Who Has The Missing Peace?

Puzzles are both a pleasant challenge and a nerve-wracking irritation.  Some people are big picture people, while others are in the details.  I'm both.  I vision cast for the broad future,  then dig into the details and begin to smooth out the mechanics of making things work one piece at a time.  Some call this ADHD or hyperactive and to those people all I have to say is.....OOO SHINY!!!! ....Wait, what were we talking about again?  -  At first I am content "big picturing" the edges together, but then all of a sudden, a few pieces jump out at me that I have to put together. Before I know it,  I have 10 different puzzles going all at the same time, trying to recreate the box's master plan.

Now I'm working on finagling large chunks around without breaking them because they belong in another place.  My puzzle is falling apart;  And what started as a relaxing recreational activity has now become determined stress and anxiety.  This climaxes only to find that there is one missing piece.  The piece that ties it all together..  You'd think it wouldn't matter with the 4,999 pieces that fit perfectly, but all attention is drawn to that missing one. It's kind of like that Tide® commercial where the stain screams so loud you can't hear the person wearing the shirt.  It's distracting. It doesn't look like the box. And it kills the big picture.

Whether you are a big picture person, or a master of detail you share a commonality with the rest of humanity.  One little problem can derail a life you thought you had all together.  Though everything else is going right,  all attention now shifts to the missing piece.  And now guess what's missing?  Peace.

Acts 27 shows us an entire ship of seasoned sailors who thought they had it all under control.  Big picture said that it was going to be easier to winter in a different location.  Detail folks thought they had found their purpose in some temporary good weather.  The ship was loaded,  and all was well until a storm came which shook their world.

Mark 4 shows us a ship of disciples who were living the dream.  Traveling from place to place with the very creator of the universe.  It doesn't get much better than that!  But one storm shook their faith as they cried out for help.  Though the Master of the wind lay aboard their ship,  one single storm drew their entire focus.

You have read about how Peter walked above the water at a later time, but a shift in his focus brought him below the storm.

Above each of these waters, we see a missing peace.  Maybe in your life,  everything seems to be piecing together,  but the absence of "peace" has brought you distress.  Can this puzzling perspective be remedied?  Can I find my missing peace?

Paul and Jesus both brought peace into perspective when they commanded it's presence.  Paul stood before a ship of scared men and ordered them to be of good cheer.  Jesus rebuked the storm and called for peace.  Peter's testimony affirms the fact that even amid the storms of life, peace within our heart is dependent upon a fixed focus on the Father, not our fears and failures. Peace is my choice.

My missing peace is found in the only one able to piece my life together.  When I was nothing more than a box of broken pieces,  Jesus "worked all of them together."  He sees the master plan.  When I feel like He is breaking me apart,  I can trust that he is shifting places into my life where they can fit together perfectly.  Within the borders of my life,  Jesus is piecing together a masterpiece of perfectly placed pieces.  I think I'll leave that up to him!

Who has the missing peace?  The keeper of the pieces.

Professional Christians Still Go To Hell

For six summers in a row I have been involved in the leadership of multiple youth camps.  I saw it every week; each time a different spin on the same story, but Dillon's struck home with me. Dillon was a pastor's kid who had never known a time apart from church.  He held prominent positions across the board of his church ministry opportunities.  He was a leader among teens,  and respected by adults.  He said all the right things, and lived his life the right way.  But Dillon had a big problem. He was lost.

Gripping the back row with beads of sweat running down his face,  he stared intensely at the floor.  The sermon was not even about salvation, but a war was being raged in his heart and mind.  When the invitation was given,  as heads bowed,  I saw him sneak to the front and bow at the altar's far right edge, hoping no one would see.  After a few moments,  I followed with my Bible ready.  I kneeled down beside this body that was shaking violently, and after we exchanged stories and opened up the Scripture, Dillon accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior.  

Moments later he stood before a group of teens and said something like this:  "I've fought this for years, you know....Scared out of my mind that people would judge me or mock me.  I'm a preachers kid who everyone believes is saved.  As a little child I made a profession of faith.  I don't listen to the wrong music,  I don't go to the wrong places, and all in all I thought I had it under control....But tonight I confessed my sins and have invited Jesus to be my Lord and Savior...."

That's when it hit me like a ton of bricks, and I didn't hear another word he said.  All of a sudden my mind envisioned that Mark 10 passage of Scripture where stands the rich young ruler.  He is inquiring of Jesus how he might inherit eternal life.  In other words, "how can this thing be handed to me? (Inherit)  Jesus replies with the commandments, to which the rich young ruler says, "All of these have I observed from my youth."  Jesus said he lacked one thing.  "....come, take up thy cross and follow me."  

Dillon and this rich young ruler have a commonality with many lost "Christ followers."  They have made a PROFESSION of Faith.  No,  not a testimony in church;  rather, they have transformed their faith into a profession....a job.  Professional Christians.  Faith is not a job title or position you hold.  It is not about what you do, nor does what you say have any bearing upon faith's existence in your life. Many treat faith as a job by which they acquire through a professionally worded prayer application.  Serving Jesus is nothing more than routine because "it's what we are supposed to do."  It's our job. 

Romans 10:9 speaks of salvation coming by way of a confession.  Not to a man in a box.  To confess is to concede or acknowledge.  I need a Savior.  To own or admit truth.  Why? Because I am a sinner. And to acknowledge one's faith in and declare adherence to.  A relationship that is made public without fear.  (Matthew 10:32)

There are lost people every day who live by professions of faith.  Professions that are little more than a vocation that requires knowledge, who's body is engaged in an occupation.  They know, do, and say the right things:  a form of godliness.  But deny its power because their relationship is not genuine.  It is not a cross-bearing, Christ following, sell-everything, sold out life.  It's still all about the act.  

Could a stranger look at your life and know that you are confessing Christ?  Or would we find nothing more than a shallow professional?  What have you based your eternity on?  Professional Christians still die and go to hell.  What about you?  

Yes...It Can Hurt To Ask

Each year of my childhood my family ministered at a camp-meeting in Alabama.  During this week of meetings, people from all over the country would come to fellowship and get recharged.  Wonderful people!  Lots of friends, with whom I have countless amazing memories.  And.... the "B" family also came.  The B family had a ton of kids,  a mob of girls with one exception.  Matthew.

Typing his name even now rings the "dun dun dunnnn" music in my ears.  Among several haunting memories of this child, one will never leave my mind.  During the day sessions, the kids would play outside, and my favorite thing to do was ride my scooter down the long sloping driveway.  Sounds fun enough, but once I got to the top of the hill there was Matt waiting with a question:  "Can I ride your scooter?"  Every day.  Every time.  Without fail....the impeding question.  "Can I ride your scooter? Can I?  Please, can I ride your scooter?"

You've heard it said,  "It never hurts to ask!"  That old gem is fun to say, but so so so wrong.  There is a lot of harm in asking.  You can damage a friendship by over asking.  You can kill a relationship by asking for something too soon.  You can ruin a negotiation by asking for too many things.

Matt was the kind of kid who asked for a lot of things....annoyingly so.  So much that when I meet kids from back then, even kids that didn't have a silver, Razor® Scooter with black handle bars and specialty red shocks;  at the mention of Matt's name, without fail the thing they remember is "Can I ride your scooter?"

Favors are currency.  If you deposit into an account,  you will find it easy to withdraw.  Sometimes you ask prior to any deposit.  That is a loan,  and loans always accrue interest as you pay them back.  However, some people borrow what they never intend to repay.  Some will overdraw their accounts losing any opportunity to draw from that account again.  We could label these people hustlers, jerks, and worst of all.....leeches or moochers.  And just like in the monitory world, your credit score precedes you - and it's hard to change.

Favors cost. We all have those "Matt's" in our lives who ask too many favors.  Though they truly believe there is no harm in asking,  there is.  Sometimes more than they know.

Don't withdraw from where you have not deposited.