Tag Archives: finding peace

Invited to the celebration


Having enjoyed a relaxing picnic on the deck, we find such simple joy in listening to the birds pronounce their greetings on the day. What a privilege it is to be invited into the celebration of God’s goodness among his creation at Thayerapy Gardens, or any place you can get away from the daily grind. The simple joy of being quiet in this too busy world easily evades us. So many other demands beckon us to “get something done.” What if what needs getting done is the restoring of your noisy soul? Such joy and contentment comes only by intentional invitation, only by sacrificing some lesser thing on the altar of living in order to enjoy another more fully.

Would you think it strange to experience such beauty and peace in the battle cries of cancer? Or any other great burden that presses against your own life? It needn’t be strange. But it seldom comes by accident. Whether it is 60 seconds of relaxation breathing at your desk, a five-minute walk outside, a mini adventure of a back roads day trip, or an all out getaway vacation, the decision to introduce peace and quiet into an otherwise noisy day is yours – and mine – for the choosing.

It comes at the cost of so little and offers to you the treasures of the world to be still and wonder at the goodness of the life God has given you – this life, the new beginning this day offers, this moment, this very breath that satisfies your lungs and speaks such peace to your mind.

I wonder when we think ourselves too busy to rest, that we put ourselves in danger of being too busy to live. In my masters studies I discovered the difference between “wreckreation” and recreation. The former is the often exhausting outpouring of energies into pursuits that leave us wanting a real vacation when we’re done. Recreation, as God designed it, offers the opportunity to re-create, rebuild, restore, and recharge ourselves. It turns our inner focus to an outward view that expands our perspective. Maybe you’ve discovered this when you decided to “walk away” from a problem only to find the solution that evaded you now readily revealed.

It’s in such quietness of the mind that God invites us to draw near to him, to sit awhile on his deck and share in the goodness that he freely offers you. Jesus himself invites us: “Come to me all of you who are burdened and I will give you rest.”

There’s so much to do and to be accomplished in this short life. Perhaps one of the most important is to accept the invitation to the celebration of God’s goodness in you, and around you in others.



What is the bible to you, really?


For some, the bible is like a special Toy, filled with delightful songs and rhymes that teach of a good, loving, and faithful God.


Sometimes the bible becomes a Trouble to those who find its words convicting and offensive to their self-seeking ways. I’ve been there, have you? In fact, the truth of the bible is intended to offend our senses, to convict of us wrong thinking, and to bring us closer to God. To those who reject it, the bible becomes a folly they consider best to ignore. Perhaps they think, “Maybe I’ll consider this later after I’ve lived my life.” Sadly, many never find the time or seize the opportunity to take advantage of the bible’s great comfort, wisdom, joy, purpose and promise for their lives.


Still others consider the bible to be a harsh Tyrant that squashes their sense of freedom with stringent lists of rules they think restrict them. They can’t be convinced that their newfound “freedoms” really are chains that enslave them to some other bondage and that the rules that they thought to restrict them are in reality keys that unlock shackled lives and bring freedom from despair and hopelessness. Some use the bible as a Tyrant to persecute and bully others, pointing out all their faults without extending a hand of grace and love.


To those who accept it, the bible becomes a resourceful Tool, offering practical helps for dealing with life’s everyday problems, wise counsel in times of trouble, safety in times of storms, direction when they are lost, and God’s purpose for our lives when all seems meaningless.


And still for others, the bible is much more than a Toy, a Trouble, a bully Tyrant, or even a helpful Tool to pull out them out of a problem-some situation. For them, the bible is a real Treasure. It’s a personal love story written from the Almighty Creator to them. Memorizing its verses helps them rely on the wisdom and practical helps it offers for everyday living. Singing its songs, psalms, and choruses of praise brings them comfort and strength for today and a certain hope for a better future. It replaces fear with faith, defeating troubles with victorious strategies, anxiety with peace, weakness with power, futile efforts with winning grace.


The bible has the power to transform our lives from being separated and lost to being found by God. For those who believe its truth it leads them to become children of God. To those who embrace its mercy and grace it transforms and renews them and makes them humble peacemakers (John 1:12, Romans 12:1, Ephesians 2:8-9, Matthew 5:9), not a people who are zealous with divisive and destructive words and actions. It opens our eyes, to see our purpose in life, to love God and love others (Philippians 2:3-4, Matthew 22:37-38). It is the assurance that calms all their fears and anxieties on earth and about heaven (Philippians 4:6-7, 1 John 5:13).


How we see the bible doesn’t change what it is. But it can change who we become. I hope you’ll take some time today to reflect on how you consider the bible and to actually read it for all it’s worth. Is it a Toy, a Trouble, a Tyrant, a Tool, or a Treasure? As you think about this, ask God to give you eyes to see him, a mind that understands, and a heart filled with the desire to follow him. There’s real “treasure” to be found!


Finding space for three words

Which set of three words would have more impact on your life?

“You have cancer.”


“God loves you.”

Could you fit all six words together? (Feel free to substitute any other trial of cause of suffering for ‘cancer’.) What happens if we refuse to reconcile the apparent paradoxes of life: good and evil, free will and the sovereignty of God, the presence of unwanted and painful circumstances with a great and loving God? Do we not miss out on life by only accepting that which easily pleases and satisfies us, that which we think we can handle on our own? Does avoiding the tensions and conflicts presented by real faith cause us to retreat to a ‘safe comfort zone?’ A place that seems safe but that in actuality leads us to a dangerously mediocre life?

The truth is, we all face trials in life. No matter what you believe or how fervently you live out your beliefs, there doesn’t appear to be a “Get out of suffering” card that is universally available. However, God does provide a “get out of being controlled by our circumstances” card. It has the words, “Trust me,” inscribed on one side of it and “I will give you peace,” on the other.

Trusting God in difficult situations creates a space between the painful circumstance and our response to it. In this space, we seek and find God just as he promised. (You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13) In this space we find refuge from the control our circumstances might otherwise have on us, dragging us down in self-pity, away from the joy God would have us experience. It is the space where we remember who we are in God’s sight and who he is. In this space we find his light shining into the depths of our sorrow, our pain, and our disappointment.

If we choose instead to trust ourselves to solve our own problems, we find it impossible to find this peaceful space. We strive and we pursue, but our efforts do not bring us peace. They do not make us victorious.

When three words, God loves me, become a reality to your everyday living, this space of peace, not your circumstances, determines your life. In this space you find freedom you’ll find nowhere else. Without the space, peace is ‘nowhere.’ With the space, peace is ‘now here.’ Ah the difference trusting God makes, by creating space for his peace in our lives!

Enjoy seeking God and responding to his amazing three words. Enter into his presence throughout the day and enjoy the space his peace creates.

For Peace of Mind Resign as General Manager of the Universe

When I was student teaching in Iowa City with Larry Knipfer, our elementary music students put on a production of “If’n I Was God” from the musical Tom Sawyer. In the musical, Tom reckons he could straighten the world out ‘if’n only he was God’. Unless you are the rare exception, you probably have a few ideas of your own that you’d like to pass on to the Almighty Creator. In our minds we think we know what is best and would like to be in control of it.

The truth is, control is most often an illusion at best, and an addictive drug at worst. We can plan and work and strive and fuss. We can schedule and manage and organize and supervise. But real control is most usually beyond our grasp. We don’t control others and we certainly don’t control life’s circumstances. Real peace is found in accepting that we only have control over ourselves, our own choices about what we think, what we believe and how we respond to the things life throws our way.

You probably aren’t familiar with the name Reinhold Niebuhr; I wasn’t. But you probably are familiar with something he wrote. Niebuhr was an American pastor who wrote in 1943 what is now known as the Serenity Prayer:
“God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.”

Niebuhr goes on to write about the virtues of living one day at a time, enjoying each moment and accepting difficulties as the road to peace. It’s a good reminder to stop striving after things so much and to pursue inner peace throughout each day. . . peace with others, peace with self, peace with God. Finding peace in the midst of life’s battles is a discipline that requires daily training. But it is worth the effort.

For years I’ve used ‘transition times’ to find peace: times between meetings, walking to the car, a quiet moment before meals. Some days, I do better than others. But each day spent practicing the discipline of peace is better than trying to be General Manager of the Universe!

Hebrews 12:11
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

John 14:27
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.