Word of the Week: Peace

Ironically, “peace” is a confusing concept Biblically.

Without any word study at all we observe that Christ at once claims He did not come to bring peace (Matthew 10:34) and at the same time Christ claims He is our peace (Eph 2:14.)

The definition of peace clarifies, citing that peace is:

  • A sense of welfare
  • Being undisturbed
  • Wholeness

When Jesus works, donning a sword, He disturbs our wrong perspectives. He exposes the incomplete pieces of our lives as we try to piece it all together for ourselves.

Peace, on our terms, is all about effort. Striving to maintain welfare, fighting to be undisturbed, and clinging to pieces we want to fit together.

Peace, on our terms, is anything but peaceful.

That’s the kind of peace Jesus didn’t bring.

The kind He did?

When we turn to Jesus as our source of peace, He establishes us without the peace-depleting, stressful effort on our part.

Our welfare is secure as we find our refuge and strength in Him. In Christ, nothing can disturb the connection with God He guarantees. We are in progress, yet simultaneously complete because He is working in us and promises to bring us to completion ultimately.

With Jesus, there is no lack, disturbance, or threat we need fear. We can be at peace because of who He is and whose we are.

Christ’s peace is so much more peaceful than peace on our terms!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

In Peace We Trust

{The twelfth and final installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

Each and every topic in this series has convicted me. They’ve all added up.


Here’s what I’m finding as I wrap it up...

Every “thing” I trust in besides God, I trust in with one goal in my heart. Obtaining peace.

I want the easy way because I want things to occur peacefully. I rely more on relationships than the Lord because I crave the feeling of peace that comes with connection. My plans, my busy habit, my obsession with knowing anything and everything- these all are submitted to in my heart because of what I hope to get out of them: peace.

You too?

in peace

We want peace. We are desperate for peace.

As a people and as families, peace is the goal in everyday life. As churches, as a country, as a generation in this world, we do what we do to gain peace. It’s the banner we raise and aspire to.

We want to gain peace because we trust peace is the answer to all problems.

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This isn’t a new issue.

Jesus addressed it head-on: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34.)

People back then wanted peace to be the solution.

But the issue is even older. We read about it in Ezekiel 13:10:

“…They lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash.”

whitewash

The peace we seek is all too often just whitewash.

The kind of peace we seek offers no resolution, no redemption. It’s a cover up for the stuff we’re tired of looking at, the stuff we’re ashamed of.

Yet Scripture is clear.

There is real peace available to us, and it isn’t found in jobs, on Google, in knowing the outcome, or in avoiding the scary. We don’t gain real peace by doing more or planning things out perfectly. Peace isn’t something to be controlled or had.

Peace is someone we turn to.

As Ephesians 2:14 proclaims:

“He Himself is our peace.”

Oh, Lord. This is convicting. This changes things.

We’re tired. I hear it in the media, I hear it from everyone I know, I hear it from my own lips day after day.

We are tired of manufacturing our own forms of peace and seeking our own sources of peace.

Stacking our hopes and our sense of security upon these man-made sources of peace results in collapse. We end up hunched under them, holding them up by ourselves. Our versions of peace fail because they were never meant to hold our trust. They buckle under the weight, and so do we.

Pursuing peace instead of resting in the One who is our Peace is exhausting and disappointing.

peacehimself

Friends- if we aren’t trusting the one who has bridged all of sin to make peace between us and God to give us true peace in this life, what are we doing?

Trust is balanced precariously on belief: belief the one we trust in is trustworthy.

The only one worthy of this trust, the only one actually able to trade the troubles of this world and our lives for lasting peace, is Christ Himself.

We simply need to come before Him. To hand it all over.

We need to trust Christ that He is who He says is: OUR PEACE.

In your life, trust Him to be who He alone is. Amen?

Thanks to all who participated in this series as readers, comment-encouragers, and guest writers. I have been blessed, and I know many others have too.

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Still

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’” –Psalm 46:10

Busy, busy. Becky just wrote about our false trust in “doing” through busyness. It’s a tough one to accept because our busyness is a habitual coping mechanism.

No more.

Be still.

This word the Lord uses can also be translated “sink” or “relax.”

Other connotations here include: loosen, let go, cease, abandon, fall limp, become helpless.

This word is for children clinging to things, fraught in their activity, wound up over whatever. It holds the power that a parents’ embrace does when a child is scooped up and put at ease.

Thank the Lord we are children of God.

His tone is steady, calming, and reassuring as He commands as a loving parent would: “settle down. I’m here. I’ve got it.”

God is the perfect parent. There is no unsupported claim in His Word.

When He says sink back on me, relax with me, I’ve got this…He can back it up.

Sink into that. Relax. Whew. Be still.

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

In Busy We Trust

{The eleventh installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

Glad to have Becky here today- she believes in embracing grace in the messy real of life. At My Ink Dance, she captures hard, uncomfortable, often unspoken feelings and brings light, honesty and God’s truth to them in a relatable way. Becky is a wife and mother of three in Connecticut writing imperfect and finding faith along the way.

becky profile

One glance at my calendar and you’ll see more handwriting than white space. Sports, doctors, meetings, parties, holidays, and there always seems to be more. Even in all this “more” I feel like less.

My days keep filling up and I am being drained out.

busy trust

Empty is not a way to live.

It’s easy to fall in line and run from thing to thing waving a flag to show just how important we are. Our calendars scream of our significance, of how needed we are. We have so much to do, we must be important. We must matter. Right?

Busy gives us a false sense of worthiness. True worth only comes from God.

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I hate how I feel like I’m running and running, yet I find myself mentioning how busy things are and how the running was so hard like I was name dropping a celebrity. Maybe if people see just how much I do, they’ll see how valuable I am.

We trust this idea that busy is an indicator of how important we are in this chaotic world. There isn’t time for slow. There isn’t time to enjoy. We snap every picture and post and share to prove our lives are full.

No millisecond shutter will capture just how full your life really is, and no amount of likes will fill your heart.

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We give so much of ourselves for the sake of fitting in. The kids do the sports, we serve on the committees, off to church on Sundays, we work a job or maybe two, we make all our meals and have date nights and the list never ends. These are all good things, sometimes even Godly things. But when we seek these things to fill us up, no matter how good they may be, we find ourselves worn out, lonely, and empty.

You were made for so much more than worn out, lonely and empty.

God longs for us to live lives to the fullest. To live trusting fully in who He created us to be without feeling the need to chase meaning and value in full calendars and a life of running. He wants you to know who you are.

But the best part?

He sees us feverishly filling those calendar squares and chasing what we think our value comes from, and He doesn’t go anywhere. He stays. Even when we’re chasing busy and trusting in our status instead of Him, He stays and waits whispering only one thing:

be still

Friend, I know we can’t throw our calendars away. We have responsibilities and bills to pay and kids to grow. But none of those things will give us what our heart desires. Maybe it’s time to let go of our trust in busy and find even the smallest moment to trust in His stillness.

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Direct

Earlier this week, Carly shared about trusting in plans. She realized her “planning was not enough” and that she “needed God to…make it come together.”

The verse she wrote about is a challenging one:

Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ” –Proverbs 3:5-6

To not lean on our own understanding is to not depend on manmade schemes and rationalizations over what the Lord teaches. This involves leaving space for His leading and work when we’d rather do it all on our own.

Likewise, to acknowledge Him in all our ways is to recognize, glorify, and seek Him with all our lives and being.

God directing our paths?

This is where I start to beam and where I recognize that the plans I make for my path make a mess.

In this context, the word direct refers to the work of the Lord as He is….

  • Smoothing out
  • Straightening up
  • Setting aright
  • Making agreeable

…our paths.

There’s One Way folks, and we know Him. The path is narrow and it does not change. He has one plan for each of our lives, and He planned it a long time ago.

When we read that He will direct our paths, God isn’t coaching us through a course still being conceived. He’s going ahead of us. Straightening up the messes we spread ahead for ourselves. He’s smoothing out the bumps we trip over when we’re caught up in plotting our own steps. His work evening out the surface keeps us from slipping.

He makes the road we walk more agreeable.

He does go on ahead of us, just as Deuteronomy 31:8 says.

When we acknowledge God and follow the Lord, we walk in the way He prepared for us. We set aside our plans, messy as they are, to enjoy what He has planned out for us.

His plans, despite our mess, He has straightened up, smoothed out, righted, and made pleasing according to the plans He has also prepared for us. His good, perfect plans.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

3 (Hopeful) Truths for the Overwhelmed

My calendar always ends up a mess. It seems like everything is happening at once and at the same time like the things that really matter to me aren’t happening at all. I notice plenty of hurry up and wait. In the meantime, I begin to hear the phrase “you can’t do it all.”

Every little thing adds up and I just feel overwhelmed.

You too?

To read the helpful truths that give me hope and slow me down, click here to visit Ashlee Perry’s site The Maze, where I am blessed to guest post today.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Works

Solomon declared that all of his works brought only vanity and vexation. He drew for us the conclusion that none of our works are meaningful under the sun. Later, He encourages us to enjoy what we do for God approves of those who fear Him and keep His commandments.

But in all this, Solomon wasn’t just talking about occupation.

“Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” –Ecclesiastes 2:11

In other translations, this verse is rendered without the word “works.” Some simply say “all that my hands had done.” Other translate “All of my activities.”

As Ashlee suggested in her guest post about trusting in a job, “works” can be defined as many things.

The definition of “works” in this context is a long list, including descriptors like:

  • Accomplishments
  • Achievements
  • Business
  • Arts
  • Activities
  • Actions
  • Labors
  • Practices
  • Yields
  • Things

Things is actually on there.

Our “works” are our “things.” They are what we do throughout our days.

Your “thing” of cleaning house?

Your “thing” of making others smile?

Your “thing” of mastering a lesson?

They all count.

Remember the famous, freeing words?

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9

The definition of works here is very similar.

None of the things we carry out on earth earn us meaning, worth, or eternal profit under the sun. Can’t earn those. That’s all the free gift of God in Jesus Christ.

I’m thankful for that. Because if I’m honest, it gets tiresome trying to build myself up creating some great profit or meaning out of the cleaning, the smiling, and the learning. These all have their role under the sun and they all have a place in my life.

But all the “more” I seek is found in Him. All the gain comes in Christ alone. Fearing Him and enjoying what he provides is enough.

So my works can just be things. They don’t have to be more than that. I don’t have to work on my works being more meaningful. What a relief!

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Do #LivesMatter to God?

Something breaks my heart extra as tragedy after tragedy arises. I wince over the propeller of much of the outrage being some agenda, not compassion.

People are suffering at the hands of others…

Terrorists. Radicals. Criminals. People of all races. Police Officers. Child Predators. Children. Parents. Even Wild Animals.

Killed and killing.

And People are suffering.

Might the answer involve something related to guns?

Might the answer be training cops more effectively?

Might the answer be teaching children about the equality of all people?

Might the answer be spreading the word about injustice?

Might the answer be more social awareness in churches?

Might the answer be a hashtag going viral?

Maybe in part. Maybe a little. Maybe not.

One thing I know: the answer to the loss of a precious human life is not to turn the departed into a tool.

In this, I observe our world overlooking a bigger issue. One we’re not talking about because it’s offensive, it’s personal, and because we can’t solve or cure it ourselves (Jer 17:9.)

Sin.

Sin’s evil pervades the world and each person in it (Eccl 9:3.)

Evil doesn’t discriminate against weapon, race, gender, age, circumstance, or specie.

It will gladly use and abuse them all.

Because evil sees opportunity in the heart of man.

Evil knows what happens when it takes lives. People, scared, hurting people, get desperate. Showing righteous anger at times, but flailing in desperation. Desperation leads to more opportunities for evil.

It seems like evil triumphs these days.

But God. But our Savior lives. He has the ultimate victory. He can take our desperation and turn it into reliance on Him.

The one answer we know to the problem behind all of this, the one answer that we don’t want to talk about, is the love of Jesus Christ.

We know we need change. We know we need more love and respect. We know we need better self-discipline. We know our world is a crazy, unpredictable mess. We know- God, do we know- that we need hope and healing.

All of these are found in Christ.

To be part of the solution: be part of His work. Let Him save you. When He has, be praying. Be loving those around you. Be listening for the Lord’s instruction. Be sharing the only hope we have in this world, the only hope that remains through every opportunity evil takes. Be in Christ to be living in hope.

Praise the Lord that we have a refuge, a rock, and a protector to turn to in every hardship and tragedy. Praise the Lord that sin will not win in the end. Death and evil will not prevail (1 Cor 15:55, Psalm 18:2.)

This is where we need to start. This is what we need to hear. This is what we need to proclaim.

This is the only hope we have, and the only real, lasting, unchanging, unshakable hope we have to offer.

Christ says it straight, so that we can have peace in this crazy world:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, for I have overcome the world!” –John 16:33

#LivesMatter indeed matters to God. Your life and my life matter so much to God that He gave His only son that whosoever -any life, any person- who believes in Him may be rescued from sin, saved by grace, and have eternal life (John 3:16.)

Offer this hope with comfort. Offer it with respect.

Please, offer it with compassion.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

In Avoidance We Trust

{The eighth installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

Honored to welcome writer Elizabeth Giertz to the blog. A veteran turned army wife, Liz is a strong and courageous proclaimer of the Lord's goodness and truth. This post was originally featured on Liz’s blog and is shared in this series with her permission. Please join me in welcoming Liz and praying with her for those who serve to protect us and our freedom (and those who love them!)

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I laced up my boots and straightened my starched uniform every morning as I left for work before the sun rose above the horizon. I was a Soldier and a combat veteran.

Strong. Confident. Competent.

But I packed a MESSY secret deep in my cargo pockets.

I couldn’t shake the thought of a black sedan with government tags pulling up in front of my town house and dress uniform wearing Soldiers knocking on my door. My heart pounded and my stomach was tied in knots. For months on end, I did everything within my power to be anywhere but home during official notification hours.

If your spouse has been deployed in a combat zone, this scenario might sound familiar.

But for me, common fear crossed the line into unhealthy anxiety.

avoidancewetrust2

By the grace of God, my husband came home from that deployment unscathed, but my experience uncovered an uncomfortable truth in my heart.

My faith had been tested and found insufficient. I lacked confidence that God would take care of me if something should happen to my husband. I was consumed by fear because my the roots of my faith were shallow.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation?

A lack of trust often presents itself as worry, fear, anxiety, discouragement, or a constant desire to fix things our own way.

I believed in God and knew that His son was sacrificed for my salvation, but I didn’t have a relationship with Him. Believing in God and trusting Him are not necessarily synonymous. To trust Him, we must know Him – like a Friend, Father, Protector, Sovereign Lord, and Redeemer. To establish a strong relationship with Him we must read His love letters and communicate with Him in prayer.

My faith had to be more than an entry on my dog tags.

To find peace in troubling times trust God.

Instead of being consumed by my earthly needs, I learned to seek God’s Kingdom and then trust Him to provide all that I require for righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

In place of fretting I began to pray and give thanks (Philippians 4:6-7) even for the smallest of blessings, acknowledging that all goodness comes from above.

Rather than agonizing over the possibility that I would suffer unspeakable pain, I trusted God would never leave nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6) no matter what happened, because He is near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).

In lieu of allowing worry to consume me, I began to cast my cares on the Lord, knowing that He cares for me more than I can imagine (1 Peter 5:7).

Friends, it works.

Since instituting these practices into my life, I have not experienced a single moment of all-consuming anxiety during any of my husband’s more recent deployments. In fact, I have learned to look forward to deployments as periods of significant spiritual growth, but that is another post altogether.

I replaced worry with trust.

This I know, that God is for me.

In God, whose word I praise,

In the Lord, whose Word I praise,

In God I trust, I shall not be afraid.

Psalm 56:9-11

Will you join me? Together, let’s commit to trusting God so that the enemy cannot steal one more second of the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Will

Free will. My will. His will. I will do that. When will…?

I’m not sure we often get through a day without using the word.

At the same time, I wonder if we view it well?

Perhaps its most famous context is this:

Not my will, but yours be done.”

Luke 22:42

As Lois shared earlier this week in her post about trusting in outcomes rather than in God, praying that God’s will be done is challenging. Often, we’d prefer He just do our will so that we know what will happen and can feel good about the outcome.

But there is something special about “will” in this context.

Transliterated “theléma,” this particular reference “will” can be defined as “best-offer.”

When we pray that God’s will be done, we pray that His best offer be accomplished.

This says so much about our Lord.

We know He wants what is best for us, as is the case in perfect love. We know He works all things together for the good of those who love Him.

Here we have an example of that perfect love and perfect work driving out our fears about not getting “our way.” His way is not only better and higher than our way– His way is the best option we have.

What comfort that gives as we pray and surrender to Him.

His will is His best and ours, too.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.