Peace: Walking Through November

As I continue to read through Mark, I see the simplicity of how Jesus spoke of common, everyday life to shed light on deep truths.  For the moment, I’m stuck on the meaning of bread.  Bread has a very comforting way of fulfilling hunger and the hungry soul.  Jesus had compassion for the multitudes he spoke to.  After meeting their spiritual needs, He fed them bread.

Jesus fed 5000 and then awhile later, another 4000, with the loaves of bread on hand.  I imagine it was a sight to see — God’s plenty rising up in the baskets whenever the bread supply became low. I think about those holding the baskets and serving the bread.  I imagine they felt peace as the problem of hungry was solved.  They probably experienced gratitude for the shift from less to more than enough.  I am certain that I would have flooded with overwhelming joy to be able to give to others.  Peace.  Gratitude.  Joy.  It’s not at all a surprise that we experience peace and joy from carrying the baskets He asks us to.  Whether we have big or little faith, it is all wrapped up in our willingness to carry the basket.

Later, as Jesus and the disciples headed into the boat, Jesus gives them a truth about bread.  He says, Beware of the leaven of bread and the leaven of Herod.  Despite the miracle of feeding many with little, the disciples figure Jesus is making reference to the fact that they forgot to buy bread for their journey in the boat.  As an old friend of mine would say, Really?  Could the disciples really have thought Jesus was concerned about their lack of food or that they forgot to buy it?  Was it really that big of stretch for them to catch the spiritual meaning?

I’m stuck on bread because I think Jesus is saying something very powerful here.  Why do you reason because you have no bread?  Do you not yet perceive or understand?  Having eyes, do you not see?  And having ears, do you not hear?  And do you not remember?  Matthew 16.

I think about challenges in my life.  Struggles.  Times when I don’t understand.  Seasons of less.  Lack.  Pain.  Hurt.  Trembling.  The truth is I’m still here (with enough bread).  He’s always delivered the hurt to healing.  Trembling to peace.  Less to more.  But yet, every time I experience less and not more.  Pain and not ease.  Whenever I go from big picture living to lack of understanding, I crumble on the inside.  I figure there’s no more bread.

So, like the disciples, I sit in the boat with God.  Whose resources are beyond my comprehension.  And, I worry about no bread.  I ponder all of the mistakes I’ve made to contribute or cause the lack of bread.  I get numb to the miracles I’ve seen.  I get dumb to the metaphor of bread.

But, Jesus has compassion for me.  He knows all too well my physical and spiritual needs.  He knows that when He quiets my soul that I can understand.  Jesus wasn’t bothered by the disciples mistakes or what they felt they lacked.  He’s not necessarily trying to teach me about the leavening in bread.  He’s working towards a deeper meaning.  He’s pulling me away from things like the doctrine of hypocrites and false religion.   He’s pulling me towards truths to fill my hungry soul.


~week one~day four~

Overcoming the Fear of Pain and Joy

We fear the gamut of life’s difficult experiences. We fear deep love and of being alone.  We fear personal change but don’t want to stay the same forever.  We fear raising children, but most of us take the risk anyway.  We fear having an empty life and also being too busy for the little things.  We fear.

I like to be alone and find much of my peace in solace.  But if I look deeply at myself, I fear facing the trials and responsibilities of this world alone.  Alone is probably my biggest fear.  I acknowledge this, while at the same time, I know the promise that He never leaves or forsakes us.  We fear the spectrum of the human experience in a rather ironic way.

As my dad faced the end of his days, his favorite verse became He will never leave me or forsake me.  Deuteronomy 31:6.  I don’t know the depth of his fear of death.  But I saw pure strength and wisdom arise out of his conquest of fear.  The full verse says Be Strong and Courageous for the Lord your God goes with you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you.  When someone is with you for always, you can be strong and courageous.

Fear runs in and through what we see as pain and trials.  But it also runs in and through what we envision as our most precious joys.  Overcoming fear brings us both out of trials and into joy. Simple truths like He will never leave us or forsake us usher us right through fear.

What If…there were no Jesus?

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

What if there was no Jesus?

 My pastor raised this question during yesterday’s sermon, and answers just flooded my thoughts.

 There would be no heaven.

There would be no hope.

There would be no peace.

 Having been raised in a Christian home, Jesus has always been part of my life. But as I’ve gotten older, my problems and struggles have also gotten bigger. Job layoffs. A struggling economy. Dwindling investments. Life isn’t easy and sometimes it can be downright overwhelming. I cannot imagine not being able to pray. I cannot imagine not being able to lean on Him and hope in Him that despite my struggles, things can and will get better. He is my hope in this life. He is my friend when other friends let me down or when they cannot be there for me at that moment.

 Interestingly enough, our pastor brought up things I never even considered. There would be none of the great paintings we know like The Last Supper or sculptures like The David. Many of the great universities were established based on Christianity. There would be no schools. Or orphanages. Or charities.  The list went on and on. Many of the things in our modern life have roots that are borne out of a relationship with Christ.

As we are now officially into Christmas season, in the midst of the chaos of shopping for the perfect Christmas gift or decorating our homes in red and tinsel, or taking vacations to be with our family, let us not forget the true reason for this Christmas season. And let us not forget to celebrate the amazing love of a Heavenly Father who would knowingly sacrifice His Only son so that we each could know Him, too. Let us continue to have that spirit of Thanksgiving in our hearts through the holidays and into the new year.

 18This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

20As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

22All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

23“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!

She will give birth to a son,

and they will call him Immanuel,

which means ‘God is with us.’”  Matthew 1: 18-23

 Thank you, Lord, for the gift of your Son. Because of Him, we have hope. Hope on this earth, and hope for heaven. May our lives touch someone else  this holiday season so that they, too, may experience the wonder and blessings of your most Perfect Gift.




Choosing Joy in the Morning

By JMathis

Each morning, I groggily open my eyes, not knowing where I am or who I am. I am in the haze, where I simply have no context of the problems that are about to crash in over me. All I can think about in this sleep-wake limbo is how refreshing more sleep would feel in my warm, soft cocoon.

But within minutes, thoughts of this new day’s problems knock ferociously on the door of my consciousness. The stress of deadlines pulls me hastily out of my toasty bed. The demands and pressures of the day soon choke me fully into the cold world of wakefulness.

Another day, another dollar. Another day, more problems.

What a depressing way to wake up every morning. Have I always been such a Debbie Downer?

Lord, show me answers. Father, remind me of how to start my mornings right.

James 1:2-4  “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

Lord, I thank You that Your Word promises me opportunities to experience great joy.

Lord, I thank You that in this season of testing, that in this season of hardship, You are building me up and stretching me. You are pushing me to be more like You. You are challenging me to see joy–even in the desert.

Hebrews 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. “

Lord, I thank You that if I keep my gaze on You, You promise to trade my cross for joy. Thank You, Lord, that You died so that I could experience joy–joy at work, joy in my marriage, joy in my parenting, joy in my friendships. Joy in every realm of my experience.   

Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the LORD’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

Lord, I thank You that Love Never Fails. That it is Your love that consumes me every morning, and not my problems. That each morning, You are there, waiting to flood my day with mercy, grace, compassion, faithfulness…and joy.

Lord, thank You for my promise of joy. Thank You for this new day of experiencing even more joy.

Lord, thank You for my cocoon of unspeakable, unsurpassed, unimaginable joy, where I can stay, surrounded by Your love. Safe from problems, free from fears, delivered of worries.

Lord, this morning, I choose joy.

This morning, I choose You.