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Peace Within

Peace comes from within. There are some things that can disturb us and unsettle us. When the chaos outside gets big it affects our thinking, attitude, mood and outlook. How much our world affects us is up to us. If we can remain calm on the inside regardless of what happens around us, we can be at peace. Changing the circumstance can help but it doesn’t always mean peace. We think of a quiet meadow with sunshine and birds singing as being peaceful. However, if we take a frustrated angry person and put them in the middle of our peaceful meadow it will not bring them peace. The chaos comes from within. Of course, some people don’t like the meadow and would prefer to find peace on the 24th floor of a luxury apartment building looking over the city.
 
We accuse people of ruining our whole day. A change in schedule can change our thinking about everything. Nothing outside forces us to be frustrated, but we become frustrated or angry when we reach a certain point of change. How much change we can accept may depend on how tired we are or how much has, “Gone wrong”. We claim it as wrong when it is different from our expectation and plan.
 
We picture Jesus being calm on the inside while the storm rages all around him. He is calm as he touches a leper or a paralytic and heals him. The house may be so full that no on else can get in the door, but he seems to not be flustered even if some are taking the roof off above him to get one more person and their bed into the house. Jesus was focused more on the people, rather than the circumstance. The circumstance for them was horrible with disease or evil but he saw that as the reason he was there. He was there to create peace in their world by healing or bringing them to God.
 
Peace is one aspect of being filled with the Holy Spirit. It may be a test to see how well the Spirit is working in our lives. If we don’t have love, joy and peace, we are not using the Spirit as much as God intended. God has a peace that is beyond circumstance. It is not about him taking away problems or healing what is wrong. God’s peace is grace from all our mistakes. His peace is forgiveness from hurts we have caused or that have happened to us. The creator of all circumstance is able to take us to a place beyond circumstance and place within us his peace.
 
Terry
Friday, November 27, 2019

 


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Blessings in Odd Places

When is the last time we had a perfect day? Nothing went wrong all day. We didn’t spill anything; we didn’t have anything go wrong. No bills came in the mail. We just don’t have days where nothing is wrong. Most days are a mix of good and bad. When we pray to God, we expect he will fix everything and make it a perfect day. That doesn’t happen because God is blessing us, not trying to make life easy for us. He will give us blessings, but it is not all about us.
 
Even if one good thing happens, there will still be other things in our day that go wrong. When Jesus healed a lame person, he didn’t fix them dinner and pay their rent. He blessed them with healing, but they still had other issues they had to death with daily. Our life is a mix of good and frustrating. There are no perfect days. If we wait for the perfect day to happen, we will miss the blessings of God. God blesses in the middle of real life.
 
We must learn to see God in everyday life. For the blessed person, it is the card in the mail that tells of appreciation that lifts our spirit. However, there were also three bills in the same mailbox. We hardly notice the bills because of the joy the card brought. The unblessed person sees the bills as the primary mail with a card that the person probably didn’t mean. Was the card chosen for the words or was it just the picture on the front. They can’t see or realize a blessing because of their focus on the difficulties of life.
 
What do we consider a blessing? Is a blessing getting a million dollars on which we must pay taxes? A blessing may be cool weather after a long hot summer. It may be rain in the desert. Could we see a blessing if God gave one? If we can see his glory and the beauty of his creation, we have a chance at seeing the blessing God gives. We sing about blue skies and rainbows, but do we feel blessed when we see them? Flowers grow all around us. Sunset and sunrise still happen every day and sometimes they are spectacular. Walking in green pastures and being led by quiet waters is still a blessing from God even if it comes in the city park. For now, God blesses us in this world. There is a time coming when he will bless us in his world. Until then, we will be amazed at sunsets, and praise him for his mercy.   
 
Terry
Friday, November 22, 2019

 


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Peace in Danger

In the past few years we do see a rise in violence, and we worry that we may be in danger. Some are random shootings that occur where many people are injured. Some shootings occur in schools or churches specifically. There are still bombings and riots as well as people being targeted by police or gangs for violence. We usually don’t actually know them but there is enough news coverage where we feel like it is close to us. The anxiety level goes up with each incident reported making it feel closer to us.
 
How can we find peace when random incidents occur that we cannot predict? Just the not knowing makes us a little anxious. The truth is it has not happened to most of us. We are worried about something that has not happened and may not happen. If it does, there may be nothing we can do about it. We are more in danger from snakes, heart attack, auto accident, plane crash or just old age.
 
Can you remember years ago when the atom bomb had been dropped and we became fearful that someone would drop one on us? It was stated as someone has a button for a missile launch and they may push the button at any time. The reaction was to build bomb shelters and stock them with enough food to last for years. Movies were even made about this threat that would also add to the fear. It still could happen, but it has not yet.
 
We are in danger. We should not see that as a reason to fear. Danger is part of living. There are things that can end our life at any moment. Smoking, drinking, drugs, bad eating, lack of exercise and sin can all shorten our life or take it completely and yet we still willingly take the risk. Jesus lived with the threat that his life would end soon, but he also talked about peace. Danger does not mean a lack of peace. We can be at peace in the middle of our fragile life. God created us to have another life once this one has finished that will not be destroyed. Nothing can threaten that eternal life and it will be forever. Once we have eternal life we can be at peace. Something will happen to this physical life. No one gets out alive. It may be sooner or later. We can have the eternal life with God. Make sure the real eternal life we have is not in danger from sin or neglect. When we have that, we can be at peace.
 
Terry
Friday, November 15, 2019

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Finding Peace 2

One of the main things we want is to be at peace. We all have different ideas of what that would look like but most of the time it has to do with relaxing without worry or difficulty. Peace is the resolution of conflict in our life. We can take it to an extreme of wanting no conflict on anything but that is unrealistic. Peace is not being without opportunity and opportunity usually means effort and struggle.
 
When we declare a place peaceful it usually has no wind. The water has no ripples, and everything is a medium temperature. We think of peace as a time when everything is still, and nothing changes. If there is movement then there is possibility of being, “too…” something. However, we don’t want to live in a place where nothing happens, and we are stuck with the same old things day after day. We want progress and that can’t happen without change.
 
Fear is one of the major causes of lost peace. There is no peace when we are afraid of disaster. Whether it is a storm or a battle the fear comes, and we lose our peace. It can even happen with the ordinary things in life. We become anxious that we won’t find a parking place. We are anxious that the store will run out. Even the normal things we do every day turn into fears.
 
Jesus answer to fear and finding peace is faith. On several occasions he wonders at his disciples’ lack of faith. He expects them to believe that God would take care of them. That does not mean we can create our own chaos and expect God to fix it time after time. To find the peace of God we must follow his instructions and believe his protection. We are not able to make our own peace. Realizing that God can make everything work together for good gives us hope. When we want God’s purpose and follow his will, we find peace in what happens. When we let God decide the next step, we can be sure he is big enough to take care of any situation.
 
Terry
Friday, November 8, 2019

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The Mission

When Jesus started his ministry, he made disciples. He called people to follow him and become like him. He did not choose the obvious people who already had the education and background in religion; he chose the ordinary people. He taught them and trained them to teach, heal and proclaim the message of the coming kingdom.  They took the time away from family and jobs to be disciples of Jesus.
 
We may not be able to take time away from jobs and family, but we can follow Jesus. Jesus does not want us to unplug from the world and lock ourselves away. He wants us to be disciples among the people. They will see what we are and have a chance to see the difference up close. If it doesn’t work for us, then why would anyone else want to follow Jesus? If having Jesus in our life makes life better, then they will see it clearly. We are the ordinary people Jesus would call. We are the perfect example of people who are on mission for Jesus.
 
The first part of mission is personal. We cannot send someone who is unprepared. Jesus did not send his disciples out right away but waited until they had been around him for a while. We prepare ourselves by first being Christians who know Jesus. If Jesus is not in our heart, we will not see the importance of mission. It is how Jesus reaches to the world.
 
Our influence is often small. We can’t reach the whole world. We can’t be the one in the foreign country converting or encouraging. That does not mean we cannot send someone else. In Acts 13 Paul and Barnabas were sent, but the whole church was not sent on the first mission. They prayed with them and encouraged them as they went. They sent them because that was who the Holy Spirit wanted. We are all to be involved in the mission of God, but we are not all sent to another place. We can be the ones who send. We can provide prayer and support for those who go. Mesa has been effectively involved in the mission of Jesus for many years. It is part of what makes us who we are. Today we pray and support the mission of God.  
 
Terry
Friday, November 1, 2019

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Living Above Anxiety

For many, anxiety can be crippling emotion that makes them unable to respond in a normal way. Our fear runs away with “What if,” scenarios that makes us cringe. How is this possible if we are a good person? We think good people don’t have problems. We can see others around us that have it easy. At least from our perspective we are unaware of the anxiety producing events that they face.
 
It is anxiety when nothing is wrong that Jesus warns against in Matthew 6. We worry about drink, food and clothes when we have full closets and refrigerators. Jesus claims God will take care of us. While we may see some people with less, they don’t want to give up the lifestyle that put them in that place. It is not an anxiety for them, it is a choice. They see it more as a freedom than an anxiety. Anxiety for them was having to go to work everyday and make enough money to support all the things they have chosen to live without.   
 
We have become anxious about being safe. We feel threatened by many things we see in the news. They may not be actual threats to us, but they were threats to someone somewhere. Because it happened to someone, we become anxious that it might happen to us. It is true that disasters will happen. Sometimes from weather and sometimes from other people. There will be situations that will cause anxiety. It is how we deal with anxiety that makes the Christian so different.
 
Jesus came to deal with anxiety. Some of it was anxiety over disease and Jesus healed many blind, lame and leprous people. He even raised three from the dead. His point was to trust God. We expect things to function where they were not intended to go. We are not created to live forever here. The early Christians endured persecution, weather, poverty, disease and learned to do it while praising God. Once we put anxiety in perspective, we are able to deal with the storm on the sea or going three days without food. Jesus saw the need in both situations and solved it for them. Jesus gave this promise, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14:13
 
Terry
Friday, October 25, 2019

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Criticizing the Good

One of the things we do best is criticize. We have ratings and numbers which could be a big compliment, but we only got 4.7 stars out of 5. Where did the other .3 go? Some will never give perfect score because then it gives nowhere to go if something better comes along. A waiter asked for a rating if it was a 10/10 but if it was any less than that don’t bother because his boss would consider he did something wrong.
 
Jesus had many critics. They were looking for something wrong in what he said or did that would disprove the idea that he was the messiah. When they couldn’t find anything they just kept looking. They were sure they would find something eventually. Even if we are perfect and never sin, we will still have critics who look for things wrong and accuse us. The world was created to be good but we have turned it into a place of criticism.
 
One of the things criticized most is church. The church is the people, not the organization, but the criticisms seem to be more about the way things are done. Many times the criticisms come from inside the church. Essentially it is the church complaining about itself for what isn’t doing well. If the complaint is from within wouldn’t the solution also be from within? Some are too busy doing good things to serve others to have time to complain. They can’t worry about the criticisms or they would never get anything done.
 
Is God a critic? Some would see his place as watching us to see if we do anything wrong and then punishing us for it. With a God like that no wonder we are critics. However, God is a God of grace and mercy answering prayer and working out ways for his will be accomplished through us. It only happens through his plan and his power. Worship is not a time of complaint against God and his people. It is a time of praise. If we criticize and praise at the same time, the praise is insincere and hypocritical. It is the good servant who uses what the master gives who is blessed with more. The one critical of God is no longer blessed. God does not criticize him back, he removes him. (Matt. 25:14-30)
 
Terry
Friday, October 18, 2019

 


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Feeling at Home

Sometimes we just don’t belong where we are. We are not used to the surroundings or the people and so it seems like we don’t belong. Belonging comes when we are familiar and we know the surroundings. Our house, “feels like home,” because we have spent a lot of time there and we are familiar with it. We know every chip in the paint and crack in the floor. It feels like home regardless of the things wrong. We accept all those things as just being part of where we live. We enjoy going places where they look for perfection, but it is not the same as home. We might even pay more to go to a place that has a bigger clean room, perfect swimming pool and room service, but it just isn’t home.
 
We value home because it is a place where we belong. We fit. They understand us. We don’t have to be perfect there. They know our struggle and even our failures. They are willing to allow us to be us. It is not just the place but the people at home accept us. They know our habits and they accommodate the quirks we have. They know how we like things and they will do extra just to be nice to us. We do extra for them also so they will feel like home is a special place.  
 
Some people don’t think of God as being in their home. They would feel uncomfortable if Jesus came to visit. They are not comfortable in church because they haven’t been there or been involved enough where it seems like home. To become familiar with a place and the people we have to share some memories. We need to understand the dreams and what they see in the future. There are core beliefs they hold, and we feel part when we share that common faith.
 
When God he adopts us as his children, we become part of the family of God.  We are not there just to visit but to be part of the plan and function of the family. To have a place means we are involved in the day to day things that happen. To be part of God’s family we listen to his word and learn about the people and opportunities where we can do things. It is the interaction of people and activities that make a place a home. When we are part of the family it is what we believe, think and do together.
 
Terry
Friday, October 11, 2019

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Trapped

We have all been stuck at some point with our car. It is either mud, snow, flat tire or being out of gas that holds us captive. We can’t get out. We didn’t intend to be stuck. We know how to drive, and we don’t intentionally drive into the ditch but somehow today we are in. It will take help to get us out. Somehow, we lost control and there is no way out.
 
An auto accident is not intentional but when we are caught in sin it is very intentional. Maybe we didn’t intend to be caught there but Satan does plan how to catch us. His efforts are to get us to the place where we can’t get out and we need help. He is counting on the fact that we either don’t know how to get help or we won’t ask. Asking would be admitting we were stuck. While it may not be entirely our fault, we did go there on our own. We lost control of our emotions, our actions and we said or did things we would never normally do. Sometimes people lied or we were accused, and we are stuck.
 
The good news is God already knew this was going to happen. It is like giving a teenager the keys to a car. At some point in their lifetime they will be involved in an accident. It may not be their fault, but they will be involved. They just have to know how to deal with it. The way we deal with sin is Jesus. Sin tries to make no way out, but Jesus has overcome sin and all that it has to bind us. Sin tries to make disaster, but Jesus has overcome the worst disaster of tortured innocent death. He offers to share his life and overcoming power with us.
 
With Jesus we can find freedom from sin and it’s hold on us. Jesus died to sin so that we would no longer live in it or be held by its power. (Rom. 6:2) More than that Jesus offers us a new life in him when we repent and are baptized to form a new covenant in him. We are brought into a relationship with God that is like being his adopted children. We can have freedom in that relationship. God is there to protect and care for us and we are no longer stuck.   
 
Terry
Friday, October 4, 2019

 


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Struggle is Good

The immediate facts are not the whole story. When we look at the facts of what happened whether it is long ago or recent events there are many other factors. The way we look at things changes what we think. When we realize evil is in the world it can be devastating. Actual evil is in the world around and we will encounter it. If we think it is in us and we are terrible and a horrible person, then we will not be in for a good day. If we think someone else is terrible, then the relationship we have with them will not be good. If we must deal with them every day it can affect our day as well.
 
If we realize there is evil in the world it can make everything dark. We can become afraid of what might happen and feel doom and disaster coming. If we understand God loves us and is in control of everything, we can believe that his love can overcome the evil in the world. It isn’t that the evil is gone but there is something so much bigger that allows us to deal with the evil. We trust God and believe he can handle everything better than if we were the ones telling him what to do. The fact that he loves us and demonstrates his love, brings a whole different outlook. God is able to set the limits and boundaries of what evil can do.
 
When we realize that God puts his Holy Spirit in us everything changes again. Not only is a good God able to deal with evil in the world, we are also. God has put his Spirit inside us so that we can deal with evil on a personal level. What happens is not just about the world around us, but also about the strength inside us. It is not just our own will, but the Spirit of God mixed with our spirit. It is the gifts of God and his power that allows us to have even more ability to deal with evil.
 
We teach our children to overcome the difficulties of the world. It would be worse for them if we took away all obstacles. They would have no strength or courage. We realize it is something they need to develop. We are there to help them through those things. We might wish that evil and bad things would just be removed and not exist. That has not happened yet but someday it will. For now, God wants us to deal with the evil around us. It is not going away, but God has provided strength for us to overcome the evil. He tells us to not be afraid but be strong and courageous in him. We are to overcome evil with good.
 
Terry
Friday, September 27, 2019
 

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Holy

What does it mean to be holy? There is only one divine being and we call him God. Holy exists because of God. Everything that is holy is because of him. He is complete goodness and love. He is purity and justice. He is described as light with no darkness at all. We have a hard time describing what that means to be that perfect, good, loving, and so we just call it holy. Because of that, holy also means to be set apart from all the lowly ordinary things.
 
There is a progression from most holy things that are in relation to God to ordinary and even to unholy. They are not holy like God, but they are holy because of God. God declares the Sabbath day holy at creation. It is holy because Holy God declared it. The firstborn is considered holy because he considers the firstborn devoted to him. He made the world and people so the first of everything belongs to him. Priests and prophets are holy because they serve a holy God. Israel was a holy nation because God had chosen them to be his. We keep his commandments and are to become like him and therefore we would be counted as holy.
 
Today we don’t see much recognition of what is holy. We are irreverent and don’t show respect for honor, glory or holy. Our lack of recognition does not diminish the holiness of God. It only makes it not appear in our circumstance. It is not just that God disappears if we don’t take him as holy. All holiness disappears in our life because it is all based on God. If the source of light, love and goodness is gone then so are those things.
 
When we do recognize and appreciate the holiness of God, it restores the order to everything. We recognize God as light, love, goodness and holy. That opens the possibility for all those things to exist in us because of our relationship with God. Worship is important because it proclaims a holy God in our life and opens us to holiness. Without God and his holiness, the best we can hope for is ordinary.
 
Terry
Friday, September 20, 2019

 


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Forgiveness Relationships

Jesus begins his ministry by asking people to repent because the kingdom of heaven is coming. He assumes they need forgiveness and asks for their repentance. The very first beginning message of Jesus was to talk about something intensely personal. Not only does he bring up their sins and mistakes he says they should be sorry for those and find forgiveness through redemption. He treats us all like we need forgiveness. We do. We could be embarrassed that Jesus knows, or we could us the strength of that relationship.
 
Why would God design our existence where forgiveness is such a big part of it? If everyone needs forgiveness doesn’t that sound like bad planning unless there is a reason why forgiveness would be important to everyone. Forgiveness is not correcting mistakes when there shouldn’t be any. Forgiveness is a relationship building experience that everyone should have. The same way that love or respect is part of developing relationships, forgiveness is important also.
 
What if we deny we need forgiveness? We have never done anything wrong. At least we have not done anything bad enough that forgiveness is necessary. How bad does it have to be before we need forgiveness? What God wants is for his people to be holy like he is. To be holy means to be without sin. It doesn’t mean to have never committed sin, but we no longer have sin. We have been forgiven. It is a way of living in relationship with God. He doesn’t want perfect, sinless, faultless, he wants forgiven. Will we accept a relationship based on forgiveness rather than perfection?
 
What are the closest relationships we have? Are they there because we are perfect? More likely they are the ones who know all our faults. They are not treated like company when they come over. We know we can trust them with our secrets. The relationship is close precisely because of the shared failures. We no longer have to pretend. They know our flaws and they love and accept us anyway. We can just be who we are. We don’t have to hide our thoughts and feelings even when they are not what they should be. Forgiveness and grace are immediate because the relationship is more important than perfection. God wants that kind of relationship.
 
Terry
Friday, September 13, 2019

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