Category Archives: peace

a lighter load

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My mom gave me this book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young for Christmas.  Last year a local Christian radio station read from it daily and I was often so encouraged by her words.  She took her own prayer journal and her increased awareness God’s daily presence in her life and created a devotional filled with Jesus’ words to her and us that we would have a greater sense of “God with us.”  Each day is written as if Jesus were speaking directly to us.  Because He is.

Today’s words are taken from Isaiah 41:10, Zephaniah 3:17 and Psalm 34:19

The world is too much with you, My child.  Your mind leaps from problem to problem to problem, tangling your thoughts in anxious knots.  When you think like that, you leave Me out of your world-view and your mind becomes darkened.  Though I yearn to help, I will not violate your freedom.  I stand silently in the background of your mind, waiting for you  to remember that I am with you.

When you turn from your problems to My Presence, your load is immediately lighter.  Circumstances may not have changed, but we carry your burdens together.  Your compulsion to ‘fix’ everything gives way to deep, satisfying connection with Me.  Together we can handle whatever this day brings.

I love this reminder from some of my favorite passages of scripture.  I will travel lighter today, sharing my burdens with the One who carries them with me.

blessings

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We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
But long that we’d have the faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

 

regret

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The following is a link to the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation website featuring an article by Ed Welch, counselor and professor at CCEF.

We all have “if only’s” and regrets in our lives . . . as I’ve been wrestling with mine . . . I found this article to be so encouraging.

“If Only . . .” Living with Regrets | CCEF.

The link isn’t working consistently .. so, I’m posting the article.  The CCEF website is  http://www.ccef.org/

 

“If Only . . .” Living with Regrets

Ed Welch

Regret photoIt feels so right – so spiritual – to live with regrets. It means you feel bad for the wrong things you have done or think you have done, and that sounds like a good thing. If you forget those wrongs, you are acting like they were no big deal.

How many “if only’s” do you have in your life?

If you have a scrupulous conscience, you lost count long ago. For the rest of us, there are a few basic categories of regrets.

  1. Things you did that were especially shameful, which means that they became public and the public did not approve of them. Perhaps you failed in school or work, had legal problems, or did something immoral.
  2. Things you did that either purposefully or (more often) unintentionally hurt someone else. Car accidents, sexually transmitted diseases, poor parenting of a wayward child, and recklessness while intoxicated make this list. “If only I had left 5 minutes later I wouldn’t have hit that person.” “If only I hadn’t gone to that party…etc.”
  3. Things you think you could have done to avoid a catastrophe. If you have a specific moment when the course of your life took an irreparable turn for the worse, then you will be able to think of dozens of things you could have done differently. Bad marriage? You will review the list of old marital prospects and wonder why you didn’t pursue them. Most anyone who has known someone who committed suicide will be afflicted with regrets. “If only I had just called.” Most women who have been sexually violated ruminate, “If only I . . . (yelled, trusted my instincts that something was wrong, went with my friends).
  4. I knew a woman who was so filled with regrets that the burden of them felt normal. The first “if only’s” registered as weights on her soul, but it’s like wearing ten-pound ankle and wrist weights all the time, after a while you no longer notice them. You feel sluggish and tired all the time, and everyone else seems to be going at a different emotional tempo, but, somehow, that’s normal.

    Here is the paradox.

    We live with regrets because we think we should. We think it’s the right thing to do—that it is our duty before God. But…

    The Kingdom of Heaven is regret-free. The truth is that the triune God liberates us from past regrets. His will is being done. Bank on it. Neither your human limitations nor your sins hinder the good plans of your sovereign Father.

    Let’s go one important step further. It is God’s will that you jettison past regrets. They only make you feel unqualified and, therefore, unfruitful.

    Now to the line up. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Jonah, Peter and Paul, to start. They all had good reason to have a bad case of the “if only’s”. King David is the most severe example. His sin with Bathsheba resulted in the death of their son and his conspiracy to cover up the adultery caused the death of her husband. (2 Sam.12) Even worse, his sin of numbering the people led to the death of 70,000 Israelite men (2 Sam. 24). His remorse was great, and his repentance sincere, but you won’t find lingering regret. In its place is doxology to the Lord who freely forgives sins.

    Consider Jonah. He was an enigmatic character whose flight from the Lord nearly resulted in the death of an entire crew and did result in his being swallowed by a fish. A belly of a fish is an ideal place for regrets, especially when you know you brought it on yourself – “if only I would have just gone to Nineveh” – but instead it became a holy place where Jonah came to his senses and proclaimed, “Salvation is of the Lord.”

    Regrets? What about Paul? He watched approvingly as Stephen was stoned to death. (Acts 7:59-8:1) He zealously hunted down Christians, sent them to prison and approved of it when they were put to death (Acts 26:9-11). Yet, after his conversion, though he clearly disapproves of these acts, he does not dwell on past sins, rather he writes: “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

    But, in the post-resurrection era, it is Peter who is our mentor in handling regrets. After all, he knew Jesus from the beginning, and assumed that his egregious sin of denying that on the night of Jesus’ arrest demoted him back to the rank of fisherman. Not that there is anything wrong with fishing, but Jesus had changed Peter’s vocation to fishing for people (Matt.4:19), and, for Peter, regular fishing signaled his own conviction that his sins disqualified him from Kingdom service. Peter assumed that his calling was no longer valid. But breakfast with Jesus and a walk on the beach changed everything. (More on this in the blog, “The World’s Best Epilogue— Ever”).

    Try to find a hint of regret or “if only’s” in his two letters. Instead, following King David’s lead, Peter opens with perhaps the most spectacular and eloquent statement of hope in the New Testament, which ends with this exhortation: “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). He is reminding us that life in Christ rests in what Jesus has done and looks forward to what he will do. We are visionaries. We look ahead. We hope. We aim to be drawn by the beauty that is almost within reach rather than be restrained by the regrets of the past.

    Hearing anything here? Hope rising? If not, you believe that the Kingdom of Christ is where you pay for past sins, past indiscretions, or just being a human being who isn’t omniscient and omnipresent. You believe that if you store up enough regret and remorse you can finally sneak out of your self-imposed purgatory – though, as you already know, no matter how much you stockpile the stuff you always feel as though you must add a little more. That is not the Kingdom where Jesus reigns.

    Maybe you believe your regrets will be your protective talisman to help make sure you don’t repeat past sins. That makes sense and sounds spiritual, but it’s a false gospel. It is the sweet mercies of God that compel us to fight sin. One way to identify the nefarious nature of regrets is that they do not give mercy the prominent seat at the table. These regrets might be so stubborn that they will only leave through repentance. While you have been repenting of your perceived contribution to past regrets, the real reason to repent is much closer to the present: you are saying, “Lord I don’t believe that you cover my past, though you probably cover the pasts of other people, and I certainly don’t believe that confidence in your goodness and hope for tomorrow is even permissible.” Call it unbelief. If you want to get nasty, call it pride, in which you believe yourself rather than the Lord. Either way, repent.

    I have my own regrets—you have yours. God’s mercies are stockpiled even higher.


    Ed Welch is a counselor and faculty member at CCEF.

The Steadfast Mind

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So, I must confess that I borrowed the idea for the title of my blog from a combination of my studies in Isaiah this year through Bible Study Fellowship and Beth Moore’s Breaking Free study. The title of the 9th week of the Breaking Free study is “The Steadfast Mind.”

This phrase is taken from Isaiah 26:3, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (the NIV uses the word ‘steadfast’).

I found myself so encouraged by the many thoughts Beth Moore gives on this passage . . .

“Surrendering our thought lives to Christ is not just a means to more consistent victory, it is the safeguard against finally being given over to a depraved mind.  We can persist so long in our willful wrong thinking that God can give us over to our desires ..”

The ‘perfect peace’ promised here refers to a satisfied condition, a state of peacefulness, a sense of well being, a prosperous relationship between two or more parties.

“Just as the kingdom of God prospers when we are steadfast in Him, so do our own hearts and minds.  God will never send us in to the valley and ask us to bow to His authority without sooner or later bringing a harvest from the ground watered by our sweat and tears.”

“When temptations and troubling thoughts come, the steadfast believer chooses to lay her hand on God’s Word and know that it’s the Truth.”

In studying this same passage in BSF, we looked at the connection between Isaiah 26:3 and Philippians 4:6-8.  I love this connection.

Philippians 4:6-8, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”


This passage promises the same peace  .. and that it will guard our hearts and minds! Oh how I want and need that!

Then, finally, this passage tells us some things that the steadfast mind thinks about and meditates on ..  what’s true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, excellent, praiseworthy.  My mind is so prone to wander .. and the result, so often is anxiety and not peace!

In the midst of difficulty, I find my thoughts can be very troubled and extremely defeating.  God has shown me my need for a steadfast mind .. a mind stayed on Him .. on His Word.  This is where Truth is found. This is where I want to live.