John 16: A Perfect Peace

BETHANY BELUE|GUEST It is 6:00 p.m. on a Friday night. The kitchen is a mess with dirty dishes scattered on the counter and crumbs blanketing the floor from a toddler who thinks throwing his food is funny. My hair is tied in a messy ponytail, and spit-up stains dot my shirt. My 19-month-old is running wild awaiting bath time while my two-month-old cries, ready for her last little nap before the end of the day. As I look around at this scene, with toys scattered everywhere and the sounds of young children filling the home, I can’t help but laugh. Although I’m living in my very own circus and a far cry from how I used to spend a Friday night, I laugh at how different my life is now and how peaceful my heart is in this moment of chaos. For all of us, the last few years have felt heavy, unnerving, and probably at times like living in a dramatic movie. Between a pandemic which has completely changed so much about our world, political divisions, racial unrest, and continual brokenness that fills our lives, we can all say we have faced tribulation. While all of these things have impacted my life personally, the biggest focus in my world has been the birth of two children in less than two years after years of struggling with infertility. These babies were prayed for, longed for, and still very much a surprise to us. In a short period of time, while the world around us changed dramatically, everything in our personal lives changed as we welcomed these two little lives into our family. As I navigate this new season that feels like I’m barely keeping my head above water, I surprisingly told a friend recently, “I think I may be more at peace now in this season than I've ever felt before.”

John 16: A Perfect Peace2023-03-24T17:57:50+00:00

The Church In One Accord

SHARON ROCKWELL | GUEST My husband and I recently attended the 34th Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in our small town. Several hundred people gathered to pray for our nation, our state, and our city. We watched our area Explorers and the Pipes and Drum Ensemble post the Colors and lead the Pledge of Allegiance. We acknowledged those in local leadership and first responder roles, and we listened to our public high school sing both hymns and patriotic music. Several community pastors read Bible passages and led us in prayer. It was a deeply moving time to come together with those who live side by side with us, who may attend different churches, who may disagree on the need for masks, and who may be on the opposite side politically. But none of that mattered. For the few hours we were together praying, we were in one accord. I was reminded of the story of the early church. After Christ’s resurrection, He returned to present Himself alive to the apostles. He offered many proofs that He was alive, appearing to them for forty days and speaking to them about the kingdom of God. The apostles were undoubtedly excited to spread the news of what they had seen and heard. But Jesus commanded them to wait for the promised Holy Spirit to come. After this commandment, Jesus was lifted up into a cloud and taken from their sight. Acts 1:12-14 records their obedience, “Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” The crowd totaled about 120 people. Later, after Pentecost and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the church grew as 3,000 were baptized and continued in prayer and thanksgiving.

The Church In One Accord2023-03-24T17:57:59+00:00

John 16: Peace in Jesus

ALLISON VAN EGMOND | GUEST The world news blares updates about recent warfare. An email alert chimes with bad news from a doctor. A mom yells in frustration. A pastor is persecuted for speaking the truth. A teen is plagued with suicidal thoughts. A kid screams for attention. A couple quarrels regularly. A woman struggles with falling into the same sin. There are many daily concerns that threaten to steal our peace. Longing for Peace Our chaotic lives can cause us to feel overwhelmed and unsettled. We are surrounded by various forms of suffering. Sometimes in the midst of the turmoil in my own life, I dream about lounging on the beach with a book in my hand, a salty snack to nibble on, and the soothing sounds of the ocean around me. Perhaps you’ve had a similar daydream. When life seems to swirl in chaos around us, we tend to want to escape the noise. We dream about another world, another place where there are no demands on our attention, no noises filling our ears, no fears or sorrows filling our minds. We long for a break. A pause button. Peace and quiet.

John 16: Peace in Jesus2023-03-24T17:58:18+00:00
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