Are You God’s Peacemaker?

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:13-18

This passage of scripture really spoke to me. We are in a time that things do not always seem peaceful. We have an ongoing pandemic. There are protests and rioting which are meant to be peaceful but are far from it. Within my own personal life there have been a number of deaths due to mental illness that are tragedies. This world seems far from peaceful. But this unrest and discord is not from God. He works through it. He brings glory to himself through it but the underlying unrest, death, despair and conflict is not of God.

This passage today was a good reminder that God’s spirit gives us wisdom that is pure; peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. When we as Christians are walking by the spirit, listening and obeying God then our actions and words should be pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, and sincere. I have to admit that many times my words are far from these things. And even worst my thoughts. It is often a struggle inside myself. For my greatest battlefield is inside me.

So often we want to solve the worlds problems. This is not necessarily bad but the greatest way to solve the worlds problems is to start with yourself. We ourselves have to be pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, and sincere. Otherwise we will be causing the worlds problems rather than fixing them. God often works and moves in this world through us his children. When we are pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, and sincere we will be reflecting God’s wisdom to others.

Given we are in a pandemic with forced social distancing, quarantining and much isolation let’s use this time wisely to be more introspective. To examine ourselves for purity, peacefulness, compassion, submissiveness, mercy, and sincerity rather than trying to fix what is out of our control. Our world needs more peacemakers. Let’s all work to be God peacemakers.

God’s Code is for Safety

I was recently watching a home renovation tv show. I very much enjoy these home renovation shows, sometimes I even get good craft ideas. Anyway at one point in the show someone had a design element idea for the stairs. I had to admit it was a neat idea. They brought the idea to the person in charge of the project and they were like that is a good idea but does it meet the code? It was a cool idea but it did not meet the standards set by the governing authorities for safety. So good idea but it could not be done.

When I think about the Christian Faith there are the two sides. On one side we have freedom, we no longer have to live by the strict law that was set in the Old Testament rather when we walk by the spirit we live in freedom as we love God and neighbor. But living by the spirit does not mean that we have no code. For there are still very much a code we live by for it is what provides us safety, accountability and guidance on how to effectively live by the spirit, love God and neighbor.

In the Old Testament there was the 10 commandments but also a string of religious law. Many things where considered unclean. There were many rules and codes. Then Jesus came, died, rose again and establish a new law founded on grace and love. We as Christians have the opportunity to live by the spirit, love and grace in this new covenant. But the Bible and the body of Christ still gives us a code of standards that help us to know whether we are living by the spirit. This code is not meant to chain us rather keep us safe. Much like in the renovation show, some ideas we think might be great ideas may not be safe. The Christian code very much does the same for us believers.

One reason we need the body of Christ, ie the church, is to help us with this code. One reason we need to know God’s word in the Bible is it helps us know God’s code. We as Christians are free but our freedom should be used to love, help and serve. Not harm. We need the code to help prevent harm and effectively live by the spirit.

The Raging Wind of Uncertainty

As much as I like to have a map, detailed plans and a sense of certainty in life unfortunately my life is often far from any of those things. For me in particular I dislike uncertainty. It easily causes me to feel out of control, anxious and more likely to panic. The unknown is scary. The uncertainty gives a certain level of fear. Overall it is stressful. Some people easily thrive on uncertainty. They like the adrenaline rush. The adventure. I on the other hand prefer all my little ducks to be in a row. But life often throws us twists and turns. We often feel like we are being tossed and thrown this way and that way by a raging wind. Life is often not as certain as we wish. Similarly if life deviates from the plans we have made, then we often do not handle the fall out well. Or at least I do not handle it well.

I have had to come to terms with the fact that nothing in life is ever certain other than God and his plans. I may think I know what God’s plans are for my life but let’s just say I am often completely blind. I may be uncertain of many things but God is certain of all things. My job is to abide in Jesus. That is the key to God’s plans coming to fruition in our lives. For in comparison to God’s wisdom, understanding and ways we are all blind beggars. But as a blind beggar if we humbly come to our Heavenly Father asking for his direction, wisdom and for his will to be done in our lives we can rest in the fact that we may be blind, we may be uncertain but our Heavenly Father sees all, knows all and understands all.

I do not need certainty in my life. For any certainty I creat for myself is false. I trust in the one true God who is certain of all things. I cast my worries and anxieties I feels from uncertainty on Jesus for he is my good shepherd who guides those who call on his name. So if you are struggling with uncertainty, call on Jesus. Trust that your Heavenly Father has the answer. Praise him, worship him and abide in him. He we see you through the raging winds. Amen.

No One is Born Holy

I was working on a little art piece the last couple of days. I was not sure what I was supposed to do with it. It started as a scrap of cardboard used in the shipment of something. Basically it was trash but it kind of looked like a ladder so I decided to keep it and make something out of it. Here is the finished product:

Through the process of figuring out what to do with this would be trash I started to think about the fact that no person is born holy, well other than Jesus I suppose. Babies are born a lot of things but Holy is not one of them. They are born naked. They are born innocent. They are born adorable. They are born helpless. But no one is holy. So is true in our Christian walks. When a Christian is born they are a lot of things but Holy is not one of them. Holiness is something that develops within us as we mature in Christ. Holiness is a product of the Holy Spirit working in us. Holiness is a result of sanctification.

It made me think about the times in my life where holiness was not being produced. Similarly it made me think about other people I know that claim Christianity but the product of holiness seems absent. It has made me wonder why this happens? Basically it is the question of if someone is a born again Christian why would they not be maturing like we as Christians all should be doing. It is like a child who growth is stunted. In medicine we give such children the name, “failure to thrive.” So why is it that we have so many “failure to thrive” Christians?

By working on this would be trash and turning it into a ladder art piece I felt like I was able to understand how God produces in us holiness so that we are thriving Christians.

It all starts with faith. Through faith in Jesus and baptism which is an act of faith we receive the holy spirt that dwells inside us. The Holy Spirit will often convict us of sins within our lives. When we repent from those sins and turn from our sins we are able to receive the grace and healing offered to us through Jesus. This leads to holiness. This is a repetitive process within our lives. It never should stop. The key for this process and for us Christians to mature is to abide in Christ. For when we do not abide in Christ, we are not connected to the vine which feeds us the Holy Spirit.

No child of God is born holy. Holiness is the product of abiding resulting in the repetitive process of faith followed by repentance leading to holiness. If this is not happening in your life then most likely something is wrong. I would ask the question, are you abiding in the vine?

Putting On Christ

I am very much enjoy the pace of my current life. Given the quarantine, my unemployment and me saying goodbye to my medical career I have a lot of time on my hands. Don’t worry I stay busy. I am not idle in the least. Given my abundant free time I have very much enjoyed starting my days with a cup of coffee, prayer and worship. God makes things new each day. Similar each day is a new opportunity for us to “put on Christ” and walk by the lords commands and ways rather than our own selfish desires. By starting my day with prayer and worship I find it easier to “put on Christ”. Similar I find life more joy filled, peaceful and overall positive. It does not mean I do not encounter difficulties but it seems like I am better equip to deal with the difficulties in ways that are glorifying to God.

As much as I have enjoyed this time period not all seasons of my life have been this way. While in residency I often had a jam packed schedule. Some rotations I had to be at the hospital at 4 am thus my bedtime was between 7 and 8 pm. I was stressed at the max. I was exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. Let’s just say I did not have the time or energy to start my day with a cup of coffee, prayer and worship like I do right now. Life was hard and in my exhaustion I found it challenging to “put on Christ” when all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep for a week. You do not need to be a medical resident to experience the challenges of the demands of daily life. Whether it be work, children or something else our lives often have seasons that are just busy. In these times it can be challenging to “put on Christ”

But we can “put on Christ” even in our busyness. For it does not take an hour of quiet time with the lord to “put on Christ.” The busy times in our life can sometimes be the most fruitful. When you are exhausted and frustrated with a situation and you wish you could just yell at your boss you can chose to “put on Christ” and respond with love, respect and patience. When you come across someone else struggling and you think I do not really feel like dealing with that right now you can choose to be a good friend who listens and encourages someone else you are “putting on Christ.”. Similarly it only takes 10 seconds to say a little prayer. It only take 10 seconds to read and meditate on a little scripture to help turn your eyes back on Jesus. It only takes 10 seconds to acknowledge you may be busy and exhausted but God’s provision has never left you.

But I am also reminded that Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.

If life has become burdensome and you are at your limit it is ok to come to Jesus and let him carry you. It is ok to let some things in life go so that you can better receive God’s love and provision. For sometimes we need to let other people “put on Christ” on our behalf so that we to can receive God’s love and kindness. If you are at your limit maybe God wants you to let some things go and let some other people in who are willing to “put on Christ” for you.