Category Archives: Peace

Fake owls and needless worry

I have to admit that when I first heard about it I didn’t believe it. How can a plastic, painted owl actually scare off birds? But I was tired of bird poo on the deck and willing to try anything. So I visited a local farm supply store and fought back feelings of silliness long enough to buy an owl. And guess what?

It works!

It’s a big, fake owl that doesn’t move. It just sits there. It looks menacing and intimidating, but it’s completely harmless. I can tell it’s not real, but the birds that claim our trees as home can’t. So they stay away from the deck… and the flowers by the deck where we have a second one.

That’s sort of what Satan does with us. He sticks these ideas in our head of what could go wrong or what might go wrong… and we tremble with fear. We shake in our boots. We loose precious sleep. We bite our nails. We do everything imaginable except the one thing we need to do.

Take it to God in prayer and thanksgiving!

Consider Paul’s advice to the believers in Philippi:

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. ~ Philippians 4:6-7

We don’t have to let fake owls or fake fears get the best of us. Instead, we can take it to God and trust that He will work in every situation for the good of His kingdom. No matter what circumstances – real or imagined – you are facing, rest in God’s peace right now!

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Filed under Courage, Fear, Love of God, Peace, Praise, Prayer, Trusting God

One person can make a difference!

Last friday I blogged about a family who has been on an 11-year road trip involving 145,000 miles and the birth of four children. I concluded it with a challenge to enjoy the journey of life and make sure you’re prepared for the final destination.

On Saturday, the very next day, I conducted a funeral service for an amazing woman who was perhaps more prepared for her final destination that anyone I’ve ever known. She referred to her death as being “Called Home.” And her unwavering faith in God provided peace for every phase of the 89-year journey.

Beulah made sure that both Kent and Don – her sons – knew about a little box that held important information for the occasion of her earthly death. Among other things this box included:

  • Her own obituary.
  • Details about the funeral service.
  • Which dress to put her in; depending on the season of the year.
  • Poems and articles that sustained her trust in a loving Creator during some difficult seasons of life.
  • A code of conduct for daily living.
  • And notes for her boys.

Some of her friends commented afterwards that it must have been difficult for me to plan a celebration service for someone I’d only met a couple of times in passing; but the hard part was trying to include as much as possible about her remarkable life without making the service too long!

One of the things that most impressed me about Beulah was her love for others and the way she used correspondence to encourage them. Don asked the 60-70 folks in attendance to raise their hand if they had ever received a note or card from his mom – every hand in the room went up!

In her personal records she estimated that over a 32-year period she averaged 400 notes or cards a year or 12,800 pieces of correspondence. Simply amazing!

I often feel overwhelmed and helpless to make much of an impact in a world so weighed down by heartache and brokenness. But Beulah inspires me to remember that when we place our trust in God and make ourselves available…

…one person can make a difference!

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Filed under Encouragement, influence with the world, Loving others, Peace, Serving

What would your superpower be?

The last several years have seen a rash of movies bringing comic book superheroes to life. Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man, The Hulk, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, X Men… We obviously have a fascination with possessing powers that would enable us to do extraordinary feats.

So if you could choose any superhuman power to possess what would it be? Strength, flying, crawling up walls or swinging among buildings? Maybe you’d prefer x-ray vision or super elasticity or invisibility? More importantly, what would you use your powers to accomplish?

Paul makes a startling statement in Ephesians when he states:

I want you to know about the great and mighty power that God has for us followers. It is the same wonderful power he used when he raised Christ from death and let him sit at his right side in heaven.  ~ Ephesians 1:19-20

The very same power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us today, right now. But for what purpose? What does God want to accomplish in us or through us by His mighty power? Actually, a variety of things such as:

  • Joy and Peace and Hope ~ Romans 15:13
  • Endurance and Patience ~ Colossians 1:11
  • Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith ~ Ephesians 3:17
  • Grasping the enormity of His love for us ~ Ephesians 3:18-19

I don’t know about you but all of those things appeal to me. I could use more joy and peace and hope and endurance and patience. And I’m pretty sure the world would benefit from my living out more of all those attributes. And which of us wouldn’t benefit from a greater awareness of Christ dwelling in our hearts or the enormity of His love for us? But there’s one more that trumps all of these!

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. ~ 2 Peter 1:3-4

By God’s power we can become more like Jesus and the real person God intended when He created us! I am confident that God loves me as I am but I can’t help but want to become all that God fully intended. I want to live fully engaged in His story to be part of all that He wants to accomplish. Is there any bigger adventure than that? I don’t think so!

May God have His way with all of us to demonstrate His power through transformed lives!

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Filed under Determination, Encouragement, Faith, Holy Spirit, Hope, influence with the world, intimacy with the Lord, Joy, Morphing, Peace, Surrender

Every year about this time

Room to breathe…space…margin.

It goes by various names but refers to the same issue. The tendency for the activities of life to pick up steam and become overwhelming. Despite all the delight and joy of this season there always seems to be the issue of losing the real focus of Christmas due to a frantic pace. The reasons are countless but the outcome is always the same.

  • When we lose margin, we lose perspective.
  • When we lose margin, we lose gratitude.
  • When we lose margin, we lose peace of mind.
  • When we lose margin, we lose sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
  • When we lose margin, we lose emotional reserves.
  • When we lose margin, we lose intimacy with the Lord.

It’s the start of a new week.

Christmas is right around the corner.

When are you planning to slow down or make space this week to regain or maintain a sense of balance?

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Filed under Christmas, Gratitude, intimacy with the Lord, Margin, Peace

Finding our “Thor” spot

Susan has always had a way with animals. They know they can trust her and she loves on them like few people I know. And it started at an early age as she grew up on a farm where there were always lots of farm animals, cats and usually a dog or two.

Thor, our Yorkie puppy whom I’ve mentioned before, is the newest addition to a long line of animals that have found their fair share of care and affection from Susan. Technically, he is a family pet and can co-exist just fine with any of us when Susan is gone, but he very obviously prefers her over the rest of us.

Yesterday we were running a few errands and had Thor with us. At one stop Susan and Brynden went into a grocery store for a quick pick-up while I stayed in the car with Thor – who whimpered the whole time! But a little while later we were on a longer stretch of road and Thor had settled into Susan’s lap and was as peaceful as a sleeping baby.

I motioned towards Thor and told Susan, “That’s what God wants you to experience with Him.” God wants us to rest peacefully in His love. No matter what circumstances or uncertainties we might be facing at the moment, God is still in control and we can trust in His goodness.

Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of God.

May we all find our “Thor” spot today!

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Filed under Faith, intimacy with the Lord, Love of God, Peace, Trust

Captive Audience

Philip Yancey shares the following account:

At each meeting on my 2006 tour of South Africa I told the story of Joanna, who embodies grace and reconciliation. When we went to Cape Town she invited us to Pollsmoor Prison, where she works. It’s an amazing place, five separate prisons linked by underground tunnels, holding eight thousand prisoners in all, triple the expected number.

Several hundred men crowded into a kind of exercise room, and Joanna led the service. She has a remarkable presence, greets each prisoner by name, and commands respect from inmates and authorities alike. Most days the prisoners are allowed out of their cells for only one hour, so a chance to attend a church service is a welcome relief. I’ll not soon forget the sound of several hundred male voices singing lustily,

“Soon and very soon we are going to see the King… No more crying there… No more dying there…”

After the meeting we visited one of the three cells that the prison has designated as “Christian Cells.” Forty-nine men sleep in a room about the size of my living room. They have triple-tiered bunk beds, and a few sleep on pieces of foam on the floor. The “toilet,” a plastic garbage bag servicing all forty-nine men, gets emptied once a day, and the resulting stench hit me like a wall.

There, we heard some of the prisoners’ own stories: “I’m a murderer in for life plus thirty-eight years… I’m a rapist… I killed my wife.” One by one they told of how God has changed their lives, and how they seek to live for God even if they never get out. Joanna and her husband, Julian, run a program of restorative justice, which walks the men through stages of confession, repentance, then victim restitution. We sang a few songs and emerged into shockingly fresh air and the beauties of Cape Town.

One scene stayed with me. Instead of pornography or graffiti, the prisoners had decorated their cell with the words of hymns and praise choruses. The most touching to me, in light of what Joanna had said in the restaurant (see yesterdays blog), was “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.”
     ~ From Trip Notes, South Africa, 2006 (Gracenotes, p. 319)

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Filed under Courage, Determination, Faith, Forgiveness, Grace, Hope, influence with the world, Inspiration, Loving others, Morphing, Peace, Serving

A non-anxious presence

A non-anxious presence works like this: You are hit with a problem or crisis that immediately causes you to become anxious. Your mind races in half-thoughts imagining the worst. You share your news with others who react in a similar way. But then you run into someone who reacts differently, someone who remains calm.

They are fully aware of what is going on and yet they exude a sence of confidence that things will work out. This person has been where you are or known others who have been. All of a sudden you begin to calm down. Your heart returns to a near-normal pace as you are able to collect a few deep breaths.

That person was a non-anxious presence in your life. I’ve been on both ends of this scenario as the anxious person and as the non-anxious presence; and I’ve even seen it happen within whole groups of people. One person with a calm demeanor can influence others just by their presence. John Ortberg offers this thought experiment:

  • Imagine not being afraid any more.
  • Imagine facing financial difficulties or an irate boss with inner poise and resolve.
  • Imagine receiving bad news and generating constructive ways to solve the problem rather than spiraling through the worst-case scenarios.
  • Imagine facing rejection and obstacles without giving in to discouragement.
  • Imagine acknowledging the mistakes you have made, moving confidently into the future.
  • Now imagine people around you coming to you when they are upset or discouraged because they find that your peace of mind is contagious.

Now consider what it would be like to have someone with you ALL THE TIME as a non-anxious presence to help you live out what you’ve just imagined. That person is the Holy Spirit! He dwells in us to comfort and guide us through every step of life. Even when the unexpected surprises us, it doesn’t surprise Him.

The mind surrendered to the control of the Holy Spirit overcomes fear and leads instead to life and peace. There is a phrase that wonderfully captures the role the Spirit wants to play in our hearts and minds:

The Spirit of God is a non-anxious presence!

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Filed under Encouragement, Fear, Holy Spirit, Hope, Peace, Surrender