WATCHDOGS!

P1010183I woke to the dog barking the other night… not his ‘bear bark’ (the bears aren’t up yet from their long winter’s nap) just a non-committal, think-I-might-see-something-in-the-moonlight-and-I’m-not-sleeping-so-well-anyway, kind of bark… annoying!  And useless, and worse than useless; it was keeping me from my beauty-sleep.

A watchdog is a valuable entity when there is incipient danger.  But a watchdog that barks to hear himself, or, worse yet, is fierce with family–is a hazard waiting to happen.

I’ve been thinking of this lately in terms of the Body of Christ, and that balance between watching out for wolves in sheep’s clothing, and recognizing a brother caught in an error and gently restoring such a one.

In this internet age, there’s easy access to gossip and questionable ‘facts’ that make it all too easy to become a barking watchdog that prevents us all from getting our beauty sleeps and worse, that puts us in defense mode against those who share this great Body of Christ with us, and toward whom our calling is to protect ‘the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’  Are we barking at wolves?  or kin? 

It’s important to distinguish the difference.  One is a brother we are called to restore in a spirit of gentleness –not barking!– and not to shun or slander… “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Gal.6:1  Even when a brother has wandered from the truth, the calling is not to throw stones, but to bring him back! “Whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins”(James 5:19,20).  

Why is it so much easier to point and say ‘Aha! I knew it—he’s not to be trusted; did you hear what he said?!’  Isn’t this called ‘rejoicing in wrongdoing’ (I Cor.13:6)?  It is akin to envy I think.  Just consider who we are most likely to critique in this fashion—the obscure and seemingly insignificant teacher or the highly successful prominent one?  My guess is you could ‘google’ just about any outstanding pastor or Bible teacher and readily find someone who has something slanderous to report about them.  And I’m not talking about unbelievers, but believing ‘watchdogs’. 

I get the impression that in some instances, believers have made it their ‘ministry’ to point out what’s wrong with everyone but themselves in the name of warning the Body of heresy, but that they’ve lost sight of the point.  Speaking the truth in love means that my objective must be the building up of the Body of Christ ‘until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ! (Eph.4:13) not the tearing down of another’s credibility in the sight of others.

I have to be careful here because this quickly turns into me casting stones at fellow-believers who have a calling to discern error in the Body.  This is not my intention at all.  I am at heart a watchdog but have recognized in myself this tendency to bark at others to gratify myself.  There’s something in our sinful natures that delights to find fault with others, especially the talented and successful.  We can get so confident in our knowledge of the truth that we exclude just about everyone from our ‘club’.

We had friends years ago who grabbed this ‘speaking the truth’ concept and ran with it till they had shunned all their Bible School education, separated themselves from local believers, and set up their own exclusive clique, all based on ‘speaking the truth’—their brand of truth.  They had become smugly self-righteous and stubbornly exclusive.  What a shock to bump into them after years apart and find our source of unity in question.  Is it your truth or my truth that we should encamp on?  Or did we fail to read the rest of the verse, and for that matter, the context!

Speaking the truth IN LOVE, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph.4:15,16) Rachel and I are working to memorize this whole passage as it seems so key to understanding how spiritual growth works.  I’m a lone ranger by nature.  I figure I can do this growing stuff on my own pretty much—consistent quiet times, learning to pray and to be thankful, and ingesting good teaching that encourages my faith—and voila! Spiritual growth.  But the Bible always points to me being only a part of a bigger picture, a joint in a greater body. 

I can appreciate the part of the Body that from afar encourages me with their writings—life stories, sound Bible teaching and the like…(i.e. good books!)  But what of this Body around me, these real-life people that I don’t always see eye to eye with?  Can we grow together, pray together, trust God for great things in our lives together and still disagree about doctrinal details?  I’m challenged by this.  And yet, in the struggle, with Ephesians 4 stamped in the forefront of my mind, I’m confident that this is the way of love.  We really do need each other.  We have not only a common Head but a common foe and a common purpose

Perhaps if we kept our mission in mind we would be less of a stench to each other, and more of a blessing to the world—kinda’ like manure.  Heap it in a pile and it gives off a stench.  Spread it around and it makes things grow!  Are we too comfortable in our composting piles?  The world looks on with puzzlement and disgust at our divisiveness.  It’s not at all obvious to them that we have any truth in common worth believing.  Our love for one another is supposed to be the signal that we are genuine disciples of Jesus (John 13:35). Instead they see indistinguishable religion of all sorts and lump it into one messy ball to disdain.

So what’s to be done?  There are lots of legitimate reasons for differing denominations.  Different kinds of people migrating to the emphasis of different truths.  Different personalities expressing worship and life with Christ in tangibly different  styles.  Different emphases.  Different callings.  But sometimes we forget that we have more in common than we do at odds.  For a start, we have a common calling to ‘maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This is a calling to remember there is really only one Body of Christ, (despite its fractured appearance in any given neighborhood and around the world),  only one Holy Spirit that resides in every true believer, only one hope of eternal life, only one Lord Jesus Christ, only one saving faith, one baptism by the Spirit into the Body of Christ, one God who is the Father of all of us and is over all, through all and in all.  These are things we have in common! 

Our individual giftings are another thing.  They make us both unique and essential to other members of the Body.  Nobody’s got them all.  I even wonder whether any given denomination can lay claim to them all?  Could it be that the Body of Christ worldwide needs to have a closer look at how we can contribute to each other’s growth?  Could it be we are made to need each other?  The North Korean brother under life-crushing persecution, the Japanese believer isolated by a godless culture, and the church down the street from our own that makes us raise our eyebrows or furrow  a figurative brow as we drive past (or that we simply ignore) without a thought to what God’s doing among them… these are all joints in the Body designed to contribute to our mutual growth into the beautiful Bride that will welcome Christ’s return.

OK, so where am I going with this? I’m putting it out there as a call to remember who we are, corporately, you and me and all the rest of the believers in your town, country and world (and on the Internet!).  We are members one of another called to unity by our common love for God.  We’re in this thing together!  Critiquing is easier than commending for some of us.  Envy, easier than love.  Insisting I’m right is easier than protecting the unity of the Spirit.  Some intellectual controversies will never be settled this side of eternity but love never fails.  In his book, Love Covers, Paul Billheimer reminds us to consider that God has not broken fellowship with each of us over our opinions on non-essentials, why then should we think these things worthy cause to break fellowship with each other? “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Rom.15:7)


Yep, there are dangers within and without the church to watch out for; I don’t mean to minimize these.  False doctrine abounds and is bound to spread as we get closer to Christ’s coming.  But let’s have the heart of Jesus, as reflected in these parting words of Paul as we do our watch-dogging.

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.  For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.  Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.  And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. Acts 20:28-32


Let’s determine not to bark at family and to reserve our bite for the bears and the wolves.  In the case of family, maybe hanging out together and listening for the opportunity to speak a word of truth in love would be more effective.  And have you seen a golden retriever’s perpetual smile and wag?  Now there’s a commendable attitude!

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give [us] a spirit of unity among [ourselves] as [we] follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth [we] may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom.15:5,6)


If I can speak in all manner of languages…have prophetic powers and understand just about everything!…have faith that moves mountains…and live in sacrificial abandon but don’t live a life of love, I am a zero and have accomplished nothing.

Love is patient, kind, not envious or boastful, not arrogant or rude, not insistent on its own point of view, not irritable or resentful, not happy when others fall but only rejoicing when truth prevails.
  
Love bears all, believes all, hopes always and endures to the end.  It never fails.  Prophecy will. Tongues will. Braininess will.  We only see a piece of the big picture and it’s going to pass too. One day we’ll see each other as God sees us.  In the meantime, let’s hang on to faith, hope and most of all LOVE!
(free paraphrase from I Cor.13 by LS)

LS

( I welcome your feedback. How do you see things where you are? Lend me your eyes, please.)




EXTRAS from Billheimer’s book, Love Covers:A Viable Platform for Christian Unity


“While no nonessential within itself needs to be divisive, practically all divisions in the true Church have arisen from doctrines that are not essential to salvation.” (87)


“Is it possible to be right theoretically and theologically while at the same time being wrong in spirit?” (88)


“If God will not break fellowship with us over opinions on non-essentials, why should we break fellowship with one another.” (88)


“Love for God ‘must exceed my love for my own opinion and judgment.” (90)


“Everyone that loves Him who begot, loves him that is begotten.” I Jn.5:1




.

Of Silver Bullets and Zombies–when you feel responsible but powerless

Not sure whether it’s the new riflery hobby that’s invaded our house with its retinue of bullets or what, but I’m back on the topic of the fight of faith today with some mental imagery—namely vampires and zombies.

I may have avoided writing about it last week but it seems I can’t avoid the fight of faith.  All week I’ve been pestered by this persistent struggle against my propensity to feel both responsible and powerless in the face of circumstances I can’t control but which have the potential for evil (besides destroying my hopes and dreams!)

Some mornings it’s been a matter of not feeling up-to-snuff physically and just needing grace for everything!  Monday mornings are often like that.  For no particular reason the mundane things of my life seem suddenly daunting and I sit and ask for grace, mentally marching out in review the cares on my mind in hopes that faith will rally.  And a still small voice reminds: ‘only one thing is needful’.  I open to the day’s Bible reading and there it is again: “you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary”(Lk 10:41,42) and Mary has chosen it, namely to sit at my feet and listen to what I have to say, undistracted by the pressures of service.  So He gives me my daily bread and forgives me my sins and another day commences.

Looking back now I realize Sunday’s sermon should have sufficed, had I held onto it. How soon I had forgotten the encouragement:

“…’You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off;’fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Is.41:10).

It had been a message about being in the grip of His grace—the One who is able to do abundantly more than all we could ask or even think through His church for His own glory.  I had even made myself a note to copy this verse out and stick it somewhere…

Well, the fight is on.  The victory that overcomes the world is our faith. So of course it’s the target of all the zombies and vampires of the unseen realm.  And they obviously know my vulnerabilities, namely my tendency to feel responsible to control things I cannot and my wimpy tendency to conclude there’s nothing I can do that will make a difference.  So of course guilt and fear have a hey day.  The zombies go for the brain they say—terrifying specters bent on destroying my ability to think rightly.  And the vampires want to drain my blood—my life blood, the life of joy and purpose I am designed for.  The whole world may lie in the power of the evil one (I Jn. 5:19) but not I!  Where are my silver bullets?!


I was airing my ‘woes’ and worries yesterday to my resident counselor and best friend (the flesh and blood one who is the best thing that’s happened to me since salvation)…and he summarized with “boy, you’re sure impatient.”  Ding!  Well of course that’s a key point.  I want my hopes, my dreams, my goals in every arena of responsibility to be fulfilled NOW. I want to see the fruit of my labors (and the ‘abundantly beyond’ bonuses of God’s favor that will go way beyond these).  I want to see the fairytale endings.  It’s hard to keep praying, to keep believing, to keep hoping, to keep resisting fear and doubt…if I could just see answers today, I could relax.  Hmmm…. I guess that’s pretty much a case of impatience isn’t it?

Not that I haven’t heard this admonition before, mind you.  Waiting is no fun.  It’s a battle for me.  I need the constant ammunition of the Word, like this verse above my kitchen sink which reads in part:

“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.  See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and late rains.  You also, be patient.  Establish your hearts.” (James 5:7,8)



And this one I distinctly remember being spoken to me in a quiet moment plopped on a log in the middle of a scraggly clear-cut:

 “Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of god you may receive what is promised.” (Heb.10:35,36)

For good reason Abraham is one of my heroes: No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”(Rom.4:20,21)  Of course he had a little detour of trying to work things out on his own steam which had disastrous consequences that have rocked the world to the present day—but even these will ultimately bow to the sovereign purpose of God and bring Him glory.

All these verses help in the fight to hold onto faith but another joined the arsenal this morning—I’m calling it my silver bullet.  I woke recognizing it’s what I’ve failed to put to use and what I desperately need.  Paul spoke often of this surefire safeguard.  He didn’t worry about repeating himself when urging his trainees to put it into use. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, REJOICE.  He said it was worth repeating because for them it was a safeguard—a sure, firm, reliable strategy.  A silver bullet!

Not having much knowledge of ‘zombies’  or vampires myself (or of silver bullets) I had to research this a bit—“The silver bullet is a common form of Depleted Phlebotinum Shells. It’s often called for when supernatural creatures are around for whom silver is an Achilles Heel”.  ( :  I figure if the enemy knows my weaknesses, I should certainly know his.  This word describing how ‘safe’ rejoicing is for me, is a Greek word defined by what it is not.  It will not fail, totter, fall or cheat me.  I like that! A silver bullet against the zombie hordes, those fearmongering supernatural foes that are loathe to acknowledge who I am in Christ, who taunt and terrorize me with imagined woes and scandalous ‘what if’s.  They cannot withstand me when I’m rejoicing in the Lord.

  • He is my Redeemer–the Lord Almighty is His name!
  • He is the One who is strong when I am weak.
  • He is the One who grants me authority to go as a lamb among wolves with the message of forgiveness and redemption.
  • He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning of my story and its ending point.
  • He is the One who works all things after the counsel of His will—determined that we should be to the praise of His glory. (Eph.1:11)
  • He is the One who intercedes for me, that my faith fail not.

This is someone to rejoice in!


And with that silver bullet this song came to my mind.  I haven’t heard it sung in ages but it’s a winner!  When it first sang through my head I wrongly substituted the words ‘Rejoice in the Lord, and be of good courage…’ for the opening line.  But really, this is the point of it either way.  When I rejoice in Him, I am strong!

Be strong in the Lord, and be of good courage;
Your mighty Defender is always the same.
Mount up with wings, as the eagle ascending;
Victory is sure when you call on his name.



Refrain:
Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord,
and be of good courage for he is your guide.
Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord,
and rejoice for the victory is yours.



So put on the armor the Lord has provided,
And place your defense in his unfailing care.
Trust him for he will be with you in battle,
Lighting your path to avoid every snare. [Refrain]



Be strong in the Lord, and be of good courage,
Your mighty Commander will vanquish the foe.
Fear not the battle for the victory is always his;
He will protect you where ever you go. [Refrain]


–Linda Lee Johnson, 1947-



A stirring classic rendition is available at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbIvlYjfnD4

And now I’m inspired to post lyrics above my sink and sing my way into the battle.  This is incidentally quite scriptural.  But that’s a story for another day.  For today my freshly re-discovered silver bullet supply needs polishing…

–LS

“And though this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.” –Martin Luther


Disclaimer This advice is not to be construed as applying to literal zombies.  I’m told silver bullets only work for vampires…Decapitation is preferred for zombies…

My Granny Squares

Change of pace needed—this week a post from the me that is ‘Grandmom’.  With winter giving way to spring, days growing perceptibly longer, nights shorter, and the sun shining unexpectedly to lure me out of doors, I suddenly realized that with all the reading and writing that fills my evening I hadn’t made time to finish up my last winter’s project—a scrap quilt.   Summer is for gardening and sailing and all things outside.  Winter for the cozy things—the curling up with books, the knitting, and the new found craft of quilt-making. 

For years I have saved scrap fabric.  Once-upon-a-time homemakers sewed clothes for their children and it was actually cost-effective, (besides being cute!) to see all the girls in matching dresses, or the toddler in home-made overalls.  Wedding dresses were made by mom and in our case the wedding suit by Jim’s mom.  All that by way of saying, I used to sew clothes and what a horde of scraps I had accumulated always intending one day to make a quilt of them… A fledgling effort years ago to piece a complicated square out of random fabric types was near disaster.  So then I thought, well, maybe a fabric ‘book’ will do, one that I can hold on my lap while I sit in my granny rocker leafing through it and telling all the stories the colors and textures evoke…

Well, now I’m a ‘granny’ and neither as old nor as frail as the granny I’d envisioned.  I do have a rocking chair, but I tend to have a computer on my lap more often than not when I sit here.  And in the meantime looking over Rachel’s shoulder at 4-H quilting club I learned the basics of putting together a quilt.  So  I reverted to the original idea of a quilt, a lap-size one (to go under the computer on my lap on cold days!)  and all the pieces came out of the closet and eventually found their way into this quilt I’m now binding.  I will spare you the agonizing decision-making process it was to design a quilt worthy of the inclusion of all these ‘antique’ and precious, albeit mismatched, scraps.  It’s a regulated version of crazy, but for better or worse, it’s together and lap-ready.  Now who’s ready to hear the stories it evokes?

quilt 6…of courting days—the summery striped top—the hot summer days in N.Dakota where we walked many miles hand in hand and ended up engaged…The floral curtain fabric jumps us way ahead to our first home—an old mobile home given to us by friends who couldn’t sell it!  We loved it well and somehow squeezed all (then 6) of us in…

quilt3But wait, we’ve missed the wedding gown scrap, juxtaposed with the velvet ‘going away’ jacket, and the dresses of two girls  yet to come…

Then there were the first maternity clothes— I wore that burgundy calico top to death!
quilt9

A  new set of summery stripes dressed mom and firstborn son in matching tops.  He looked so grown-up in a real shirt…
quilt5

quilt7bethany1Then there came ‘Nany’ in the recycled dress made from a gaudy old blouse found at the ‘boutique’ for free!
P1010042

And growing up in the dress that matched my own (and Teddy’s)…
bethany scan

Christmas was the time for new nighties for the girls…
quilt4bgirls in nighties scan
Flannel of course…pictured here with their room curtains, and the bathroom curtain—always flowers!  I remember the day a friend pointed out that I sure seemed to like flowers.  Doesn’t everyone?  I had assumed so until then.  This preference definitely shows in my fabric scraps…

quilt1Here, more dresses and some craft stars and stripes that went into a Christmas quilt ornament.  That was the year I decided to make an ornament for each of the kids every year, so they’d have a set to leave home with… Nice idea.  It happened a few years anyway…Note the teddy fabric, the beginnings of all-things-teddy for our last-born…

quilt10This fabric marked  the beginning of the end of sewing for the girls.  My personal tastes in flowers resulted in a jumper altogether unflattering in full bloom!  It was never completed, leaving me with lots of fabric with which to border my crazy granny quilt!

P1010049

And here the ‘granny’ sits remembering all that God has done for her and in her and through her… and letting it stoke the fires of her faith and her future hopes. “His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” (Ps.91:4)
And I consider my calling as a ‘granny’, and a mother– to pray for these young ones and the nearly grown ones—“let your work be shown to your servants and your glorious power to their children.  Let the favor of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” (Ps.91:16,17)




And what more I will be called to be and  do, I do not know, but it will be stitched with God’s mercy and goodness—and bordered all ‘round with flowers of grace!

“The righteous…still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” (Ps.92:14,15)


–LS



Peace and Quiet

The older I get, the more I value it—peace and quiet.  Not just a literal quietness but a calm unruffled-ness, an absence of strife… but what is a mother to do?  The kids may get older, the tensions subtler, (or at least not over blocks and toys), but the concerns of a mother only get larger and the necessity of a peaceful heart more pronounced.  I may have been able to quell the conflict of two toddlers forcibly, and even to enforce a measure of peace and quiet in my household but I cannot enforce it in my own heart!


What is a mother to do?

Is it really a mother’s ‘job’ to worry, as a friend jokingly suggested this week?  Is it really inevitable as long as we are living and breathing that we as mothers should bear the quiet strain of anxiety (legitimized as ‘concern’) for our children’s welfare, or our aging parents, or any number of other relationships under our jurisdiction!  What of the peace that defies understanding?


And guilt, that insidious slithering fellow that insinuates itself into my consciousness and strangles peace and contentment… must I live with it?  Whether it be a vague consciousness that I just haven’t ‘measured up’ as a mom and that the kids are suffering for it, or that I ‘really should be doing more’ in one way or another… it strangles peace and puts a damper on joy.  Can I not be freed of it?  Is there no sure-fire formula?  I asked these things of a friend older than I, whom I know lives with these would-be peace-robbers, anxiety and guilt.  Her answer surprised and disturbed me.  A sigh, a resigned shaking of the head, and a ‘not in this lifetime; that’s what Heaven is for’.

Not to be too hard on her, having caught her off guard perhaps and in a moment of weakness, still, this is not an answer I’m willing to settle for.  I want, if not a ‘formula’, at least a strategy, for recognizing and deflecting those things that rob me of peace.  It’s got to entail more than turning down the sub-woofers and background noise in my environment!  (Though there’s a great analogy there waiting to be milled.)

The Word of God invites me to lay hold on a quality of life unlike any that I can naturally know—eternal and abundant.  It promises the unfathomable peace of God will guard my mind as I turn anxiety into prayer and thanksgiving (Phil 4:6,7). I know this verse. My mind can rattle it off.  But my heart is prone to actually turn prayer into an act of worry, like a dog gnawing on a bone till his gums bleed.  I intend to bring my worries and leave them but in the process of opening the ‘can of worms’ I am overcome with the tangle of them and want only to quickly close the can, putting them out of my mind, and go do something else!  Have you had this experience?

This is where I have found it so valuable to be a part of a bigger Body.  There are a few of us women who get together every weekend that we can to enjoy a hike and pray together.  There is something very encouraging about hearing someone else bring your requests to God that makes believing not seem so impossible after all.  Their faith for your situation is a great uplift.   Another outcome of praying with these women has been to learn by example the art of praising God and thanking him as a precursor to presenting requests.  The focus changes.  My ‘can of worms’ is not so big or so bad in light of a great and awesome God who is over all, through all and in all!  And little by little this stronghold of faithlessness in prayer is being torn down, displaced by praise and worship.

I stumbled upon another great help in overcoming my propensity to anxiety and guilt with the coming of this new year.  The idea kept popping up (in blog-land anyway) of choosing a word to be your word for the year.  It could be anything—like, “Yes”, as a reminder to say yes to God and opportunities He would provide.  Someone else chose, “No”, needing to refine their priorities.  I didn’t pay too much attention, as I wasn’t sure I could ever settle on one magic word anyway.  But then tentatively I began to consider the word: “HIS” as one that would do me good to remember all year.  I’m His (referring to God, of course).  His problem.  His work in progress.  His to take care of.  His beloved.  Just, His.  Now I can’t even find in my chaotic journal scribblings the day when that word began to percolate peace into my soul, but it has been a concrete reminder that I’m not in charge of my life (or anybody else’s lives!).  It is a freeing thing to be the slave of a good master.  You are then His responsibility.  Everything you need is His problem, not your own.  There is great peace in knowing this and keeping it at the forefront of my thoughts.

I am working my way through a practical book designed to promote spiritual growth and especially the putting of Scriptural truth in practice.  Being of a bent toward accumulating knowledge at the expense of acting on it, this has been helpful to me.  Each short reading is accompanied by an ‘experiment’, something to put into daily practice.  Today’s reading talks about becoming ‘a person of joy and peace’:

 “The secret to this peace, as great apprentices of Jesus have long known, is being abandoned to God.  Since God is love and is so great, I live beyond harm in his hands.  There is nothing that can happen to me that will not turn out for my good.  Nothing.  Because of this, ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.’ (Is.26:3)” (Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice, p.94)

“Peace and joy are based on confidence in God (faith).  In this confidence, I can abandon myself to God, even die to myself.  As I do these things, striving will cease [sounds like peace to me!] and joy will naturally flow.” (Renovation, p.94)  And this hints at one other implication of surrendering my autonomy to God.  My interests must be for HIS will to be done, not necessarily my own.  I can’t assume that what I want for those I love is precisely what He wants.  For instance, am I prepared to forfeit my desires for their happiness, if trial or loss is part of God’s will for their best good.  Hmm…there is great peace in aligning my desires with God’s and freely welcoming His will to be done in the things that concern me.  On this count I am definitely a work in progress—His work!

What then is a mother to do when she longs for peace and quiet in the throbbing ‘woof’ of life?  I think Paul sums it up pretty well here:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.


A song I’m listening to today has these lyrics:

“Oh let Your will be done in me
In Your love I will abide
Oh I long for nothing else as long
As You are glorified”

(Altrogge, ‘As Long as You are Glorified’)

There’s peace to be had in such a declaration.  Enjoy the rest of the song here [Click HERE]—a challenge to trust God no matter what the circumstance. He’s always worthy.

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you.

–LS
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” (Col.1:2)

Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice: Experiments in Spiritual Transformation is by Dallas Willard & Jan Johnson, NavPress,2006,185pp.