TO GO OR NOT TO GO? – Shouldn’t Even Be The Question!

If you’re a parent or grandparent you know that as you care for and feed your kids they continue to grow physically and there are times they experience a growth spurt that seems crazy, but excites you and them.   The only thing that’s not exciting about this kind of growth spurt is having to buy new clothes & shoes every time you turn around or keeping the animals fed (ha)!

I know you care deeply about the physical well-being of your kids and I hope you care even more about their spiritual well-being!   I was a Student Pastor for nearly 15 years and have been serving in full-time ministry for over 38 years.  One thing I know is that your kids need to experience some spiritual growth spurts too and a primary place that happens is at Camp!

Our children’s and student ministries pour into your kids year round.   We consistently encourage your kids to grow in their relationship with Jesus, or take their first step to believe in and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.    We get excited when your kids/students take any next step in a relationship with Jesus, and I’ve seen most spiritual growth spurts take place at Camp (or on a special weekend emphasis like Rush / Disciple Now).

When your kids/students can get away from the majority of distractions they face daily and focus on Jesus with others, Jesus does something amazing in their lives!  I believe God’s Spirit does something in them that isn’t duplicated in other environments and the kids/students who don’t participate can’t fully understand what they missed.   There’s just no substitute for being part of what God does when a group of kids/students come together and focus on Jesus and what He wants for them.

That’s why TO GO OR NOT TO GO shouldn’t be the question.   It was never really a question in our home.  We wanted our kids/students TO GO regardless of cost and regardless of whether it interfered with their involvement in other things during the summer.

Listen, I got to pray with my oldest son Jeremy as he invited Jesus into his life as a result of a weekend experience that was like camp.  Our daughter Julie made a decision to invite Jesus into her life at CAMP.   As a Student Pastor, I saw 1000’s of kids make lifelong decisions to trust Jesus or take their next step in following Jesus at CAMPS.    So I believe CAMP is one of the greatest investments you can make in the lives of your kids/students!  We believe this so much that we’ll do everything we can to help make CAMP possible for your kids/students if you’re facing obstacles that might prevent them from participating.

If you have specific questions you can always contact our Children’s Pastor Jeremy Rutledge or our Student Pastor Corbin Garner at Grace (940-969-2427) and you can find additonal information at http://www.gf.church/whatshappening

Parents, Grandparents, & Guardians I hope you’ll make CAMP a priority in the life of your kids/students this summer!

Bless you – Pastor BJ

BTW – the photo is an oldie!

 

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HOME LIFE GETTING A LITTLE CRAZY? Part 2

 

 

 

 

Are your kids bored? Are you? There are all kinds of challenges with everyone staying at home so I thought I’d share a few more ideas that came to mind recently about some things you might try to have a little fun. Maybe you can share this post and add some of your own ideas.

SET A NEW GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS.   Use these ideas to see if your kids can break a world record… https://kids.guinnessworldrecords.com/activities/try-this-at-home/

RIGHTNOW MEDIA And A Meal. Pick one of the many videos available for kids on RightNow Media and watch it together before a meal.  During that meal take a few minutes to discuss the theme and ideas of the video and how those may apply in your lives.

WRITE The Elderly.    Do some research or ask around and find some elderly people your kids can write.   Help them write short cards of encouragement to those who are elderly, enclose some photos and let them know you’re praying for them.

Use APP Games That Are Appropriate For Kids.   Find games like Heads Up for Kids or other games designed for kids where they have to guess words, act things out, etc.

Go Outside And Play CATCH.   We went out Sunday afternoon with a couple of our grandkids and played a game called Jackpot.  Make up your own games.  See how many times you can catch a ball, frisbee, etc without dropping it.

LEGOS Contest.   Make up your own Legos Contest using similar Lego objects people have to build in a certain amount of time.

SERVE SOMEONE by Mowing Their Yard.   If there’s someone in your neighborhood who needs help – or an elderly person or couple who could use help – offer to mow their yard and get your kids involved in helping you.

Make Cookies or Cook A Meal Together.   Teach your kids how to prepare a meal or do something fun like making Easter Cookies.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about your own creative ways to interact with your family during this time when we’re practicing Social Distancing and are self-quarantined.    You might want to share this post and add your own ideas with it.

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HOME LIFE GETTING A LITTLE CRAZY?

Are your kids bored? Are you? There are all kinds of new challenges with everyone staying at home so I thought I’d share a few ideas that came to mind recently about some things you might try to have a little fun. Maybe you can share this post and add some of your own ideas. I’ll start with a few and then add to them every few days.

POPCORN And A Movie. This may be something you already do, but you could add a new twist to it for fun. We use http://www.pluggedin.com to get information on movies or tv shows to find something appropriate for us, our kids and grandkids. Watch an appropriate movie and spend a few minutes together after the movie talking about the content. What did you think about ________?   What would you do if you were in the same situation as ________?    Did you think _____ was right or wrong in how they responded to _______?   Etc.

PLAY & VIDEO MINUTE TO WIN IT GAMES – you can find websites describing games online.   One of the many I found is https://teachmama.com/minute-win-games-kids-family/   I am not familiar with Amy Mascott who is the author of this site so I’m not recommending her writings, but her minute to win it ideas are good.   Play the games and video them.  If you get a funny or crazy video – share it.

GAME NIGHT CONTEST. When our kids were younger, we loved playing board games. LIFE was our favorite board game for a season. We played it often and kept a running tally of the highest score. Have a contest over the next few weeks or months while we’re all staying at home with a special prize for the person who ends up with the highest score in whatever game you play by a certain date.

PAPER AIRPLANES. Teach your kids how to make a paper airplane. Let them make & decorate their own planes then do some challenges with them inside or outside. Which plane can stay in the air the longest? Which plane can fly the greatest distance?

FRISBEE GOLF.   Set up your own mini-course in your back or front yard with objects to hit and have an ongoing tournament.

SERVE SOMEONE. Let your kids know this is a difficult time for others too. Brainstorm ideas as a family about ways you can serve someone else and then choose one that’s appropriate (in light of COVID-19), and do it.

I’ll add some more ideas over the next few days.  Hopefully, this will spur you to share some of your ideas.

 

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Coronavirus – A Few Reminders

We cannot take lightly the threat of the coronavirus and its impact around the world. For those of us who are Jesus followers, we need to pray diligently for people around the world impacted by this, for our leaders & people in the health industry and for the leaders of countries in other parts of the world to have wisdom & protection too. We also need to practice healthy habits and be wise in these difficult days by allowing our faith to give hope and be an example to many who are fearful.

Here are a few verses you might want to reflect upon daily. I know the context of these passages are a little different, but the principles remain the same.

Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer.
Romans 12:12

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:4-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
‭‭John‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

First of all, I ask that you pray for all people. Ask God to bless them and give them what they need. And give thanks. You should pray for rulers and for all who have authority. Pray for these leaders so that we can live quiet and peaceful lives—lives full of devotion to God and respect for him. This is good and pleases God our Savior. God wants everyone to be saved and to fully understand the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-4

For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage —I have conquered the world.” John 16:33

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:15-20

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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YOUR STORY and ONE VERSE

I shared about the power of your story on Sunday (from John 4), and told you I’d give you a framework you can use to write out your story to help you share it quickly (or over an extended conversation) to INVITE someone to consider Jesus.

INVITATIONS IMPACT LIVES. We share and INVITE because of the value of people! Jesus said: “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Matthew 16:26 NLT

Here’s the framework:

Part 1 – What was your life like before you chose to trust and follow Jesus? Don’t spend much time here; just hit the highlights. (my story from Sunday – I was wild, rebellious, immoral and selfish – I had no peace, purpose or direction in my life).

Part 2 – How did you realize your need for Jesus? Who was involved or where were you? What was the process that took place? (my story from Sunday – A young lady I trusted kept telling me “God has something better for you“. Eventually I decided to check it out by going to a church where I heard the truth about my need for Jesus).

Part 3 – What did you do? Like Amberlie Patton said in her video “I prayed and asked Jesus into my life.” (my story from Sunday – I realize my need for Jesus and made a willful choice to trust and follow Him as Lord and Savior).

Part 4 – What has your life been like since you chose to trust Jesus as Lord and Savior? Amberlie said she wasn’t really a bad person, but her life is so much better now and she’s a better person. (my story from Sunday – Jesus forgave the guilt I had because of my sin – He freed me from my shame and gave me purpose, peace and hope. It was the best decision of my life!).

Always spend more time on Part 4 than you do on Part 1. Sometimes I tell people how my relationship with Jesus has impacted all my relationships in a more positive way, and while I still make plenty of mistakes – I’m no longer the self-centered selfish person I once was, but genuinely care about others. As Andy Stanley has said: “Following Jesus makes life better and make me better at life.”

The one verse I’ve used for years in connection with my story is Romans 6:23. The link that follows is a simple explanation of how to use Romans 6:23 in sharing with someone. It’s only 90 seconds long so I hope you’ll check it out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHnSIHIg4XI

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SCIENCE & THE BIBLE

Pastor Chris did a great job today (Sunday – Feb 23) talking about the tension that’s prevalent in culture related to science and the Bible. Here are some of the resources he mentioned that may help you as you deal with questions you have.

Books

The Lie: Evolution by Ken Ham

Darwin’s Black Box by Michael J Behe

The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel

The Reason for God by Timothy Keller

Videos about Creation and Science

“Is Genesis History”

  • Documentary Available on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, and Itunes
  • Website with other resources as well – https://isgenesishistory.com/

“Icons of Evolution”

  • Documentary

“Indescribable”

  • Sermon by Louie Giglio

Websites

Studies on RightNow Media

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FLUSHING – FORGIVENESS

Dr. Ed Laymance is both a friend and my personal counselor. He is the founder and director of Impact Counseling & Guidance Center in Arlington, Texas, and is a friend of our church. He wrote this article called “FLUSHING” and has allowed us to use it by permission. The formatting may have changed a little in this blog, but the information is the same. You can find help on this and other topics by going to the Client Resources section of http://www.impactcounseling.com

FLUSHING – Dr. Ed Laymance

When someone hurts or harms you in some way it is much like having something thrown at you that belongs in a toilet. You’ve got three choices what to do with it. (1) Pick it up and throw it back – have a fight with it – get it all over yourself – wear it and wonder why life stinks. (2) Pick it up and smear it all over yourself – wallow in it – wear it and wonder why life stinks. (3) Put it where it goes and flush. Don’t wear it and don’t stink!

If you don’t know how to flush or simply chose not to, in time you’ve got quite a problem. Life becomes like a house flooded with six inches of raw sewage. Spend all the money you want redecorating and paint the walls any color you like, but it won’t matter. You can’t get past the smell!

Unless you get rid of the raw sewage that life has thrown your way (release resentments, heal hurts, and dump disappointments), it won’t matter where you go, what you do, who you’re with, what you have – the stink never goes away. Before you “redecorate” life (change how you think, feel, choose, etc.), get rid of the sewage.

Why You Do Not Forgive

• You don’t know how.
• You don’t feel like it and don’t want to.
• The person who hurt you does not deserve it or has not earned it.
• You don’t believe anything will really change.
• If you forgive you can no longer justify your actions.
• You will have no ammunition for the next conflict.
• Playing the “blame game” requires change for others but not for you.
• You believe that forgiveness is an emotion to feel.
• You believe that you are keeping the one who hurt you in “emotional jail” – punishing them until justice is served.

Why You Choose To Forgive

• You learn how.
• You don’t wait until you feel like it.
• You realize the person who hurt you will never truly deserve it or earn it because you will always remember.
• You don’t settle for the way things are. As someone once said, “No one can go back and make a brand new start, my friend, but anyone can start from here and make a brand new end!”
• You stop justifying your actions. You no longer allow the actions of others to determine how you live.
• You declare a “cease fire” for the next conflict, regardless of what others do.
• You learn that, with the “blame game”, the only winning move is not to play that game.
• You understand that forgiveness is a decision you make, not an emotion you feel.
• You realize that the one who hurt you is not in “emotional jail” – you are! They have gone on and you’re holding yourself hostage – where is the justice in that?

Releasing resentments, healing hurts, and dumping disappointments is for you, not those who sinned against you. You are not letting them go free, you are letting yourself go free! They may never admit their sin, ask for forgiveness, seek to make things right, or change. It doesn’t matter because this isn’t for them anyway!

The best illustration of this principle I have heard is a true story. A woman was abducted, raped, robbed, shot and left for dead. When the abductor shot her he put a gun to her head intending instant death. She jerked at the last moment. The bullet went sideways. He ran off and was never found. She survived the attack and endured months of surgeries and rehab. She was interviewed by a reporter about three to four years after the attack. In the middle of the interview the reporter commented how she must really hate the man that put her through all this. Her response was, “I once did, but not any more.” When the reporter asked for an explanation she replied, “For a long time I was consumed with revenge and justice. I wanted him caught. I wanted him to endure all the pain and suffering he had inflicted on me. I could think of nothing else. Then one day it occurred to me. That man robbed me of one night in my life. I decided I was not going to give him one more day!”

Wow! That’s it! When you continue to wear what someone else has thrown your way, you’re letting them reach from the past into your present and control your future. It’s time to get past the past. It’s time for life to smell better. It’s time to flush! Some of the strongholds the enemy has in place are connected to resentments, hurts, and disappointments. Let’s get rid of them by having what I call “emotional funerals”.

  1. Ask yourself, “Is there anyone, living or dead, that I feel owes me something? Am I holding a grudge or bitterness against someone? Do I carry disappointment with me? Is there anyone, living or dead, who hurt me or harmed me and I’m wearing that hurt?”
  2. On a pad of paper make a list of the names God brings to mind. Don’t be surprised if your name is on the list. You may be carrying guilt or shame for something you allowed. Don’t be surprised if God’s name is on the list. You may be confused, angry, or hurt that God allowed bad things to happen to you or someone you love. After five to ten minutes, you will have a list.
  3. Tear off that page and set it aside. Start with any name on your list and put that name at the top of a clean sheet of paper. Then ask God to show you what it is about this person that you need to release.”
  4. Write down everything that comes to mind. This is not a novel, so you need not start at the beginning of the relationship and work forward. One thought will connect to another. Write what comes. Use words, phrases, paragraphs, symbols – however you want to do this. This is for no one’s eyes but yours, so be brutally honest. Hold nothing back.
  5. Some of what you write will be connected to other people on your list. Just make a note by their name; you will add this to their list later. Keep on task with one person at a time.
  6. This is pretty emotional stuff, so you will need to take an occasional break. Take a walk, blow your nose, hit a pillow, get a drink – but stay with it until you feel like you are done.
  7. What you’re going to do next may seem silly or stupid. Do it anyway. This is a very important step. Make sure you are alone and no one can hear you. Imagine the person you’ve been writing about is sitting in a chair close by. You need to stand, so you can walk around. I want you to see yourself as a judge. What you have written is a list of indictments against that person. As judge, read out loud everything you’ve written; with whatever emotions you feel; using whatever words and volume you need to use. This is “no holds barred”, “up close and personal”, “in the face”, “full force”! Don’t be “Christian” or “appropriate”. Let ‘em have it! Include any additional things that come to mind. Say exactly what you feel.
  8. Some of what you’ve written only needs to be said once. Some of what you’ve written needs to be said more than once. Say what you’ve written until it no longer needs to be said – a hundred times if necessary. One of the reasons you’ve been carrying this stuff is because it needed to be said, and you needed to hear yourself say it – without debate, rebuttal, excuse, or explanations from the one who hurt you.
  9. When you get to the last word on the last page, having expressed all the emotions you needed to express, as judge, declare out loud, “Guilty as charged!”
  10. Then, as judge, declare out loud, “Case dismissed!”
  11. Next, pray, “God, I do not feel like dismissing this (because you don’t!), but I don’t want to be controlled by this any longer. I choose to forgive and release it to you. I choose to “flush”. Now, help me walk away from how I feel and enjoy the sweet smell of freedom! Amen.”
  12. Destroy what you’ve written as a physical representation to yourself that the case has been dismissed. Dig a hole and bury it, burn it, shred it, whatever feels good. One person I helped said when they were finished with everyone on their list, in addition to destroying what they had written, they wrote each name on an individual sheet of toilet paper and flushed each one. What a great idea!
  13. Repeat this process until you have had an “emotional funeral” for everyone on your list. Don’t stop until you have flushed everything. One inch of raw sewage is better than six inches, but the house still stinks!

Questions Concerning Forgiveness

  1. Once I’ve forgiven the ones who hurt me, do I need to confront them? No. This is for you, not them. If a relationship also needs to be reconciled, confrontation may be necessary later, but not now. Focus on living free from the pain of your past. Reconciliation is best accomplished when you are emotionally free.
  2. Do I go and ask forgiveness? No. We have been talking about how you were hurt by someone else. If you have hurt someone, that is another matter.
  3. I can forgive, but I can’t forget. Is that OK? Yes. In fact, you should not forget. If you forget, then everyday is like the movie Groundhog Day. You are doomed to keep repeating the same things over and over. You want to remember. Remembering is insulation to protect you and keep you from “going there” again.
  4. If I do not forget, then how can I get past the hurtful memories? Our senses “trigger” emotions that are connected to memories. All you need do is see, hear, taste, touch, or smell something that reminds you of a hurt and immediately you “feel” the hurt again. For example, a young lady was seeking to get past a sexual assault. Her progress took a step back when she attended a reunion and hugged an old friend. Memories of her assault shot through her with the hug. He was not the abuser – but he did wear the same cologne the abuser wore. The smell of the cologne triggered the hurtful memories. Each day you encounter triggers, many of which are subconscious. After you have released resentments you must determine to defuse them.
  5. How do I defuse the triggers? You can defuse triggers only after you have had your emotional funerals. After your funerals:
    • Pre-decide on two or three things you would want to spend time thinking about, rather than the hurtful memories – a trip you’re looking forward to taking, something you enjoy doing, etc.
    • When something triggers a hurtful memory that you have already released, tell yourself the truth. Yes, that happened. Yes, that hurt.

Yes, guilty as charged, but case dismissed. God has that now, not me, and I’d rather think about one of the things I’ve pre-decided on instead. This is called the principle of replacement. You are not trying to ignore what happened or play like it never occurred. It did happen. But because you have chosen to release to God how you felt, now you can choose to think about something you would like to think about rather than the hurtful memories.

• Each time you do this you will cut in half the power of that particular
trigger and diminish it’s ability to control you.
• If you pay attention to the triggers and purpose to take away their power, gradually you will put distance between you and the hurtful memories until you remember the occurrence, but no longer are controlled by the pain. It is as if the hurtful memories are King Kong standing over you – with bad breath! The good news is you can get in your car and drive away. King Kong’s feet are in concrete and he can’t chase you. The bad news is your car’s going about two miles an hour. However, as you continue to drive away, King Kong’s size reduces in the rear view mirror. He never disappears over the horizon (you never forget), but he is no longer huge and foreboding. If you practice daily the principle of replacement after the emotional funerals, you will experience God’s freedom from the control of hurtful memories.

6. This helps me with the past, but how do I get rid of new hurts? How do I “flush” daily?

When hit with a hurt, the initial response is to react. This is true of physical pain (like stumping your toe), and this is true of emotional pain (like experiencing rejection). Although reacting to pain is a natural response, actions, not reactions, are necessary to heal the hurt. You need a way to get the emotions “out of your face” (reaction), so you can see what happened and determine what you can do to change how you feel (action). Here’s a way to move from reactions to actions.

• The natural emotions you feel are the result of a want, need, or expectation not being fulfilled by people, places, and things in your life. For example, you wanted your friends to understand how you felt, but they did not. You needed a nice quiet evening at home, but it did not happen. You expected the new car to be better than the old one, but it was worse.
• How you feel about what happened needs to be expressed. Feelings are best expressed when you combine four ingredients – physical, verbal, private, and appropriate.

Let me give you a bad example of what I mean. You do something that makes me very angry. I grab a glass vase and smash it on the floor in front of you while telling you how I feel. That was physical – I threw something; it was verbal – I said how I felt; but it was not private – I did it in front of you; and what I did was not appropriate – I just broke something!

However, I could go for a ten minute walk (physical); by myself (private); say under my breath what I’d really like to say to you (verbal); and that’s an OK thing to do (appropriate).

There are many appropriate physical activities you can do while expressing your emotions in private: housework, yard work, exercise, driving (as long as your foot is not heavy on the accelerator!), etc. Like the emotional funerals, what happened needs to be said. You may be able to flush how you feel in ten minutes. It may take ten hours, or even ten days, but say it aloud until it does not need saying anymore.

  •  Once the initial emotions are “out of your face,” you can focus on, rather than react to, what happened – the wants, needs, and expectations not being fulfilled.
  •  Determine what you can do to change how you feel. Sometimes all you are able to do is choose not to be controlled by the actions of others.
  •  Decide what is needed to change things. Do you need information, patience, an explanation, confrontation, etc.?
  •  Then take action. Attack the problem, not the person.

Copyright 2017 by Dr. Ed Laymance. Used with permission.

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2020 Vision for 2020

I realize this may seem corny to some of you, but I hope you don’t miss the significance of this simple idea.

In Acts 20:20 (NET) Paul said: You know that I did not hold back from proclaiming to you anything that would be helpful, and from teaching you publicly and from house to house.”

I’d suggest that if you want clear (20 20) vision in 2020 you need to connect with a church where you are taught the truth of God publicly, and connect with a small group. In a good small group you can experience community and discuss how to apply what you’re being taught & learning from God’s truth & how that should impact all your relationships.

Just a simple idea that could make a significant difference in your life and relationships this year!

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PEACE

If you’re already a follower of Jesus, here’s the help I promised you on Sunday.

Establishing PEACE w/ God doesn’t mean your life will be free from conflict.  Jesus said in this world you’ll have problems, but He will help you overcome them. (John 16:33)

Some of you have been following Jesus for a while, but you don’t have a sense of PEACE in your daily life.

How do you connect with God in such a way as to have peace on a consistent basis?   I don’t have a checklist or formula, but here’s an important key:

To establish consistent peace, you need to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

In Andy Stanley’s book Enemies of the Heart he says to get a changed heart requires effort; sometimes this includes pain and always some discomfort.   In other words, it requires establishing some new habits that may be out of our comfort zone.

Peace is one of the things God develops in us as we submit to Him & depend on Him daily.

Galatians 5:22 calls peace a fruit of the Spirit.   Fruit can’t grow if it’s disconnected from the vine. Peace can’t grow in you if you don’t stay connected to Jesus which takes spiritual disciplines. (John 15:1-8)

We establish PEACE with God when we put our faith in Jesus Christ.  We experience PEACE in life when we grow in our faith and our understanding of who we are in Christ.

There are times I struggle with peace, but when I’m consistent in my spiritual disciplines & remember who I am in Jesus, I experience peace.

A few things that have helped me with my spiritual growth & peace follow…

Every day I need to draw near to God and ADMIT MY NEED.    To become a Christian (follower of Jesus) you had to admit your need for Jesus and make the choice to trust Him.

Now He wants you to grow in the same kind of trust & dependence daily that you exhibited when you put your faith in Him.   You don’t get saved again; you exercise your faith in Christ on a daily basis by depending on Him.

ISAIAH 26:3 NCV says: You, Lord, give true peace to those who depend on you, because they trust you.

I also need to CONNECT WITH JESUS.   I believe the secret to Jesus power, courage & peace was His connection with God the Father.

MARK 1:35 CEV   says:  Very early the next morning, Jesus got up and went to a place where he could be alone and pray. 

One of my life verses has become Psalm 46:10

PSALM 46:10 Msg “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”

When I stop long enough to connect with Jesus & take a long loving look at God, I grow in peace because I remember…

  • I Am Eternally Loved (I don’t have to perform)
  • I Am Completely Accepted because of Jesus
  • I Am Highly Valued because I Belong To God
  • I Am Totally Forgiven (not condemned)

What helps me strengthen my connection with Jesus?   PRAYER.

Honest conversation with God where I talk & listen helps develop PEACE.  I’m good at talking, but I’m still learning to listen which takes time, stillness & quiet.

PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7 CEV  reminds me…Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.

ENGAGE WITH GOD’S WORD.  To have consistent peace, I need more than a casual or occasional reading of God’s Word.   It means I spend consistent time studying it, reflecting on its truth and applying it in my life.

PSALM 119:165 NIrV  says: Those who love your law enjoy great peace.  Nothing can make them trip and fall.

These two disciplines of prayer and time in the Scripture will make a huge difference in you, but sadly – very few people practice them.

It’s like going to the gym. Some people give up when they don’t see immediate results, but for those who stay with it – results happen.  I’d encourage you to consistently get in God’s Presence and Connect With Jesus through prayer and His Word (the Scripture).

Jesus promised His followers He would be nailed to a cross and three days later rise from the dead.  He kept His Promise!

In John 14:27 NLT Jesus said:  “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.  

Jesus promised to give us PEACE & He Keeps His Promises…

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Judge Like This And Be Judged Like This

Reading Matthew 7 recently, I couldn’t get past verses 1-5. I spent some time reflecting on these strong words from Jesus about our attitudes toward others. When we judge someone and condemn them because they don’t do things like we think they should or they fail to meet the self-made standards we’ve set up – we start playing God.   Whether we verbalize it or not, this means we perceive ourselves as superior to them, their character, heart and motives.  

This can apply to people (or a group of people) in general, or it can be directed toward someone who offends us. When someone offends us and we refuse to grant them mercy, or love them enough to follow Jesus admonition in Matthew 18:15, we commit our own offense. When we refuse to ask for an explanation or try to get all the facts (Prov. 18:17), and show a lack of genuine love by refusing to give the other person(s) a chance to ask forgiveness (if they did something wrong), we demonstrate pride by assuming we are completely right in our thoughts, actions and motives.   In other words, we wrongly (and sinfully) suggest we have knowledge of and fully understand all the facts, circumstances including the full back-story, and the motives of the person(s) we judge. The essence of sin is refusing to love like Jesus does, and judging others like this smacks of a lack of genuine love.

It’s humbling and embarrassing to admit, but the reason these words impacted me the way they did as I read & reflected upon them is because I’ve been guilty of this hypocritical behavior and violating these words of Jesus. I’ve also known the hurt of being on the receiving end of such judgments.

Maybe these things apply to you too. What’s the wise thing to do? Do your best to make things right in relationships by asking for forgiveness when you’ve had a judgmental attitude or wronged someone, and offer forgiveness when you’ve been judged or wronged regardless of the response of others involved.

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