The Way of Peace

Posted: Jun 21, 2024

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
– John 14:27

Perhaps you can relate to this scenario. You go on vacation with your family. Most of the time is spent doing; running around trying to have as much fun as you can. When it’s time to go home you’re at least as weary as when you left. Getting to the office almost sounds like a relief so you can recover from vacation.

“Life in the fast lane, surely make you lose your mind.”
“Life in the fast lane… everything, all the time.”
– The Eagles

If we’re not careful, “everything, all the time” will send us over the cliff. Many are wiped out, burned out, running on fumes. Our world has turned into an insane asylum. Spend too much time reading or watching the news and you may start feeling like you’re ready for a tranquilizer. Which is probably why sales of psychiatric medications are breaking records.

Add a struggling marriage or family to the struggle with our rebellious flesh and an enemy who comes at us to “steal, kill, and destroy,” and the stress-meter starts pegging the top.

Ample doses of soul-rest and peace in the midst of these dangerous, dark times aren’t a luxury, they’re a requirement. Where are many turning for this rest?

“I hear you’re feeling down
Well, I can ease your pain
And get you on your feet again
Relax… can you show me where it hurts?
…I have become, comfortably numb.”
– Pink Floyd

“The smartphone is the modern-day hypodermic needle, delivering digital dopamine 24/7 for a wired generation.”
– Anna Lembke, MD, from her book Dopamine Nation.

The average American spends 4-1/2 hours a day on their phone. After I shared this stat with a friend of mine, he said “4-1/2 hours a day, that’s all? I easily spend 6 hours a day on my phone.”

Some come home from work and numb out for hours on their phone; many are on it all day. Smartphone addiction creates depression and anxiety (Prozac, anyone?). Drink in the news long enough and your mood will turn dark. News websites and social media are rife with pornographic images; X just opened the floodgates of porn to its 500 million users. The content doesn’t have to be pornographic to be junk food for the soul; liberal doses of strife, turmoil, fear and lies can cauterize the heart.

Many attempt to get comfortably numb with sugar or other forms of food porn. “That piece of cake, batch of cookies, pint of ice cream, will soothe my soul.” It won’t; the ensuing mood crash and eventual expansion of the waistline won’t bring on peace. 70% of Americans are obese (39%) or overweight (31%).
In 1960 the US obesity rate was 13%. In one generation something has gone seriously wrong.

So how are we coping? In typical American fashion, we turn to medication (sales of Ozempic are blowing up) to resolve a problem with spiritual and emotional components. If one gets off the drug without having faced their heart, the chances are high they’ll gain it all back.

The mind, emotions, and heart are intertwined. Numbing out one affects the others; harden your heart long enough, and it will grow cold. “Everything all the time” drains the soul.

Sexual sin of every kind has exploded. There is no rest, peace, or contentment to be found in masturbation, pornography, or the host of other sexual sins and short-lived pleasures that many are turning to. Including many Christians. The list of church and ministry leaders who fall due to sexual sin continues to grow.

All of our advances in technology and modern comforts don’t seem to have done much for our emotional, physical, and spiritual health. We’re always consuming but rarely satisfied or content. More, more, more. We may be the wealthiest, most advanced, most miserable generation in history.

“The way of peace they do not know,
and there is no justice in their paths;
they have made their roads crooked;
no one who treads on them knows peace.”
Isaiah 59:8

The way of peace that Jesus offers goes against the grain of the noise, distractions, entertainment, and pleasures of this world, including some of what we hear (or don’t) in church.

“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
Psalm 131:1-2

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Taking Jesus’ yoke means we carry no burdens. We continually release everything to God: our spouse, children, the news, election, wars, the tribulation, and, our sin and failures. Our prayer can be “Lord, I release (name the weights you’re carrying, one by one). I will not carry these things.” We resolve to surrender all control to God in these areas and in our relationships. No man can force another to change; we have no control over what the government or others do. Going into control freak or panic mode gives ground to fear. You won’t have a shot at resting in His peace when anxiety is pumping through your system.

I’m not saying we can’t watch the news, but that we don’t weigh our soul down with all that strife and trauma. We avoid obsessing about the things we can’t control… “the things too great and marvelous” for us. We pray for those situations, then let God carry them.

If we’re carrying a weight of guilt or shame over our sin, we release it to God. We need only to confess our sin one time and forgiveness is ours (1 John 1:9). We refuse to carry the weight of that which Jesus paid a horrible price for. If needed, we find a safe believer who we can release this burden to and pray with (James 5:16).

Pride, bitterness, fear, lust, and a hot temper are peace and relationship killers. Press into prayer with God and others until these detonators are defused.

We make living in the bullseye of God’s will our aim. Prayer, time in God’s word, and learning to walk with, hear from, and obey Him are keys to rest and peace – no matter what happens. When He opens the door to suffering and pain in our lives we embrace it, knowing that He is with us, has a purpose, and is teaching us. We can enter into His rest even when all hell is breaking loose.

We choose the way of contentment. We choose to be content with the spouse God gave us (flaws and all), our vocation, our kids (no matter where they are), our material possessions (do you really need that hot new thing that everyone else is obsessed about?), and the dwelling and vehicles we’re given. The lack of contentment and the flesh-and-lust driven desire for more rots our capacity for peace and joy. What else is porn but the lack of contentment with the spouse that God gave us? If we’re single, we choose to be content with where He has us today. Do we believe that God is enough to fill our heart with His life and peace?

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and[c] we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”
1 Timothy 6:6-8

Perhaps you say, “I want to walk away from lust, gluttony, or my phone-addiction but I’ve spent a long time giving it ground in my life.” We go to God in beseeching prayer and ask for His strength to take the action steps necessary. We invite another believer into the battle, confess our weaknesses, and ask them to pray for us. We don’t sit on our butts, do nothing, whine, and cooperate with temptation; we take effective action against it.

“But I have calmed and quieted my soul.”

We have to quiet our soul. This test, if taken, exposes our heart. We get away somewhere quiet, alone, for at least an hour. The phone is off. We press into prayer. We rest with God, with everything released and surrendered to Him in quiet contentment, wanting and needing nothing, knowing that He is the fountain of life. We worship. We pour our love out into Him. We listen. God heals in silence.
We experience and receive His peace.

Have you noticed how prayer is a crucial part of everything? Funny how people will spend hours watching videos, movies, or playing video games while spending 4+ hours a day on their phone but say they’re too busy for an hour of prayer.
Yeah, how’s that working for you?

If you want to know God and walk in His peace, you must be prepared to fight for it. We are a church at war. The enemy will do what he can to thwart God’s rest and peace; burning people out is one of his weapons. Some churches are good at telling people “You need to get busy for God” while failing to show them how to have a vital prayer life, rest, and overcome in spiritual warfare. The trail of wreckage from burnt out and defeated Christians is a long one. Some believers will look at you like you’re a nut job if you tell them you spent a day alone in prayer.
Then a text will come in, they’ll twitch, and gaze lovingly at their phone.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Matthew 7:13-14

Bombs Going Off

We are seeing an increasing amount of people in dark places that include molesting children, child porn, suicide, youth in bondage, marriages being torn apart, and tormented believers, all which point to all-out spiritual warfare. Recent events in the news with several pastors of large churches stepping down are more signs of a church at war.

We must always ask, what is God showing us? What does He want to do in response?

We need far more than an emphasis on doctrine and right thinking. It is critical that we equip God’s people in their prayer lives and in spiritual warfare. These topics, along with suicide, the destruction of youth, depression, anxiety, and sexual issues should be front and center of every church right now. Every believer should be a part of a tribe, fire up their prayer life, and be involved with a prayer meeting at least once a week. This is the wrong time to be isolated. Reply to this email to get plugged in or participate in one of our prayer meetings. At a time when darkness is taking ground at an accelerated rate, any believer without an effective prayer life is a dead man walking, spiritually speaking.

Speaking of Prayer Meetings…

We had another powerful night of prayer last week, with participants from Asia, the UK, Germany, Africa, and the US. Four hours of soaking in God’s presence with His people is life-giving, relationship-bonding, Holy Spirit fired, and game changing. I broke into song, which isn’t something I typically do. This is church the way it was meant to be as seen in the book of Acts.

We’ll be making the announcement for our next night of prayer in a week or so.

“Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work… Prayer is the battle; it is a matter of indifference where you are. Whichever way God engineers circumstances, the duty is to pray.”
– Oswald Chambers