Category Archives: Peace

Identifying with Princess Leia

lukeswingingNearly every great adventure film has a scene where the hero/heroine grabs a rope and swings across a dangerous chasm. They are usually running for their life, with their enemy bearing down upon them, and yet they still find a way to look beautiful while they dodge bullets and float gracefully to the other side.

The best chasm-swinging scene in all of movie lore is the epic moment from Star Wars Episode 4 when Princess Leia clutches Luke Skywalker’s neck, kisses him for luck, and then swings away with him to safety.

I never forgave Luke for getting that kiss instead of me, but now years later I find myself identifying a little more with Leia than with Luke. Don’t get me wrong I still want to be a hero, and I want my wife and daughters to be able to hold onto me during tough times. However, as I review my life I realize that I haven’t survived my dead ends solely because of my own heroism—I’ve been carried more times than I can count.

King David (a hero of Skywalker proportions) understood this too. In Psalm 63:8 he wrote to the Lord, “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

Even though this life of faith is an epic adventure that pulls the courage, toughness, and valor out of us, we will never survive it by our own grit and determination alone. Some chasms are just too wide for us to cross, and our souls need something larger than us to cling to. We need to be like Princess Leia and learn to lean and rest and allow God’s right hand to carry us through.

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Waiting to exhale

starting blocks

“Runners, take your mark…get set…”

 

Now hold it right there.

 

Have you ever noticed the peculiar rituals that Olympic sprinters go through at the beginning of their races? They not only perform weird—probably superstitious—stretching routines, but they also take forever before they stop fidgeting and fussing in the starting blocks.

 

It’s a common thing for sprinters to do.

 

The reason they take so long getting settled is because they know that once they’re “set” they aren’t allowed to move again until the gun signals the start of their race. They also know that a set position is really tough to hold.

 

When a sprinter stays set for too long their arms get shaky, their stress levels spike, and they risk incurring a false start.

 

It seems that a lot of people today are stuck in the set position. They’re holding their breath, wondering what will happen with our global instabilities, our shaky financial institutions, and our exhausting presidential campaigns. They’re poised and taut, ready to run their race, but not exactly sure where the lane in front of them is taking them.

 

Fortunately Easter weekend has an answer. To every stressed-out sprinter still in the starting blocks, Easter cries out: “You’re still waiting to exhale…but God already has! While you hold your breath, fearful of tomorrow, God has already made provision for your future.”

 

The closer we move toward Jesus Christ the more freely we can begin breathing again. The more we exhale our anxiety, by inhaling His peace, the more strength we receive to run with fresh purpose, smile at the future, and help make our world a better place. Let’s go for it. Let’s lean into Jesus, and let’s run the race assigned to us.

 

God bless you this Easter weekend!

 

I will always need you more than ever before

the lord is nearEver since I was quite young, hot tubs have been one of my sanctuaries. It’s kind of weird, but true nonetheless. Tonight, while thinking in the hot tub, I uttered a simple prayer to the Lord, “I need you more than ever before” and then I was immediately struck by the humor in that prayer.

I have ALWAYS needed God more than ever before.

As a drifting, disillusioned young college student, I needed God more than ever before.

As a newlywed husband I realized that I would need Him more than ever before if I was going to be a husband worthy of Jessica.

When my three daughters were born, I was keenly aware that I needed His help more than ever before.

In other seasons of success, failure, victory, and trauma I uttered those same words. And then tonight I prayed it again. I guess I’m just always going to need Him more than ever before.

I think that’s a good thing. King David felt that way. So did Paul. I can relate to a little bit of their stories. I’ve had moments of such exhilaration in the Lord’s presence that I was certain that heaven had come to earth, and I’ve had other moments where I didn’t know if I could go on living. The one constant has been Him. Jesus has been, is, and ever will be faithful.

If you’re on a mountaintop tonight, enjoy it. If you’re crawling through a valley, keep crawling. You’re not alone, and the Lord will meet you there.

“The Lord is near to all who call on Him…” (King David, Psalm 145:18).

Road Rage

mad driverI’m not an angry person. Never have been. I’ve seldom had a chip on my shoulder and I’ve never been a walking container of radioactive rage. I certainly have my share of issues, but anger isn’t one of them, and it’s nice to have at least one area that I haven’t had to work hard at overcoming.

Throughout most of my life I’ve stayed relatively chill.

At least until recently. There’s something about our So Cal traffic that keeps pushing me over the edge.

It’s probably not my fault. I’m sure it has something to do with the other drivers, the ones who haven’t learned how to use a turn signal or make space for merging traffic. It’s probably the text-ers and the weavers and the generally crummy drivers that keep causing me to lose my peace.

And that’s exactly what’s happening. Road rage is stealing my peace. The careful cultivation of my soul through early morning Bible reading and prayer is getting progressively undone as I give in to frustrations and judgments against other drivers. Instead of worshipping in my care and allowing the rat race to become a holy space, I’m capitulating to the agitation of the world around me.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you.” (John 14:27) That’s the promise for those who quiet their souls in the Lord’s presence—they touch a state of peace, untroubled, undisturbed composure and well-being.

Let’s touch that place. Let’s worship and pray, refusing to allow any external angst inside of our souls. Let’s learn to quiet our hearts and partake of His peace.

And while we’re at it, let’s leave a little space for another car to merge in front of us.road rage2

Do you see what you have or what you don’t have?

That's the name for this thing that you look t...

Where are you looking?

It’s an important question because where we look determines what we see, and what we see determines how we feel about our lives.

If we consistently look at what we don’t have our lives will be filled with discontentment, frustration, or regret. Conversely, if we intentionally look at all of the things we do have our lives will radiate gratitude, contentment, and peace.

I’m not suggesting that we stop reaching for greater influence or accomplishment or that we set aside our lofty aspirations and goals, I’m simply highlighting the power of our gaze.

Jesus said, “If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Mathew 6:22-23).

This truth was graphically illustrated when Peter famously walked on water to get to Jesus. When Peter gazed at Jesus the stormy Sea of Galilee became as rigid as a sidewalk, but when he shifted his gaze to the storm his world turned watery and weak.

Where we look determines what we see and what we see determines the state of our lives.

If we fixate on our lack we will conclude that we’re failing or falling short of success, but if we consciously look for God’s blessing in our lives we will see blessing, hope, and the promise of a potential-filled future–even if we’re living through a storm.

How important is the final glimpse?

Corcovado jesus

The final glimpse stays with us doesn’t it?

Whether it’s the sight of our Kindergartener boarding the school bus for the first time, a departing friend waving goodbye, or the final moments of a death-bed conversation, the final glimpse of a loved one can embed itself in to our psyche. When a final glimpse is peaceful or positive its memory can soothe our broken heart, but when it is harsh or disjointed it can traumatize our soul.

I know people who have been haunted for years by regretful conversations and bitter last words. Indeed, our final encounters will often stain the memories that preceded them, either memorializing the good or destroying it.

Have you ever thought about Jesus’ final pose?

In Luke 24:50-51 it says: “When He had led them out of the vicinity of Bethany, He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven.”

Isn’t that awesome?! “While He was blessing them, He left them.” The final glimpse of Jesus on earth before His return to the Father in heaven was a glimpse of blessing. His hands were extended, His face was bright with love, and His blessing was settling over His worshippers.

Regardless of the other “final glimpses” you carry, I hope this picture of Jesus stays fixed in your soul. It is not a picture of exasperation, frustration, or disappointment; it is a glimpse of confidence and everlasting love.

Waiting to exhale

English: Swift Form of a Runner about to Begin...

“Runners, take your mark…get set…”

Now hold it right there.

Did you notice the peculiar rituals that the Olympic sprinters went through at the beginning of their races in our recent Olympic games? They not only performed weird, probably superstitious, stretching routines, but they also took forever before they stopped fidgeting and fussing in the starting blocks.

That’s a common thing for sprinters.

They take their time getting settled because they know that once they’re set they aren’t allowed to move again until the gun signals the start of their race.

A “set” position is really tough to hold.

In a recent prayer time I was considering some of the ponderous burdens I’ve been carrying, and I sensed the most wonderful whisper in my soul: “You’re still waiting to exhale…but I already have.”

I knew exactly what the Lord meant when He dropped that phrase in to my heart because I’ve been like a sprinter in the starting blocks who has stayed in the “set” position for too long. My arms have been shaking, my stress levels have spiked, and I haven’t even realized how long I’ve been holding my breath.

“You’re still waiting to exhale…but I already have.”

What a great reminder that God is not nearly as troubled by the things that trouble you and me. He’s already exhaled. He’s already breathed His Spirit in to the areas that trouble us most. Let’s pause right now to exhale anxiety and inhale the Spirit of God.

“And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy spirit.’” (John 20:22)