peace, darkness, still, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Noise: Allowing the Lord to Carry Us Towards Ultimate Peace

It is difficult to truly find stillness with all the noise surrounding us. In the darkest of seasons, the Lord will carry us towards His ultimate peace. 



How I longed for the feeling of peace. To be able to sit in stillness and feel the Lords comforting arms wrap around me like a warm blanket. To have peace of mind, knowing that we can put all of our burdens at the feet of Jesus. Acknowledging He will carry me through the darkest of seasons, was something foreign to me.

It is a difficult task to find peace of mind with all the noise in today’s world. We are constantly being pulled in many directions, sometimes all at once. Our minds never quiet long enough and our bodies are never still enough to feel the full presence of peace.

It is difficult to truly find stillness with all the noise surrounding us. In the darkest of seasons, the Lord will carry us towards His ultimate peace. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #peace #stillness #darkness

Noise

I remember moving into our new home nestled on 3 acres away from the city noise. Once we were all moved in and the house was quiet, I heard this loud ringing in my ears. I couldn’t shake it. My husband couldn’t hear it, but it was loud as day to me.

Come to find out I have the condition called Tinnitus. Tinnitus is a chronic ringing in your ears and it affects 1 out of 5 people. The quieter it is the louder the ringing is. So, over the years, I consumed my days with being a self-proclaimed busybody. I overcommitted, overextended, and became overtired. I did everything to drown out the ringing in my ears.

Darkness

Then the ringing was replaced with anxiety, depression, and voices telling me that peace didn’t exist. So, I controlled my environment. I surrounded myself with validation that what I was doing was the norm. My family suffered, my health suffered, and I was truly suffering.

I had nothing left in my tank. My cabinet was filled with orange medicine bottles to help me stay overextended, but the Lord spoke to me and said, “It’s time for you to be still.”

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

Stillness

For someone like me who is wired to constantly keep moving, sitting still was not on my task list. He demanded it because His love for me was stronger than anything I had planned for the week. I had a hard choice to make. I felt like I had to slowly detox from the life I was living at the time.

There were days my anxiety was so overwhelming that I was literally on the floor. But I was determined to change. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I knew His plan for me was far greater.

Peace

I am learning that it’s not just about sitting still. It’s also about being present; ready to receive what the Lord has in store for me. He shows us every day the beauty that He created for us, but we often are too busy to see it. The more I sit and surrender control, the more peace I feel. The more peace I feel, the closer to the Lord I feel.

I remember the day that I felt it…

It was an unfamiliar calming feeling that washed over me. It was like I was looking through a lens and I could see the beauty in the sunrise. I felt a huge sense of gratitude for painful experiences that led me to new beginnings. Tasks that would have seemed daunting made me feel excited and hopeful. That is where I realized the Lord was showing me true peace; His peace.

God shows us every day the beauty He created for us, but we often are too busy to see it. The more we sit in stillness and surrender control, the more peace we will feel. Click To Tweet

It is difficult to truly find stillness with all the noise surrounding us. In the darkest of seasons, the Lord will carry us towards His ultimate peace. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #peace #stillness #darkness

Kari Shea


I am a mother of 2 amazing daughters, a wife, a friend, and the real deal. I am a child of God who is messy, honest, and loved. I am a firm believer in rewriting your story even if there is a ton of typos. 

-Nicole James, Artisan Director of Oh Lord Help Us

abide, obedience, peace, striving, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Posture: The Difference Between Striving and Obedience

Outwardly, striving and obedience may look exactly the same. It is the posture of our hearts that determine if we are acting with confidence. 



The week was spent running errands, making phone calls, meeting with other people, processing what was gained from the meetings, making stuff, prepping meals, laundry, loving on children, correcting children, loving on children more. Tiring? Yes. Peaceful? Actually, yes.

The following week followed the same pattern: On the go, checking stuff off the list. But it felt different. Everywhere I turned I seemed to be hitting a dead end. Nothing was going smoothly. Instead of tired and peaceful, I was exhausted and frantic. Outwardly, my actions looked exactly the same. Inwardly, I was drowning.

Outwardly, striving and obedience may look exactly the same. It is the posture of our hearts that determine if we are acting with confidence. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Striving

I can drive myself bonkers and wear myself out striving to do good things, giving things, ministry things. But if it is not what God wants me to do, or at the time He wants me to act, then it is the wrong thing and my work will not be fruitful. If I am striving to make things happen in my time and in my way, then I have made my ministry about myself.

Striving leaves us looking for the next win, the next pat on the back, the next recognition. More than likely, we are looking to fill a void within ourselves, rather than serving out of an abundance.

Striving leaves us looking for the next win, the next pat on the back, the next recognition. More than likely, we are looking to fill a void within ourselves, rather than serving out of an abundance. Click To Tweet

Obedience

Rather than striving, we are to be obedient. Obedience may not bring any recognition from people. It will, however, bring us closer to our Lord. Only His love and affirmation will sustain us. Praise received from people runs empty very quickly. Trust me, as a self-proclaimed “Approval Junkie,” I know.

Obedience doesn’t mean everything is suddenly simple. God still calls us to move forward. But our spirits are calm because the source of our energy is coming from Him. We are not mustering the energy from within ourselves.

Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.

John 14:21, NLT

Posture

On the outside, striving and obedience can look very much alike. The difference lies within the posture of our heart. If we give, and do, out of our own will-power then we are going to end up depleted, exhausted, and burnt out. But, serving from His power and out of abundance leaves us fulfilled and at peace.

The only way to serve in this manner is to abide in His love. He is the source of our love to others. He is where our focus has to remain. And He is who brings us fulfillment and peace.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

John 15:4, ESV

Are you striving, or obeying? It is a daily acknowledgment we each must recognize.

Outwardly, striving and obedience may look exactly the same. It is the posture of our hearts that determine if we are acting with confidence. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

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Peaceful: Looking to God for Our Source of Peace

God is our only source of peace. He desires us to be peaceful. But, when we ignore His direction and try to create our own peace we end up in chaos and confusion. 



Finding peace in my life was a long journey. Throughout my late teen and early adult years, I found myself in a constant fight for a peaceful life. For three years I was with a man who knew all the right things to say and do but only at a surface level.

On the outside, we were a great couple. Everyone thought we had it made. This could not have been farther from the truth. At the beginning of this relationship, I was passionate about my faith and my actions reflected my love for God. I was heavily involved in Church, I had a solid quiet time, and I had true joy.

God is our only source of peace. He desires for us to be peaceful. But, when we try to create our own peace we end up in chaos and confusion. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Future Peace?

As time progressed the relationship did not help me grow but instead I shrunk. Quiet time ceased, I was not as involved at Church, I was not living a Godly lifestyle. Do I blame him? At some level, yes. He isolated me, he kept me from pursuing my passions. He was abusive. While I blame him I mostly blame myself. I should have seen how toxic the relationship was, I should have fought for my faith, for my God. I should have let my peace come from God instead of letting a man control, isolate, and dictate my life. He is not a bad person. He is damaged, immature, and did not know how to love.

During the last year and a half of that relationship, peace was non-existent in my life. I knew that the relationship was not right, but I so desperately wanted marriage and children and because of that I took his ring. Feeling as though I was making a mistake I went forward and said yes to him. I thought that marriage and children would bring me the peaceful life I desired.

I finally came to the realization that to be peaceful we have to look above. When I came to this conclusion I knew what I had to do. I had to end the relationship. After the decision was made I felt an overwhelming peace come into my life. I have not once doubted that I made the right choice. The decision I made was from God and it gave me peace and rest. The peace I felt was so pure and so divine that for the first time in a long time I felt like I could finally breathe again.

Finding Peace Through God

There are so many things that can steal our peace, for me it was an abusive relationship; for you, it may be a draining friendship or an unfulfilling job. In our culture, tranquility is rare. We are constantly bombarded with news of wars and riots. Everywhere we turn things seem the opposite of peaceful. It is in the world around us and it affects each one of us on a regular basis.

We see the lack of peace and at times we feel a lack of calmness. Scripture is clear that our peace needs to come from Him. The world cannot give the peace He gives. Anytime we look to worldly things, we are going to be disappointed. God does not want us to live a life that is void of peace and for that reason, we need to go to Him as our source.

I am leaving you with a gift– peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.

John 14:27, NLT

How to be Peaceful

Jesus is the Prince of Peace and ultimately, we must find our peace in Him. Scripture is clear and it tells us that peace can only come when we pray. We have to talk to Him. Communicate with Him. We must daily choose to give our lives over to him. He is our provider and our supplier of peace. When we follow His call in our lives, we have no choice but to rid ourselves of worry. To feel at peace.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7, NLT

Ignoring His Call

For a long time, I ignored all of the signs that God was showing me about my relationship. He was making it abundantly clear that the peace I was seeking could only come from Him. He also tried to show me that I would not feel calmness until I followed His call.

A lot of times, we tend to want to stick to our own agendas. We desperately want to have control over our situations and for life to go according to our plan. When we do this, we surrender our peace. We have to listen to what God tells us and to submit to His will. He speaks peace to us when we are faithful. If we put our trust in Him, we will receive peace in abundance.

I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways.

Psalm 85:8, NLT

We desperately want to have control over our situations and for life to go according to our plan. When we do this, we surrender our peace. Click To Tweet

God is our only source of peace. He desires for us to be peaceful. But, when we try to create our own peace we end up in chaos and confusion. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

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Holding Fast: Letting Go and Allowing God to Guide Toward Peace

How do we respond in the unexpected disappointments of life? We must learn to let go of our natural responses. Holding fast to God, while He guides us towards peace. 



We find by losing. We hold fast by letting go.
We become something new by ceasing to be something old.

Frederick Buechner

Letting go, so we can hold fast? This is a paradox I can definitely relate to recently…

How do we respond in the disappointments of life? We must learn to let go of our natural responses. Holding fast to God, while He guides us towards peace. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

The Unexpected

Five months ago, when my husband and I made the decision to transfer our lives from Louisville, Kentucky to Wake Forest, North Carolina, we could not have foreseen the crazy chaos that accompanied the last week leading up to our move. Nor could we have known that we would be attempting to outrun hurricane Florence as we drove across the mountains of West Virginia.

Believe me, by the time we stopped to sleep a few hours into the journey, our excitement of living closer to our grandchildren was momentarily overshadowed by crushing weariness. Holding fast to God still seemed like a given…

Who knew that it would take an extra U-Haul truck to hold forty-six years of marriage? (What’s the meaning of purge, again?) Who knew it would take 4 days and exhausting our friends and family to load the two trucks?! (And that doesn’t count the 2 weeks of packing.) Who knew the moving truck would bust a hole in our driveway, which delayed loading?

…In Disappointment

Thankfully, we were unable to see the little foxes that were waiting to eat our vines, (Song of Solomon 2:15). Otherwise, the discouragement may have thwarted everything…because the mini-catastrophes didn’t stop once we arrived. Due to Lady Florence, the banks froze all mortgage funds to the Carolinas. Canceling the close of our new home and delaying the moving trucks 5-7 days.

Up to that point, I had been taking it all on the chin, staying positive, grateful for God’s goodness and our friends, thankful for safety. For some reason, the last news update about the moving truck triggered a short-lived meltdown for me and the angry tears flowed. (My daughter-in-law said it was about time; she was getting worried about me NOT having one!)

Holding Fast By Letting Go

All of a sudden, I realized how easily my heart pulls away from holding fast to my Provider. Especially when my plans continue to go awry. While the Spirit of God has matured me to be able to handle some hiccoughs and delays, through many years and painful situations, this was one blow after another. I had reached my limit, or as Psalm 107:27 honestly states, I was at my wit’s end. I had to let go of my idea of what should happen so that I could hold fast to my Lord and to whatever He had planned for us. His vision is clearer than mine.

Hear me, I believe God understands when I feel disappointment or sadness or anger. He isn’t intimidated or surprised by any feelings I may experience. In fact, He created all of us with feelings. However, when I use those feelings to express doubt concerning my Father’s provision for me, then I am questioning His character, which is sin on my part.

When I grip my plans tightly in my fists, insisting they happen according to my timetable, rather than holding fast to Him, I am heading for my own personal chaos. However, if we will cry out to God from the midst of our disappointments, foiled plans, storms of life, etc., He will rescue us…time and time again.

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.

Psalm 107:28-30, NIV

God will Guide

I could weep when I slip away and sit before my Father, meditating on His goodness during this move…during this small piece of our journey. No, as of this writing, we still haven’t closed on our house – and there is no set date. Our furniture remains sitting on a truck in a hub somewhere. Our lives are in limbo. But God will guide us to our desired haven. He will receive glory, honor, and praise in the midst of it- not because I have been a super-Christian (if there is such a thing)…

But because He is a Supernatural God.

When we grip our plans too tightly, rather than holding fast to God, we are heading for chaos. However, if we will cry out to God from the midst of our disappointments, He will rescue us...time and time again. Click To Tweet

How do we respond in the disappointments of life? We must learn to let go of our natural responses. Holding fast to God, while He guides us towards peace. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

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Value: Giving Worth to Ourselves, Others, and God

As women, we are prone to diminish our worth. When we rely on God, He changes our thoughts and actions to express value in ourselves, others, and Him. 



My early twenties have been nothing that I thought they would be. While there are accomplishments in my life I am immensely proud of (buying my first house, getting my first ministry job), most of my twenties have consisted of crazy things that I never would have expected to happen. They have also consisted of constantly de-valuing myself.

Twenty-four

I turned twenty-four this past week, officially entering my “mid-twenties”. There are so many things the Lord has taught me over the past four years, but I know that I have only scratched the surface. Also, I know that in the next four, He will teach me so much more.

I have been feeling like a light-bulb went on in my head. I seemed to wake up from a long sleep and realize I need to get my life together. They say when you turn twenty-five your brain is fully developed and it becomes increasingly difficult to change. That gives me one year. One year to change the things about myself that are holding me back. To learn how to value myself, advocate for myself, and take care of myself.

The Lord is teaching and challenging me more every day. And every day I feel like I am one step closer to who He has created me to be. Don’t get me wrong I have A LOT of growing to do and I will never be perfect, but I am excited to live in the truth of God’s grace and to live my life according to His purpose.

“Value” is the focus word that I have chosen to give myself for my twenty-fourth year. I want to value myself, value others, and most importantly value God. I know that the Lord has major plans for my next year of life and I am ready to value all the things he has for me.

As women, we are prone to diminish our worth. When we rely on God, He changes our thoughts and actions to express value in ourselves, others, and Him. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Value Ourselves

How can we value ourselves? That is the golden question, isn’t it? We know that we should and that God wants us to, but what does that look like? It means that we respect ourselves, we take care of ourselves. That starts with replacing the de-valuing lies with God’s truth. It means taking care of our bodies; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When we focus on that, we truly begin to know what it means to value ourselves.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.

1 Corinthians 6:19

Treasure Others

When we learn to value ourselves the next step is valuing others. This is a crucial part of what God has called us to and a life-giving thing to do. This can take form in many ways. From sending an encouraging text to a friend, to donating time to a non-profit organization. Treasuring others is important and can be life-changing.

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Romans 15:7

Cherish God

The most important part of value is valuing God. We must love God before we can value anything else. We must cherish His blessings, His presence in our lives, and His unwavering, unconditional love.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.

Matthew 22:37

God loves and values us, and in return we need to value Him, others, and ourselves. When we live up to this idea of value and act it out in our lives we have richer, more joyful, and more peaceful lives.

We must love God before we can value anything else. We must cherish His blessings, His presence in our lives, and His unwavering, unconditional love. Click To Tweet

As women, we are prone to diminish our worth. When we rely on God, He changes our thoughts and actions to express value in ourselves, others, and Him. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

All scripture is from the ESV Bible.
peace, love, shame, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, ministry

Peace: No Longer Living with Shame in God’s Presence

The everlasting love God lavishes on us through His Son is revolutionizing. We no longer live with shame, but have peace in His presence.



In high school I went on a trip with my youth group. We slept in sleeping bags on the floor of an attractive, comfortable church. It was located close to the inner city where we conducted back yard bible clubs during the day. Looking back, it seems silly to have driven several hours away to engage children in a different state when there were plenty who needed love in our own. But that’s beside the point.

During my excursion to the south, I grew rather chummy with a cute boy in my group. By mid-week I was feeling convicted about stealing away to the church’s nursery to make out. I Kissed Dating Goodbye, by Joshua Harris had just been published that year. Purity ring sales were skyrocketing among church-goers and girls everywhere were swearing off dating. Initially, I was in hearty agreement. I thought dating was a waste. Truthfully, I was pretty annoying about it. I remember mouthing off about a couple of 14/15 year-olds who had started “going-out” in our church. I pompously asked, “Where are they gonna go? They can’t drive!” You could’ve cut my sarcastic disdain with a knife. One of my best friends looked at me and said, “Oh shut-up, Emily!” I kept my opinions to myself after that. He did me a favor.

Ironically, there I was, only a few weeks later, confronted with cravings I’d never experienced before. The timing was completely inconvenient! Talk about embarrassing. The poster girl for no-dating wanted to be a relationship with a boy. It was in a season in my life where my faith was becoming my own and not just a borrowed one. Falling in love with Jesus was exciting! But temptation was knocking and I was searching for ways to have it all. Proverbs warned me about how pride comes before a fall.

Anyone who’s ever been to a church camp knows Thursday night is an emotional one. Our youth leader had purchased a trinket of some sort for every teenager. Taking his time, he passed out each item, sharing why it reminded him of the receiver. When he got to me, he handed me a small figurine of a baby looking up with a monumental pout on its face. He knew what I was wrestling with. Probably more fully than I even did at the time. With compassion in his eyes, he told me he knew I had some tough choices to make, but I could do all things through Christ who would give me strength.

God's everlasting love allows us to live without shame and live with peace. | Christian women ministry | Growing in faith | Spiritual growth | Encouragement

Shame…

Unfortunately, I had developed a wrong view of God and I wasn’t able to receive the encouragement appropriately. I felt scolded. Even more, I thought God was angry and disappointed in me. I knew better. The Old Testament was full of the same repeating story:

  • God instructs His children
  • They disobey
  • God gets angry and turns away
  • Then God has compassion and makes a new covenant
  • His people are restored

I didn’t know what I had to do to reconcile with God, but it felt overwhelming. The shame was crushing. I felt marked by sin in a way I’d never imagined. How long would God hide His face from me? Could I bear it?

Everlasting love brings peace…

If I could talk to 15-year-old Emily today I would tell her:

What you’re suffering from, dear one, is the effects of a performance-based relationship with your Creator. And your shame is a result of your wounded pride; not because you’ve grieved the heart of your Father. Jesus is your Lord, but not your Savior. Yes, God did say in Isaiah that He ditched His children and fell off the map for a while.

For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing anger for a moment, I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,’ says the Lord, your Redeemer.

Isaiah 54:7-8, ESV

The beauty is, Jesus was the embodiment of the everlasting love in Isaiah 54:8. God made a way to place all His overflowing anger on Jesus…forever. He hid His face from Jesus on the cross. So now, God doesn’t hide from us anymore. We have peace with God because of Christ’s sacrifice. There is never a moment where He cannot immediately be found because of the gift of His Spirit. Emmanuel, God with us. Like the prodigal son, all you have to do is return to Him. Show up. He is waiting, not with a wagging finger and a scowl, but with open arms and a smile on His face. Seek to understand the love God has for you. I assure you, you will not be let down.

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:9-11, ESV

But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5, ESV

We have peace with God because of Christ’s sacrifice. Click To Tweet

God's everlasting love allows us to live without shame and live with peace. | Christian women ministry | Growing in faith | Spiritual growth | Encouragement


The love of our God is fierce! Nothing is going to stop His pursuit of you!

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Hero: We Are Not the Main Character of this Story

God’s word is applicable to our lives, but this cannot be where we start. We must begin by acknowledging the true Hero of the story.



I grew up in a family that attended church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. I heard a lot of preaching. But, it was only until college I began to systematically study the scriptures for myself. It was stunning, what I began to discover. Well-meaning teachers had added information to the Biblical stories. I am not sure of their motives but I want to believe they were wanting to motivate a desire to make the Bible interesting or to promote a character trait they were hoping to emphasize. The hard truth was they made up details.

The one that was perhaps the most shocking to me was the story of Noah. I had heard over and over again about Noah’s impassioned plea to his neighbors to repent and believe and come on the ark. Over and over Noah’s neighbors laughed at him and denied that the rain was coming. Or so I was told. But, that’s not really how the story goes.

And those that entered male and female of all flesh went in as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in.

Genesis 7:16

Noah did not try to convince his neighbors. He did not try to defend God or discuss the coming rain. He built the ark and gathered his family and the animals and he waited for God to close the door.

That’s a pretty big difference.

God's word is applicable to our lives, but this cannot be where we start. We must begin by acknowledging the true Hero of the story. #GodsGlory #worship #hero

The Main Character…

And there were lots of other stories just like that. In fact, I even have had a bent for adding emphasis to certain details from the Bible and leaving other details out. My biggest problem however was even more subtle. I was reading the Bible always looking for application. How would this affect me? How would this scripture influence my life? What was God telling me to do and how could I be like the human character mentioned in this story?

The Hero…

While these are all good goals to wrestle with as we study God’s word, if it’s where we start, it’s pretty flawed. Just like those Sunday school teachers I had 30 years ago. The emphasis of every story is a hero. And that hero is God. He begins in the beginning and creates. He comes in the form of Jesus to be crucified and resurrected. And He returns again to come take his bride. Every story is whispering his name. Every story is declaring his glory. This is not new news to us. If we have spent any time in scripture, we know this. But we still don’t look for Him.

We look for us. And we come away from scripture more convinced that we don’t have what it takes (we don’t in the flesh), and we come away more discouraged and defeated. God’s word is active and living – a two edged sword. It is meant to divide us from our thoughts of lies and unbelief. Yet, we can’t be the hero. He has to be the hero of every page. He’s there. I will admit, I forget this. I forget this a lot. And when I remember who I am reading about and what He is capable of and whose I am… Well, I find my heart soaring and my lips praising and praying. I can’t help myself. As I meditate on his truths and on Him, I find peace, I find joy, I find hope. I can’t find hope in myself.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

If this has been an encouragement, please share the love with others…

The emphasis of every story is a hero. And that hero is God... Every story is whispering his name. Every story is declaring his glory. Click To Tweet

God's word is applicable to our lives, but this cannot be where we start. We must begin by acknowledging the true Hero of the story. #GodsGlory #worship #hero

Jon Tyson

rest, stillness, meditation, Oh Lord Help Us, women, ministry, encouragement

Stillness: Creating Oneness with God in Quiet Meditation

Stillness can be a daily habit to insure our whole being aligns with God. Creating oneness with God in our busy lives, becomes easier during quiet meditation.



Life is a whirlwind of happenings, appointments, activities, stuff. The world yanks us in many different directions and the multiplication of all of life’s intricacies, create huge “energy stealers”. In busyness, it can be incredibly difficult to focus in on God. At the extreme, it paralyzes our ability to even experience God. So, how can we overcome these pulls?

I recently wrote about rest and how rejuvenating our souls in the Lord gives us true energy. But, what should we do with that energy. Yes, the normal daily things come to mind… cleaning up messes would be a great use of it. However, I want to suggest one more step before we head off into our worlds of schedules and tasks… stillness.

Stillness can be a daily habit to insure our whole being aligns with God. Creating oneness with God in our busy lives, becomes easier during quiet meditation.

Confused Stillness

I’ve touched a bit in previous posts that I tend to be more reserved and introverted. For a long time, I thought stillness and quietness were one in the same. That may be true in the worldly realm, but spiritually, they are quite different. I am quiet and also distracted. Yes, I can pray while I do the dishes, or contemplate God while folding laundry, but that is not stillness. That’s multitasking.

Stillness can also be confused with rest. Stillness uses energy. Whereas, resting causes you to gain energy. When you seek rest in the Almighty, you are trusting Him to fill you with supernatural energy. Oppositely, stillness uses that energy to zoom in on God within us, to provide peace, clarity, and joy.

What Is Stillness?

Not to get all Hippie-Dippie on you, but it’s a tranquil activity which produces serenity and calmness within. Stillness is a complete focus on God inside of us. Our bodies, minds, hearts being completely still before the Lord. Stillness insures we are hearing God’s voice, feeling His presence, and His goodness is filling us. A meditation if you will. In order to truly meditate on something, you must have energy. Just like in any activity, you need the power to do it.

Now, meditation can be a taboo word in the Christian community. It’s usually has association with other religions or practices. However, in my research, I learned that meditation is not linked to any religion, at all. There’s actually science behind what happens. Our bodies physically benefit from this activity, and, ultimately, our souls.

Quiet Meditation

Yes, messes are all around us physically, but our minds are no different. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God didn’t have to push through all that clutter in order to speak with us? To have an unadulterated oneness with the Lord, could you imagine? We are humans, so, this isn’t possible. However, we can create habits that drive us towards oneness.

I’m not a yoga teacher and I have no schooling in the art of meditating. All I can give you is what I have personally learned…

Clean Space

I noticed that when I need meditation most, is when there’s the biggest mess. So, finding an uncluttered, completely clean part of your home may be difficult, but it’s vital. Yes, our eyes are shut, but our minds are not fooled.

Breathe

We all know that a few deep breaths can bring calmness and clarity, but slowed, controlled breathing for periods of time, really brings a nice detox to the blood stream and the mind.

Posture

I am a sloucher. If I don’t change this habit, I see back issues in my future. Sit up straight. Really be mindful of the posture of your body. Sit in a comfortable position that allows for pristine spinal posture.

Shut Out

One part of meditation is the practice of completely shutting out the world. This is really important. As a child of God, I have a calling to not be OF this world, but to allow God to transform me. If I don’t minimize myself in meditative habit, I cannot be changed.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Romans 12:2, NIV

Thinking

This is the hardest for me; to combat human nature… I think all of the time. It’s so important to push out all our thoughts and really focus on God. I try to focus only on one thing about God: the cross, a specific characteristic, God’s work inside of me (physically or spiritually), specific scripture.

Stillness can be a daily habit to insure our whole being aligns with God. Creating oneness with God in our busy lives, becomes easier during quiet meditation.

Hope for Stillness

Again, this oneness in the Lord is something only hoped for. However, stillness thins the line between hope and achievement.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

John 15:4, NLT

Jesus came to earth, lived as one of us. He saw our struggle then, and sees our struggle now. The world pulls us in so many directions; most dragging us away from our Father. Jesus knew this truth when He spoke those words. We cannot flourish in all we do, aside from God. Making stillness a daily habit insures our actions, attitudes, thoughts are saturated in God.

We cannot flourish in all we do, aside from God. Making stillness a daily habit insures our actions, attitudes, thoughts are saturated in God. Click To Tweet

Stillness can be a daily habit to insure our whole being aligns with God. Creating oneness with God in our busy lives, becomes easier during quiet meditation.

Refuge: Where Can We Find Solace in Times of Anguish?

Despair surrounds us. Trials abound. Where do we find refuge? Can we truly experience peace when we are feeling anguish?



I just got news that a friend’s cancer screening came back CLEAR. We are high-fiving and rejoicing all over Northern Virginia, and beyond! Several of us waiting and praying needed the win – to see God’s mercy displayed. I am crying tears of joy.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10, ESV

So much loss and heartache is swirling around in my sphere. I talked to someone earlier who feels like they’re fighting off despair with a baseball bat. We spoke about how we come into this world with nothing and we leave the same way. Everything we receive in life is a gift, but it is freaking painful when we lose them. It is difficult to believe we won’t end up humiliated if we place all of our trust in God.

Despair surrounds us. Trials abound. Where do we find refuge? Can we truly experience peace when we are feeling anguish?

But once you’ve experienced God, His presence is not something you want to be without. There is always more to discover about God. Still, it has to be personal. I can tell you my homemade chocolate pound cake with chocolate buttercream frosting is scrumptious. (And it is) But if you haven’t tasted it, how can you possibly know?

Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!

Psalm 34:8, NLT

When you lose another job, how can you not be perplexed? When your spouse cheats on you, or you have a miscarriage, how does it not absolutely crush you? Exactly how do you not give into despair when you’re sitting in a jail cell because someone lied about you?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

Psalm 46:1-3, NASB

Despair surrounds us. Trials abound. Where do we find refuge? Can we truly experience peace when we are feeling anguish?

Throughout my life God has been a refuge for me. He sustained me and brought me out of darkness. He restored my marriage from the brink of divorce. I’ve experienced His deep peace in times of anguish. The kind where you tune into yourself and realize, this isn’t natural. I should be way more upset right now.

God does not often clue me in ahead of time to His plan, but I know He is at work. I am familiar with His goodness. When I feel like I’m tottering on the edge of despair, I recall to mind how He has been my refuge in the past. Then I have unwavering hope.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.

Isaiah 26:3-4, ESV

What does it look like to make God your refuge?


If you have found this inspiring, share the encouragement…

Everything we receive in life is a gift, but it is freaking painful when we lose them. Click To Tweet

Despair surrounds us. Trials abound. Where do we find refuge? Can we truly experience peace when we are feeling anguish?

m wrona

brave, courage, courageous, tribulation, suffering, despair, peace

Brave: Having Courage Amidst Suffering

In the midst of tribulation, distress, and suffering, we don’t need to hide. Instead, we can be brave living with courage and complete peace.



Brave

What movie character comes to your mind when you think about someone who is brave? Is it an old movie or a newer one? I’m telling my age here, but Harrison Ford often played courageous roles, such as the president in “Air Force One” and Jack Ryan, the CIA analyst in the Tom Clancy-inspired movies. (Probably not a good idea to let him get in a plane these days!)

For many years, my son-in-law, who is a captain in the military, practically idolized the legendary thirteenth century Scottish hero named William Wallace; I’m convinced he wasn’t alone in his adulation. Wallace was played by Mel Gibson in the movie, (have you guessed it?), “Braveheart.” Grown men far and wide beat their chests and secretly fantasized about being William Wallace, or at the very least, saddling up and galloping to a bloody victory beside him. It’s a guy thing.

Recently, I read an article about not giving into fear as we age, but rather “staying brave.” The author related carefree activities she took part in as a young woman which she has been too fearful to do as an older woman, such as driving alone on a long-distance trip. Her insights are interesting; dancing in the rain, traveling a distance alone, walking in the dark, depending on the individual, may each require a level of bravery, but I am not convinced that what she is offering is the definition of being brave.

Brave is defined as possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.

Hm.

Courage is defined as the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear.

Ah, there it is; that’s what I am trying to put my finger on – the spirit within which enables a person to face the giant in the middle of the road we’re walking on.

Courage Amidst Suffering

In the past several days, as horror has soaked through our shock upon realizing the carnage one individual can wreak on so many lives, we have also learned that bravery is not a lost character trait in the twenty-first century, as many in my generation have begun to wonder. Countless selfless acts have been reported, some of which cost people their own lives while they protected others. First responders and police officers running toward the gunfire to steer people away from it, civilians risking their lives to lead others to safety; a husband giving his life to save his wife’s are only a few of the stories we have heard. We marvel at their courage and silently pray that we will be as brave should we ever, God forbid, find ourselves in similar circumstances.

I wonder why we are always numbed with shock when horrible things happen in this world? Thank God we can still be shocked, yes! However, it seems Christians have just as much trouble as nonbelievers grasping the evil byproduct the prince of this world foments…as though there remains within us a stubborn resistance to the truth that the Scriptures repeatedly spoke to us about evil. I John 5:19 states clearly that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. In Mark 7:20-23 (ESV) Jesus says (I’m talking red letters here) after expounding on a list of what defiles someone, “All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Lastly, as a final reminder that evil was here to stay until He returned, Jesus spoke:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33, ESV

Yes, Jesus was attempting to reassure His disciples, but also His future disciples – us. I love how the Amplified version expounds on this verse. It helps me tease out the richer meaning of the original words that get lost in translation:

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory is abiding.]

John 16:33, AMP

Final Thoughts

2017 has definitely been a year for tribulation, distress and suffering in America alone, not to mention other areas of the world where hurricanes, mudslides and wars are occurring. It can feel overwhelming to hear one tragedy on the heels of another, one appeal for help right after another one. What are we to do? Be afraid because the “end” is near, as some believe?…

It can feel overwhelming to hear one tragedy on the heels of another... What are we to do? Click To Tweet

Not according to Jesus. In truth, we can have complete peace in Him. In the midst of tribulation, distress, and suffering, we don’t need to hide or quake in our boots, but rather, Jesus told us to do the opposite of what seems to come naturally to many of us. He said to be courageous! ‘And while you’re at it, have some joy with that courage because I have overcome the world, folks, so what could you possibly be afraid of??’

And like William Wallace, strap on some armor…

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Ephesians 6:12-13 ESV

Be brave, sisters.


Encourage others in their pursuit of bravery. These notecards are a reminder that our world may be full of battles, but God has overcome the world!!

notecards, but God, encouragement

In the midst of tribulation, distress, and suffering, we don’t need to hide. Instead, we can live courageously and with complete peace.

Brian Cook