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Tag: peace

Hope in Unprecedented Times

We keep hearing these are unprecedented times. But are they really? Certainly none of us have experienced such things, but in the span of history, the world has seen famines and plagues and pandemics time and time again. And we seem to still be here. I don’t say that to dismiss the real pain we are all experiencing, but to remind us, we will overcome and endure and come through this.

But while we are in this, many are experiencing fear, worry and anger, among other things. And rightly so. But for those of us who have yielded our lives to Jesus, our response is much different, or least can be. No guilt or shame cast on those not experiencing the peace of Christ. Just a reminder that you serve a God who is mighty and wasn’t surprised by this turn of events.

I’d like to share a few encouraging videos and messages I have done as part of the team at my church where I pastor. We are sharing morning encouraging videos as a staff and then I did a message a few months back which I think is particularly relevant. I hope you find or are reminded of the hope which Jesus offers to those who follow Him.

A old gospel song to remind us God cares for us
The uncontrollable nature of watercolor produces beauty and joy
An illustrated story/lesson using watercolor painting

May you sense the ever-present care of our God during this time. If you desire to pray or seek guidance on how to yield your life to a loving God, please contact me.

Stay Safe. Stay Connected.

I Need You More Than Ever

I’m sitting in Starbucks early this morning with a worship playlist in my headphones. But I am not worshiping…I am writing emails…I am checking out Facebook…I am updating my calendar.

And then…

A lyric breaks through the melodic noise to capture my attention.

Be my heart’s obsession
First and only in my life
In your love alone 
My soul is satisfied

And a peace and a resignation and a redirection of my thoughts overtake me. It’s as if every tense muscle just melts.

Here are more of the lyrics

I will abide
Be still and know that you are God
For you are mine
And in your presence I’m alive
Here in this place
Within your shadow I am safe
Every mistake
Fading into the light of grace

I need you more
I need you more than ever

It’s so difficult to to live in that space and so easy to dwell in the humdrum of meaningless activity.

My prayer – Lord help me to ABIDE in you. Even when I am doing the everyday activities of life, may I ABIDE! I need YOU more than ever.

Song info: First and Only by Elevation Worship.

Put THAT on your bumper!

Have you ever had one of those moments when you are talking to someone only to realize that they left the room and didn’t hear a thing you said?  Or you were on a call that dropped, but you didn’t know it for the longest time?  It’s awkward and embarrassing and ultimately you realize it was a pointless waste of time.   Talking to yourself on purpose may help you process things.  But talking to someone else by yourself makes no sense and accomplishes nothing.

I love that there are verses we celebrate and remember and quote.  But the risk of creating the bumper sticker or coffee mug quotes is that we fail to see/remember the fuller context.  One such verse that hit me today was Philippians 4:6-7.

“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.”

By itself it’s very encouraging and hopeful.  But by itself it also pits anxiety against the action of prayer.  “If I just pray more.”  “I am struggling because I need to pray more.”  We tend to turn this into a “I need to do more” situation.  It is so works and self dependent.  What’s one of the first things we tell people when they are struggling?  “You need to pray.”

Now, it is true that prayer changes our hearts and we find a peace.  The action of prayer is powerful.  But the fuller context here has nothing to do with our effort.  Prayer is a response, not a self-medication for anxiety!

Verses 4 and 5 are key.  Particularly 5.  Paul exhorts us to Rejoice!  Why?  Because the LORD IS NEAR!  Because the Lord is near we can rejoice and should rejoice!  Because the Lord is near we don’t need to be anxious, and instead pray.  Because God is ever-present we can be confident that prayer is not pointless exercise.  I don’t need to wonder if He will hear me or care for me or act on my requests.  I don’t need to feel like He has left the room and I am only talking to myself.  I can be confident that my call is always connected.

When I recognize that God is NEAR, I rejoice and commune and petition and give thanks!  Because He is near, I experience peace and protection.  The entire passage pivots on that phrase, “the Lord is near”.

“The LORD is Near!”

Now there is a bumper sticker for you!

Side Note:  Song playing when I read this passage:  “Father, You’re all I need, my soul sufficiency.  My strength when I am weak.  The love that carries me.  Your arms enfold me until I am only a child of God.”  (Child of God, from Hungry, Vineyard UK) God is so near, He is hugging me until all I am aware of us is my relationship with Him.  Nothing else enters in, instead it is all pushed away.

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