Personal Peace

“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

It’s a good idea to pray often to God for personal peace in these weird and frantic days. There are a lot of distractions that will not only draw you away from God but also from your spirit and from having peace. The Bible describes us as being made up of three distinct and primary parts: spirit, soul and body. But what’s the difference between soul and spirit? Most don’t know anymore. We are taught to be materialistic. Identity is falsely rooted in the body. As Allan Bloom noted in The Closing of the American Mind, we know the ideal body but not the ideal soul. And with the current levels of academic madness, the stifling of reason, we are rejecting healthy bodies for sickness, and wander lost and without personal peace in the name of individuality.

True individuality isn’t found in a punk-rock-rejection of apparent norms. True individuality is embodied when our souls (personalities) choose first the life of the spirit. This does not debase the body. We must guard against this immoderate pendulum swing: body as either all good or all evil. The body, the flesh, the things of this world have their place, but they are not primary. They are more like the leaves of a tree and not the roots. The spirit is the roots and the soul is the trunk and branches. Without the soul mediating between the two (your free will to choose the life of the spirit), the leaves depart and die while the roots are chopped off and cannot nourish the tree.

We need all three parts but first, let us choose the spirit, and that which is of the spirit and can give lasting, personal peace: God. Our souls are distressed when we live primarily for the body. We grow nobly in peace when we live out of the spirit. And it’s God’s Holy Spirit that enables us to live in the depths of meaningful and experiential prayer. Communion with God through our spirit gives us a life of peace and maintains the health of our soul. I know this first hand. It’s not merely principles. It’s reality.

There have been times when I’ve neglected to care for my soul and been without true peace. Temptations abound, and it’s easy to give into the things of this world as if they were all there was, is and ever will be. I know better, but sometimes I get lazy. Or sometimes I’m working through some sort of pain or loneliness or frustration, etc. Other times I’m overwhelmed with people’s problems and the evils of this age. It’s easier to distract myself and neglect soul care. Occasionally I’m half right in forgetting myself. It isn’t wise to get caught in the labyrinths of the self without a map and a way out. However, distractions cannot rescue; they merely numb our puzzled distress and freeze us in a state of spiritual confusion. It’s only life through the spirit - prayer and communion with the Holy Spirit - that can get us out and cause personal peace.

My prayer is that we are willing to turn to God and trust His way of peace through the spirit. “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Thanksgiving is Good for the Soul

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father (Colossians 3:16-17).

The full, content life doesn’t have room nor time for bitterness or complaints. Grumbling, the norm and virtue for cultural puritans, cannot comment on gratitude in any meaningful way because they are primarily concerned with fighting and acquiring power for personal and societal reasons. All work and no play . . . and yet, many Christians too have been pulled into the grip of griping. They bemoan in their impoverished spirits, having neglected the riches of Christ, attributing their highest happiness to materialism, statues, money, political parties, popularity, and on and on. There are goods to be had, no doubt, but they are not the fullness of life: only God can be that which our souls yearn for the most. And once satisfied, the soul is replete with thanksgiving that goes beyond the pale of televised accolades.

A thankful heart is also resilient. It is not easily swayed by circumstances or peoples perceptions. It does not readily give in when others disagree or settle on contrary opinions. The thankful heart approaches the day with joy and a song that’s sweet and light, rising from the sidewalks through branches and clouds, beyond the stars to the very heavenly seat of Christ. The seriousness of the day isn’t lost on the buoyant soul. Weighty matters ought to boggle and cause some soul searching. But they need not drag appreciation from our storehouse of goods. We are stronger and freer in thanksgiving, able to fully appreciate God’s goodness and weather the storms of life. We have true shelter amidst complainers, who have abdicated blessings for that which they have not; and ever, do they wonder, why they will eternally be impoverished? If you let go of what God has given you, what makes you sure that God will give again? He is no dusted-off-genie out of a lamp, ready to grant wishes; for you see, you haven’t rescued Him, but He you.

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others (Cicero).

This Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks to our Creator and Savior, to our friends and family, to all those who came before us to give us our way of life, and let us do this not as a one time ceremony but as a way of life.

Pastor Aaron Talbot

The Light for a Dark Heart

A dark heart knows no end to gloom. Abundantly shower the dark heart with goods and resentment will squander every faithful gift, every act of mercy, every gesture of grace, every surprising hope, and every measure of love. The dark heart, if it’s to be rescued, must be flooded with the love of Christ.

“O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them” (John 17:25-26).

The love of the Father through the Son illuminates and frees the dark heart from its self dug grave of resentment. Lovingly embracing (believing) Jesus necessitates that we drop the shovel and step out of the lonely, cold dirt for abundant life. The Father’s providential purpose is clarified in our lives as we walk towards then with Him. His ways become our ways. And our dark hearts become full of His light and full of His love.