Monday, July 2, 2018

Where Peace is Found

Toni and I are at the Durphee Lake Cabin. Tim and Naomi and their little Jonas are here. David and Grandma Jo are too. I tried to write some yesterday, but pursuing solitary activities in this little cabin, with everyone around, isn't too sensible. It's easier now in the very early morning.

I started my first morning here with a (slow) 40+ minute run. I'm glad I did since the rest of the day has been pretty sedentary. It rained a lot, and that was quite pleasant. I'm sure I'll get some sort of a physical workout in today too. I might end up driving to town for that, or maybe I'll get myself to do more than just run again here.

Dick, Toni's dad, isn't here. We're hoping he can come up for the days later this month. He's continuing his rehab from a health issue that developed at the end of April.

A couple weeks ago, at a "Little Free Library," I picked up a Charles Dickens' book -- Hard Times. I've been reading it bit by bit ever since, and a little more yesterday and today. So far it's a sad, sad story with so many tragic characters and situations. I can't imagine how it can end well.

Yesterday morning the Lord led me to worship at a church in Hayward. When I got there I saw some family friends sitting near the front, so I went in and sat with them. There was some good praise time and then a message on a fairly well known section of the new testament. I'll say more about that below.

After the message we were invited to share communion together. I received the Lord's supper from the family friend I had been sitting with, and then enjoyed talking with him afterward. It was an unexpectedly good time, and an example of how the Lord continually blesses me in ways I don't plan in advance.

The message at the church service was nothing new, but good for me to hear. I've been thinking about it ever since. During the service I tweeted out one line that the pastor emphasized and had us repeat aloud... and a bit of the scripture his message was based on.
Peace is not found in a formula, it's found in a person. " every situation ...present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will GUARD your *hearts* and your *minds* . Praise you, Jesus, for peace in all circumstances
Here are some personal reflections on the scripture and message I wrote this morning. May the peace of God, which transcends understanding, be in our hearts and minds today.

That's true when we think of peace as a personal feeling. In fact, that's what the verse before the one quoted above says: "'Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7). I have to be reminded of this all the time because I easily fall into worrying -- not, in my case, about money (which is what many worry about), because the Lord has provided so well and has taught me the "secret of being content." I worry more about what seems to be (1) bad choices that other people make and bad habits that other people have, (2) the long term consequences on their health and well being that those behavior patterns lead to, (3) and the well being of others that their negative example might cause, including the well being of future generations. I'll share more about that personally if you ask.

The Lord, however, tells me not to worry about anything. That would include the worry I mentioned above. He tells me that I should speak with Him about it and implies then that I should leave my worries there, in my prayers, trusting that He will deal with whatever I bring to His attention. As I remember the example of Jesus, whose followers were so often going the wrong way in their attitudes and actions, I recall how he needed to retreat and spend time alone with God the Father. Perhaps that's because he knew what it was like to be tempted to worry about them, worry that came out, in fact, as he sighed and said things like, "o you foolish people, how long do I need to put up with you." But Jesus seems to have refused the temptation to worry, and the twin temptation to try to control those who were (sometimes) following Him. I think I have had a taste of Jesus' struggle in prayer as I am continually led to "let go and let God."

But what about peace between people or nations? Is that peace also found "in Christ Jesus," as the verse quoted above says? The fuller context of the verse implies a "yes" answer. There seems to have been a conflict going on between two of the women in the Christian community that Paul is addressing in this letter. He pleads (notice that he doesn't command -- Paul exercises no male "headship" over the women) with these women to "be of the same mind," a phrase that is used elsewhere in the "letter to the Philippians" to specifically point to Jesus and Jesus' way of life. "Think like Jesus" we read in Philippians 2:5 and following, who was completely humble and didn't pursue any advantage or rights over others. I think the path to peace between people and nations is found in Jesus' example and presence. It doesn't come by saying "me first" or "US" first.

Is the self-sacrificing way of Jesus practical in the world of nations? No. But I think Christians often sacrifice Jesus' was for practical "common sense" political thinking and activity. Jesus' ways normally don't lead his followers to being "first." But, if the verses I quote above can be applied to "US" together just as they can be to each of us personally, that impractical way of humble service would be the way to peace among nations too.

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