★ Thought for the Day – True Shalom ★

This week is quite significant for many reasons.  Yesterday was Palm Sunday that is the official kick-off to “Holy Week.”  Which you may recall was when Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  Growing up I always liked this weekend because Palm branches would be handed out at church which we then made a cross with it to keep around the house.  At the time I did not understand the significance of the tradition nor how important Holy Week is.  Friday is of course the day when we remember the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus paid for our sins when He was nailed to the cross.  And smack dab in the middle of the week between Jesus entering Jerusalem and subsequent death on a Roman cross, is the Jewish celebration of Passover is on Wednesday which is the remembrance of when the Israelite people were spared when the angel of death “passed over” their homes in Egypt because they put the blood of a scarified lamb over the doorway.  Besides the religious significance, this week according to the Surgeon General “is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment.”  As I turned on the TV this morning, news report after news report warns that the USA is facing the worst week of the Covid-19 outbreak.  As we have been “social distancing,” (which I have to say I cannot stand hearing that phrase, I prefer “physical distancing” but I digress), the most repeated thing that I have asked, or have been asked, is “how are doing in quarantine?”  So, I will tell you, I am doing good.  Like so many, it has been (3) weeks now that we have self-quarantined.  In these difficult and confusing times, it’s been comforting to be with my wife and (2) daughters, facing this together.  Each of us have been “finding our new normal.”  I have commandeered the dining room as my work space, while our daughters have each found their own place to attend classes online.  One blessing of being quarantined with my family is enjoying having lunch together and then 3 pm coffee time with my wife.  I think the most interesting change is that I am now the one hitting Costco, Kroger or Walmart just trying to find the essentials.  As I got ready yesterday and folded up my bandanna with some of my wife’s hair ties to create a makeshift mask, I felt a little like this guy…

Hahaha!  And I am happy to report that yesterday I hit “pay dirt!”

The media has created such a frenzy with non-stop coverage of empty shelves, the number of infected and sadly the death toll.  There is without a doubt a reason to be concerned and take precautions, but we need to not allow our lives to be driven by fear!  I was reading this YouVersion Easter reading plan called ‘Risen’ by Ray Johnston, and he had this great insight:

“Fear is the darkroom where negatives develop.”

Fear will cause us to act irrationally like hording toilet paper and can open the door to the enemy’s attack.  After I came home yesterday from Winco with my precious paper products, mind you I have not had paper towels in 3 weeks…talk about first world problems…I then gathered with my family to stream the church service.  And the ironic part, the sermon was called “Overcoming Fear” by Jimmy Evans.  This timely message was all about God wanting us to have peace, not fear!  He shared that:

“Fear is a prophet spirit from hell, sent to give us a negative report about the future that will upset us and cause us to make a fear-based decision that God will not honor.” 

That is so, so powerful!  How many fear-based decisions are being made right now?  The enemy loves to use fear as a weapon against us but 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) tells us:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

Jimmy Evans also said that:

“God never uses fear!  He uses peace!” 

That got me thinking about the Jewish celebration of Passover this week and the word that they use for peace… “Shalom,” which as you may have guessed, is the inspiration of this post.  I asked a friend of mine who has a lot of knowledge about Judaism what is a trusted definition of the word Shalom and he said:

The basic definition is peace for sure.  But that peace, is a peace that goes beyond just peace with others, but peace with self, circumstances, emotions, etc.  More like the peace of a new born babe in his/her mother’s arms.  Like that.  Where things may be happening but finding that security in God.” 

What a powerful image right?  We can find peace in God like a baby has in its mother’s arms.

This past February, my wife and I went to the XO Marriage Conference and heard Dave and Ashley Willis talk about “Finding Peace in Marriage Conflicts.”  They shared this great definition for Shalom:

“Breaking the authority established by chaos.” 

That is what I believe many of us need to do!  We need to break the authority that we have allowed chaos to have over our lives.  Satan is the author of confusion and it is only when we take captive our thoughts that we can have True Shalom.  1 Corinthians 14:33a (NLT) reminds us…

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” (“of Shalom” – see the Tree of Life Translation).

I just reading John chapter 14 in which Jesus comforted His Disciples about the end times.  He book-ended the chapter with an offer of peace.  John 14:1 (NLT) start off:

““Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”” 

I love the comfort found in John 14:1.  This image reminded me of my many times in detention back in High School where the Dean had me write over and over “I will not _____ .” (Fill in the blank with whatever my offense was that day).  Hahaha!  I hated this punishment, but you know there is something about repetition that helps us learn the lesson.  The same is true for our Life…Jesus gave us the key to ANY situation…“Trust in God, and trust also in [Him].”  There is no better cure for anxiety than praying to the ONE who can comfort, heal and provide for us!

He meant this so much that at the end of the chapter, Jesus made this statement:

“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.”  John 14:27

So the question is, do you want to trust in the nightly news or the ONE who created you?  The ONE who is your true provider!  Jesus will provide much more than what your physical needs are, He with give you “peace of mind and heart!”  All you need to do is ask Him for it today.

Pray…Stay Safe in Quarantine…and of course wash your hands!

 

★★ Want to dig deeper? ★★ 

Here are a couple of articles about the Meaning of Shalom:

Check out this sermon called I’m Still Scared by Steven Furtick.

Here are additional posts on fear, doubt, and anxiety that I wrote over the past (6) years if you are interested in reading more on this topic…

  1. ★ Thought for the Day – Mastering Fear ★

  2. ★ Thought for the Day – Crippled By Doubt ★

  3. ★ Thought for the Day – got fear? ★

  4. ★ Thought for the Day – Who’s Chasing You? ★

  5. ★ Thought for the Day – Annihilating Anxiety ★

  6. ★ Thought for the Day – Fair-Weather Faith ★

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Consistency Compounds ★

Well we are 18 days into 2020, any revelations?  Do you have a Word for the New Year?  Or maybe I should say, have you asked God for one?  For those of you who may not have done this in the past, let me just pause a moment and explain.  Since 2015, as the year draws to an end, and a new page of the calendar is about to be flipped, I ask the Holy Spirit to give me a Word for the year.  Sometimes it has been a phrase and other times a single word.  Here are the past “Words/Phrases” so you can get an idea of what I mean:

If you are interested, just click on the link and you can read the associated post.  There have even been times that it comes before I even ask, as was the case this year.  It was December 29, 2019, and we were at my in-laws’ church in South Carolina that I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon me the word “CONSISTENCY” as my Word for the new year.  I heard John Maxwell at the Gateway Church Legacy Conference talk about consistency in a way I never heard before.  He said that it is the most underrated word in the dictionary which is not sexy or even something that you would love to be called but, in the end, CONSISTENCY COMPOUNDS.

When I think of “compounding,” my 401k comes to mind, and how the interest on the money over time gains momentum and produces a good return on my investment.  Well the same is true when you consistently apply yourself in an area of your life, whether that is committing to a daily quiet time with God, scheduling time at the gym to stay healthy or being intentional with cultivating genuine community with the people in your life.  It all comes down to discipline!  Something that I struggled with for most of my life, but I have come to realize that it is absolutely necessary in order to be consistent.  As Hebrews 12:11 (HCSB) reminds us:

“No discipline seems enjoyable at the time but painful.  Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

As I was looking into my Word for 2020, I came across this Minute With Maxwell called “A Non-Sexy Word That Leads to Greatness,” in which John Maxwell made this powerful point:

“Consistency is the ability to continually do the right thing every day regardless of whether the odds are for you, or the circumstances are favorable.  If you want to go to greatness, don’t go to greatness, go to consistency.  Practice it, that’s the path that will lead you to greatness.”

“Consistency is the ability to continually do the right thing every day!”  I love that!  And just like the verse in Hebrews, we must “practice it!”  No meaningful change happens without work and unfortunately it never happens overnight!  I read somewhere this quote that puts it perfectly…

Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.”  John Maxwell

2020 is going to be the year that this will be true of me!  I want to be known as a man who is CONSISTENT in ALL areas of my life:

  • SPIRITUALLY…that my walk with Christ would be stronger than ever as I grow in my daily dependence on the Holy Spirit.
  • PHYSICALLY…that my health would be the best that it ever has been.
  • AND EMOTIONALLY…that my relationships with my wife, two daughters, friends and co-workers would be better than ever and life-affirming.

I am not going to grow in my relationship with Jesus and exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25) unless I connect daily to follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of my life.  I wish after my workouts I would instantly see a difference in the mirror, but I don’t.  My target weight will only be achieved after months of effort.  The same is true for my relationships.  Unless I reach out and put in the effort to show the people in my life that I care and am invested in what matters to them, the connection will be surface level at best.

Over the past 20 days since I received my Word, I have been ruminating over this and looking for an example of someone who has modeled this in their life.  So here goes…

SPIRITUAL MODEL: DAVID.

Now you may be thinking, why would he not choose Jesus?  After all He is the only perfect person who ever lived!  While that is certainly true, I landed on David because he is the only human who is described as “a man after god’s own heart” in the Bible (see 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22).  David is a complex person and you may remember in our “Temptation Series,” that I used him as the example of what not to (see the post ★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Lust (Part 3b) ★,) but even so, the scriptures are clear that David consistently chased after God with his whole heart!  As a main contributor to the Book of Psalms, you see the love, trust and devotion he had for the Father.  David said in Psalms 119:5 (NLT):

“Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees!”

I want that to be true in my life!  That everything that I think, say or do would reflect God’s Word.  I read a commentary from David Guzik on Psalm 119:5 in which he said:

“This is not only a pious wish; it is also a prayer for the ability to obey God’s Word.  We received God’s commands understanding our lack of ability to keep those commands, apart from His work in us.”

To achieve this I know, I must have a consistent quiet time with God where I daily pray, read the bible and seek the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life.  I have also found that Bible Studies with other believers have strengthen me as Proverbs 27:17 says.

PHYSICAL MODEL: MY WIFE.

Now before you start groaning and judging me that this is some self-serving sucking up, there is no one I know who has consistently made her health a priority in her life.  If you have been on this blog before, you no doubt have seen me post pictures from her Facebook page Fit Family in which she integrates her 3 loves – Faith, Family, and Fitness.  I have been married to her for over 20 years, and she has shown me day after day what it means to live a healthy life, one which is balanced with exercise and proper diet.  Not dieting, BUT good choices with correct portions.  My wife, who is very healthy and loves to workout, made this point to me in the past that the Holy Spirit just brought back to me remembrance, she said:

“You are so disciplined in your quiet time with God, why can’t you be disciplined in your health as well?”

Great question huh?  Now you may think this was rude, but it honestly said in love because she wants to keep me around for as long as possible!  Hahaha!   When she met me, working out and watching what I ate was NOT me at all.  I never exercised and I was a “biggie” size consumer, that the larger the portions, the better.  Through her example I have learned what a balanced life looks like, and over the years I have improved but I am far from consistent.  It is funny that what my wife challenged me with, is actually found in scripture!  I was just reading 3 John 1:2 (NLT) last week in which John offered this greeting to his friend Gaius:

“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.”

So, though I desire first and foremost, to be consistent in my spiritual walk, I realized that I need to be consistent in EVERY part of my life so part of my prayer for 2020 is that I am “as healthy in body as [I am] strong in spirit!”  Last year I hit 45, and with my mom dying from a stroke in 2016, it’s time that I commit to a consistently work at improving my health!

EMOTIONAL MODEL: FRED ROGERS.

Some may be thinking, who is Fred Rogers?!  Others may only know him only as Mr. Rogers, the much-loved host of the TV show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” which was a permanent fixture on TV sets across the country, airing on PBS from 1968 to 2001.  Last Saturday we went to see the movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” for the second time, and as I watched again Tom Hanks brilliantly portray the caring man who was so invested in helping kids understand the world, I was mesmerized all over again and thought this would be the perfect example of emotional consistency!  Interestingly enough, it was not until the credits that I discovered that the movie was based on the 1998 Esquire article called “CAN YOU SAY…“HERO”? by Tom Junod.

I looked up the article and was amazed to see the tag line under the title:

“Fred Rogers has been doing the same small good thing for a very long time.”

That is perfect!!  Both in the movie and in real life, Fred Rogers reached out to everyone and worked to connect on an emotional level that made you feel so special.  The author of the article was jaded by the world and in need of someone to care for him.  As I read the Esquire article, I was moved to tears to read story after story of how profoundly affected people were by this meek man of God who made a simple offer every time “Will you be my neighbor?”  One part that hit me really hard was this:   

“The connections we make in the course of a life—maybe that’s what heaven is!”  Amen?  Jesus made this clear in Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT) when answering the question from one of the experts in religious law who asked him which is the most important commandment?

“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

The third part of my pray for 2020 is that I will consistently pursue a deeper connection with those in my life as modeled by Fred Rogers and to love my neighbor as much as I love myself!

So, I close with my original question…What’s your Word for 2020?  I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit for one, it is a great way to center your year as you delve into the Bible in 2020.

 

  DIG DEEPER

If you want to read more about the importance of Developing a Daily Quiet Time with God check out this post called:

★ Back to the Basics – Silencing the Noise ★

If you want to read more about Discipline, check out this post called:

★ Thought for the Day – The Benefit of Discipline ★

If you want to read more about developing impactful relationships, check out this post called:

★ Thought for the Day – Community That Matters ★

 

 

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