Maintaining Peace in the Midst of a Chaotic Life

Is it possible to maintain internal peace when the world around you is in a state of utter disorder? Can you have peace when you have too much month left at the end of your money? Can you have peace when a loved one is battling addiction? Can you have peace when your child is questioning his or her faith and making all of the wrong choices? Can you have peace when your health is in total disarray and the situation seems hopeless? If you know Jesus Christ, the answer is YES.

In Priscilla Shirer’s Bible study, The Armor of God, she explains the meaning of the word Shalom:

Shalom, the familiar Hebrew word for peace which permeates the Old Testament, does not refer to the absence of chaos, but rather to an overall deeply entrenched sense of harmony, health and wholeness in the midst of chaos. In fact, true peace is best detected and measured against a backdrop of commotion and confusion – when instability abounds yet you remain steadfast; when disappointment and confusion are near, yet you’re still capable of walking with Spirit-infused confidence, stability and steadiness.”

If this is true, how can we, as children of the most high, maintain true peace when our circumstances are anything but peaceful?

We must remember God’s steadfast faithfulness and put our hope in His character. He never breaks a promise. Ephesians 2:14 powerfully states that “he himself is our peace.” Wow! Before Jesus went to the cross, he spoke the following words to his disciples concerning peace:

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 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 14:26-27 NIV

This promise is reassuring because it tells us that we do not have to “find inner peace” or conjure up enough strength to make it through our current situations with composure and sanity in and of ourselves. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the God of the universe who lives inside all who know Jesus Christ, provides peace in the midst of madness. This scripture also tells us that the peace provided by the Holy Spirit does not look like the peace the world gives, so it is important to keep our hearts focused on the promises in the Word of God rather than a worldly perception of what peace should be.

Okay, so we know these truths. But why is it so easy to forget them? Because we lose perspective. We get so wrapped up in our problems that we straight up forget the promise! We forget how big our God is in relation to our struggles, and we allow the enemy of our souls to steal the peace that has been granted to us as children of the most high. Natalie Grant has a beautiful song called King of the World that reminds us the truth about who God is. Here are some of the lyrics:

“Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas, so who am I to try to take the lead?
Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough when you’re the one who made me from the dust.
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world.
How could I make you so small when you’re the one who holds it all?
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?”

If you are struggling with a lack of peace, worship is a perfect place to start. You need to be reminded of who God is. Turn on some worship music that speaks of God’s greatness. Declare His sovereignty and majesty over your life – your situation, your chaos and your heart. Thank Him for the peace he has promised you. Read scripture that reminds us of the power of our Lord; Psalm 104 is one of my favorites. Put your trust in Him so he can grant you the peace promised in Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Take heart, my friend. Peace is already yours in Christ.

Love,
Lacey


For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

Isaiah 54:10 NLT

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.
Luke 1:78-79 NLT


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Thanksgiving Rocks!

Our first guest post is from Wanda Mullins, a beautiful friend, inside and out! She is a wife to Chuck, mother to Grant and Joy, and elementary school teacher to 3rd graders at Westminster Christian Academy. She loves sipping coffee to the last drop while engaging in meaningful conversations.

Let’s face it…Life is hard!  (2 Corinthians 4:8-12)  Life constantly throws new opportunities to grow whether one likes it or not!  Days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months and before we know it, a new season is crowding in. Now that Thanksgiving is here, we are all preparing our homes and taste buds for the big day of mashed potatoes, sweet corn and green beans. The turkey takes the center stage and the most room in the oven for a good part of the day. One animal we don’t think about at this time is… the lobster. But let’s dive deep into some truths that this little guy can teach us. Life becomes very hard for this guy, too! He was created to grow just like we are. (1Peter 2:2 ….. so that by it you may grow up in your salvation)  Lobsters shed their shells and have to molt into new ones.

Growth is hard and it involves a struggle.

First, the lobster has to recognize that he needs to molt so he goes under a rock to hide from danger. His shell splits, he fills himself with water and then rolls over on his side. Eventually the lobster flops around, unable to support itself, and fills up with water again and soon, a new shell is formed. Fascinating!

Three years ago, I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor and surgery was the only option. I wanted to crawl under a rock and never come out. In those dark days, the Lord transformed my heart and thoughts through His Word and tender ways. In a way, I was like the lobster filling myself with His Living Water and hanging on to every promise.

 One verse that became the anthem of my struggle was 1 Peter 1:3-4. It begins with PRAISE!

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In His great mercy he has given new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And into an inheritance that will never perish, spoil, or fade kept in heaven for you!

That verse became my rock. It began with thanksgiving! (Not necessarily for our situations, but for the One who guides us through the tough times.) As Christians, we ARE the living HOPE to a desperate and dying world. We are just passing through and we have an inheritance that will never rot like leftover pumpkin pie.

 I realized that my tumor would take me to places like waiting rooms, ICU units and more. The tumor would be an opportunity to share my hope. I realized that the “shedding my skin or struggles” was not all about ME, but what God was doing in my sphere of influence.  Every morning brought an opportunity to be paralyzed by fear or propelled by His power.  Under the Rock, healing power and strength came as I intentionally pressed into Him and rejected every lie of the Devil. It wasn’t easy, but through Lamentations 3:22…I had confidence that I would not be consumed. Friend, His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!

Thanksgiving and the holidays can be trying times as family comes together and stressing situations will arise. May the life lessons from the lobster encourage you to go ahead and crawl under the living Rock.  Fill yourself with the Living Water of the Word and emerge with the newness He brings every morning. He is Faithful!

Wanda Mullins

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Please visit Wanda’s blog, underthebrainbow.com, for more about her journey with Acoustic Neuroma.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Spirit

Okay, I’ll admit I have never seen the movie Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but I’m familiar with the plot (as much I want to be anyways)…four lifelong friends are separating for the summer and across their journeys over the world “they are, connected by a pair of jeans that they take turns sharing — pants that fit all four girls and exemplify their tight bond.” (source)

Sounds pretty awesome right!  A pair of jeans that somehow fits four very differently shaped girls, and arrives at the right time to lift their spirits and connect them to a greater purpose than themselves…each other!

It’s really not all that farfetched…there is something out there that fits all of us (on the inside anyways), and we can share with others anytime…yep! The Holy Spirit!

 …But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit,
and we all share the same Spirit.   1 Cor 12:13

As fellow believers, we are the Body of Christ and we have a responsibility to lift our sister (and brother) believers in Christ when life is difficult for them or they are under attack.  For when we do this, we receive a little extra something ourselves, much like a funnel that water passes through, a few water droplets are always left behind.  And we make our Dad in Heaven so proud!  We are so much stronger as a team than individually, and the best part is that when an encourager is down they can have hope that those they have helped will help and lift them in return.

Note: this does require the humility of asking for help, asking for prayer, and letting others in.  No more pretending to be perfect or pretending you’ve got everything figured out.  It takes a lot of courage to let others know you struggle and to give up any shame you might feel because of it.

No one ever hates his own body, but feeds and takes care of it.  And that is what Christ does for the church, because we are parts of his body. Eph 5:29-30

If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it.  Or if one part of the body is honored, all the other parts share in its honor.  Together you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of that body.  1 Cor 12:26-27

Over the past year I have really had to depend on my body of Christ sisters (and a few brothers!) in my weaknesses.  The best part, aside from me getting validation that I’m not the only person to ever have these thoughts/feelings, is that I’m giving them an opportunity to shine for God’s purpose.  He’s given us all a talent, and had I kept my brokenness to myself, they wouldn’t have gotten to use their talents for His glory.  I’m made strong in my weakness–through the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit in them.  Also, they get to exercise giving unconditional love, because in those moments when my faith is low and I’m overcome by fear or anxiety, I truly have nothing to offer them in return.

Each one of us has a body with many parts, and these parts all have different uses.  In the same way, we are many, but in Christ we are all one body.  Each one is a part of that body, and each part belongs to all the other parts.  We all have different gifts, each of which came because of the grace God gave us.  The person who has the gift of prophecy should use that gift in agreement with the faith.  Anyone who has the gift of serving should serve.  Anyone who has the gift of teaching should teach.  Whoever has the gift of encouraging others should encourage.  Whoever has the gift of giving to others should give freely.  Anyone who has the gift of being a leader should try hard when he leads.  Whoever has the gift of showing mercy to others should do so with joy.  Romans 12:4-8

So, I would like to give a shout out to my personal sisterhood of the traveling Holy Spirit…those special friends who have lifted me when I could not see anything but rock bottom and who I hope will continue to lift me when those tough times come back:

Thank you to my mom, Jamie M, Lisa, Sue, Jenna, Marsha, Jennifer V., Jennifer F., Sondra, Natalie, Jennifer A., Nicole, Angie, Tracy, Kim, Lacey, Leah T, Leah D, Sarah, Faye and Jamie H.

And not to forget the special fellas…thank you Andre…you have my heart! Mr. Duane, UB, and Blake–thank you all for your prayers and support!

I pray that I will be there for you if you ever need me and that God’s glory will shine on you brightly!

Love,

Olivia

How to Relax in a Land of Stiff-Necked People

“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” Acts 7:51

Eleven years ago, I found myself in the middle of a mess. I quit teaching elementary school and decided to go back to school for a business degree. Taking four graduate classes and working as much as possible at a retail store (which did not even come close to paying our bills at the time) was taking a toll on me mentally and physically. In the middle of that semester, my grandmother passed away and a few weeks later after that, I shockingly discovered that someone whom I loved dearly was addicted to cocaine. I woke up one morning and could not move my neck.  It was completely stiff. The pain was unbearable! I went to the doctor and the first thing she said was, “Honey, are you under any stress?”  My response must have said it all. I burst into tears and sobbed about school and work and bills and death and addiction and pain and heartache. So she prescribed some muscle relaxers. Although the muscles in my neck did eventually relax, I still had not addressed the root cause of my stiff neck or my hardened heart.

What’s so sad about this story for me is that I was so consumed with the world that I didn’t even think to trust God with the struggles of this life. I turned to muscle relaxers instead of the One who could rescue me from my suffering. My pride and control issues were blinding me from seeing the only way out. My heart was boarded up, bound in chains—hard as a rock!  And the physical effect was a stiff-neck.

Did you know there are 19 references about stiff-necked people in the Bible (NIV)? The Hebrew word is qasheh, an adjective that translates to words like obstinate, difficult, sorrowful, stubborn and stiff of neck.  The Greek word is sklērotrachēlos, meaning stiff-necked, obstinate, or headstrong.

Moses tried to tell the Israelites how to live and be blessed. He gave them clear instructions. They knew what to do, but chose to disobey God anyway. Obstinate. Stubborn. They put their trust in the wrong place.

“For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the LORD while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die!” Deuteronomy 31:27

He was right! And we still do the same thing today. We read the Bible and we know what He says to us, and yet, we choose to pretend like we can do life our own way. We become difficult and headstrong… and sorrowful. We reject His commands and fall into our culture’s way of life instead of our Father’s way of life. This obstinance brings on pain and suffering…in our neck, but also in our hearts. Romans 2:5 says, “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” God desires our devotion and obedience and yet—we are so stubborn!

So how do we loosen those neck muscles and circumcise our hearts?  We need to admit that we can’t do this life on our own and seek His guidance each and every day. Surrender control. Let Him have it. All of it. We can rest in our faith that Jesus Christ has already fought the battle (and won)! Recognize that when we are stressed about our worldly issues, we are misplacing our trust. Instead of trusting God to do His will in our lives, we are being blatantly disobedient. We start to attempt to control our lives in our own will.

In what or whom do you put your trust? Finances? Material things? Other people? A job or status? Or…in God, who loves you so much that he offered up his one and only son to die on a cross as a sacrifice because He knew we’d make mistakes and need grace and mercy—daily. Put your trust in the only thing that lasts—go against the culture of self-righteousness and cling to THE ONE who is truly righteous. Eventually, you will feel the desire to obey His will out of love and gratitude (not out of guilt), which creates a heart of flesh instead of stone, and eliminates the stiff-neck.

“Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.” Deuteronomy 10:16

~Jamie