Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What Is Stealing Your Peace?

What do you think of when you hear the word “peace”?  

It might be the peace sign made popular in the ’60’s.  It might be total silence, or some might see a picturesque scene of nature.  The dictionary equates peace with tranquility.  Tranquility is defined as “being free from agitation of mind or spirit; free from disturbance or turmoil”.  Now, that sounds good.  Wouldn’t it be nice to go through life with no agitation, disturbances or turmoil?

Life isn’t easy.  It just isn’t, and just because you give your life to Christ doesn’t mean that everything is going to start being lollipops and rainbows.  However, one big difference between a believer and a non-believer is the way difficulties are dealt with.  That comes down to one reason.  We, as believers, have the Holy Spirit living in each of us, and He is a provider of peace and strength.

God, our Father, will give us the strength that we need to get through each day, and that will result in living a more peaceful life.  We have to strive for it though.  It won’t just be dropped into our laps.  The main thing we need to do is give up our power and start to become aware of the things that steal our peace.

What steals your peace?  
  • comparisons
  • competitions
  • judging or being judged
  • anger
  • regret
  • worry
  • blame
  • guilt
  • fear

That is a list of ugly words that will not bring peace into your life, but instead agitate and irritate and cause turmoil in your life.  

Living a life where you’re constantly judging others or yourself in some kind of competition and comparison game will never allow you to be happy.  

Putting yourself in situations with people who anger you is not good for you physically or spiritually.  

Many believers tear themselves up with regrets over their past, blaming themselves or maybe other people for the mistakes they made.  That guilt can be overwhelming and heavy.  

Worrying about tomorrow and being afraid of what will happen next are things that will overtake your thoughts and be blown out of proportion in your imagination.  

So..what are you going to do about it?  Look UP instead of around.

When your co-worker gets the promotion instead of you, look UP and believe that there’s a reason for it, and that you are needed where you are.  

When a conversation begins to take a sharp turn toward an argument, look UP and walk away until you’ve had time to calm down.  

When you see someone from your past and that nagging tug of regret starts to form in your gut, look UP and believe that Jesus took that away from you.  He went through an enormous sacrifice to forgive you of those mistakes, we have to forgive ourselves too. We just have to.  

When your kid is struggling with life or there’s a big change coming in your future instead of letting that take the form of frustration that can affect your relationships, look UP and believe that He has it under control, and frankly, He doesn’t need your help in that area.

Sounds easy, right? A lot of times it isn’t.  Even the disciples who lived with Jesus and learned from Him on a daily basis doubted sometimes.  It takes strength to look up instead of around.  It takes strength to accept things for what they are, and hope for understanding when the answers aren’t coming as quickly as you would prefer.  It takes strength to push away those feelings of regret and guilt.  It takes strength to live a life of peace.  

So, look UP and ask for the strength to avoid those bad behaviors listed above, and to focus on the One who has a plan for your life.


Passages to Ponder:

Psalm 29:11- The Lord gives His people strength.  The Lord blesses them with peace.

John 14:27- I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don't be troubled or afraid.

Philippians 4:6-7- 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.

Contributors: Kim McClure and Marla McDonald

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Alone is a word that can be scary to many people.  You might be a mom to some little ones who would give almost anything for a moment to be alone or you might be an introvert who is seeking a place away from the noise to be alone and collect your thoughts, but have you ever really felt alone, separated or isolated?

Loneliness is a spreading epidemic in our society.  You wouldn’t think that, with access to the world at the touch of our fingertips through the internet, but somehow the statistics on people feeling lonely continue to grow.  The results of this can be devastating if they aren’t addressed.  Being alone too long can lead to over-thinking and chasing “what-ifs” in your mind leading to depression or even thoughts of suicide.

God recognized that it wasn’t good for man to be alone shortly after creating Adam, which led to Eve coming onto the scene.  How very kind of God to see that we need fellowship and help, here in the flesh.  As a matter of fact, he charges us to take care of one another. 

Social media is a conundrum.  In many cases, it has reignited old friendships and allowed new friendships to form between people who have met online through mutual friends and common interests.  Lots of times, these friendships are genuine and wouldn’t have developed if not for this medium.  On the other hand, some folks get so involved in their internet “relationships”, that they fail to nurture the ones right beside them.  It can be perplexing to look around a restaurant and see how many people are sitting across from one another, but both are looking down at their phones.  Having this constant source of communication should make us feel more connected, but the question is can you still connect to the person sitting across from you? Do you want to?

Our computers and phones may give us something to do to keep our hands busy, but they can’t give hugs, words of encouragement or love.  The greatest of these is love.  We all need it. 

Look around in between checking on your friends on Facebook and Twitter.  Make eye contact and smile.  Let the people around you know that you care about them and that you appreciate the people that support you whether online or in person.

Here’s the best part:  YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.  God is our portion when you are surrounded, and He is our portion when we are by ourselves, but He never leaves.  Invest in relationships.  Find some folks that will be your accountability partners or prayer warriors or sounding boards.  You might find these folks online, you might find them in your own home, or at church, or at work, or anywhere else. God’s pretty awesome at putting people in each other’s paths that will affect their lives in a positive way if they just choose to take that first step.

 Go for it!

Passages to Ponder:
Genesis 2:18- Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper who is just right for him.”
Psalm 142:5- Then I pray to you, O Lord.  I say, “You are my place of refuge.  You are all I really want in life.”
Galatians 6:2- Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Kathy Derda, Kim McClure and Kristy Tolley

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

But, What Will I Wear?

Each morning, we choose what to pull out of the closet and wear.  One of the deciding factors is usually what we have to do that day.  Spending a day working in the garden requires different clothing than spending a day shopping (or at least I hope so).  The weather also plays a factor, because the environment we will be spending our time in will effect us as well.

Similarly, I have days that are going to require me to stand a little stronger in my faith than others just because of what I have on my agenda. Will I spend most of the day doing things I love to do and with people that I love, or will it be one of those days when I have to deal with situations that challenge me and people that might just rain on my parade? 

What am I going to wear so that I can live a decent life for all to see?

In Ephesians 6:13-17, Paul tells us how to suit up and get ready for any day, any challenge, any temptation.  “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.  Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Let’s look at this piece by piece.

The Belt of Truth: 
We might choose to wear a belt to cinch our waist or because we think it’s cute, but the practical use for a belt is to keep our pants up in order to avoid embarrassment or tugging at them all day.  Similarly, putting on the belt of truth can keep us from being embarrassed or letting negative thoughts tug at us all day.  When negative thoughts start to creep in, take that thought captive.  If it’s a lie, recognize it as such, remind yourself what the truth really is and then make the lie bow down to the truth.  When those thoughts start, cinch up that belt, take a moment and ask God to send you clarity about the truth of the situation.  It can help hold you up.
The Breastplate of Righteousness:
Choosing a top or sweater is an important decision because a lot of times it’s the first thing people notice.  God’s righteousness is what we want people to notice about us, isn’t it?  So, let’s put it on every day.  Being righteous doesn’t mean that you’re better than anyone else, it means that you keep your morals and virtues consistent with what God wants. 
The Sandals of Peace:
Who doesn’t love shoes?  Sometimes, they make or break an outfit.   When you find yourself dealing with challenging people or situations, remember that you are wearing shoes of peace and try to make sure that they complement your lifestyle.  Following Christ requires sacrifice.  In some cases, that means keeping your thoughts to yourself or even swallowing your pride in order to keep peace in a situation.  Is it any wonder that shoes wear out quicker than any other article of clothing?
The Helmet of Salvation:
Wearing hats isn’t a popular trend in today’s society, but this figurative helmet can be the most important part of suiting up every day.  You see, we have an enemy and he wants to get in our heads and tell us that we aren’t good enough, that we don’t deserve God’s love, that we should just give up.  Protecting your head with the knowledge that you are saved by God’s grace and the sacrifice of His son is crucial to successfully living a Christian life. By the way, you aren’t good enough, and neither am I, but He loves us and saved us anyway!
The Shield of Faith:
Wearing a jacket or coat can shield you from the rain or from frigid weather.  Wearing sunscreen as a  shield from the sun protects you from harm too. Putting on your shield of faith can protect you from situations that just keep coming.  Sometimes, it feels like the rain just won’t stop, or you’re going to burn up from the heat.  Whether you’re in a situation that is burning hot with emotion or the environment is a bit chilly, don’t stop believing the truth.  Eventually, this  bad situation will end and goodness will return.
The Sword of the Spirit:
Handbags are important pieces in a wardrobe.  Carrying one allows you to have whatever you need in one place, right at your disposal.  The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.  It has whatever you need to hear, know, and remember right at your disposal.  Pick up that Bible and read it.  Choose a life verse that speaks to you and memorize it.  Repeat it over and over and over…..You will be blessed.

Passages to Ponder:

Romans 13:14- Instead, clothe yourselves with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.

2 Corinthians 10:4- We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby and Kim McClure

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Life Verses Bring Victory

Life brings challenges to everyone.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I face the same challenges over and over and wonder why I didn’t learn this lesson the first ten times it came up.  Each person’s situation is unique and every one of us is fighting a battle of some kind.  Some of us can do it with a smile on our faces most of the time, while some of us struggle to get out of bed and face the day.  No matter what challenge is coming at you, you have the most powerful weapon available in God’s Word.

The Bible provides a lamp to guide your feet and a light for your path.  Have you ever tried to walk somewhere in complete darkness?  You bump into things and stumble and could even get hurt, but when the light comes on, you can avoid most of those things.  It changes lives by guiding those who read it and transforms not only them, but also the people they come in contact with.  It is alive!  It is powerful!  It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, and exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

We can use this power source by knowing what it says, and by choosing a life verse for ourselves.  A life verse is a passage from the Bible that speaks to you.  It is something that you can say aloud when you feel challenged, and you are reminded of the truth.  Having a life verse can be a gift like no other in times of struggle, because God’s word never changes even as our world does.

When you’re feeling discouraged, and are having trouble seeing past a situation, try Karen’s life verse.  Isaiah 43:18-19 “But forget all that- it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.  For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”  This passage can see you through some of the worst times because He tells us that He is already doing something new!  He will make a path for us through any situation and make something good out of it.  Even in the desert, we can praise God because with Him, the end of something is truly the beginning of something else.  Rather than lament the past, we can give glory to His name, because everything He touches is fruitful.

When you find yourself worrying about what is going to happen next, try Julie’s life verse.  Jeremiah 29:11 “’For I know the plans I have for you’, says the Lord.’They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you hope and a future,’”  If you are someone who tends to be highly anxious, you can find comfort and rest in the knowledge that God’s plans are always for your good.   Hang in there. 

When you’re feeling anxious, try Jodi’s life verse.   Philippians 4:6-7 “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.”  This can free you from a life of anxiety.  By saying it aloud, you can retrain your mind by deciding to pray about things instead of being afraid of them.  He will, indeed, fill you with unspeakable peace if you practice this.

When you’re dealing with people , try Tammy’s life verse.  Romans 12:18 “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”  We should strive for peace, and not initiate conflict.  This can help remind you that you are only in charge of yourself and not the actions or thoughts of anyone else.

When you’re feeling unsure, try Michele’s life verse.  2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”  Reading this aloud has great power to get you through trials.  Power, love, and a sound mind are gifts from God. Believe it!

When you’re feeling confused or torn, try Maria’s life verse.  Philippians 1:9-10 “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.  For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.”   Being able to differentiate between what’s important and what isn’t is a gift that will bring you peace and help your walk with Christ grow as you walk uprightly before God.     
When you’re feeling fearful, try Kim’s life verse. Joshua 1:9 “This is my command- be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Saying this aloud can remind you that God is with you.  There is no need to be afraid of anything new.  God wants us to be confident and reassured as we rely on Him through faith in His plan. He’s got this!

When you’re feeling like you want to give up, try Shawna’s life verse. Galatians 6:9“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.  At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”  This is a great verse when you need motivation.  Most of the time, people use “reaping what you sow” as a warning of consequences of bad decisions, but this also speaks of the benefits/results of doing the right thing and not quitting.

When you’re feeling weak, try Brooke’s life verse. Philippians 4:13 “For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”  It is Christ who makes us strong when we are weak.  His plan is your plan.  He made you for it.  You CAN do all things that He made you for.  Simple. Mandatory.  Live it.

Feel free to adopt one of our life verses, or search out one for yourself. We would love to hear what you choose.  Say it aloud and with confidence.  You will not be disappointed!

Passages to Ponder:
Hebrews 4:12- For the word of God is alive and powerful.  It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow.  It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Colossians 1:6- This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world.  It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.
Psalms 119:105- Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Julie DeTemple, Jodi Dunbar, Tammy  Holtzapfel, Michele Killion, Maria Kucharczuk, Kim McClure, Shawna Nelson and Brooke Radnor