Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Peace - a ‘result’ of love

My present understanding of the kind of peace I am pursuing is: “A deep, abiding confidence and trust (PEACE) experienced when a mind accepts and believes that another mind loves to be with them, (JOY). Genuine JOY and PEACE experienced ‘together’ increase a person’s capacity to cope with stress - with life. Sounds good. But what about some of the road blocks that seem to be thrown in the way of that JOY/PEACE experience?

One ‘roadblock’, called ‘fear’, has been shoving itself into my attention recently due to another experience I have been ‘involved’ in.

There is a couple we thought we were ‘helping’ by their living here on the farm. When they came some time ago they confided how they had been so ‘mistreated’ by others where they had previously lived. In my mind I said: ‘It will be different here’. But much to their growing dismay they have experienced the same ‘problems’ here they thought they had ‘left behind’. And of course it must be the ‘landlord’, the ‘manager’, that is at fault, for what have they done to deserve such ‘treatment’? For one thing, they have not had all the amenities of ‘good living’ in their apartment. Up until this winter they were burdened with bringing in wood for the wood stove when it was cold outside. They have been often stressed because of the slowness of remodeling in the farm house due in part to the problem that the main person who was doing the major remodeling was also working full time to help support the financial needs on the farm (manager) and also partly due to the lack of funds, which of course, they felt was also the fault of the manager. They tried to counsel the managers that if other folks here would have been made to ‘pay’ all that they should then that wouldn’t have been any financial problem, would there? And since they have had to ‘put up’ with remodeling challenges why should they ‘pay’ more? On top of those stresses, the manager has from time to time had the audacity to ask that they spend part of their valuable spare time helping at the farm. Their condition was then deeply worsened when the managers at the farm stepped out of the couple’s limits of legal Sabbath keeping, much to this couple’s deep dismay. This act on the part of the managers was so awful that the couple even considered requesting that the management be removed from the local church family membership. Another option was to disassociate themselves from such ‘sinners’ as soon as possible so as not to be further contaminated. That seemed a good decision to make.

Since the couple had been able to ‘save’ while living at the farm, as well as pay off debts they had ‘accumulated’, they decided now was the time for them to ‘escape’ to Tennessee where they could be ‘free’ from contaminating influences. If they were to even consider remaining any longer they were afraid that it would be to their eternal ruin. They were also afraid, though, that they wouldn’t have enough funds to move. They were afraid that they might not be able to find a place to live. They expressed fear about going and fear if they could not ‘depart’. They were afraid of associations with the worst sinners here, yet afraid of the effects to themselves of not ‘winning’ others to what they believed to be ‘right’. They were afraid when there were problems with the loan for a house they were attempting to buy. They were afraid they wouldn’t have enough furniture to ‘set up housekeeping’ on their own. They were afraid they . . . . .

In context of the above I had been pondering 2 Timothy 1:7 and mentioned it in the last notes. From that text and while thinking of the above situation my mind went to 1 John 4:18. There is a whole lot more in the letter John the beloved wrote, but for now I will share some of what I have been learning from it as I have attempted to ‘unpack’ it’s meaning. Below is the verse with some context. The italics comes from ‘Strong’s concordance. Following the ‘scripture’ and ‘strong’s’ definitions is ‘my’ present application - in blue.

1 John 4:16 - 21 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear terror in love; but perfect complete love affection, benevolence, (lavish) feast casteth out fear terror exceedlingly: because fear hath holds torment dwarfs, curtails, chastises, reserves for infliction. He that feareth exceedingly alarmed is not made perfect completed, grows up, matures, accomplished, consummated in love.
We love him, because he first loved us.
If a man say, I love God, and hateth loves less, detest, persecute his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

There is no terror in true ‘other-centered’ benevolence, such as when giving a lavish feast. An attitude of ‘other-centered’ love releases one from the paralyzing effects of terror. Terror dwarfs and curtails a person’s ability to live. We are alive and love God because He first demonstrated that kind of love to us. But if I say I love God and yet love this couple less (or anyone), I am a liar (and Satan is the father of lies). If I can’t love this couple who I can see, how can I love God who I can’t see? But praise God, as I am learning to love God, He is empowering me (when He commands, He empowers) to love others – including this couple and my friend, the cat lady.

That kind of love is awesome. God’s ‘other-centered’ love is also liberating from the paralyzing effects of fear.

So how does “PEACE” fit in to the above?

Might the answer in part at least correlate with “Great Peace have they which love Thy law and nothing shall offend them”.

I have a house to clean so must go for now.

May God’s peace grow in you today.

Maiden, bringer of peace

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Peace in the presence of Offence

‘PEACE’ when offence is offered

So much has been happening since I last sat down to ‘write’ (I started to put ‘think’, but that is not quite right.) A few who read might know the situation. In short, we ‘manage’ a farm. Over the years different people needing help were offered that they could stay at the farm until they could get their ‘feet’ on the ground, so to speak. With my former understanding of ‘peacemaker’ – peace at all cost – several ‘civil wars’ (some internal and, sad to say, some boiling over to ‘external’ conflicts with other ‘people’) ensued.

Recently, however, as I have been learning more about some of the concepts of God’s peace and joy I have been also discovering at least a few of the reasons for some of those previous conflicts when we had ‘thought’ we were ‘doing’ what would produce ‘peace’.

I’ll not burden you, the reader, with many of the ‘unpeaceful’ details, but in order to help make sense of what I have just written I will share some recent experiences. And since it has been a highly ‘learning curve’ time for me perhaps sharing may help others as well

Here goes,

A friend of mine broke her leg in December and my husband and I offered to ‘care’ for her animals. Her menagerie includes a horse, two goats, two chickens and her breeder ‘cattery’. During the first couple of weeks after her ‘fall’, it seemed ‘contention’ was 'standard' between her and myself – obvious at times even to others. My ‘perception’ was that almost ‘anything’ I said, especially regarding ‘animal’ care, was ‘wrong’ and needed correcting. At times I was in tears and at one point told her I was ‘quitting’. (The Lord wouldn’t let me.)

One evening as I was ‘complaining’ to the Lord, He asked me something like “Are you worshiping ‘her’ by the way you are ‘acting’ toward her? Oh, no, I thought. But as I pondered I realized its truth. And when I chose to do the animal ‘care’ ‘as unto the Lord’, I experienced His “PEACE”.

A few days ago a ‘problem’ arose in the cattery. In response I began, in my mind, to ‘give all my reasons’. The Lord again asked me a question. “Why are you ‘talking’ to that spirit?” Oh, no! I thought. Then it became clear that the spirit, which had been using another person to destroy my peace with God, no longer needed the ‘person’ for it for it could now talk to me direct to disrupt my ‘peace' relation with God. At that point I claimed God’s power to ‘bind’ the intruding spirit and ‘release’ the Holy Spirit in my life. Again God’s peace returned to my heart.

Another lesson I learned relating to real peace had to do with relationships. I had been pondering how to relate to this friend who seemed not to be in harmony with me. It was brought to my attention that when I respond ‘in kind’ (with the same spirit that the other person is exhibiting) I am actually ‘synchronizing’ with them (instead of their coming into harmony with me) and thus I am ‘opening’ my heart to whatever spirit being 'exhibited', which created ‘civil’ war in my heart. On the other hand, as I choose harmony with God’s ‘heart’, by accepting His will for me as expressed in His promises, including 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear (terrorism), but of (God’s) power and of love (God’s character) and of a sound (not being controlled by another spirit than God’s Spirit) mind”; I am protected in His peace. Does that mean that externally nothing will ‘go wrong’? Probably not. God’s peace has to do with the ‘inside’ me, my heart.

So, when others ‘offer’ contention, need I ‘accept’? Keeping in mind that the war is not against flesh and blood (people) but against spiritual forces is guiding me to choose to ‘stay’ in the mind of Christ. I’m still learning and I also believe I’m experiencing more of the real kind of peace rather than ‘peace at all costs’ previously thought of as ‘peace’.

I need to go feed the cats,
Peace be to you,

Maiden, Bringer of Peace - learning the real thing

Saturday, February 17, 2007

One result of accepting PEACE

Many years ago I believed some lies about myself that others expressed. The Lord gave me many indications over the years that He did not believe those lies about me. But I seemed to be pretty hard headed about 'giving up' the lies I have been given about me.

About two years ago a friend was being treated what seemed to me similar to how I had been earlier. I was very upset but it seemed nothing I could do would give me peace or help her. I thought I had asked forgiveness but it hadn't seemed to change anything. Now it seemed I was in even more turmoil than ever.

One Friday evening we had invited folks to sing with us but no one came. My husband, Duane, know that I was still very upset so he suggested we pray together. As we prayed I began to cry. As Duane continued praying the Lord put His arms around me, gave me a hug and said, "Olive, it's not your fault." Instantly my mind went back to the lies I had believed about myself years before. The Lord opened my mind to the 'truth' and a PEACE came over me. As this PEACE came into my heart I was in awe. Then the JOY of the Lord, which is my strength, filled me and I thrilled as I realized what the Lord had just done in setting me free. I was so excited I could hardly wait to tell my friend the next morning in church. After I shared what the Lord had done for me, my friend confided that the Lord had done the same for her the same evening.

Having been set free by the Spirit of Truth, I forgave those who had offended me through lies.

I also believe that the Lord has been continuing to strenghen me through His PEACE and JOY since that time. Then this past week the Lord gave me another deep dose of His JOY and PEACE. Since the earlier experience (plus several others over the years) I had become quite cautious when dealing with others, particularly in this church. But over the past year or so I have been sensing changes. I have been assisting with children's Sabbath School classes and have been working to compile a song book for use by them. In trying to choose the best way to 'bind' the books I checked at a local printing place for their charges. The more I thought about it the more I thought about buying a machine rather than paying to bind not only song books but other projects the church has been thinking about doing, i.e. cookbooks, directories, etc.

The Lord impressed me to take the information to the church for their counsel, even though I still felt a bit reluctant, I shared my findings with the church group.

Their response went far beyond what I had expected and brought tears of JOY to my eyes.
Not only did they suggest getting the machine but they voted that the church 'pay for it' (binding machine) and more besides to cover costs.

As I listened to that vote, (to me a vote of confidence) tears of JOY came to my eyes. God's Spirit, who had set me free from lies was now also restoring trust and confidence for which I praise Him.

A lot more has been happening but for now I will continue to praise the Lord.

Maiden, Bringer of PEACE

Great Peace have they

"Great peace have they who love God's law and nothing shall offend them..." Psalm 119:165
There is that concept of ‘peace’ in a very interesting context. A special friend asked me about it.

“Great peace have they who love God's law and nothing shall offend them..." Please tell me where that came from. (see above) Grandma used that verse often but I'm now not sure just what she was trying to teach us.”

I’m not grandma but in thinking about the context of that text here are some thoughts that have come to me as I have pondered the subject again.

Whatever that kind of ‘peace’ is, it is ‘great’. I’ll come back to that later.

According to what I have been learning about peace, its meaning deals in part at least with ‘attitude’. A ‘peace’ attitude, when dealing with the mind, includes trust in another mind. Trust cannot be forced. It is developed as an ‘other’ mind exhibits in word, attitude and actions (when the opportunity presents itself) that they truly ‘love’ you, that they love for you to be in their presence, that you are special to them, that you bring JOY to them as you respond positively to them. As you experience that kind of love from another mind, you are given the opportunity to respond. When you ‘relax’ in their presence, when you realize that you can truly ‘fall into the arms’ of the one who loves you with that kind of love, when you accept that you can trust that they have your best good at heart, that is at least part of what ‘peace’ means in that context, as I presently understand it.

In that context might the ‘great’ indicate ‘how much’ a person experiences and responds positively to the one who is offering that kind of true love.

The text goes on to indicate that the ones who have great peace are basing that experience on ‘loving God’s law’. Ooh, is that fascinating.

From the beginning of HIS STORY – the Creator God of the Universe, to the end of that story as recorded in the Bible, God’s law has two key concepts. Jesus said it very simply in Matthew 22:37-39 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

O.K. ‘Peace’ is an attitude, due at least in part to returning love to someone who loves you.

The last part of that text gives at least one ‘effect’ of peace. “Nothing shall offend them”

Whew! Looking back on my life I realize that a lot of my problems have stemmed from my ‘feeling’ offended by others. “If so and so hadn’t done such and such, bla,bla,bla. . .” But looking at others the way God does –through His love – gives me the ability to ‘feel’ like Jesus did – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” Might this be God’s remedy for ‘being’ or ‘feeling’ offended (real or imaginary) – I’m not being treated ‘fair’, I shouldn’t be treated this way, I’m hurt by how you are treating me, talking about me, or even not responding to me.

Wow! When I think of even a few of the implications of experiencing that kind of PEACE, I am awed.

How does Psalm 119:165 sound in the following ‘words’?

My attitude of trusting you, Lord - of my experiencing that you love me so much, leading me to love you most and loving others as you have enabled me to love myself - enables me to ‘let go’, ‘release’, ‘not hold as guilty’ all who have wittingly or unwittingly offended, hurt or pained me.
There is more in that text but for now I am going to ponder the above some more.

So, if PEACE is more 'attitude' related rather than strickly intellectual, can words be adequate to describe the miracle of PEACE God gives to those who love Him in return for accepting His love.

Peace to you!

Maiden, Bringer of Peace

Monday, February 12, 2007

Ah, yes. This 'thing' called "Peace". Sometimes it comes to us as a surprise. Several years ago I went through some troubling experiences with some friends. Over time I believe I have been healing. The Lord has been revealing some things about me that helped me to understand what happened back then.

It seemed that often situations would arise and many times finances would get involved. I wanted to 'help' someone and got blamed for 'spending too much'. I wanted to beautify around a common area and again was told I spent too much. I worked with a program for children and got told I charged too much. I began to 'back off' - retreat into my 'coccoon', so to speak. But let me say this much, peace wasn't found in the cocoon.

During this past year - perhaps it has been at least partly due to me changing and 'growing up', maturing, - but it has seemed to me that there has been an attitude change with some I had been associating with. It may have started even before then when the Lord had opened up to me that part of what had happened earlier was 'not my fault' and as I had accepted His 'take' I had experienced 'PEACE'.

Then tonight. Well, I was asked to go to a meeting where some decisions were to be made concerning property where we are presently living. Some other items also were discussed at the same time. I had been working on a little project that would affect several present and shared with them an idea that I thought would improve the outcome. It did involve finances and I wasn't sure what to expect but decided to present it anyway.

Wow! Not only were they interested in what I was attempting to do, they voted to not only foot the bill but encouraged me with promise of more financial help than what I had even 'dreamed of'.

Needless to say, tears came to my eyes as I felt not only PEACE but JOY also.

God is good. Great PEACE have they which love God's law - Love God supreme and others as one's self - and nothing shall offend.

May the Joy of the Lord be your strength.

Life is interesting. It seems to get even more so as time goes on. Life, however, is not what peace is. This experience called Peace doesn't just 'happen' - or so it seems. In an ongoing situation in my life, some time ago a friend broke her leg. I jumped in 'thinking' to 'rescue' a 'bad' situation. She had quite a number of animals dependent upon her care. My hubby and I ended up the primary caregivers for both her and her 'flock'.

That may be 'life' but my brain wasn't willing to settle for my trying to bring peace to another quite so quickly. To be honest I have done quite a bit of arguing with myself over the current situation. In fact I have gotten down right upset about it.

So where is this experience called PEACE?

For one thing, I have learned that the kind of PEACE I am learning about may not have a whole lot to do with 'what' is happening as much as 'why'. One day in particular I was complaining to the Lord. When I 'ran down', He asked me if I was making my friend a 'god'? OOH did that smart. But I had to admit that it sure looked like it. I wish I could say I learned the lesson but a couple of nights ago I bowed down to that idol again. Even my husband noticed it that time. One small consolation is that maybe I am becoming aware of situations like this more quickly.
Anyway, back to my argument with the Lord. I don't remember all that went on but I do remember that when I came to the willingness to 'care' 'as unto the Lord' and not unto 'her' I began to experience PEACE. This kind of PEACE comes in the middle of the experience, not as a result, or so it seems. My heavenly Father didn't promise 'skies always blue' as the poem says, but when I focused on HIM then the 'doing it as unto the Lord' attitude brought me peace.

It is interesting that this "PEACE" seems to be dealing more with 'attitude' than 'action'.
One small consolation - I think the animals seem more peaceful when I am at peace.

Duane has been getting the 'big goat' to eat from the container in his hand. Tonight he ate while I held the container. He is still very skittish but up until now I usually couldn't even get very close to him.

I am humbly grateful for the above lesson.

Maiden, Bringer of Peace