Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Experiencing Peace

Tomorrow, or rather today already, is going to be a very great learning experience in my life. A friend of mine was sued. She countersued. This is the day of an attempted mediation between my friend and the one who basically betrayed my friend's trust in them. It has been a growing experience for me as I have watched events (and at times been quite involved in the events) leading up to this day. As I left my friend a few hours ago I was deeply impressed with her attitude. The past few days she has been spending quite a bit of time in prayer to God. Even with the stress that the above situation tries to add, God has been offering peace.

The kind of peace God is giving is not absence of stress. It is not absence of feelings. God's peace comes when a person has a relationship with God that comes into harmony with Him.

I'll share more later.

Bringer of Peace

Friday, August 24, 2007

Growing up in Peace 2

The past few days have been full. I have been involved in preparations for two funerals. Today I got to the church around 10 a.m. after having helped clean and prepare the church fellowship area last night for a dinner after the funeral. The man who died had fallen out of a tree and broken his neck plus other injuries. After the dinner we got the church back in shape for our regular services. The next funeral, or rather memorial service is on Sunday.

Add to the above that we agreed to have a Bible worker stay here for 9 months and they will be coming around the first of September or thereabouts. Both my husband and I feel very good about that move but it still involves a fair amount of work to get things ready.

As mentioned in my last blog, I have also been studying Psalm 18. I have a friend who is facing a court 'mediation' in relation to a legal suit situation. When I finished 'unpacking' Psalm 18 it seemed to me that it was written in particular for her. I'll not post the whole Psalm here - it has 5o verses - but I will post it on my paraphrase blogsite (see side bar).

There are some concepts still bouncing around in my mind from Psalm 18 that still fascinate me.
Following are a few of them that I believe lead one into a deeper peace experience in God.

Verse 32, 39 and 40 present a concept that is fascinating to me.

32. My Creator encompassed me, hugging me with strong arms and whirling me around in joy and enabling me to see better in all 'directions', and He puts me into His harmonious way of living.

39 - 40. You have encompassed me, hugging me with Your strong arms and whirling me around in joy and in ever increasing ability to 'see' in all 'directions' in preparation for this consuming engagement. You have humbled and prostrated beneath me those who betrayed me. You have broken the necks of those who were hostile to me so I could eradicate and totally destroy this hateful spirit.

A former misconception of mine has been that 'fighting back', so to speak, was not like God.
Yet, at least in this Psalm it sounds like there are appropriate times when it is not only good but necessary. I am also seeing that to be able to engage in that kind of conflict one must be spiritually born, v. 15

15. As this strong exhibition of Your presence was manifested, the very foundations of the world were revealed, O Self Existent One, as You breathed out divine Inspiration giving birth to new life.

then a person needs to spiritually grow up beyond babyhood into childhood - verse 20

20. As I grew up My Creator weaned me and He has been allowing me more and more 'room' to make decisions according to my maturity level - which also empowers me to see more clearly as He sees.

and continue to progress into adulthood spiritually before the verses about confrontation come.

24. My Creator has restored me in direct relationship to my level of growth in spiritual maturity and my ability to see as He sees.

Verse 34 is where the 'fight' is specifically mentioned but it only comes after I am prepared for it as described in 32, 33

32. My Creator encompassed me, hugging me with strong arms and whirling me around in joy and enabling me to see better in all 'directions', and He puts me into His harmonious way of living.
33. He empowers me to leap forward, like a deer, to achieve my high goals.

34. He stimulates and urges me to use power and means I receive from Him to fight so that the severe, negatively charged atmosphere is dispersed by techniques I developed while growing up in Him.

There is much more in this Psalm but I am coming to a conclusion that 'peace' may be the conclusion of the 'fight' when a person 'fights' in God's way and with the means God supplies. I believe that is key - learn how to 'fight' in God's manner so I can experience God's real peace.

Bringer of Peace

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Growing up to Peace

As I have mentioned before I have been 'unpacking' Psalm 18. The deeper into it I have gotten the more fascinating it has become. I have also been increasingly seeing Psalm 18 as almost a 'diary' of a person who is 'growing up' spiritually. There are some growing pains and interactions and reactions during that recorded process. But the farther along in this study I have gotten the more I am convinced that the 'story' recorded here is quite familiar in all who 'grow up' in Christ. We may not be chased around the country in a physical sense as David was chased by king Saul, but we can be chased in a spiritual sense. Yet the main 'story line' thus far (I'm almost to verse 40) is not so much one of disconnected battles and chases, etc. but rather a distinct growing process with the author becoming more and more like God through each new experience.

There have been a lot of 'surprises' when I have been looking up Hebrew meanings, but there was one word used in KJV that at first baffled me when I looked at its Hebrew meaning.

The word was translated in KJV as 'strength' as used in verse 32 & 39. The root Hebrew word used here means 'twist, whirl, dance in an intensity'.

I won't bore you with all the details but here is my present understanding of those texts with a few texts around them to help give a context. I put in bold the places where 'strength' is in KJV.

31. Is there any other god except the Almighty, Self-Existent One? Is anyone else such a protection as the Supreme Creator?
32. My Creator encompassed me - like hugging me with strong arms and whirling me around in joy - and He puts me into His harmonious way of living.

33. He empowers me to move forward, like a deer, to achieve my high goals.
34. He stimulates and urges me to use the power and means I have received from Him to fight, so that even severe and difficult opposition sinks down through my growing efforts.
35. God, You place your saving protection around me; Your stronger side supports me, and your modest, gentle purity increases my confidence in You.

36. You have broadened my living experiences so I no longer wander.
37-38. I went after those who hate me and confronted them: I didn't stop until they were vanquished; I didn't back off until the negative spirit was subdued and destroyed and could not rise again: it fell down under this approach.

39. You have encompassed me - like hugging me with Your strong arms and whirling me around in joy - for this consuming engagement: You have humbled and prostrated beneath me those whose who tried to betray me.

As I thought about a verse 39 experience You have encompassed me - like hugging me with Your strong arms and whirling me around in JOY I recalled when I would meet a special friend after a long absence. I would be so excited to see them and we would often share a hug and maybe even 'dance' a little impromptu as we would meet. I also put that definition into Nehemiah 8:10 "The JOY of the Lord is your strength." In that context the 'hug' I receive from Jesus as He whirls me around in His arms, at least in a spiritual sense, is a source of strength - my source of real strength.

And then as I 'relax' into the arms of Jesus, my confidence growing with each repeat performance of that kind of sharing of strength, my peace is also increasing. I can trust that kind of a God. I can 'rest in His love'. I can have increasing confidence in His leading, guiding and way of living for me.

As I have mentioned before, JOY and PEACE work together in growing my capacity to face life. Therefore whatever enhances my JOY and PEACE enables me to 'grow up'.

There is far more than just being 'hugged' and 'whirled around' by Jesus in His intense JOY and true peace. It is, however, a beginning that thus far sounds very good to me.

I am also becoming more aware that I don't know very much the depths of real 'peace', but what I have learned so far sounds VERY GOOD and I want much more.

Hope to share more soon.

Bringer of Peace

Monday, August 20, 2007

Does Real Peace have a Counterfeit?

I was listening to a program last evening on TV. The main topic was recovery from additions and/or other problems people have faced. The couple being interviewed were what you might call 'opposites'. He had been on drugs and had been filled with rage. On the other hand the lady had grown up in a 'just right' environment. As the story unfolded and they realized they needed help I found it extremely interesting. Yes, the man who had practically uncontrollable 'fits' of rage, even to the extreme of destructive activity, needed help - and received it as He chose to accept the power of God into his heart. On the other hand, the woman who was always 'good' and did all in her power to 'fix' difficulties, seemed to have the harder time not only realizing her needs but accepting what she really needed to take part in a recovery process.

For anyone who knows me well I think you will agree that I like it when there is outward peace in the part of the world where I live.

As I listened to this couple I was again impressed with a truth I have been learning in my life. Even though I like to be at peace with others, that is not necessarily the end goal in life. It is also not my God given responsibility to 'fix' whatever seems to be wrong that appears to be causing others to be out of peace - either with themselves, with God or with others.

I was talking to a friend yesterday. She was telling me that she had been learning so much about Jesus recently. She went on to say that there were many gospels written about Jesus' life that are not in the Bible. (I don't doubt that.) She is into geneologies and told me that the one for Mary Magdelene had been 'found' or traced or whatever. That is also a possibility and I am not here to argue any of the above information. She told me she spent hours researching this information and is so excited about it. I listened to her with a smile on my face and a prayer in my heart while thinking about my friend 'I love you because of what Jesus is doing in me'.

But also, as she was talking, my mind went to some other current situations that really need her attention, as well. She has some animals and in my opinion, especially with the drought conditions we have recently been in, I am of the opinion that at least some of the money she is spending on copying all this 'new' material could have been used to buy some supplimentary food for her animal collection so they (to me) wouldn't look so uncomfortable. It did rain this last evening which I hope will help some grass to grow in the fields where some of the animals are kept. (Please note that the above are my opinions only.) But as I thought about my reactions, I wondered if those kinds of counterreactions will enable me to stay in 'real peace'. At this point in time I do not believe I have jurisdiction over what she chooses to do with her animals. And because I have previously 'nagged' her about them I sense a 'resistance' anytime I so much as mention something I think she should do differently - particularly in relation to her dealings with her animals. Why, she has had animals just about all of her life and she knows how to take care of them fine, thank you.

Is that the problem God has had with me in my understanding and my relation to His kind of Peace? When I was very young Satan had gotten me to believe that peace is when everything on the 'surface' looks fine. I also believed - with what I thought were proof texts from the Bible to support my belief - of peace at all cost.

God's kind of peace is on the inside and is from Him. Jesus told His disciples before He returned to heaven, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27 God's kind of peace is not based on 'happenings' - from which a common meaning of happiness is taken. God's kind of peace includes a deep, trusting, abiding confidence that the Creator who made me also loves me and will do for me and in me what He sees best so long as I will accept Him.

I believe I have been seeing an example of that kind of a peace in another friend's experiences. She has been in a legal situation with someone who basically 'betrayed' her. I have been helping her more as a friend but at times she has been able to give me something for my time. She loves God and her life has been lived in sharing with others about the Creator God.

Another person had persisted in asking my friend for help. After a while my friend even went so far as to lay aside her own means in support to help her friend - who promised to take care of her as she would her own mother. But after her friend got what she wanted from my friend, she has attempted to 'trash' my friend (my definition of what has happened).

After some of the initial shock passed my friend has, in my opinion anyway, been growing stronger in her relation with God. She still gets frustrated at times with ongoing activities from her former friend turned enemy to seemingly harass her, but quickly that changes to a lesson learned and strength received from God to 'face a new day' with Peace.

I have been challenged to 'learn faster' in my own life as I have watched my friend gaining strength through these experiences from those who have chosen to turn against her.

It amazes me too, that not only is she gaining strength, I believe, in her spiritual experience but is regaining physical strengh as well. She's determined to write a book and share some of what she has learned from this betrayal. She is also getting back into painting - one of her previous means of support.

As I think of my two friends, it is almost a study in opposites. The first friend I mentioned has, what seems to be, quite a list of grievances (a number of which are aimed our way) against a variety of folks who have crossed her life path. But I have been learning to look at her, smile, and in my mind say 'I love you'. The second friend I mentioned has had plenty of challenges especially this past year. Yet the longer I have known her the more counsel I have received - even on good ways to respond to my first friend - inspite of her own experiences of being betrayed by a person she had accepted as being true to her.

How does that apply to Peace? Somehow it is as though I am seeing contrasts before my eyes.
Which kind of peace do I want for my life? Peace that can only be had if the list grievences are resolved - i.e. a debt collector type mentality (but never quite being able to collect 'all' debts due)? Or Peace that comes from being able to 'rest', 'trust', have confidence that the God who created me loves me dearly and will only allow in my life what He sees will 'grow me up' into His likeness, His image? And in that growing up process He wants to use me to share His peace with others.

I'm chosing that kind for my life.

Bringer of Peace

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Peace in relations

We are managers of a couple of homes on a farm. I have struggled often in my learning how to encourage peace particularly in relations with those who live on our farm.
Today one lady was busy with a little job. I commented about it - I didn't think in a negative way - but hopefully nicely. She was picking out some 'movies' to watch on her TV. I told her my intent to store the DVDs and CDs in a cupboard with doors so they would be accesible but not 'advertized'. [Since I am a practicing Christian there are some types of movies I do not approve for I don't believe Jesus approves of them either.] She calmly responded that Jesus saw all that type of things and more. I agreed that Jesus saw much more. I made no further comment verbally but inside I thought to myself that I am grateful I don't have to keep all that garbage in my mind just because the Creator has to keep track of it and I thanked God for that limit to what I need to put into my mind.

God's capacity is much higher than mine. God's view is much broader than mine. God's love is far richer than I have yet experienced. And when I keep focusing on Jesus He has promised to fill me not only with His PEACE but also His JOY. Praise the Lord.

I am learning though that in relationships I don't always have to give a 'response'. I can have a peace in listening to what others believe - be it totally correct or still in need of 'tweeking'. I can allow God to take care of any corrections if and when He sees they are needed. That takes a big load off me. I am also hoping that just maybe it might open more possibilities that others might sometimes be interested in other views.

For most of my life I have been known to be a 'talker'. I still do a fair share but I do think I am learning to listen and allow others to have their say without me 'correcting' them.

Bringer of Peace

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Peace because of . . .

There was something missing as I wrote my last blog. I went ahead and posted it but when I reviewed it this morning I began to see 'more'. Yes, God has been blessing me with "Peace in spite of ..." and for that I praise Him.

Might there be another level of peace in this regard? Not just "Peace in spite of . . ." as nice as that is. The kind of God I am beginning to learn to know deeper is not in the business of operating 'in spite of. . .' . On the contrary "God's Peace is because . . . ."

God's peace is offered to me because He loves me.

The effects of God's peace realized in my life is because (or perhaps as the result of) my accepting His 'rescue plan' from sin (sin begins with an attitude and results in actions when an opportunity presents itself of believing and acting upon any will other than God's will in relation to me).

God's peace comes into my life because I have chosen to agree with God's will thus granting God permission to draw me into harmony with Him.

God's peace is offered to each and every person on planet earth.

God's peace is life to those who receive it.

God's peace can be shared once it has been received.

Bringer of Peace

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Peace in spite of . . . .

It is amazing how many lessons of life can be crammed into just a few days. I have been team leading a Vacation Bible School this week. The lady I have been helping in her home in various ways has been having real problems with the heat - it was somewhere around 105 F. today with humidy possibly 90 % or higher. My husband and I manage a couple of dwellings and some folks have not been happy with some of our decisions, to put it mildly. I was asked my opinion on how to make some improvements in the church building where I attend and I am trying to get some pertinent information. Between talking to my brothers (via email for phone) and sisters I probably spent quite a few hours. I am still attempting to get my new 'office/library/sewing & craft area in 'working order'. That is part of what has been happening recently in my life.

In the past I have lost God's kind of peace when involved in 'VBS'. I have also 'lost peace' in time past when dealing with 'residents' here on the farm. I have definitely lost peace in previous situations relating to our church family. And, sad to say, I have not always been at peace with my biological 'family'. And when it comes to my house I have lost peace over it more times than I even care to 'think about'.

So what is the difference this time?

I believe one big difference is that God has been 'growing me up' in maturity levels.
Jesus saves me so long as I choose to belong to Him and accept Him as my Lord and Saviour.
Jesus also will 'grow me up' to become a 'woman' in Him. Just as I am no longer a 'baby' physically', so Jesus intends to grow me up spiritually and in the realm of God given emotions as well.

Peace includes being 'trusting' of the one in whose presence you are experiencing peace.

Experiencing peace in God's presence enables me to begin to see others 'through God's eyes' - the way God sees the other person. When someone who lives here on the farm with us gets upset with me, seeing them more the way God sees them has been changing my attitude toward them. I am still learning and I thank God for His patience with me in this area.

Learning how to keep the balance in my own life also has been a growing blessing. Taking care of my place has, for most of my life, taken 'second fiddle', so to speak. If someone else needed something it almost always took 'first place'. That is not how God speaks, however, and I believe it is helping me in dealing with others better as well.

Choosing to take more space for an office/library/sewing,craft center has caused someone else here to make comments which I would have previously become very defensive about. Their suggestions have been that my decisions to take more space is not 'fair' or something similar.

The main reason I had the space become available for use in the first place was that a couple had been living in a four room apartment type area and they moved out into their own place. Instead of having someone else move in I decided to take most of the space for an office/library/sewing,craft area instead of attempting to cram much of it into our small living room (which had become more like a warehouse than a living room).

I have listened to the 'reasons' given why I should manage the farm differently than what I have been doing, but I am presently at peace in spite of . . . .

I listened to people's comments about the VBS this year (and we did change a few things) and I am at peace in spite of . . . .

I am not the most comfortable with temperatures in the triple digits but I don't seem to be bothered as much as some others. I suppose that is good because I can help my friend who has been having lots of problems with the heat. That has been a blessing to me as well. And in a sense I have peace in spite of . . .

God didn't promise that circumstances would dictate how much peace I can experience.
God gives me peace in spite of . . . .

What a wonderful God is my Creator.

Bringer of Peace

Friday, August 3, 2007

Peace symbol - Sabbath

After a week like this past the seventh day Sabbath rest- God's symbol of peace - is such a blessing. The right to lay aside the daily cares and experience peace in God is awesome.
For anyone who is reading this I would encourage you to experiment with God's peace.

I have been 'unpacking' Psalm 18 recently. It is amazing to me how intense the 'hebrew' meanings are. I guess the 'English' 'KJV seems 'tame' in comparison. The Creator God is a passionate God. He is longing to so connect with me that His love can flood through me to others. I haven't 'finished' that chapter but here are the first few verses as I now understand them.

1. (For the music director) This minstrelsy type poem/song was written by David, a devoted worshipper of the Creator God. He arranged this Psalm specifically to praise and glorify The Creator God who snatched him from the power of every one of his enemies and particularly from Saul, (the first king of Israel).
My Creator, I have deep and tender feelings toward You and am holding tightly to You. 2. You are my fortress, lying alongside me and enabling me to escape; You are my Strength, my Refuge where I flee for protection; My Defense and the Power that sets me free and keeps me safe. 3. I will address by name the Self-Existent One to shine and make a show, which is how I will be set free from those who are hostile toward me.
4 - 5 Vows to kill me came from everywhere; torrents of threats from unprofitable people terrified me. Tight demands swirled around me and traps to kill me caused me to be extremely cautious.
6. From this cramped, tight condition I addressed the Creator God, the Supreme God, by Name, to set me free. He carefully and intelligently listened when I intensely appealed to Him.
7-10 Then the earth itself violently shook in waves; the hills quivered intensely as God responded in His power. His emotions were exhibited like smoke from His nostrils and fire blowing from His mouth kindling coals of fire. He bent the heavens out of His way and descended. Before He arrived there was gloom. He dispatched a heavenly being as cover, He approached like light rays at the speed of thought. When His life-light is not flowing out, He is in 'darkness', being enveloped as in a vapor which cannot be penetrated.

Bringer of Peace

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Peace in change

Next week we are planning on having a Vacation Bible School at our church for children. Plans were coming along nicely, or so I thought, until a couple of nights ago. While doing some planning it became evident that some were uncomfortable with the concept of 'interactivity' when it comes to sharing Bible stories. Telling a story was fine and showing pictures was in the comfort zone, if you have any idea what I mean, but beyond that was not 'fair play' or so it came across to my mind. At the end of the evening I had one desire. I wanted to know what God's will was concerning not only the VBS but my relationship to what was happening.
I prayed, studied and pondered and talked to the Lord some more. He, as my Prince of Peace, has the answer and I wanted HIS answer. In His tender way Jesus led me to an inspired statement that gave me the foundational principle. I was satisfied that what we had been planning was not a problem. But the Lord wasn't done. I went on to John 17 and the Lord impressed me that even though what we had been planning may not have been 'wrong' per se, because of other's misconceptions of either 'words' or 'actions' being planned, for the sake of becoming 'community' in Christ, it would be better to lay aside the original plans.
I shared this with the other ladies last evening. After discussing plans a little more we scrapped our original and went 'back' to a 'typical' VBS format (anyone who has done VBS will know what that is). The others felt good about it so that is what we will do.
I am thankful that God has been willing to 'scrap' plans (that would have been SO much better for me but I wasn't willing to accept them at the time) more than once in my life just so I could 'stay' with Him in our walk together.
Another thing my brother pointed out to me was that this time maybe I needed to just 'step aside', get out of the way, so God could speak to them. One lady told me she had to take a couple of 'Aleve' (or similar) after she got home because she had such a headache from it. The other lady said she didn't sleep much because of the problem. I have assurance that God will be with us and that even though the original plan might have been better in some ways, God will also bless this one as well.
Changes happen. I wonder how many times Jesus couldn't do things with His disciples because they couldn't stand that much change that fast? I don't know but I do know that Jesus slows His pace that He might walk with me in my life. Praise God. That is some kind of peace.

Bringer of Peace