Peace in Jesus


Peace and rest in JesusIf I were to poll 100 people about what they most need in their lives, I don’t think peace would be in their top responses. But if I suggested peace as an answer, I think everyone would nod and agree it’s a huge need.

Peace seems so unfamiliar to people today that I think few consider it. Peace is like that wonderful, gifted, older second cousin you saw 25 years ago at a reunion. In the family, yes, but nebulously distant. Not someone you think about except when someone else reminds you of that side of the family, and then a positive memory or three comes back. Yes, now I remember. Really nice person. Would be good to see again.

What we don’t realize is how essential it is never to lose track of peace—until peace is telling in its absence. Can’t put our finger on what is out of whack, but something is not right.

More often than not, that “not right” is missing peace.

Without Jesus, there is no peace. In the silent moments of our days, the disquiet enters, and we do what we must to mute it. A million mute buttons exist, and us forever pressing the nearest one. Because the disquiet shouts to us its lack of peace. Screams that something is wrong, is off, is askew, or is missing.

Jesus, come, and be near us now.

Jesus, still our frenzy.

Jesus, quiet our distress.

Jesus, let us rest in You.

Jesus, be our peace.


I don’t know what your situation is, but I can tell you this: You could use more peace in your life. May Jesus be that peace. May you rediscover a depth of trust in Him that helps you enter rest and find renewal and refreshing for your soul.

So Why Does It Matter?


This week, we’ve looked at the problem of the frantic, overscheduled, overworked lives we Americans face (“When the Truth Strikes Out” and “It’s Never Enough Until Your Heart Stops Beating“). I’ve blogged on this issue many times in the past (see the end of this post for related posts), but I don’t see it getting any better. If anything, the Church and parachurch organizations act as if nothing has changed. Yet we now…

…spend more time away from home performing our jobs.

…spend record amounts of time commuting or shuttling our kids here and there.

…have more time-pressed, dual-income families than ever before.

…work harder for less money, often necessitating multiple jobs.

…have no time for social groups that help maintain the fabric of our society.

…feel more guilty than ever that we can’t mirror the perfect family that well-meaning Christians tell us we must be.

Why should any of this matter, though? Why should Christians address the underlying causes for these problems?

As someone keenly aware of the state of disciplemaking in this country, I believe it matters because all these things work to undermine the Great Commission. Dude, it's like moving! Whoa!I believe these trends and changes in our society actively work against the Gospel.

I don’t know how far we must sink before Christian leaders in America wake up to the fact that most of their charges are one exhale away from spiritual death. Our collective hypnosis must end.

With so many distractions and so much rushing to and fro, how can any of us expect to develop a truly deep walk with Christ? When dad spends twelve hours a day away from home, how can he be expected to be a true spiritual leader in his home? By the time he eats dinner and tosses a ball with Junior for fifteen minutes, the day’s over. The weekend consists of doing all the things that didn’t get done during the weeknights. Sometimes prayer goes out the window. Bible study? Forget about it. Developing a rich community of faith with others? How? Who has the time?

Folks, these are serious problems that strike at the very health and mission of Christ’s Church in this country. Yes, many of them are of our own making from long past, but now they’re entrenched in our culture, and like ticks embedded in the skin, they’re not easy to remove without an infection resulting.

Jan at The View From Her asked why Christians are demanding more and more Christian movies and TV shows. Isn’t it all just preaching to the choir?

That question fits here because I feel that our discipleship in this country is so poor we’re failing to create disciples who can stand on their own two spiritual feet. They need constant propping up in order to walk the path of Christ. So instead of developing an inner life filled with the Spirit, they surround themselves with pleasant Christian messages they believe will strengthen them.

Unfortunately, that misguided belief resembles going into battle clad in pillows rather than armor. Yet in a frenzied environment packed to the gills with this activity and that, we flop to the couch with nothing left and turn on our sweet little Christian movie before we doze off.

Folks, it ain’t workin’.

The American Church won’t shake the censers of heaven with our prayers if we toss off prayer between bites of doughnut and sips of coffee listening to Christian radio during morning rush hour. We’re not going to build strong communities if we pull in from work at 7 PM, change clothes, and wolf down dinner, only to realize it’s 8 PM already and we missed yet another church-related event. Delusional people think they can pull that off.

Perhaps that’s our problem: we’ve lost touch with reality. Or perhaps we’ve got too much reality and have lost touch with the Lord, instead. Either way, we’re in trouble if we blithely soldier on without question.

Call your pastor up some night and ask him about this. Ask him what he thinks all this bustle and overwork might be doing to his flock. Then ask why it is that no one questions it all.

If all of us do this, then some outside chance exists that some leaders will start thinking beyond the rathole issues that distract us from true discipleship. Perhaps then we’ll see important Christian voices confronting these problems.

Previous posts on these issues:

It’s Never Enough Until Your Heart Stops Beating


If you don’t already know, I play drums. Four weeks ago, I got lost in the moment during worship at church and misunderstood a gesture by one of the other worship team members as the signal end a song. Not remembering how far along we were into that song, I complied and the whole thing ground to a quick halt. This left the lead guitarist unprepared for the next song, as he was lost in the moment, too.

Oops. As someone who attempts to be professional in his playing, I don’t make an enormous number of boneheaded mistakes like that.

Later, I was told by someone that my mistake resulted in the quenching of the Spirit. I know in my heart that this isn’t true because the Holy Spirit isn’t so timid that a missed cue sends Him flying away. This isn’t an incantation, folks.

Still, a nagging doubt of my skills remained.

The next Sunday—Easter—rolled around and a packed church greeted us as I sat down on my drummer’s throne. Our set had a number of songs we’d not practiced fully, so I was on pins and needles considering the previous week.

What happened next could best be described in my view as “a disaster.” Because we sometimes extend songs if the mood hits, endings get dictated by whomever leads the song. I play along until I get a cue to end. Easter Sunday, yours truly, my cue radar on hypersensitive, proceeded to take three slight gestures by song leaders as “let’s end this”—only to end the songs prematurely. This happened on each of the last three songs we played, each ending worse than the one before.

The people in the seats didn’t know any better. The vast majority didn’t catch the mistakes. But I could barely get off the stage. I didn’t hear the message. I don’t think I heard anything anyone said. The afternoon stunk. The evening followed in kind. The Monday after resembled the dark-hued one that New Order (or Fats Domino, for all you oldsters) sang about.

New Order also sang the following:

That’s the way – shellshock.
Hold on! It’s never enough,
It’s never enough until your heart stops beating.

I talk to people and it never ceases to amaze me how many live in perpetual shellshock. No matter what they do, it’s never enough. Never enough until their hearts stop beating.

I look at what we’re doing to ourselves and wonder if the cost to keep up with the Joneses, to never let our guard down for one moment lest we stumble and the herd of stampeding elephants behind us run us over, is worth it.

I dare any married couple with children to arrange a get-together with five other similar couples. How far does the calendar spool out before a mutually open date shows up—if at all? Then the pressure mounts.

When our culture only likes a winner, everyone fights to win. But what of the losers? And if there’s only one winner, aren’t most of us losers?natlamp.jpg

When our culture praises a life set awhirling, how do we turn off the spin cycle?

The iconic magazine cover at right summarizes our dilemma. Are we the dog? Or are we the consumer? Don’t we lose in either case?

I think too many of us feel like we have a gun pointed at our heads and that at any second someone or something may squeeze the trigger. We rationalize that if we only do this better or that more quickly, the gun will magically disappear.

Or we feel the pressure to conform to the voices yelling at us through our culture. Sadly, we may feel as if our churches scream the same message as the culture. They tell us what we should be doing, but give us no tools or assistance to make that command possible. In some ways, we’re left attempting what they say for fear of worse consequences, even if we can’t make what they say work.

It’s never enough. And the heart beats on, though more anxiously.

I used to think that frenzy and performance stood as distinct traits, but now I’m beginning to see they feed off each other. They combine like nitro and glycerine to explode in our lives, leaving us shellshocked.

Yesterday afternoon, my family attended a wildflower walk hosted by the Audubon Society. Jack in the Pulpit, Spring Beauty, Blue Phlox, Trillium, Yellow Ragwort. Flowers. In the woods. For hours.

Driving home, I wondered how many people would consider that time ill-spent because the dividends don’t leap out. Or how many have so scheduled their lives they can’t possible find the time to stop and consider a fragile flower not even a quarter inch across.

I’ve got to believe that a culture that hurtles here and there loses its soul. If we’re living our lives under the mantra that it’s never enough until our hearts stop beating, then perhaps we’re already dead.

Someone has to stand up and oppose this performance-oriented frenzy of activity. And more than just one of us. We can’t do this alone or else we simply won’t generate the inertia to change our culture.

Yes, it’s a matter of prayer. But more than that, it’s Christians playing the counterculture card and doing so with their very lives.

We want to see Christ lifted up, to win the world for Him, yet we’re either stuck in the spin cycle or sidelined by shellshock.

Something’s gotta give.

{Image: One of the most recognized magazine covers of all-time, National Lampoon, January 1973, ASME‘s #7 cover of the period 1965-2005.}