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Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. Romans 5:1-2

One day a King summoned two artists into his palace. He commissioned them to paint a picture depicting peace. The picture that best depicted peace would be hung in the castle and the artist would become famous.

Both men returned to their studios to paint their depiction of peace. Soon they were summoned to show their creations to the King. The first artist painted a beautiful picture of a pristine lake at dusk. The reflection of the trees was perfectly silhouetted in the glassy water. A deer and fawn drank quietly in the foreground and a campfire betrayed a young couple camping on the far side of the lake. “This, said the king, is peace.

The second painting was quite different. It was a picture of a stark mountain with a waterfall pouring into the valley below. Lightning exploded from thunderclouds above and windswept rain pelted the barren cliff wall. Hidden, almost unseen, behind the waterfall was a single green shrub. Within the shrub was a nest with a bird peacefully and safely riding out the storm.

At first the king was puzzled, even disgusted at the picture. Then, a smile came to his face when he caught the true meaning of the picture. “Ah, yes,” He smiled, “This is the winner. This is peace. For peace is found in where we find security in the midst of the storm.”

When life hands us turmoil and hardship it’s easy to focus on the problem and how to avoid the pain. We may seek comfort in new jobs, new relationships or drugs. We may even seek peace in religion. The problem is, peace doesn’t come from our surroundings. Peace comes from within. When we are at peace internally, outward circumstances have little or no effect

peace with GodOften we look for peace in unfulfilling places. The only peace that lasts is peace with God. Paul tells us that because of Jesus we can have peace with God. Some may say, “I’ve tried the God stuff and got no peace.” Often we confuse peace WITH God and peace OF God. Peace WITH God is positional and completely reliant on the forgiveness we receive through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

The peace OF God is conditional. The peace of God is what we experience with we are walking close to him and following the guidelines for life as written in his Word, the Holy Bible. One cannot live for self and experience the peace of God. But if we live all out for Jesus we can experience peace in the midst of storms.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I know all about your love but sometimes life throws me a curve-ball. Help me draw close to you in the midst of life’s battles. Show me your peace. In your name I pray. Amen


I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

A particular hamburger chain ran a series of commercials a few years back in which an elderly woman looked into the bun of a competing hamburger chain and asked the question, “Where’s the beef?”

Today, the question may well be rephrased, “Where’s the peace?” It seems as though our world is coming apart at the seams politically, socially and spiritually. Things we once felt secure are, at best on shaky ground. Add to those struggles the fact that cancer, disease and natural disasters seem to be rampant as well and we have a pretty bleak picture of the world as we know it.

I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s. Those were turbulent times for our nation. Race riots, drug addiction, war protests and other social upheaval seemed to signal the end of the world…oh, yeah, and God died too! That didn’t help anything at all!

Times of unrest foster fear, worry and despair in all of us. Even those of us who ‘know’ who is in ultimate control question sometimes if he really is aware of what’s going on.

A story is making the rounds about a particular airline that went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure a woman whose son was in a coma was able to change flights (at no cost) and go see her son. The story illustrates how God works in our lives. She had no idea why she was being called off the plane. She had no idea what was going on in the background to get her to see her son. Yet, while she waited for her flight, plans were already underway to help her.

One day Jesus was teaching his disciples about terrible things that would happen to him and them in the future. Then he leaves them, and us, with this two-fold promise: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Later, his disciple, Peter would write, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12)

Slide1What lessons can we learn from these two sections of scripture? First of all, trouble in this world should not surprise us. It doesn’t surprise God. In fact, Jesus has already been to your tomorrows. He’s seen the struggles. He’s seen your failures and the failures of those who have hurt you.  He’s not surprised by any of this in the smallest sense of the word.

The second lesson is that He’s already taken care of things. We should be prepared for tough times this side of heaven. Times in which we will fail, or be hurt and misunderstood. There will be times we feel completely defeated. But take heart. Jesus has overcome and through his power working through you, you will overcome too!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for your promise to see me through what lay ahead. I’m scared, confused and lonely. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to be an overcomer regardless of what I face today. Amen.


Directornotes

After 5 years, the countdown has begun for the return trip to Vietnam. As of this writing there are 20 days until 6 of our 8 members depart for Ho Chi Minh City (2 of our members are leaving early to celebrate their anniversary in MY favorite beach town, Nha Trang, they will meet us on the day we arrive in Saigon.) This seems like a good time to fire up the blog for those who would like to keep tabs on our adventure.

Our team gathered for a Vietnamese meal at our house a week ago Sunday, and we are all looking forward to working and growing together. I will probably blog a couple of times before we leave to set the scene and introduce our traveling companions. Thanks for reading!

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“This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” (2 Timothy 1:6)

OSlide8ur family loves to camp. It’s always amazed me that it doesn’t matter how hot the weather is when camping, you always want a camp fire. Weather only determines how much wood we stack on the fire and how close we sit. Cold weather equals lots of wood and close sitting. Hot weather keeps the flames low and the chairs at a distance. Campfires are a requirement, not an option when we camp!

One of the frustrating things about camping is when we struggle to get the campfire burning. On one occasion we went to gas station in the town we were camping near to get some firewood. I’m not sure what kind of wood it was, or if it was really wood for that matter! However, we were told it was good, dry wood so we made our purchase and headed back to camp. For the next hour we tried to light that fire. We coaxed it, we fanned it, we used lots of lighter fluid (sorry for that admission camping purists and Boy Scouts) but the best we could get was a smoldering mess.

Smoldering campfires are neither useful nor pleasant. Sometimes our faith life is like that isn’t it? Try as we might, we just don’t seem to get on track for God which makes us doubt our ability to live the Christian Life and perhaps, even doubt God’s existence or ability to help us.

In his second letter to his young pastor/friend Timothy, the Apostle Paul is nearing the end of his life. He looks ahead and realizes some of the struggles that lay ahead for him in life and ministry. So, in an effort to encourage Timothy, and us, he writes: “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” (2 Timothy 1:6)

Paul’s words to Timothy work for us as well as believers in Jesus Christ. During those times when life seems to be dealing us cruel blow we need to ‘fan the flames’ of our faith. Go back in time to remind yourself of how much Jesus loves you. Remember that no matter how much you have failed him; no matter how many times you’ve rejected him; no matter how long it’s been since you’ve talked with him in prayer or visited him at church, he loves you and forgives you. Jesus wants a vital, vibrant relationship with him.

Paul goes on to tell us an added benefit of fanning the flames of our faith. When we fan the flames of our own faith we become vibrant believers, just like a fire becomes vibrant when we fan those flames. People can’t ignore a campfire that is vibrant and they won’t be able to ignore the change in you either.

Isn’t it time you ‘fanned the flames’ of your faith? Re-kindle the love you once had for him. His love for you hasn’t dimmed one bit!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I confess that my love for you has waned as I’ve forgotten just how much you love me and how little I deserve that love. Empower me through your Holy Spirit to burn with a new passion for you. Thank you that when my love wavers yours remains the same. Amen.

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