepherds. After the angel had finished the heavenly hosts joined the angel to praise the Lord.
The second point I pondered was why were they saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men?” Of all the things they could say, why was this what they chose to say, that for which they praised God? Tonight’s sermon highlighted the message the angel brought, “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Of course the newborn King would bring good tidings of great joy. After all, He is our Savior, our Messiah, our Immanuel (God with us). As I think about the praise of the heavenly hosts I can see why they praise God for the King he sent; why they speak of the peace that will come over all the earth with the presence of this new King, for Jesus is the provider of peace that passes all understanding. But why do the heavenly hosts say, “goodwill toward men.” Perhaps the reason I didn’t understand is because I didn’t fully understand the definition of “goodwill.” Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “goodwill” as “a kindly feeling of approval and support : benevolent interest or concern.” God sent His son to be born fully human and fully God because he had a genuine interest and concern for His people. He was willing to give Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.
Because of these verses I have examined a bit of God’s character a little more deeply than before. He is a compassionate and generous giver of love, peace, grace, and mercy, and He NEVER desires for us to hold onto guilt and shame. Those things are from Satan and from our own misunderstanding. If he wanted us to struggle with guilt and shame He would have never sent his precious son. If there is a bit of guilt or shame, residue from past sins, and you have genuinely confessed and repented, remember that to deny His forgiveness is to say His sacrifice is not enough. Let the healing begin today because Christmas is about the peace and goodwill God provides which came in the form of a baby King.