Thursday, October 23, 2008

Purpose and Peace

I was all set to write a post telling you the story of how even though I wrote the below post on Peace for an Advent Guide the organization I work for publishes, I have very little peace in my life. And, somewhat hypocritically, I don't follow my own prescription for peace that I wrote about. But a funny thing happened today. This was perhaps one of my more busy and stressful days I have had in the last few months. You'd think I would just implode with stress and crack under the pressure seeing as how I already don't have much peace in my life. It really shouldn't take much to put me over the edge into anger, frustration and despair.

Not so. At least this time.

I had a new, if only temporary, purpose at work today. I had to get a 2-3 day project done in one day. Plus I have more of the same coming up due on Monday that I haven't even gotten copy on yet. Once I got rolling, I work pretty hard all day to get the project done. I was extremely focused. And I was at peace - even under pressure. This peace didn't come from deep down. I have no secret for handling the pressure - or maybe I do. Hard work. It created purpose and required me to focus. I didn't have time to think about my struggles. I was too busy to care about them.

Maybe I am on to something...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Our Peace is Not of This World

I was asked to write a devotional about Peace - one of the weeks in the Advent season. I was to write for an Advent guide that the organization I work for, Buckner International, publishes each year. I was pretty excited about it as I had the chance to write for something other than my blog and its 4 or 5 readers! Well I wrote my it and it is now being used as a bible lesson rather than a devotional. The text of it is below. More tomorrow on why I am posing it here.

Our Peace is Not of This World
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Peace is hard to come by in this world. It seems like there is always something just around the corner – some event that can alter our lives forever. Some unknown medical condition come to light. A sudden accident. A lost job – especially in the current economic situation we find ourselves in these days. Those are things we cannot control. We can only respond to them – usually with anxiety and stress.

If those worries aren’t enough, it also seems that we are our own worst enemies in trying to attain peace. We continuously seek to build things into our lives – strive after the things our world has to offer to find comfort. To find the peace that will satisfy our souls. Yet what we find is fleeting at best. Even the good times – times spent with our families and loved ones. Time spent doing the things we love. Time just resting and relaxing. Further, we have the tendency to spend a lot of time building up our financial reserves so we can “buy” the peace we so desperately need. But none of those things last and we are forced to return to reality. Peace, we think, shouldn’t be so hard to come by.

But the Bible says otherwise about this world we live in:

For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:16-18).

Good News
But there is good news – news we need to hear. In the passage for today’s devotion (John 14:27), Jesus is offering us his peace. But note that it’s not of this world though. It’s from him, and the Father.

In the larger context of this passage, Jesus has just finished washing his disciples feet (John 13:1-17), and is beginning to tell them he is going to be leaving them (John 13:18-14:16). As you can imagine, after spending so much time and devotion on this man they have been following so long, they are perplexed and upset. They don’t want him to leave. They want to follow him. In John 13:37 peter says, "Lord, why can't I follow you now?"

But he says they can’t – at least for now. But he offers them His peace instead – in a promise to return (John 14:1-1) and in form of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26).

In John 14:1-4, Jesus tells them of His plans to go and prepare a place for them and promises them he will return for them one day.

But the point I want you to get is in verse 26. He says to them, “…the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” This promise is for your life now. If you are a child of God, then you have the source of peace living within you! No need to run after the things of this world to find peace. It, or rather, he, the Holy Spirit, the source of peace Jesus left behind, has been with you the whole time. He will teach you how to have peace – despite your circumstances... if you’ll let him.

Ask the Spirit within you to provide you with the peace you have spent so much time and treasure seeking after. Take the time right now to allow Him to speak to you. Then, for the rest of the day, continue watching and listening for the Holy Spirit speaking to you and working within you to bring you to the place that you have always longed for – to the peace only He can provide. Make this a daily practice, and before long, you will be changed and you will find, as Philippians 4:7 so beautifully says, “the peace of God which transcends all understanding” will be yours, even in the midst of your trials and tribulations.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Times, They Are Uncertain

I was reading through Romans 8 just now and ran across this in vs. 35-37:

Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he know longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? (Even the scriptures say, "For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.") No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

Overwhelming victory in Jesus! Careful now! I might begin to sound like a raving charismatic! Seriously, there is nothing more comforting to read and understand that no matter the trials we are faced with, Christ loves us. He says He is always with us - he has left us a seal to guide us - namely the Holy Spirit. We are not alone.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Limiting Salaries

There is a discussion going on at Christianity Today about whether or not executives at Christian organizations should limit salaries. I have a friend there who strongly disagrees with me. In the unlikely event he shows up at my blog, he might try this article I wrote last year on why I believe what I believe: that we should not seek to limit salaries - that would be the wrong focus. Usually, when people want to limit salaries, there is jealousy on their part involved.

We should instead, challenge each other to look at what we believe about money and whether or not Christ would approve of what we believe in principle and in practice.