Bad News Bears

I have a confession to make … I hate watching the news. I purposefully do not watch it unless the weather man is telling me how sunny and amazing it’s going to feel outside that day. I call this a confession because as Christians this is not how we are to live.

We are not to be like the ostrich who sticks her head in the sand ignoring what’s going on around us. But y’all there is so much bad news! All the time! From bombings, child abductions, murders, and devastating hurricanes, there is so much in the world to make us anxious and worried. And what about our private lives? Worries can pile up and send us into a spiral of despair. There are even some chapters in the Bible that can create worry and distress. Just take a look at Isaiah 24; it’s called the “mini apocalypse” and for good reason.  The horrors listed in this chapter that will happen (not IF, but WILL) are enough to make your knees knock. So how do we go on about our days? How do we cope?

As Christians, we have something the rest of the world does not: JESUS! What He did on the cross is the reason we have peace despite the chaos swirling around us. From the moment we trust in Him we acknowledge that He is bigger than the bombs, child abductors, murderers, and even the hurricanes surrounding us. He is bigger than our personal chaos; whether it’s caused by someone else or due to our own continual mistakes. Jesus makes this promise.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

In addition to the promise of an eternity filled with joy and bliss, Jesus has also seen fit to give us blessings on top of that. Think about it, as a Christian this is the only Hell we’ll ever face! In Priscilla Shirer’s study “The Armor of God” she teaches about a tool used to combat anxiety. She suggests that anytime the anxiety of this world starts to pile up, stop and thank God for ALL of the things in your life you’re grateful for, no matter how big or small. By doing this, you will get your priorities in line and remind yourself of how much bigger God is than anything you will face in this life.

If you’re reading this and find that you’re not sure if you have ever experienced the peace that comes from having a relationship with Jesus Christ, I urge you not to delay. He is the only way to everlasting peace. 

One of my favorite hymns is “I’ve Got Peace Like a River”:

“I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river! I’ve got peace like a river in my soul!”

Hum that little ditty while focusing on what Jesus has done for you and see if your day doesn’t go a little more smoothly.

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to a 2 year old and has one on the way. She occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.

 

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Beneath the Sheets

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. . . Psalm 23:2-3

Each night, I lie in bed wishing for more energy to continue working, but I will myself to put my phone down and close my eyes, ” Ah, rest!”  I let out a heavy sigh and listen to the sound of the sheets rustling beneath my head. I drift into prayer, “Dear Lord, please give me more energy.”

But then a realization hits me, and I continue, “Lord, you DESIGNED us to need rest. You knew the demands of life would compete with You, and so you designed us to NEED these moments of quiet retreat.

 I will embrace this time. I will cherish the stillness when I hear your voice so clearly. My ears ring with Your promises and Your commands. May they not be empty words that I repeat with a cavalier attitude, but may they come alive.  I can see the truth of Your Word played out so clearly in my life.  I recognize with a grateful heart the purpose for which they were written. I delight in You.”

 A grin slides across my face, unable to contain the peace and harmony that I feel in His presence.

 “Here you are beside me, fully present, loving and kind. Never failing, ever-faithful. You know every tear shed through these trying days. My name is written on the palm of your hand. (Isaiah 49:16) Lord, you are mighty.

Your Word tell us that you have measured the waters in the hollow of Your hand and marked the span of the heavens, that you have weighed the mountains and calculated the dust on the earth. (Isaiah 40:12) You are mighty beyond comprehension, and I pray that your majesty would not be lost in my limited understanding.

 I will keep my mind steadfast and trust only in you, for You alone are my peace and you have overcome the world. (Isaiah 26:3 and John 16:33)

 Thank you Lord for the silence. For the peace. And for being my hiding place. Amen.”

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.

Peace

Have you ever given a “peace offering”?  What did you expect to happen in response?  What actually happened? Let’s look at a modern day take on a peace offering. The Cambridge dictionary defines it as “something said or to be given  .  .  .  . to show that they want to be friendly, especially to someone with whom they have argued.” Now we should ponder how God defined a peace offering.  A peace offering was for one of 3 reasons:

  • to give thanks to the Lord for whatever reason;
  • to fulfill a vow;
  • to acknowledge God spontaneously.

These are quite different aren’t they? So if a sin offering is made because you have already sinned, wouldn’t a peace offering be made because you already have peace?  How is that achieved?

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7

When you are grateful, when you express gratitude, you are taking focus from “I” and placing it on whoever has done something favorable for you or someone you love. You are extolling the person’s character or sacrifice. When the Israelites made it across the dry ground of the Red Sea, they danced and sang praises to the Lord, and all was well in the camp…until they started complaining. So one facet of peace is the state of having and also expressing gratitude.

Another dimension of peace is doing what you say you’re going to do—fulfilling your vow. When Hannah brought young Samuel to the temple, she made a peace offering to the Lord. She did not grudgingly hand over her toddler; she expressed full gratitude to God for giving him to her in the first place. Man, do I hope to be Hannah-tough one day! That was one stout sister! She bore what her society saw as the shame of barrenness, fervently and unashamedly begged  God to give her what she wanted and promised to give him right back to the Lord .  .  . And then she did it! I bet she slept soundly every night thereafter.

When I do something positive, I’m not really surprised if the beneficiary shows some appreciation. But the best “love-ins” are the ones that catch me off guard. When my manager tells me that I’ve done a really good job for “just doing it and doing it everyday” or when my granddaughter runs up and hugs me super-tight “just cuz”, then I know I am valued. Now, you can’t take God by surprise, but you can please Him with your spontaneity.  Part of this aspect is a generous spirit. As our God is generous with us, how can we not be generous back?

If peace is something you are without, take a good look at these types of peace offerings. Is there an area in which you’ve been lacking? I know I used to have a terrible problem with insomnia. Medication didn’t help, and home remedies didn’t help. Nothing helped until I got my priorities straight, realized how blessed I was (and still am) and started acknowledging the Lord.  It seems such a simple thing, but that’s how God works: complex things are made simple in Him. Peace

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will made your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:6

About the Writer:
Cindy loves being an RN, wife, mom, and CiCi (that’s a grandmother but I’m way too young and hot for normal terminology) to one sweet little 5 year old girl. She loves the Lord with all her heart and wants to serve Him with gladness til her dying breath. Cindy plans on starting seminary very soon. She can hardly wait for Wednesday and Sunday to roll around so she can sing with the choir and experience just a sliver of the joy we’ll have when we all get to Heaven!

The Best and Worst of Friends

I know Depression.  How well do you know him?  Maybe you have met him once or twice in your life, or maybe he is your worst “best friend.”  I admit, I have hung out way too much with him over the years.  We met when I was about 11 or 12 and have bumped into each other more than I would like.  I try to avoid him most of the time because he definitely is not one of those friends who lifts me up; but sometimes I call him up hoping that he will understand my woes. Why I don’t just ask God to come dine with me and tune His listening ear to me is beyond me.  Just knowing that God hears me lightens the load a little, but it is not usually enough to send me back on my humming way.  Believe me, I have been extremely perturbed on more than one occasion that doing all the “right things” did not provide me lasting relief.  Surely I am not the only one who has been happy while at church and despondent once back home!

Then, one sweet day, God opened my heart to the best news I have received since that of the Gospel, and His same resurrection power at work in my life.  Are you ready for it? God showed me that He is my bridegroom! Now, I have a fantastic husband already, but sometimes I still feel very alone.  In my humanness, my husband could be doing all the right things or even slaving over the stove entertaining our little girl and cleaning simultaneously while I lie sprawled out being unproductive to anyone, and I might still feel uncared for or unacceptable.  In Isaiah 54:4-6, God calls Himself our bridegroom. Here is the passage from “The Message” translation:

Don’t be afraid—you’re not going to be embarrassed.
    Don’t hold back—you’re not going to come up short.
You’ll forget all about the humiliations of your youth,
    and the indignities of being a widow will fade from memory.
For your Maker is your bridegroom,
    his name, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
Your Redeemer is The Holy One of Israel,
    known as God of the whole earth.
You were like an abandoned wife, devastated with grief,
    and God welcomed you back,
Like a woman married young
    and then left,” says your God.

St. Augustine of Hippo wrote in his Confessions: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” On days when I feel anything but joyful, and unloveable, one of the most powerful truths that frees me to walk in the Holy Spirit’s fruit of joy is this: my Maker, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, is for me; and He will stand strong for me when I seek refuge from the pressure of this world. I know joy and can live in joy because my God has my back. He is the best, best friend, EVER.

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant.