Today, when you read books or websites on overcoming anxiety and handling fear, they usually talk about removing thoughts. They say: Do not think about that; do not think those negative thoughts. Control your thoughts, expel the negative ones. But here we see the peace of God is not the absence of negative thoughts, it is the presence of God himself. “The God of peace will be with you” (Phil 4:9).
Christian peace does not start with the ousting of negative thinking. If you do that, you may simply be refusing to face how bad things are. That is one way to calm yourself–by refusing to admit the facts. But it will be a short-lived peace! Christian peace doesn’t start that way. It is not that you stop facing the facts, but you get a living power that comes into your life and enables you to face those realities, something that lifts you up over and through them.
Many believers have experienced this peace of God. It is not just positive thinking or willpower. It is a sense that no matter what happens, everything will ultimately be all right, even though it may not be at all right at the moment. In my experience, people usually break through to this kind of peace only in tragic situations, often in the valley of the shadow of death. Here is a metaphor for it. If you have ever been on a coast in a storm and seen the waves come in and hit the rocks, sometimes the waves are so large that they cover a particular rock, and you think, ‘That is the end of that rock.’ But when the waves recede, there it is still. It hasn’t budged an inch. A person who feels the ‘peace that passes understanding; is like that. No matter what is thrown at you, you know it will not make you lose your footing. Paul of course is the classic example. He is beaten; he is stoned; he is flogged; he is shipwrecked; he is betrayed; his enemies are trying to kill him. There is wave after wave, and yet–there he is still. ‘I have found a way to be completely poised under any and all circumstances,’ he said. All the waves of life could not break him. And he says it isn’t a natural talent of his–you and I can learn this.
That is the character of Christian peace. It is an inner calm and equilibrium but also a sense of God’s presence and an almost reason-transcending sense of his protection.
All light finds its origin in Jesus Christ, who is the fountain of all truth.
Therefore, if you have in your heart today any affection for Christ at all, it is because God the Holy Spirit in His sweetness, in His power, in His mercy, and in His grace has been to the cemetery of your soul and has raised you from the dead. So you are now alive to the things of Christ and you rejoice in the kingdom into which He has brought you.
[I love that phrase “…to the cemetery of your soul and has raised you from the dead.” I didn’t need to be persuaded or wooed to come to Christ. I was doornail dead and had to be brought to life.]
The whole of Scripture speaks to us of the love of God for His people, but so often we fix our attention on God’s love for us that we forget that the ground of that love is the love that the Father has from eternity for His Son. Remember, we’re not the natural children of God. We’re the adopted children of God, and even our election must always be understood to be in the Son.
We have to keep a close watch on what we do in worship, asking ourselves: “Is this according to the truth of God? Is this God’s teaching in His Word?” Our worship must be based on God’s self-revelation in Scripture. He is truth and His Word is truth.
[This is completely counter-cultural.]
The deepest theological question that I can think of, the one for which I have no adequate answer, is the question, “Why me?” My students come to me with all kinds of conundrums from theology, but they rarely ask, “Why did God save me?” It sometimes seems as if we’re thinking: “Why wouldn’t He save me?” Yes, we have little aphorisms such as, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Do we really believe that? Are we really amazed by the measure of grace God has poured out on us? Can we say with John, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on its, that we should be called children of God!”
“Why me?” indeed. Why do I live in a time where solid, rich biblical teaching is at my fingertips day and night? Why was I “introduced” to R.C. Sproul’s teaching as a very young woman so that I could benefit as I grew in my relationship with Christ?
Becoming truly literate is a choice. Reading done well is not a passive activity like sitting in front of a screen. It requires a degree of attention, engagement, and active questioning of which most of our children currently have a deficit. The core question is not whether you hold in your hand an old-fashioned paper book or a new electronic book, but rather that even when you read from a screen, you develop the self-discipline to ignore the temptation to check email or scores or social media every few minutes. Reading done well requires a forward-leaning brain. Our culture’s ever-present distractions–the obsessive appeals to immediacy (“What ‘news’ might I be missing?”)–conspire to blunt our curiosity and distract us from sustained thought. The relentless pull of the digital world, with its demands that our kids submit to the shiny and the immediate, threatens to make them not just less literate but also more like subjects than citizens.
This book is packed with wisdom. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard professing Christians talk about waiting – and waiting and waiting – for a sign before doing something. When you hear a Christian talk about finding his soul mate? Hand him this book. Worried about not being in “the center of God’s will”? Read this book. Afraid you have missed the path God laid out for you before the foundations of the earth? Yep, get this book.
It’s solid teaching that truly takes so much pressure off a believer. God doesn’t expect you to figure out His hidden will before you make decisions and act. Whew!
If you haven’t figured out by now, I highly recommend this one. And it would make a terrific graduation gift.
Last year I happened upon bullet journals, and the organization nerd in me loved the idea. I promptly purchased a new Moleskine and set about creating one of my own. I used the advice here and other tips I found on pinterest, but I just didn’t love it. Therefore, I didn’t keep it handy, and I eventually abandoned it altogether. I’d kept it very simple, but it wasn’t visually appealing to me, and I didn’t like the size of the journal or the way it felt.
I kept seeing bullet journals referenced and recommended, though, and the idea still appealed to me. With a birthday gift card to Amazon (thanks Will & Anna!), I ordered a Leuchtturm1917 notebook, and I scoured the internet for potential layout ideas. I got out my Sharpie pensand Prismacolor pencils and set to work.
So far, so good. I’ve kept it out and open on my desk at work, and it’s always close by at other times. I’ve been careful to update it in the evenings. I find that I’m checking off more to-dos , and I’m dumping stuff out of my brain and onto pages in the journal. Ahhhhh. That feels so much better than keeping stuff in my head.
The size – especially the width – of the pages in the Leuchtturm is just more user friendly in my opinion, and I love the dotted pages. I also added color to my layouts, and therefore I’m more drawn to keeping the book open. I’ve added pages for lists I want to keep – quotes, Christmas gifts, books I want to read, books I’m reading, etc. I’ve got weekly layouts through December so far, and there are plenty of pages left.
It’s not super fancy – and if you google you’ll find bullet journals that are works of art! – but it works for me so far.
I’m skeptical about most studies I see reported because so often the conclusions can be reached by using plain old garden variety common sense, without spending millions of dollars. And others have such a small sample size that any conclusion must be held loosely. While this onemay be one of those, it works in my favor so I’ll share it:
…“When readers were compared to non-readers at 80% mortality (the time it takes 20% of a group to die), non-book readers lived 85 months (7.08 years), whereas book readers lived 108 months (9.00 years) after baseline,” write the researchers. “Thus, reading books provided a 23-month survival advantage.”
Bavishi said that the more that respondents read, the longer they lived, but that “as little as 30 minutes a day was still beneficial in terms of survival”.
The paper also specifically links the reading of books, rather than periodicals, to a longer life.
That’s really the best news I’ve heard all day!
And speaking of reading, I finished a fun book last night — The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin. Set in the Mad Men era of (mostly) Manhattan, it tells the story of Truman Capote and his “swans” — high society ladies who confided in him only to see him betray them by publishing their secrets. While it’s frivolous reading in some ways — the fashion, wealth, yachts, and gossipy stories — the author offers some keen insights into human nature and behavior. I really enjoyed the writing and will be reading more by Benjamin and adding some of Capote’s works to my to-be-read list.
Now I’m reading A Three Dog Life, a memoir which Stephen King says is his favorite. That, along with the $2.99 price for the Kindle version, made it a must-read.
As we all know, December is crazy busy. Paul and I have thrown a potential house purchase into the chaos, and today we had a set back there. It was also another super busy work day, and I was easily annoyed by interruptions. When I heard my phone ding, I grumbled and expected bad news. Instead, I saw this:
Awwww. As I recently told him, if we’re good, it’s all good. It’s all good.
…it is unseemly to politicize these horrors when the families are still weeping. Whether the issue is gun control or something else, whenever a hard sell comes in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy, the only thing it makes me want to do is wonder at how boorish some people can be. If this the case when the political issue is arguably connected, as with gun control, how much more is it the case when it is so obliquely related? Did the alleged shooter even know about the [Confederate] flag? Boorish behavior can be exhibited by either side. If one man starts a roaring debate in favor of gun control the same day of the shooting, the situation is not improved if an advocate of open carry does the same thing the next day. The families involved, who include godly Christian people calling for repentance and a turn to Christ, ought not to be distracted by apparatchiks trying to make some political hay out of their grief.