This is not where I am right now, but this could be a place I want to be.

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“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” –John Muir

 

I have never been at Crested Butte on the Schofield Pass, but my brother and his wife have. Two mountain-loving people took these photos. We fondly call them– D & D, and their passion is to explore the West.

In my best moments I sit in awe of  photos like these, but I am not there. In my worst…I think “if only” and then I would be at peace. But my peace is not only found in climbing mountains.

Instead I must find peace in the midst of troubles. I need to live in it and live through it. I don’t think I am alone when I share this. It’s a struggle to be in a place that continually hurts. How can we go on when we are without direction, without love, or in physical pain, or in the deepest grief?

It’s hard work to lay down daily stress if we work at it ourselves.

So don’t work at it.

Don’t focus on it.

Leave the latest news in our country to rest.

Here is a place to meet God. Right here where you are…now.

He is not only in mountains where peace seems to be. We can meet Him in all places that seem most common…

on our way to work,

in the grocery store,

crying alongside a friend in grief,

in loss of a home or job,

or with toddlers on the loose,

in the ordinary everyday…because that is most of life.

We can see God in a smile, a pause, in music, in the most unexpected (which some call coincidence).

Jim Elliott said in a profound quote–“Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.”

We all must live now, as everyone else, and not hope for a different life. Peace and restlessness do not get on together.

Shut out the noise around you so all you hear is God in a bird song, leaves rustling on a tree, a ticking clock, or a waterfall.

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What are men (compared) to rocks and mountains?” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

 

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“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”–John Muir

 

He is the Lasting Peace and if you can’t find him, just be still…pause…

He will meet you where you are.

 

True Love…or Narrow the Path but Wide with Love

I love the church…the good and bad of it. And I will keep going to church as long as I am able. But there are things in the church that make it hard—humans! People like you and me.

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We are real people with different families, personalities and traditions.

As a new believer I drank in God’s Word, but I was confused about the rules imposed upon me. Since I was a teen, I figured it was part of keeping us under control. Maybe they thought teens were frightening, after all, it was the Hippie-drugs-anti-war era.

But why, when Christ set me free, do I now live with the rules of man?

When I became an adult, and learned more about grace, I realized it’s not about the rules.

Moses was given the Ten Commandments for the people of Israel…and they couldn’t keep them. Because they couldn’t, the people had to continue to sacrifice to God.

What people needed was a remedy to fix the problem once and for all.

Christ became that remedy.

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Christ is not about rules—He is about life, real life—even as we struggle in everyday life. He makes it possible to live it to the full—now on earth…while we wait for his coming. His example is written plain as day in the New Testament. We just need to follow it!

Once our eyes were blind to the fact that He is Creator of the universe…of humans. We are not gods—He is God.

When He reveals his holiness, we realize our great unworthiness. We must believe! We know He is our only hope…then grabbing onto Life we find we are finally at rest. This is the craving that we searched for since we were old enough to reason.

We have no desire to hurt Him, because His love fills us. The Good Shepherd fills us continually when we listen to him. We don’t need mankind’s rules to tell us to be good. We desire to be good!

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As an adult I saw the contrast between two churches. I saw a loving church vs. a church where works and image were most important. Works are important, but works don’t get us to heaven.

When I stepped away I was astounded at the difference. Love draws, criticism and judging only repels. It does nothing to draw others to the body of Christ.

If we do not carefully speak in love, it’s not done right.

Honey words are sweeter than vinegar.

Here is a well-known dialogue in a favorite movie of ours, The Princess Bride. At this point of the movie, Fezzik and Inigo bring the Man in Black to see Miracle Max because he is dead and they need a miracle:

Miracle Max: Hey! Hello in there. Hey! What’s so important? What you got here that’s worth living for?

Westley: [faintly] Truuuuueee…. looooooovvveee…..

Inigo Montoya: [excited] True love! You heard him! You could not ask for a more noble cause than that.

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How do we show true love? How do we speak to another believer about a perceived problem without acting high and mighty? We must be careful we don’t act as though we have been given the golden key to knowledge, and then use it as a weapon.

Whose job is it to speak to them? Is it the minister’s job, someone in the family, or church member?

Narrow is the way to salvation, but wide should be our love toward others.

Don’t get me wrong—if a believer is choosing a wrong path, a strong believer should come alongside him and encourage him in the right path. But do we have a clue what path they are on? Or do we know what is life throwing at them? Who is the one leading them? Not us.

We are not designed to be the Holy Spirit in the lives of other believers. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to correct or instruct. We are designed to encourage, strengthen and build up. A believer in a spiritually intimate relationship with another believer has the responsibility to speak the truth in love—even if it hurts. But apart from that relationship, he has no right.

For decades our nation has been in spiritual decline. Theological terms we may be familiar with mean nothing to an unchurched person. In fact, they complicate our relationship with him or her. Are we in touch with the world?

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It is refreshing to see younger believers without judging attitudes who have an attitude of love. It’s more important to truly love someone then hand them a list of things they are doing wrong. How do we know someone’s spiritual temperature? We can’t unless we spend real time with them, know their real struggles in life, weep with them, pray with them.

It is not our job to fix people. It is the Shepherd who binds up the sheep; the Vinedresser trims the dead branches and grafts in others. It is He who tends to the work in his people to change them for good.

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Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” 2 Cor. 4:10 KJV

 

We are Christ dying for people, not Christ condemning people.