Notes on Peace

God’s peace is something that we can’t always understand. We can have it even in the middle of utter chaos!

Look at Job 22:21-23 and Philippians 4:6-8.

When Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure, He said He was leaving them peace. But He wasn’t giving just any peace, it was His peace. John 14:27

Sometimes peace about doing the right thing doesn’t come until after you’ve done the thing.

Related reading:
Peace on Earth
World Peace

Reminders on Faith and Doubt

Having faith does not mean you will never doubt. Having doubts does not mean you’ve lost your faith.

It’s okay to doubt, just don’t let the doubt cripple you. You are allowed to ask questions and look for answers.

Faith is only as good as that in which you place it.

A little more reading:
You Can Know for Sure
You Are Allowed to Ask Questions
Challenging Questions
Notes on Faith
Faith and Its Object

Movement Without Perception

Just like we can’t feel the earth spinning on its axis or reeling around the sun, sometimes we don’t know that God is moving in our lives and in world history. The movement is enormous and powerful, but we don’t perceive it.

Sometimes like the movement of the earth, we know about God working, we just can’t really tell. Sometimes we don’t notice because we aren’t looking. Sometimes we don’t notice because God is keeping a secret for now, like a parent wrapping a present unbeknownst to the child. But God is never not doing something behind the scenes. I think He likes weaving intricacies and secrets into things for us to find later.

For a few connected things:
Keep Praying
God Controls Change
God Can Work Unseen

Gardening and Life

It seems odd to me that I should talk so much about gardening metaphors when I’ve not done much gardening in my life (see links at the bottom of this post). I helped plant and grow a few flowers once as a child. The most I’ve done recently is kept a pre-potted set of houseplants alive and some green onions growing in a cup, and both only by watering. But I have more metaphors anyway, mostly from my pastor who actually does some gardening.

It’s easier to start a garden than to maintain it.

Starting a garden is easy and fun. You dig, you plant the seeds, and you stand back and look at your good work. But then comes the hard part. Here come the weeds. Things need to be watered. You need to keep the plants from getting eaten.

Life can be like this. It’s easy to be excited about a fresh start, but we so often begin to neglect the maintenance that keeps us where we need to be.

More gardening comparisons:
Real Life Gardening
Fruit and Growth
The Root of the Problem, Part 1 and Part 2
Struggling for Growth

Fire and Soap

Part of the sermon last night stuck out to me. In Malachi 3:1-2, we see God telling His people that He is going to send the Messiah, who will suddenly come into His temple. He asks who will be able to stand in the day of His coming, since He will be like refiner’s fire separating fine metal from slag, and like fuller’s soap separating dirt and oils from cloth.

But those who were looking for the Messiah and anticipating His coming didn’t need to be afraid, just like metal doesn’t need to fear fire and cloth doesn’t need to fear soap.

Discomfort and Suffering from God

I’ve been thinking lately about discomfort, and I’ve been having conversations about it as well. I’ve noticed that when I am made uncomfortable by something, I take more notice of it and talk more with God about it. If a problem is far away or I can’t see or feel it, if it doesn’t touch or affect me, I tend to forget that it is a big deal. But when the problem comes to my neck of the woods, or to someone I know, or to me personally, I am more likely to realize just how significant the problem is. In some cases I realize that the problem causes more than discomfort, it causes suffering.

Because we humans tend to be like this, it is important that God allow us to suffer, particularly as Christians. If we don’t know or care about how someone feels or what they’re going through, we are less likely and less able to offer the help they need. When someone helps you, it means more if they know exactly what you’re going through. When someone helps you and they know what you’re going through, the help becomes more tailored and specific.

It’s not that you can’t care for and help people without going through the exact problem, it’s that in many cases knowing what the suffering feels like brings you an understanding you never would have had. When God makes you uncomfortable, be sure that He intends to bring from it a greater good. Just because something bad happens doesn’t mean that it will negatively affect everything. When you let God walk with and work with you in your suffering and discomfort, it will be used for goodness you’ve never imagined!

Related reading:
Not Exempt
A Bit on Suffering
Comfort in the Storm
Uncomfortable But Important

Hating and Loving

There are some immoral things that God hates, and we should as well. For a short list, see Proverbs 6:16-19. But we must remember that God doesn’t dismiss people because we do hateful things, so we shouldn’t either. God gives us a chance to not be hateful. God loves us enough to give us a way out, and He has us Christians here to let everyone know about it!

Hate has its place, and love has its place. There is a time for both (Ecclesiastes 3:8), sometimes at the same time. If you’re having a problem with these, as many of us so often do, God can help you overcome that. God can show us what to hate and when to hate it. God can show us what, who, and how to love. God can show us how to love people we hate.

Related reading:
Are Hate and Anger Permissible?
Love Goes with Truth
Disagreement and Love

Scooped Up in Love

I was looking through some old posts and something in Divine Apprehension and Seizure caught my mind.

At the part about God sweeping you up, I picture a dad scooping up his child in a sudden but loving way. Maybe they’re about to go out on an adventure together. Maybe dad is scooping the child away from danger. Maybe they both just wanted a hug. But whatever the reason, it is done in love and both the dad and the child know it is good.

Representational Pieces

I was thinking about metaphors and allegories this morning.  They are made to help you grasp a concept or understand a principle better, but they can only tell you pieces and not every little detail. But sometimes that’s enough to start the momentum to understanding more.

Metaphors and allegories show you the shadow. You must look at the real thing yourself.

Metaphors and allegories show you a sketch of the real thing to make it easier to know when you find it.

Metaphors and allegories give you a piece of the puzzle for you to put together.

Metaphors and allegories give you a handle on a difficult-to-grasp concept so you can pull it closer and look at it better.

Metaphors and allegories don’t give you all the details, but they often give you enough to figure out the rest.

The Heart of the Matter

If your heart is full of goodness, then goodness will spill out of it. If your heart is full of evil, then evil will spill out.

If your heart isn’t in something, then you may not do it as well as you could. You may not do it at all. You aren’t putting forth whole-hearted effort. If your heart is in something, you put forth better effort. You do it as best as you can because you are whole-hearted about it.

Energy flows where attention goes. Wherever and whatever your heart is set on, that’s where you’ll go and what you’ll want to do.

Essentially, who you are and what you do are determined by where your heart is and by what is in it.

In the Old Testament, we see God often reminding His people that He wants their hearts. They can perform “worship” all they want, but if they are not obeying God because they want to in their hearts, then it all means nothing.

In Proverbs 4:23 we are told to guard our heart, because what we do flows from it. Vigilantly keep bad things out and good things in, because who you are inside will issue forth into your life. It’s a lot like the flow of water. If the source is dirty, so is the water. If the source is clean, so is the water.

In Matthew 12:23-35 and Luke 6:43-45, we see Jesus talking about how your heart can be known by what you do and say, just like how you can tell the goodness of a tree based on the fruit it produces. Whatever the condition of your heart, that’s the condition of what it will produce in your life.

In the context of Matthew 6:21 and Luke 12:34, we see Jesus saying that what you treasure has your heart. And whatever has your heart will have you. If money, resources, or another worldly thing has your heart, you will spend yourself towards that effort. If God has your heart, you will spend yourself towards His effort. But you can only spend yourself entirely for one or another master, else you are not wholly serving any of them. Your heart will eventually lean towards only one, and you are the one to choose which it will be.

So we come again to the heart of the matter: What is within your heart will come out. Whatever has your heart has you. You are the one who decides what is in your heart and what has your heart.