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Mile Marker Moments…

If you pause and think  about critical moments in your life, there will always be three elements that can be Mile_Marker_747remembered.

By critical moments… I mean the kind of moments that tend to alter the direction of your life.  They leave a brand, a scar, or a wound that struggles to heal.  Or, these critical moments could be ones that were permanently positive. Positive like a tattoo you chose that will never go away. Positive critical moments like the memory of your children being born, or your wedding day, or the day that Jesus became your Lord and Savior.

Make no mistake about it, when I am referring to Mile Marker Moments, you will not have to wonder if the memory you have is a Mile Marker one or not.  You just know.  Mile Markers are huge and this is why they come to mind on a regular basis.  They altered the direction of your life.

Mile Markers are never forgotten.

The point is…these are critical moments.  These critical moments are significant enough that even years after the Mile Marker Moment has happened, we can be going about our day and have something small happen that causes the Memory of the Mile Marker Moment to flood back to our minds, and bring on waves of emotions that causes us to remember it, as if it happened yesterday.

My point is that I believe the best kind of learning is what I call reflective learning.  Reflecting back over your Mile Marker Moment Memories and learning from them.

The best way to learn from these huge mile marker moments in our lives is to reflect on the three elements that are always a part of the critical Mile Marker moment.

In each of your Mile Marker Moments there is/was…

1.  A Key Person.

2.  A Key Place.

3. A Key Moment.

Think about the Mile Marker that is branded or tattooed on your life. Who was the key person? Where was the key place?  What was the key moment?

Now Reflect.

Be still. Think about the elements.  What happened?  If faced with the Moment again, how might I do things differently.  Could I have prevented it, made it better, or ?

There are two kinds of Mile Marker Moments.

1. Joyful Mile Markers.

2. Hurtful Mile Markers.

When you reflect on the Joyful Mile Marker Moments, they  will give you great joy!  They can pull you out of a depression.  Use this positive reflection time to communicate with the Key Person, whom you created that Mile Marker Moment with, and thank them and tell them you are grateful for them.  Tell them that you love them…for if they created such a joyful Mile Marker in your life…you really will love them.

The Chosen Positive Mile Marker Moments are easy to deal with.  They bring you joy.  Reflect on them.  Learn from them.  Repeat them as often as you can.

The Mile Marker Moments that you did NOT choose and have left you hurt and angry.  These are the tough ones to reflect on.  When you do reflect upon these…you are going to discover whether or not you have healed from them.  If the pain of the event comes rushing back in and you find yourself angry, then the reality is, you have not healed from that Mile Marker Moment yet.

You may have forgiven the Key person, The Key Place, and the Key Moment, in this Mile marker at one point in your past,  but the healing is still in process and you may have to re-forgive as you reflect and deal with the emotion of the Mile Marker once again.  The pain resurfacing, is an alert to your heart and soul, warning you to work through the process of forgiveness again.  And again, if necessary.

The point is to be able to reflect on the Mile Marker Moment and the Key Person, Key Place and Key Moment, without any pain.  The goal is to be able to reflect without bitterness and hurt.  The goal is to have that Mile Marker Moment lead you into greater wisdom, experience, and preparedness for the future Key People, Key Places and Key Moments you will undoubtedly encounter again.

As you reflect on these Mile Marker Moments,  and if you find yourself feeling angry and swirling into your dark place, that dark place you went to soon after the negative Mile Marker Moment happened…You know that dark place I”m talking about.  If you find yourself headed there and not wanting to forgive again…then…

I want to remind you, like I have to remind myself.  God is our rock.  God tells us who we are.  God owns vengeance, not me…not you.

Don’t let Mile Markers define you, use them to refine you.

As you reflect on your Mile Marker Moments and if you possibly find yourself swimming in un-forgiveness again.  I want to challenge you to get humble and remember the times in your life where you sinned and hurt other people…thus becoming someone’s Key Person in their hurtful Mile Marker Moment.

Ask yourself, “Did Jesus die for my sin, so that I could be forgiven for it?  The Answer is always, “Yes.”  Once you acknowledge that Jesus died so you could be forgiven of the sins you committed, then ask yourself, “Did Jesus die, so the sins of the  hurtful Key Person in my Mile Marker Moment, could be forgiven too?  The Answer is always, “Yes.”

Jesus died for my sins that hurt others and the sins of those who hurt me.

I must forgive too.

Mile Marker Moment Memories are going to flash before you on a regular basis.  Use the memory of it all to reflect in a way that continually pushes you to grow, improve, and shine. The alternative just isn’t worth it.

As you reflect on your Mile Markers, may you ever increase your ability to be better, not bitter. 

Mile Marker Moments…even the horrifically painful ones…can make you better.

It’s a choice.

We have a lot of miles ahead of us.  As we continue our journey, I pray that we will slowly and steadily improve in our ability to be better prepared for the new Mile Markers that we will soon encounter and never forget.

Love ya.  If I can assist you through life in a way that helps you get closer to Jesus, just ask and I’ll do my best.

Trent


ONE YEAR! Really?

On this exact week, one year ago, the Renner family arrived in Orlando Florida. We sold our home and moved away from everything we were comfortable with to travel the 36 hour drive from Phoenix. We moved because I was hired to be the Lead Pastor of a Church that confirmed to my family that they wanted to change and grow. Well…let me simply say, this year didn’t go like I thought it would go…

This past year my family and I have experienced wonder and awe, inspiration and depression, joy and tragedy like we’ve never experienced in life so far. In Florida, I have encountered some very amazing and incredibly wonderful people and at the same time some people, that…well…I don’t even want to type it. Let’s stay positive.

One year. It has been the hardest year of my life. Yet…here we are, moving forward and facing joys and challenges that remind me I’m still alive and my heart is still beating and confirming that there is a lot of work to do for the Lord.

I’m concerned about my kids.
I’m concerned about my wife.
I’m concerned about our new Church Plant.
I’m concerned about a lot of things…but…

God is bigger than all my concerns.
So what does a man do? The answer is simple. The answer is good. The answer is not easy… I press on. I keep my eyes on the finish line of the faith. I refuse to be one who stands before Jesus trying to explain why I let life’s circumstances get in the way of my calling to reach those who are far from God.

I don’t know what this next year holds…
But I know who holds this next year!

Bring it on. I will stand on 1 Corinthians 10:13, “13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

I wonder what I’ll be blogging about this time next year?
ONE YEAR goes by so fast.
Ready…Set…Go!


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 27 (Mt. 6:14-15) “Forgive”

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

Is God forgiveness conditional? According to Jesus, Yes, forgiveness is not something you receive just because Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins. This is a tough teaching. Jesus’ death on the cross ended God’s anger towards mankind for sin and satisfied God’s character trait of Justice. (Thank God that He is also Mercy.) Jesus’ death doesn’t automatically grant us forgiveness. We have to go to Jesus, then through Jesus and be made new in Jesus. We have to accept Jesus as Lord of our life. We have to receive His blood. This is where forgiveness is received as the free gift that it is.

But…

What if, I have done all those things…is it still possible to not receive Jesus’ forgiveness? I will ask you to answer that question yourself after you read a few passages of Scripture. Here are some passages to help us answer this question.

Matthew 18:23-35 (NLT)
Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone* who sins against me? Seven times?”
22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!*
23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.* 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars.* He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters* from your heart.”

Question: Did the servant receive forgiveness? The answer is yes. Did the servant have his forgiveness revoked? The answer is yes. Why did the servant, after receiving the status of forgiven, return to the status of unforgiven? The answer is, because the forgiven servant refused to forgive someone else.

Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT)
Jesus said, “14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Those two passages give me clear proof that if I refuse to forgive anyone, then God will not forgive me. It’s unimaginable to me that anyone would beg for forgiveness from God and at the same time refuse forgiveness to others who have sinned against us.

Our forgiveness is tied in directly with our willingness to forgive those who have sinned against us. Anybody I have spoken with about this agrees, until they have personally been hurt. Its easy to tell others that they need to forgive. Its not so easy to do it ourselves. So maybe the next few thoughts will help all of us understand why un-forgiveness is like a nasty disease and the quicker we forgive, the healthier we will be personally.

Un-forgiveness not only hurts ourselves but also the person who hurt us. In most cases when someone sins against us and hurts us deeply, the person who hurt us doesn’t sit around thinking about us. The person who hurt us, more likely than not, is not waking up every morning thinking about us. People who cause deep pain, usually do so because they have a tendency to think selfishly. If this is the case, and the person who hurt us is not thinking about us, but we are frequently thinking about the person who hurt us, then we are actually hurting ourselves. Pain makes us think about who, what, why and when we are hurt. Its very time consuming.

With un-forgiveness in our heart, we are consumed by the one who hurt us. I’ve heard it said that thinking about the person who hurt you is like letting that person live in your heart rent free. Again…they are not thinking about us much at all. We are dwelling on them and how they hurt us. It begins to fester. Its all consuming. We find ourselves lashing out at others. Why? Because of un-forgiveness. Un-forgiveness means we don’t heal. Without healing, there is still pain. Pain makes us focus. If we have un-forgiveness towards a person who hurt us then we will focus on the person and the pain. Focus is commitment. We become what we are committed to. If we are committed to feeling the pain and not giving forgiveness then we will become people of pain and un-forgiveness. You will become a person of hurt. Hurt people, hurt other people, or as I like to say, “hurt people, hurt people.

I know we do not want to be hurt people that go about hurting other people. The temptation is to think that the anger we feel inside is good. The temptation is to enjoy the anger feeling we have inside. Sometimes it can make us rage internally and sometimes outwardly. Watch enough Hollywood movies and you will actually begin to believe that the rage and anger you feel is empowering. You will think it feels good and makes you powerful. It makes us think we are strong. It will tempt you to seek revenge and you will begin to believe your revenge is justified. Do you see how dangerous this is? Compare it to man who is taking steroids. He is injecting a chemical inside his body that makes him bulk up and look good. His muscles grow and he becomes an impressive specimen. However, he is poisoning his body. That same steroid that made us all think this person is extremely healthy actually causes him to die. Sterilization, bouts of rage and emotions that are out of control, are all side effects of steroids. But the user thought it was all good. This is what un-forgiveness does to us. Its slowly kills us from the inside or causes us to physically lash out and have sinful reactions.

Mother Theresa said it best, “Un-forgiveness is like you drinking poison and hoping it kills the person who hurt you.”

So what must we do to rid ourselves of un-forgiveness? We have to give forgiveness. Now, in full transparency, I have never felt like forgiving someone who has hurt me. If we are waiting on the feeling to come around, it won’t. Forgiveness is an act of discipline. Forgiveness is an act of sheer holy will. Forgiveness is a choice to be healthy. Forgiveness is one of the most difficult decisions we can make.

I hope the following thoughts will help us give forgiveness to the one(s) who have hurt us. First of all we are dying a slow death if we don’t forgive. It will rot us. Think about this. Just because we forgive someone doesn’t mean they just get off without any consequences. A murderer who is about to receive a lethal injection for his crime can be forgiven by the family of the loved one he murdered. But he still receives the lethal injection. If a family member wounded me deeply, I can forgive the person, and I will be smarter in my dealings with this person from now on. I will create boundaries. If a woman has been abused by a family member, she can forgive that family member, and from that point forward not spend any more time with her abuser. To forgive someone doesn’t mean that we have to be in each others company in the future. If we have been hurt by someone, forgive them and then create boundaries. Don’t forget that God is a god of Restoration. He deeply desires us to be in healed and holy relationships. God desires for you to forgive and restore, but God also understands that if one of the parties doesn’t honor the new boundaries set, then God doesn’t expect us to stay around abusive and unholy behavior. Especially if the person who is abusive and displaying unholy behavior calls themselves a Christian. Be smart with this. Don’t trust your feelings on this issue. Trust God’s Word and common sense. We may need to seek some trustworthy counsel from holy friends or seek a good Christian counselor to advise us on these life altering issues.

The critical factor in all this is to triple check our motives as to why we are creating boundaries as we give forgiveness and work on whatever this restored relationship is going to look like. If we are creating boundaries to control and hurt the person back, then we truly haven’t given the person forgiveness and we now are having sinful reactions towards the person who hurt us. How? All control, judgement and praise belong to God only. If we ever do anything for the purpose of control, praise or judgement then we are taking the role of God. If we do this, even if we won’t say it, our actions are screaming, “I am God!” As we create boundaries for the person who hurt us, we must carefully guard that we aren’t actually having sinful reactions of control and judgement.

Forgiveness ultimately frees us from the prison we have been trapped in. If we are trapped in a prison of forgiveness then we must recognize that we hold the keys to our freedom in our own hands. The keys that unlock our jail cell of un-forgiveness are in our hands. The key is forgiveness. Forgiveness allows us to let the person who hurt us go. By doing this they can no longer live in our hearts rent free. We unlock ourselves from the prison we have been in. A popular “churchy” phrase is “let go-and let God.” When we forgive we release this person into the hands of God and trust that God will do what is right to and for that person. If we try to control the situation because we believe that God will be too kind to the person, then we actually believe that God will make a mistake and that we can do a better job of making this person face the consequences they deserve. Again, if we do this, we actually act as if we are God. We think we can do a better job than God. How dangerous is that?

If what I have written above still is not helping us grant forgiveness to the people who have hurt us, then here is my last desperate attempt.

I am going to write this as if I am talking directly with you.

Have you ever hurt someone?
Do you agree that what you did to hurt that person was a sin?
Did Jesus die to pay for your sin?
Did Jesus die to pay for the sins of the person who hurt you?
As I personally answer the four questions above…The answer is yes to all.

Forgive.

How.
Write a letter.
Send a text.
Facebook Message.
Skype.
Phone call.
Personal visit.

We cannot control how the person will respond when we tell them we are forgiving them. They may not even know that they hurt you. They may get angry, lash out, try to hurt more. Don’t worry about or try to control how they respond. Remember forgiveness is for us to be free. Give forgiveness. Live free.

Don’t forget 1 John 1:9(NLT) I would recommend that we all memorize it. “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

Forgive.
Be Forgiven!
Its the good life.


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 12 (Mt.5:21-22) “Words”

“You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Fool!’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, ‘You Moron!’ will be subject to hellfire.”
Matthew 5:21-22

DRINK IT IN:

Have you ever called somebody a fool? How about a Moron?

I want you try something. In your head or out loud (if you are by yourself) say, “You Fool,” and then when you have said that say, “You Moron.”

When you said each of those phrases, did you experience a different feeling inside? I did. When I said, “you fool,” I had a gentler feeling about it, when I said, “You Moron,” I had a stronger feeling in “the pit of my stomach.” For some reason, when I say, “You Moron,” I have a stronger way of pronouncing it than when I say fool. Why is this?

Because those phrases cut at the very heart of “WHY” I would call someone those phrases. For me to actually say those phrases to somebody would require of me anger, arrogance and a serious heart problem.

Wouldn’t you agree with me that calling somebody a fool or a moron is far different than saying, “you are acting like a fool,” or “you are acting like a moron?

Jesus gives a serious warning about this name calling. He told His listeners that they could face the Sanhedrin or even the fires of hell.

The Sanhedrin was a group of 70 judges in the Jewish Culture. It sounds like if you called somebody a bad enough name you might end up standing before these judges and facing some sort of a penalty. Hellfire…well…I don’t need to explain what Jesus means by hellfire do I?

Here is the deal. To call somebody a fool or a Moron is not about the words. Jesus is not being so literal here that He means its okay to call someone an Idiot…but not a fool or a moron. Jesus is talking about the heart problem that you and I have when we call someone names of any kind. There is no doubt that the stronger the heart problem the stronger the word we use to accuse someone. There is a long list of names that we could brainstorm together and come up with…but I don’t think it would make us proud or honor God if we actually had that brainstorming session…I confess it would be wrongfully fun. (Insert haunting laugh here.)

The Bible says that we shouldn’t let anything unwholesome come out of our mouth. Jesus also says that when we have what is often called a foul mouth, that its not actually a foul mouth, its a foul heart. WORDS WE CHOOSE TO USE ARE PRODUCTS OF OUR SPIRITUAL HEART CONDITION.

Healthy heart = Healthy words
Foul heart = Foul words
Angry heart = Angry words
Hurt heart = Hurtful words
Forgiven heart = Forgiving words
Encouraged heart = Encouraging words.
Holy Heart = Holy words.

You get the point, right?

To call someone a fool or a moron or “_____________________________” (you fill in the blank of your ‘choice’ words) is to actually diminish God’s Creation. Diminish WHAT God created.

What does God say about people? Maybe that is the wrong question, because actions speak louder than words. So…what do God’s actions to mankind say about how God feels about His belief in us? God did send His only Son to die so that we could be forgiven and be made whole and be restored in our walk with Him.

So when we call people foul or condemning names, we are actually telling God that He must be stupid. To call people names and condemn them is to mock God. Its like saying to God…”What were you thinking Lord in sending Jesus to die for that Moron/Idiot/dumb***/nerd/jerk/fool or any other ‘choice’ word.

Do you see the danger in our words? Its not about the words, it is about something much deeper that causes the words.

God doesn’t get upset at words. He’s not threatened by words. He is concerned about your heart and your spiritual well being.

The words you choose to use are a diagnosis of your spiritual heart’s condition and the condition of your soul.

SWEAT IT OUT:
Next time you catch yourself spilling out some choice words, pause and do a heart check to see what is really going on inside of you to cause those words to spew out of you.

Next time somebody does something so stupid that you want to call them all kinds of names, pause and ask yourself, “Did Jesus die for that person’s stupidity?” The answer will be, “yes.” Then remember that Jesus also died for your stupid moments too. (You do have some stupid moments on occasion…right?)

Our words are our choice. Admit with me that it is a weak attempt at an excuse when we say, “I couldn’t help it, those words just came out of my mouth.” How bad is our spiritual condition if we say we can’t help it?

In his book entitled Killing Giants, Pulling Thorns, Chuck Swindoll has reminded us of this epitaph, etched faintly on a gray slate tombstone on a windswept hill in an English country churchyard:

“Beneath this stone,
a lump of clay,
Lies Arabella Young,
Who, on the twenty-fourth of May,
Began to hold her tongue.”

I think we would all have to admit that Arabella Young began to hold her tongue a bit too late.
I ask you to learn how to hold your tongue now. Don’t be like Arabella Young, who must have had quite a mouth for such an epitaph to be written, reminding all the passers by that death finally silenced her tongue. (I will have to write another devotion about the fact that her tongue really hasn’t been silenced…for there is life after death and Arabella is still alive on the other side of life. I’m not the one to judge to where she is eternally located…but her epitaph isn’t necessarily kind.)

So as a challenge to us all, James the brother of Jesus, wrote in James 1:19-27…
19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger[g] does not produce the righteousness[h] God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. 26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Here’s the deal…Don’t wait to hold your tongue. Practice today thinking the best of people. When you find yourself wanting to call someone a foul name…find the extra grace to think about what this person must be going through to cause them to act in such a frustrating way.” It doesn’t do any good to call them names. Remember how patient and kind God is to us and return the favor.

The alternative is to be found guilty of an anger that Jesus says is comparable to murder.
I know you don’t want to be a murderer.
Guard your heart today and tomorrow, and…


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 7 (Mt.5:9) “Peacemaker”


“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
Matthew 5:9

DRINK IT IN:
If you have children, what would you actually do for them in a time of crisis? If you are like me, then you would do anything to protect them, help them, encourage them, shape them. I think its instinctual. If God created the bear and the lion and He also created you. He’s only one artist. He created you with some similarities as the bear and the lion. Have you ever heard any stories about a person coming across a momma bear or lioness when their “kids” are around? They mean business. Its the same for you. You could be one of the most gentle and quiet people on the planet. But put your kids around you and then introduce a little danger in the form of other people or a criminal and its like you jumped into a phone booth, stripped off your regular clothes to expose a super hero ready to do some serious damage in the name of protecting your children.

God is a parent. If God made you in His image to be like Him, then you and God have similar qualities. God designed it that way. I think that God is willing to do just about anything to honor, and do what is very best for His children.

So, the question is; Are you a son or daughter of God?

Some may say, “yes, Trent…I prayed a prayer back when I was in Jr. High and gave my life to God.” My reply to that is, show me in the Bible where someone prayed a prayer and then, from that point on, is considered a child of God. I don’t want to be to cynical here, but please let me save you some time by telling you that, such a Bible verse/story is not in the Bible.

How do I know I am a son or daughter of God?

According to Jesus in this fist sermon He ever preached, He says that you need to be a PEACEMAKER to be considered a son or daughter of God. How serious is this? This is what is called a “salvation issue.” You have to agree with me that in order to go to Heaven you have to be a son or daughter of God. Agree? Jesus then says, that in order to be s son or daughter of God, you have to be a peacemaker. Agree? Then to summarize this line of thinking, we must be peacemakers in order to go to Heaven. You must be a peacemaker to be saved. Agree?

Jesus’ brother has something to say about this. James wrote, in James 3:18, “And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”

I want to be more of a peacemaker. I have found this to be a personal challenge that is difficult. I am an intense person of passion and I most definitely don’t like the status quo. I like to get to the underlying issue of things instead of talk about the surface level of life. So many people, when I speak with them, feel that I am prying a little to hard into their lives. This causes walls to go up. It doesn’t help that I’m 6′ 3″ and 220 pounds. I do boxing workouts. I run 5 miles every other day. I speak the truth and like to be direct. I enjoy making the bully “sweat.” Does that make me a bully to the bullies? Does this disqualify me from being a peacemaker? What a dangerous situation. I must guard all this more carefully. I wish Jesus would have never said this thing about peacemaking. But He did.

So, what about you? Are you a peacemaker? Before we get too discouraged at our answers, let’s make sure we are defining peace the right way. Jesus says that there are different kinds of peace. In John 14:27, Jesus says, “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.”

But hold on! Jesus also said in Matthew 10:34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.”

Is Jesus arguing with Himself? Is this what some call a “biblical contradiction?” The answer is a very clear, “No.” The answer is that there are different kinds of PEACE. As I write this, last Sunday was the Superbowl. We watched the underdog New York Giants beat the New England Patriots. At Half time of the Superbowl, Madonna performed and at the very end of a pretty good performance she had the floor light up with a great big flash of production and it said, “WORLD PEACE.”

Is this what Jesus is talking about when he says, ‘Blessed are the Peace Makers?” It would be impossible for Him to mean this. Because he also said that He did not come to the world to bring Peace but a sword. And I would say…”He did a good job of that.” Every since Jesus arrived and left this planet, there has been division and chaos. Want proof…march into your local public school and start talking about Jesus to the students. I’ll bet your circumstances won’t end in what could be called a peaceful ending. As Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 10:35-36, “I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be in your own household.” Jesus meant it, didn’t he?

How can Jesus say, “Blessed are the Peace-Makers,” when He says He didn’t even come to bring Peace, but a sword?”

He can only say that if there are two kinds of peace. 1. What Madonna calls “World-Peace.” 2. What Jesus calls, “Peace of Heart.”

I think, according to Jesus’ personality and style, the peace He refers to has nothing to do with tranquility, as in no war because every human being just loves one another. That is the dream of mankind. Its a worthy dream. Michael Jackson rounded up pretty much every music celebrity back in his day and they performed a song together that went like this. (I’ll be you can’t read it without singing it in your head!) “We are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving…When you’re down and out, there seems no hope at all. But if you just believe there’s no way we can fall, Let us realize that a change can only come, When we stand together as one” (You started singing it didn’t you!?) In order for this kind of peace to become a reality in the world…then evil would have to be completely removed from the planet. As long as evil is real there will never be the kind of Peace that Madonna or Michael was hoping for.

So, that leaves us the kind of Peace that Jesus gives. Simply put, His kind of peace is best defined this way. “The ability to be calm and confident because you trust that God is in control even in the middle of total chaos.”

We, on occasion come across people like this. We see them in the news. They have stories of Heroism and selflessness. In the middle of absolute chaos they somehow remained strong and confident and calm. Now…I don’t know if Jesus is the one that provided them with this kind of confidence or not. Jesus is not the only one who can provide this kind of peace. You can train for it and not include Jesus in it. You could be naturally confident and ready for action in any situation and be seen as a peaceful person, without Jesus. You could be missing some common sense in your life and therefore not naturally think about dangerous consequences and thus seem to be able to stay calm in scary situations. None of those have anything to do with Jesus, yet you are a person of “peace.”

What I’m trying to say here is that there are all kinds of people who have the Peace that Jesus is referring to and many of them do not have it because of a relationship with Jesus. What I’m saying here is that if you want to be considered a son or daughter of God then you have to let Jesus live inside of your heart and mind and when chaos is ripping all around you, you rely on His peace and calm that He provides because you know He is in control.

When you let Jesus have total control over every detail of your life, then whatever you encounter that isn’t peaceful, that is dangerous, that is scary, you have the ability to remain at peace and in self-control. You are at peace even in the middle of tragedy and chaos. You are able to stay “peaceful” even when your own death might be staring you in the face. Because God is in control. You don’t let the fears of the world control you. God controls you. In the face of insecurity, when someone is verbally attacking you or mistreating you, you don’t have to lash back, because your security is in God and what God says about you.

Peace…Jesus’ style…is the ability to remain calm and collected in the middle of Chaos because you acknowledge that Jesus is in control, no matter the results of the situation. Peace…Jesus’ style…doesn’t mean you just lay over and never challenge back or stand up for what is right. Don’t forget that Jesus is a peacemaker and yet He made a whip and whipped people out of the temple, and He called the Pharisees horrible names. Being a peacemaker…Jesus style…doesn’t mean that you have to be a wimp. It means there is a steadfast strength about you. Being a peacemaker means you are a well-rounded balanced person. Just like Jesus. Strong and gentle. Tough and kind. Offensive and defensive. Sly and innocent. Aggressive and peaceful. Truth and Love. Justice and Mercy. Get it? If you still want a strong picture of the kind of peace that I’m referring to here, then read the Bible story of the crucifixion of Jesus. I can’t think of a more horrible thing to go through than a Roman Crucifixion. So, read the Bible’s account and pay special attention to the attitude and demeanor of Jesus while this horrible thing is being done to him. You will see a man at peace with WHO is in control.

There are stories of women who have been raped and abused over and over but they survived it all and have been saved from that situation and they talk about the peace they were able to have in the middle of all the horrific things that were happening to them. They give credit to Jesus and the Bible. One lady tells the story of how she wrote a powerful Bible verse on her ceiling above the bed. And day after day, she would read the Bible verse above her bed while being raped and trusted that God was real and that she would be okay through all this. What a story of strength and victory. This lady tells of her story, as a story of victory today and about the goodness of God compared to the evil of mankind. There are stories of “tragedy” all over the world where Christians had unbelievable atrocities happen to them, yet they tell the stories as if they are stories of victory! How inspiring! What a witness to the power of God. What a witness to the PEACE of Jesus Christ being lived out by His sons and daughters.

SWEAT IT OUT:
What’s your worst nightmare? What could happen to you that makes you think you couldn’t handle it? I encourage you to think about it and prepare for it to happen in your mind and determine that you would be okay through it all. What is the alternative here? Worry, Stress, Fear, Doubt, Control problems, Nervousness, Anger, Hurtful reactions, etc.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you must be prepared for anything and therefore never be caught off guard. If you are caught off guard and in a moment of weakness do something really stupid, then you harm the witness of Jesus Christ. The Bible is full of teachings about the sons and daughters of God needing to always have their wits about them. We are always one decision or one reaction away from blowing our credibility with God and with other people. Every decision we make…matters. So…

Be prepared.
Be a Peace-Maker.
You will be considered a son or daughter of God.
There is no greater title.

“Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS for they will be sons/daughters of God.”


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