Category Archives: Peace

A Crumby Life

Proverbs 17:1

“Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.”

“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” (NIV)

Struggling Through

I have some friends. These friends are great people, and soon after they got married they moved in with my wife and me.

We had to live together, you see, because I had lost my job, my wife had just graduated and was looking for work, and they had no jobs of their own. The little bit of income the four of us brought in was barely enough to pay rent, the bills, and get food.

And you know: the four of us have so many great memories together.

There were times when we were sharing three-day-old spaghetti, because that was all we had. There were times we borrowed toilet paper from their parents. There were times we had to ask family for money or food just to get by.

But we would play games together, laugh about the silliest things, and share all of our hurts and joys together.

Too much on the plate

Of those friends, his family is great. My wife and I call his parents “our other parents”. Her family makes Jacob’s (from Genesis) look like a finely functioning family. (If you do not know what I mean, go read Jacob’s story in Genesis 25-37!)

Her family squabbles about every little thing (really, it is her sisters who do all of the squabbling), while dad lets them figure it out on their own and mom cleans up the messes. My poor friend (and her mom, really) are the closest to sane in the whole family.

The problem is not that the family does not need to worry about money, because they are doing rather well.

The problem is that everyone is either looking out only for themselves (the sisters) or do not know how to deal with issues well if at all (mom and dad). They just keep heaping everything on until there is an explosion, and everyone is hurt.

My friends prefer spending the afternoon with us walking our dog and cleaning up his messes than a short meal with her family.

The Crumby Life

It is possible to “have it all” and live in peace and quiet. The real issue is that people try to make this life all about themselves, and they take and take and take without really giving back.

We must learn to be content, to seek God and what He has for us, and to share with others more than we demand.

Only then will we find peace.

God of peace, grant us the wisdom to find contentment with what You have already blessed us. If we are eager for more, may it be of more of You and sharing with others. Make us the peacemakers and givers of this world!


Killing Me Softly

Proverbs 16:29

“A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.”

The past few verses have been about the person who causes trouble. Whether it is by creating the trouble, stirring the trouble, or capitalizing on the trouble.

That is essentially what this verse continues saying, even taking another step further.

In verse 27 we learn that the ungodly person can not wait to start problems. In verse 28 we learn that this person even lets these problems come between friends.

Specifically, in verse 28 we begin to see how sneaky the violence in our hearts can be, because “a whisperer separateth chief (best) friends.”

God speaks in a still, small voice (a whisper). It would seem that Satan does, as well.

Loves Company

Perhaps you have heard the term “Misery/Evil loves company.” This is just saying that sad people like having other sad people around to commiserate with them. Likewise, evil people only want other evil people around them (because good people remind them of their guilt).

Verse 29 shows us that those whispers may not separate friends (at least immediately).

In fact, the one who allows violence of the heart (hatred, wanting to hurt others/animals, envy, distrust, paranoia, etc.) to thrive inside will attempt to convince their friends to follow them. They will speak convincing words and attempt to sway you of their rightness (self-righteousness).

If you follow them into this violence of the heart, you will become just like them. You will live out this violence.

You will gradually fall away from God’s truth, because God is the God of love and peace. As Casting Crowns put it, “It’s a slow fade.”

It is as though your friends whisper death into your ears, and you slowly die inside as you listen to their whispers.

You may not go to hell, but you will be guilty of hindering the work of God in your life and the life of your friends.

God of Peace, do not let us give in to the violence in our hearts. Protect our ears and our hearts from the whispers of those who would lead us astray.


Keep Your Fingers to Yourself

Proverbs 16:14

“The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it.”

When I first read this verse I pictured an angry king who sent out soldiers to execute judgment on his enemies. Then, just a few days later, I learned of a more modern example of an angry king – Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat. His kingdom? The Miami-Dade courtroom in Florida.

February 4, 2013

It was all caught on camera. The cheerful, giddy, 18-year old Penelope Soto stood facing a camera, while Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat sat in the courtroom hearing her case. Soto was being sentenced for illegal possession of Xanax.

The judge seemed nice enough, trying to be patient Soto, who evidently didn’t take the whole thing too seriously. Then, when the judge set the girl’s bail at $5,000, she turned around and said in a casual, disrespectful way, “Adios!

Judge Rodriguez-Chomat said, “Come back…come back.” This time, irked at her flippant demeanor, he raised Soto’s bail to $10,000. That got her attention, too, and so this time when she walked away she held up her middle finger to the camera for the judge to see.

Come back! Come back!” said the judge. This time, after few words, he sentenced the once-perky illicit drug user to 30 days in jail. She quit laughing.

Don’t be a Fool

It’s really not that complicated. When one stands before one who has the ability to exercise judgment, it’s not very wise to air out one’s middle finger.

Penelope Soto could have gotten off with just a slap on the wrist. She seemed sweet enough, and the judge seemed patient, to a degree. But it was when she disrespected his authority that she crossed a serious line. That is when she experienced the “wrath of the king.”

Why is it that some people do that? Everything could be going just fine, then they choose to disrespect authority. Don’t they realize the foolishness of their actions? Why don’t they show a little wisdom and keep the “king” in a good mood?

They Don’t Respect God

The real reason most people have a problem with authority and end up ticking off kings is that they have no respect for God. If they did respect Him, they would respect His “minister.”

In Romans thirteen we read that we should “be subject to higher powers” (13:1). Anyone who resists, or rebels against authority is in danger of rebelling against God, “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”

Paul also said that if one does good, he should have no reason to fear authority. However, when we rebel, or show our middle fingers, we must remember if we do wrong, “be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing” (13:4 NIV).

 


Peaceful, Easy Feeling or Runaway Emotions

Proverbs 14:30

A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.”

“A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones.”  (NIV)

“A sound mind makes for a robust body,
but runaway emotions corrode the bones.”  (The Message)

The Eagles Had Almost No Idea

If you have listened to music by The Eagles, you have probably heard the song Peaceful Easy Feeling, which is actually a song about giving in to the wiles of a woman. The smart side is that they admit “She can’t take you any way you don’t already know how to go.” They understood our sinful nature!

The chorus is spot on, though: “‘Cause I got a peaceful easy feeling,
And I know you won’t let me down
’cause I’m already standing on the ground.”

Grounded in Christ, the One who will never let us down (though we may feel like He has at times), is the only true way to find peace.

We can see from the three different wordings above that a person at peace means more than just one part of our body. It means we are not worried. We know we are not worried when something does not trouble the mind or there are no bad dreams about life. This means on both the conscious and unconscious levels nothing “gets to us” or makes us feel guilty.

(If you listen to their song Take It Easy, you can see The Eagles still dealt with guilt and worry.)

Vitamin D Deficiency

However, when we live in sin, when we refuse to acknowledge our wrongs and continue to go on as though our sinfulness is “not really all that bad,” we will suffer.

First, we suffer, because guilt can wear us out. I remember when I was in a relationship with a young woman (you may remember my previous comments). She was nice and all, but I had known for a while that it was not a relationship that honored God. My response to God: propose marriage to her!

Over the course of the next year, I began to sleep less, get more involved with things I should not have, and saw other relationships deteriorate.

In other words, I had let my emotions get the better of me.

I wanted the sensual side of a relationship. I wanted to have a life others had. I wanted many things that in and of themselves are not bad, but they were at the wrong time with the wrong person.

It wore me out.

Is there anything in your life that you know you should not be doing? Are there people in your life you should not be spending so much time around?

Get God. Get peace. Get a handle on your emotions. Get better! Only with God!

Awesome God, thank You for offering us peace. Help us to choose You. Help us control our emotions. Heal us and give us rest, that we may spread Your healing and peace to our hurt and weary world.


I Know Who to Trust

Proverbs 14:26

In the fear of the LORD [is] strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

My Refuge

As a child I knew where to run and hide when the sound of thunder came. Actually, to be honest, thunder never really bothered me that much, because I had an early belief that if it was God’s will for me to be hurt in the storm, it would happen. Otherwise, regardless of the booming in the sky, I was going to be OK.

I trusted in God even in my youth, much like David…

For thou [art] my hope, O Lord GOD: [thou art] my trust from my youth. – Psalm 71:5

But when there was the perception of a monster outside, or under my bed, or threatening to harm me after going out with his girlfriend, my “confidence” was in my father, my dad, who wasn’t afraid of anybody.

In all honesty, my “place of refuge” was more often my earthly father, not my heavenly One.

Refuge Shattered

But then, on the 11th of June, 1991, my “place of refuge” from the bad guys, monsters, heartaches, disappointments, etc., came tumbling down. My dad died.

It never crossed my mind…I’m only thinking about it right now as I write this post…but I should have known my dad’s strength was much more limited than I gave it credit.

Job spoke of people who’s confidence, whose hope, would wind up as worthless as those who fell into a spider’s web, hoping its strength would keep them from falling.

Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust [the same word translated as confidence in Prov. 14:26] shall be a spider’s web. – Job 8:14

Too often, and it’s this way with most everyone, we put our confidence in things that will never be able to catch us when we fall, support us when we doubt, or protect us when we hide. But…

Blessed [is] the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. – Jeremiah 17:7

Our Strong Confidence

So, what can we count on? Where do we go when we don’t have the answers? Where do we run to hide when thunderous doubt rumbles the foundations of our soul?

The fear of the LORD is our STRONG CONFIDENCE!

Just today I was reading from Proverbs 30. There, in the first few verses, Agur, in a self-deprecating fashion, proclaims that he is not wise, nor does he claim to have any special understanding of the ways of God. However

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. – Proverbs 30:5

I fear God. Meaning, I know better than to question His wisdom and power and might! He never lies, His promises are sure, and HE will never leave me nor forsake me! My “strong confidence” is in the same hand that can crush nations and fling stars – I fear Him!

But I also trust Him.

Because He said he loves me.

And I believe Him.


I’d Rather Live In a Tent

Proverbs 14:11

“The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.”

House vs. Tent

There is a huge difference between a house and a tent. At one point in our marriage, my wife and I actually contemplated buying a nicer tent (one with rooms) and living in it during the summer. We briefly wondered if doing that could help us save money, as opposed to renting a house. The only problem with that was air-conditioning and running water – a tent has neither.

Another thing or two that a tent does not have are solid walls, doors, outlets for electricity, and appliances for washing clothes and cooking food. A tent is not the kind of dwelling you want to hang pictures inside, either. Tents are not meant for long-term, settled living; they’re only good for temporary stays, like at the lake, or in one’s back yard while on a dinosaur-hunting safari.

Houses are solid buildings meant to last. They are meant to be left for an inheritance  They are meant to be places where roots are dug deep and social identities are made. They are ideally meant to become permanent homes. Tents are for pilgrims.

Conventional Wisdom

Conventional wisdom leads one to believe that the more sturdy a house is, the better the investment. Conventional wisdom says that a tent is not the kind of dwelling in which to raise a family and secure a future. But when we are talking about the wicked and the upright, conventional wisdom is worthless.

Conventional wisdom teaches that in order to have longevity and a solid future, one which will insure one’s name is passed on from generation to generation, one must be tied down to the world. It makes no sense, therefore, to rest at peace in a temporary dwelling, like a tent, which is what the word translated “tabernacle” means. But godly wisdom is anything but conventional.

Godly Wisdom

In this proverb the writer wants us to understand that in order to “flourish” and grow we must be pilgrims in this world, not “house builders.” The “house” of the wicked will never be as secure as the temporary “tabernacle” of the righteous.

The Apostle Paul said, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). Followers of Christ are “strangers and pilgrims” on this earth (Hebrews 11:13). The upright knows this world is not his final home, therefore he is always ready to pull up stakes and move.

Storm Shelters

If you have every been in a severe storm, you understand the value of a storm shelter. Storm shelters are meant to be ultra-strong and immovable. But when it comes to the teaching of this proverb, the opposite is true. When it comes to the storms of life, the one that will be overthrown is the one who is tied down to the world. The pilgrim living in a tabernacle (tent) will not be swept away, but “flourish.”

When the worst weather of life comes, it is better to dwell in the flimsiest, most temporary structure built by God, than in the strongest, most secure castle built by man.


Bittersweet Testimony

Proverbs 14:10

“Each heart knows its own bitterness,
    and no one else can share its joy.”

Know Thy Self

The only person who knows your heart better than God is you. You know how it feels to be you. You know what what it feels like to hurt like you hurt. You and God are the only ones who know the depth of the bitterness contained in your own heart. Other people might have been through similar things, they might have some level of understanding but the only other person to know the full picture is God.

All by Myself

So is this proverb suggesting we should shut up shop, keeping our bitterness and joy to ourselves? I would like to suggest not. This proverb isn’t saying no one should share it’s joy, it is just making the observation that the natural state of play is that no one knows what is truly going on in someone’s heart (except God) unless we learn to share our hearts with others.

Grieving and Rejoicing Together

Romans 12:15 tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” This is only possible if we open our hearts to others. Now I am not saying we should share our intimate secrets with all and sundry but it is healthy to have a few trusted confidants to open our hearts to.

Extended Family

When we first found out that I had a low sperm count we had to decide whether to keep this news to ourselves or share it with our church family. When I got up and told our church I said something like this: “I tell you this now not for your pity, but so that as you grieve with us presently you will rejoice with us when we have our children.”