he US has a really neat way of going about things that are challenging. Maybe Americans in general. Many people I know do. Here’s how it goes…
“Hm. That didn’t seem to work…” —perplexed but unmiffed expression—
“Let’s try it with a little different approach…” —more concentrated, squint and deliberate expression—
“So…Is that how you want it to be?… —extracting from bag of resources a large, imposing, destructive implement—
So, in response to my short and sweet introduction to Francis Chan and Bible study tonight, just a simple and peaceful reminder of things I forget too often:
To my frustrations and worries…
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
I don’t know everything about this preacher. His websites are pretty flashy. I do like that. I like his sermon about loving God. I didn’t come away with some revival tempest feeling or other nonsense. I’ve heard what he preached on before, but he did present the material in a way that provokes serious thought. Loving God is a command. I keep forgetting this, though I ran through all of 1st John with that message and again it’s in Deuteronomy. Just another whack with the reminderstick, I guess.
The peace of God is that peace of knowing, completely, that everything is taken care of. God has peace because He knows and created and is in control of everything. That means if we have the Peace of God which Surpasses All Understanding we have the peace that comes as a result of knowing God has Everything squared away, even if, to our human perspective, it doesn’t usually look like it.
My little innovation for the night:
The Bad circle and the Good circle. In each the motion and dynamic is the same. You move around in the circle. One thing can lead to another or you can experience it separate from the precedent. Notice that wherever you are on the circle, only two points at most are always close and all the rest get farther and farther away. What does that interesting effect imply in each circle? Which circle seems more appealing?
These things we create for ourselves……………..And these are the ones we find in God.
Look how the points can react together (though I just brainstormed them and then stuck em in no particular order). Look at how, no matter where you are in the Bad Circle, you’ll never get close enough to defeat or deal with all the other 6 or 7 points because your position is dominated by the closest 1 or 2. Funny, though the two seem equally designed as far as points and motion and all that, the two circles have very different effects as they are traveled.
Look how, no matter where you are in the Good Circle, you have a whole deluge of great stuff right ahead.
This isn’t a great graphic thingy. The list of points is neither comprehensive nor exhaustive. It’s not really inspired or intended to produce oohs and aahs. It’s a quick, logical attempt to promote thought about this: Choose your target. If you focus on Godly things, His gifts, qualities, promises, ways, you engage in the Good Circle and they link together.
If you focus on worldly things, the stresses, the troubles, the wants and needs, the impossibles and the tediousness, you’re taking pot-shots at single targets and the whole time you’re surrounded by the rest which you’ll never manage to face down altogether.
So the point is give the Bad Circle to the Lord. Hand Him your shadows and switch to His circle. We cannot overcome these worldly things, but He can.
There’s a key point in the Good Circle. Challenge. In the diagrams, I’m not trying to introduce the idea that we just leave it all to God and not work at our troubles and lives. We need to look at challenges as just that, Challenges. Work is a gift and a functional design element from God. We were designed for work.
So we need to look at the challenges as mental and physical puzzles; feats to face and work at. The moment we treat them in the worldly way is the moment they cease to become challenges and become a “slap in God’s face” for then we have glorified our problems and made them something unto themselves and we betray the trust we have for God, we make our Benefactor into a weak fairy tale rather than THE CREATOR. God didn’t put the fight in front of us for the sake of the fight. He put the fight in front of us so that HE can be GLORIFIED. So if we keep that in mind, the problem ceases to be in the Bad Circle, and is now in the Good Circle, surrounded with the myriad other goodnesses He has provided.
Also, the speed with which we move in each circle affects us too. If we run from the problems, where do we end up?
So I think this might be a neat thing just to keep on a little card, maybe the Good Circle and the Bad Circle each on a side. Just a little graphic reminder of what we could be doing with our time.
One last note. Look at the points again. Not one of them can be found in the opposing circle. My favorite one is COMPLETION. I cannot find completion in the Bad Circle. That’s just my current favorite. I’ll move around the circle and find another really great one to contemplate later on.