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Posts Tagged ‘peace’

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“Peace, bring it all to peace
The storm surrounding me
Let it break at your name”

Driving to work this week, the lyrics of a worship song I had thoughtlessly sung along to just days before in church, became clear, personal, intimate.

When we sing praises and worship we can easily just sing words, even thinking that our investment of worship is sincere … and I believe it is. There are times when we worship, though, when we do not just worship God, but we realize the strength, the truth of what we are singing.

“Breath, call these bones to live,
Call these lungs to sing
Once again, I will praise”

It is one thing to be able to simply praise God, another to praise him in the midst of the storm with pressure approaching from all around, but after that storm has past (is passing) …

when you can look back …

when you can see the bigger picture that was hidden from view in the eye of the storm …

when you can see God’s hand of comfort, of protection on your life.

Your name is a light that the shadows can’t deny
Your name can not be overcome
Your name is alive, forever lifted high
Your name cannot be overcome
Jesus, Jesus
You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus
You silence fear

And the words proved true.

As the song played on the radio, as I drove to work, that first day reminded me of the previous first day, a year ago. I was reminded of the nervousness, the anxiety, the hope that I felt driving to my first, first day at a new job. I was reminded of the many struggles of the past year …

Emotion gripped me as I contemplated how much more nervous, how much more anxious I would have been had I known what was to come in the following months. The emotions did not flow simply for how paralyzing that knowledge would have been a year ago, but how I could see God’s hand of comfort, of protection on my life.

How many drives to and from work I have called out the name of Jesus in the past year … and as I called his name, more peace than I imagined possible, fell on me. I exhaled the name of Jesus, and he gave me breath to inhale.

His name is alive, it has power, for “even the demons are subject to us in your name!” (Luke 10:17). I don’t think that we utilize the power of the name of Jesus, I know that I have not in the past … but …

this year, I understand so clearly how calling on the name of Jesus can silence fear, replacing it with a peace that is beyond all human understanding.

It can truly make the darkness tremble.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the
Father.”
Philippians 2:9-11

 

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“He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

… we say amen, but we pray that his power will not have to be made perfect in our weakness.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)

… we smile outwardly, while inwardly praying that it will just be a quiz.

” In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).

… we squirm, wanting to shout “but I cannot handle the trouble I already have!”

Sometimes the promises in the Bible sound more like curses, than blessings. Maybe they are both. Maybe they go together … one a reality of living in a sin-filled world, and the other a salve to soothe that reality.

Or maybe the tough realities of living this life bring us to confront what only God can give,

peace.

Peace is not just freedom from conflict. As a matter of fact, the peace that Christ offers is a peace during conflict, and struggle and pain.

It is “God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand (Philipians 4:7). His peace is other-worldly, not attainable from any other source.

As he was preparing his disciples for his death and departure from them, he comforted them with his peace, which is still available to us today:

“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” (John 14:27).

In the Matthew Henry Commentary, it reminds us:

The legacy that is here bequeathed Peace, my peace.

  • Peace for all that is really and truly good
  • Peace for reconciliation and love
  • Peace with God,
  • Peace with one another
  • Peace within ourselves
  • A tranquillity of mind arising from a sense of our justification before God
  • It is the counterpart of our pardons
  • It is the composure of our minds
  • This Christ calls his peace, for he is himself our peace
  • It is the peace he purchased for us and preached to us, and on which the angels congratulated men at his birth.

May we reach out for that source of peace … the peace that is available to we mere mortals, beyond anything we could ever imagine.

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Serenity

calm, peaceful, untroubled

“God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.”

A well-known poem, whose words flow off of our tongues without need for brain to be in gear.

The Serenity Prayer is credited to Reinhold Niebuhr, a pastor, ethicist, editor, and contributor to just war thinking.

This Serenity Prayer, when read with all cranial cylinders firing, can appear rather pie in the sky, idealistic thinking (dreaming). It’s author would be the furthest sort from an idealist, for Reinhold Niebuhr was a total and complete realist.

So how could one, who claimed to be a realist, pen such idealistic thought?

Maybe it is because we are really only familiar with the first part of the poem, and not the work in totality?

The second half of the poem takes the lofty idealism, and shares the goals by whose hands they are placed into …

“Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.

The other day, while talking with my mum, she shared the sense of peace and acceptance that she felt the day, in April, she was told she had cancer. She spoke of how unbelievable that peace was, how filled with acceptance that this was not something she could change, that she could do anything about.

What she was describing was letting go, surrender. Not surrender to an evil force, but surrender to the only one who we can trust to make all things right, if not in this life, in the forever to come.

It is not an absence of conflict, trouble or stress where serenity lives, but a surrender of our days, our lives to the Prince of Peace. That is true, realistic, serenity.
 

“all to Jesus, I surrender
all to Him I daily give.
I will ever love and trust Him
in His presence daily live.”

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My favorite place to go is Cannon Beach, Oregon.

IMG_1555.JPGIt is, for me, the happiest place on Earth … and there isn’t an animated mouse in sight (except, maybe, at Bruce’s Candy Shop). I cannot walk on that beach without a smile breaking out across my face, and tensions rolling off hubby’s shoulders.

It is where I have studied God’s Word the deepest. heard the most profound, yet human Bible scholars. prayed the most sincerely. joined in collective worship, in song, with a room full of people who participate together.

When we turn off the highway, and into the town, where we live but a week of the summer, our kids wave and call out to friends on the streets, even before our wheels have stopped. We have met friends with whom a year apart is as if days, for myself, my hubby, my kids. Friendships that have stretched across the continent, into our homes, and through social media on a daily basis.

It is the place that I have laughed the heartiest.IMG_1554.JPG

I never have to make meals, or make the bed. We are greater at mealtime by friendly smiles, and gentle leading to meet someone new. We have memories of candlelit dinners, and I have eaten pounds of bacon (without having to cook it myself, and smell like smoked Wilbur).

It is where we have watched our children play with freedom and abandon. stretched curfews into late in the night. giggled with my girl in the shops. shared s’mores with my son. snapped dozens of pic of my girl chasing the gulls from their beach breakfast feast,

I have loved and been loved.

Despite the many clicks of scenery photographed, I have come to understood that no device can duplicate what my wondering eyes did appear.

I have started my day with starfish, anemones, crabs, barnacles and other ocean life. I have ended my days over hot coffee, s’mores on the beach, with crowds, with my kids, with my guy, with my God.

I have sat alone on the sand bar sIMG_1558.JPGinging praises, thanks, laments. The salt of my tears of joy and sorrow have mixed with that of the ocean.

I have walked miles of sandy beach … in the warmth of the sun, the damp of the rain, the wind, the cold. I have had weeks where I trekked the beach to Haystack twice a day, and a year when I could not physically walk more than half way there … once during our week there. I have shared that trek with darling ladies, dear couples, our kids, my guy, on my own.

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I have …

fully, deeply, cleanly,

breathed.

And I am so thankful that my guy and I got to share a few days in that most happy place on Earth.

I returned home, yesterday, with sand in my shoes, color on my cheeks, a smile on my face, thanks in my heart, and a desire to go back to that rock in the sand and surf.

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“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them
Robert Laurence Binyon

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I grew up in a time which remembered sacrifice, on this day. I grew up in a place that understood peace keeping, as every high school graduating class included students who were to pursue that as their future profession. I have lived in our nations capital, of Ottawa, where the images of sacrifice were all around, and where every school, church and neighborhood had members of Canada’s peace keeping military.

This year, this Remembrance Day, social media has provided visual symbols of remembrance with relevance for today.

IMG_1547.JPGMy favorite image is the one to the left. A visual response by artist, Bruce MacKinnon (The Halifax Chronicle Herald), after the October 22, 2014 killing of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, while standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa. Although I have not seen any similar images, honoring Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was run down, while wearing uniform, in Quebec, I believe that MacKinnon’s image will bring both, and their grieving families, to the minds of all who see it.

We will remember them …

IMG_1541.JPGThe haunting words of John McCrae, and his poem “In Flander’s Fields.” The image of the poppy, representing the continuance of life, after those whose blood was spilled, fighting a foe we are encouraged to continue battling (“take up our quarrel with the foe … if ye break faith with us who die we shall not sleep”). We must battle for peace, in word and, if necessary, in deed. Those, who McCrae wrote of, had to battle in deed.

We will remember them …

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The Tower of London, bathed in 888,246 ceramic blooms, each representing a lost life in World War I … 100 years ago, when that war began. This work of art is called “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red.”

We will remember them …

IMG_1540.JPGNovember 11, every year, we have opportunity to remember those who gave their lives, those whose lives were forever changed. Attending a service of Remembrance, watching one on the television or online … taking a moment to be silent, and remember. These are opportunities to honor, not war, but the privilege of living in peace, at the expense of others who have gone before us.

We will remember them …

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Our six years of living in Ottawa acquainted me with the honor no mother ever wants, that of being awarded the Silver Cross. This ‘award’ is given to Canadian mothers who have lost a son or daughter in service to this country. The National Silver Cross mother has been chosen to lay a wreath during Canada’s Remembrance Day ceremony, in Ottawa, as a representative of all mothers who have lost a child in service. This year, Gisèle Michaud, whose son. Master Cpl. Charles-Philippe Michaud, was wounded after stepping on an explosive device, in June, 2009, in Afghanistan, is Canada’s Silver Cross Mom.

We will remember them …

IMG_1546.JPGThe image above, of people atop a bank, overlooking a beach, with the image of the soldiers who fought for that beach, for the freedom of going to the beach, has caught my attention this year. I could not find the name of the artist, or of the specific place or story it depicts. Could it be Normany? Dieppe? Does it matter? What is important is that we remember that the freedom we have has been bought by a high cost.

We will remember them …

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With the calendar rolling past Remembrance Day (or, for retailers it happened after Halloween … or was it Thanksgiving? or Labor Day? or the first day if summer?), the Christmas season is starting to raise its head. From now on we will be encountering the countdowns, the markdowns, and the rundowns.

f3de55abcc80150ed770a2ba1ea778acIt seems appropriate that we would consider the ‘Christmas’ theme of peace on Earth the day after we remember those who have fought and died in the pursuit of peace.

But, what is perfect peace?

Is peace simply the absence of war? the absence of battle? the absence of conflict? of struggle?

Or, is peace something else? something more?

In the the last days that Jesus was with the disciples, his messages became more and more defining about who he was, that he was leaving them, and, as a man on his deathbed, intensely personal. Jesus was reassuring them, preparing them for life on Earth without having him at their side.

In the account in the book of John (14:25-27), Jesus defines this perfect peace :

“All this I have spoken while still with you.
But the Advocate, 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.
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.”

Maybe the most important part of this passage is the reminder “I do not give to you as the world gives.” The peace we teach, and march and boycott for is not the peace that Jesus is speaking of

… not an Earthly peace

… not a peace that comes from a lack of war, a lack of conflict, a lack of disorder, a lack of struggle

But a peace that comes from the triune God … Father, son and Holy Spirit. It is the peace that passes (surpasses) understanding.

It is the peace that comes, not from world peace, or fulfilling relationships, or the perfect job, or well behaved kids, or a big bank account, or happiness, but from the joy-filled peace that having Christ in us gives.

It is the peace that Christ came to deliver.

Jesus tells us that with this peace our hearts need not be troubled, and we do not have to be afraid!

This peace can be present on the battlefields, in the hospital rooms, in the courtrooms, in the exam rooms, and any other places where peace may be unexpected.

In a sense, the peace the Christ brings rubs God’s victory, over death and sin, in the face of Satan, because no matter what plan of destruction Satan has for us in our lives, if we take hold of the peace that Christ gives, his plans have no power over us.

And that is peace on Earth … perfect peace!

Philippians4_7

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You can’t teach an old dog a new trick, or so the saying goes.

I like to talk. This goes back as far as my school years, when my parents would go to the dreaded parent teacher conferences, and the one thing that all of my teachers said of me was, “she really likes to talk” (hey, at least I was consistent).

I love to chat it up with cashiers, moms with little kids, and elderly ladies. Oh, elderly ladies are the best! They are funny, full of information, and (big bonus) they say stuff to you like, “when I was young like you,” or “you are still so young,” or “my what beautiful skin you have.”

I have no problems with communicating via email or text (but I do hate the telephone). When there is something that I need to communicate with hubby, the kids, a friend, family, or a co-worker I want to be across from them and feel the conversation, so that I hear not just their words, but what their eyes are communicating too.

All of that communicating is great, but I have been learning something about myself, and my communication habits over the past couple of years. I have learned that when I am speaking to someone who does not leave me feeling listened to I keep quiet, I stop talking.

Perhaps this started as a means of avoidance. Perhaps it was a wordless way of communicating. Perhaps it was a means of keeping the peace.

If it started as avoidance or wordless communication, then what I am really trying to avoid is conflict, because I am feeling powerless in a particular relationship.

If this started as a means of keeping the peace, it is a farce! If that ‘other’ person(s) could only hear what is going on in my mind while I am feeling ignored and not listened to!

Keeping quiet, however that started, can forfeit ones ability to express an opinion. Eventually, one might begin to believe that their thoughts are not important, so why bother trying?

Why or how this began, I do not know. What I do know, though, is that it is time for me to grow out of this stage I am stuck in.

This ‘old dog’ may not be so good at tricks, but I am determined to learn a new skill, by undoing a bad habit … I sure hope the treats are chocolate!

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