Anchored Voices is a collaborative blog founded by Chara Donahue where Christians can use their words and creativity to point each other to the God who cares. It was conceived to foster a hope-filled community where we can remind one another that when the waves of life hit—in Jesus, the soul is safe. You can read more from them at AnchoredVoices.com.
We live in a world of outrage. War, death, and injustice are happening all around us, in large and seemingly small scales. At any given moment we can read something on Facebook that offends our views, opinions, and even our own selves.
Is there a different way to live, or must we always be upset at someone or about something? Must we live in a way that feels we are constantly attacked or disrespected? I hope not. There is a way of peace that is not common in the world around us. I believe, in fact, there is a way to live with the awareness of ultimate, everlasting, and eternal peace in our hearts day in and day out. In Jesus’ last days he was able to comfort his friends with this truth found in John 14:27:
“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.”
What a beautiful comfort to the ones who were about to see humanity perfected, Jesus, crucified, and for themselves as some of them would face martyrdom for their own faith.
Attaining this ultimate peace may not be exactly what we dream it to be. This peace that Jesus himself offers us is a hope that sees us through to the end. It does not mean happiness at every corner. It does not mean we will never see true trial and suffering in this life. What the peace of Jesus has to offer us the reassurance that we can go through anything life might throw at us, and be rest assured that our eternity is held in his grip. It means that when we are truly attacked or suffering, we can remember that this life lasts a moment, but our eternity with Him is secure and nothing can strip that away from us.
We can choose to live in certain turmoil, taking on pain that was never ours to bear. We can choose to feel hurt when our cause and views are attacked viciously over the internet. We can choose to respond with outrage toward those who hurt us, letting them have a piece of our minds. Or we could choose to put on the peace that has been given through Jesus on the cross. We CAN choose to not respond out of hurt, but to hold our tongues, knowing that justice isn’t ours alone to be had. In choosing to live at peace in this world we have freedom from so much unnecessarily quarreling and painful relationships.
James tells us:
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. ~James 1:19-21
Will you join with me in prayer that God would give us his peace, that we would be freed from outrage, and that we would be those who extend His peace into the world around us?
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3
Britney Bradley loves being a wife to her loving husband, Brian. She is mother to 4 girls (so far) as well as auntie to 8, and friend to many. She has always dreamed about marriage and motherhood, and is now navigating God’s will each and every day in these realms. She enjoys writing when she gets a chance, and of course, coffee.
*Images found at Pixabay
Do you ever find your convictions leading you upstream, taking you outside the norm, even in the context of Christian community? I often find myself wanting validation from others around me about my convictions. While encouragement and community with like-minded people are invaluable, it is not what is of most importance.
Being around so many different people with diverse perspectives and good ways of living out their faith has brought this to the forefront of my mind recently. This summer has been full of family gatherings, old friends, and new friends. One thing that’s stood out to me is the common thread of a deep love for Jesus lived out through a wide variety of personal convictions and styles of worship. In the last few weeks, I’ve encountered small home churches, liturgical services, and large auditoriums. Teachers, parents, nurses, pastors, and accountants devoted to loving their families and communities, at home or across the world.
I find freedom here, to seek wisdom that’s appropriate and good but not depend on others’ approval. It’s liberating to know my peace does not hinge on other people seeing the same conviction I see and approving of it. I am learning to confidently take hold of what God’s putting in front of me and not feel like I need to make excuses for it. I don’t need to dwell on if people disagree, or wonder how they’ll feel about it if God’s word says it is true. If others think my convictions are foolish, it no longer hinders me from taking hold of and finding joy in believing God alone. I can follow him and just run my race confidently.
Conviction is a gift that when we follow, enables us to be closer to Jesus. That’s a deep part of the purpose of conviction—to bring us closer to Jesus.
So follow your own convictions, not what people say around you, based on what God says in the Bible. Do that with freedom and joy. See it as a gift.
Because of my convictions and where they have led me these past several years, I’ve at times had some abrupt shock. Moments of questioning and comparing my status to the status quo loom large in my weaker moments. I am still single, without a home, a stable career, or really any roots that look to be building up what we generally associate with adulthood. While many of my friends have homes and families and long-term stable-seeming jobs, here I am being me and wondering if it is enough. At times the truth that God has a purpose for me here and now can be difficult to see. I would love to have my own family and a life that feels more stable. Sometimes it’s easy to compare my life to others’ and feel like I’m missing out on these things. Or even worse, to wish that I had something to prove my worth to onlookers who probably aren’t even questioning it.
Am I less capable? As a competitive person, it can be difficult to feel like all my friends have the things we normally associate with adulthood and I don’t. I’m an adult, but what represents that?
As I question and process through these emotions again, I remember the decisions that brought me here were made out of strong convictions and a desire to follow God’s leading. If I had chosen a more normal career path, I know I would have regretted not obeying. I would have missed out on so much good that God has invited me into over the last few years. So even in the lack of adult things, I would rather face discomfort and disappointment about cultural expectations and some of my own dreams, than be without the peace of following God’s guidance. He knows better than I do, and I can trust him. It’s better for everyone, for me to follow that, and I won’t be satisfied with other things if I am outside of it. So I choose again that it was is worth it, and keep trusting and following Jesus’s ways. Even when his ways look weird or counter-cultural. If it’s conviction from God it’s worth it, good for the soul, the heart, and the world.
Conviction is a gift that enables, empowers, and equips us to align ourselves with God’s heart.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look for his wonderful face.
The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of Jesus’s glory and grace—this is the heart of conviction.
Rachel Olson recently moved back to the US after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.
What do Chris Daughtry, Macaulay Culkin, Bowflex, and The Bible have in common? They all, in varying ways, have used their platform to influence our culture’s ideas about home.
What is this vague, yet familiar idea of “home” that we all use in our daily lives, yet have a hard time defining? Is it a place? Is it people? Is it an ideal? Is it a concept that can never be fully understood or reached?
This elusive ideal seems difficult to pin down because it is subjectively based on our own life experiences. Below are some of the influences that have shaped my view of this seemingly abstract word.
Music has always played a huge role in my life. Often songs can put my thoughts and prayers into words better than I can. Musicians have long tapped into the nostalgia that we create around this place called home. From classics like “Home on the Range” to holiday comforts like “I’ll be Home for Christmas” something about our dwelling places awakens our emotions.
This is where Chris Daughtry comes in. If you recall, Chris Daughtry was on the fifth season of American Idol (and got sent home way too early in my heart-throbbing opinion). After the show, he successfully made a career out of being a musician. One of his most popular songs is simply called “Home,” with lyrics such as, “I’m going home, back to the place where I belong, and where your love has always been enough for me.” Is home a place? Is it people? Is it about having somewhere we belong?
Growing up in the church, another voice that influenced my teen years was Steven Curtis Chapman’s. In 1997, he released the song, “Not Home Yet” and you better believe that CD was spinning in my Discman on repeat. The idea is that, no matter how comfortable we are, we will not really reach our home until we’re in Heaven praising God. There is a longing only met outside of this world, a longing that awakened after the exile from Eden.
Another vociferous influence in our lives is the film industry. Home is an ideal that we can all relate to, so there are several movies that focus on this. One of the first things that pops into my head is Macaulay Culkin and the beloved Home Alone franchise. I can’t tell you how many times I watched and laughed through these movies as a kid. I watched the first two again around Christmas this last year, and sadly (maybe proudly) could still recite most of the lines. Just in case you need a refresher, Kevin McCallister is accidentally left home alone while his family goes on a vacation, people try to break into his house, and hilarious shenanigans ensue. By the end of it, while he had technically been home all along he misses his family. So what is home? Is it people more than a place? Is it knowing to whom we belong?
Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all influenced by advertisements every day. From billboards to infomercials, from radio ads to catchy jingles, it is impossible to avoid. One major selling tactic that is used is to convince you that you never need to leave your house because you can use this product or that “from the comfort of your own home” (i.e. Bowflex home gym)! Whether it be online shopping, working out, or even taking college courses, these advertisers are all about comfort. So what is home? Is it where you’re most comfortable? Is it our belongings?
Why is there so much confusion about this idea of home? Is it about comfort? Is it about people? Is home where your family is? This is something I’ve been pondering a lot in my own life. If it’s about people, how does that fit with where God has me as a single person who lives alone? We often use comfort or familiarity to define home. For instance, our place of employment is often called our home away from home because it’s where we spend a large chunk of our lives. We call our places of worship our home churches. All of these things seem to play a role in what we see as home, but I think that maybe the reason we have a hard time pinpointing what exactly defines this idea is because Steven Curtis Chapman had it right all along. We’re not home yet.
Our home is ultimately with Christ, in a world without sin, where we will know ultimate comfort, peace, and be in the presence of our perfect King who loves us more than anyone in our current lives ever could. It is where our hope belongs.
“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2, ESV).
Karly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption.