Beth Armstrong

Christian wife, mom, & author. Doing life with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I walk, I stumble, I fall. But God is big. And this is what I write about… Thanks for stopping by!

Archive for the tag “Peace”

CAN YOU BRIDGE THE GAP?

swing-bridge

I have a friend who’s really wigged out by bridges. Not totally creeped out, but pretty freaky about them. I had no idea this existed in her until several years ago. She invited my boys and me down to the lake to spend a few days with her and her kids. We hung out and did some sight-seeing and driving around.

One day we were driving through one of the state parks. It was a pretty remote area with deep woods and winding gravel roads. Somewhere in the middle of the winding and driving on our primitive path, we came upon an old suspension bridge with wooden planks that you could see through straight to the water below. I thought it was cool. So did the kids. They wanted to get out and walk across. So we stopped the car and her uneasiness began. Again, I had no idea she was so wigged out by these things. She wanted no part of getting out of the car. Matter of fact she wanted no part of even driving over the bridge even though car after car had gone over it for years. It wasn’t like she was totally freaking out or anything, but was noticeably bothered. Honestly, at the time I thought she was just messing with me. But, no. Oh no. It was for real. She does not like bridges and this old, rickety suspension bridge was proof positive.

Some time ago at work one of the entertainers at our facility played the Simon and Garfunkel song Bridge Over Troubled Water on the piano. I hadn’t thought about my friend and her freaky bridge aversion in a long time. And for whatever reason, this song brought back that memory. Personally I like the song. If you read the history behind it, you’ll find the “true meaning” of the song lies somewhere between Jesus and heroin and the few strands of gray in Mrs. Simon’s hair.

Here’s the thing…people struggle, people have junk and baggage. When they look through the wooden planks of their lives it’s far from sturdy. And all they see through the weathered and worn out planks is troubled waters. They see failure, shortcomings, regret, poor choices, guilt, remorse, and shattered hopes and dreams. They don’t see peace. They don’t sense calm. They don’t feel stillness. Like the bridge they feel suspended in mid-air without any kind of solid foundation underneath.

Can you, even for a moment, bridge the gap between their hurt and your hope? Can you, even for a moment, bridge the gap between their pain and God’s promises? Can you, even for a moment, bridge the gap between their struggles and your Savior?

When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes,
I will dry them all
I’m on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down…
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down…

To my friend’s credit she did drive over the bridge after a little coaxing and several offers from me to take the wheel. We made it. All in one piece. With memories to share and stories to tell when we safely arrived at the other side.

Ah, yes…the other side. Safety is on the other side, but the journey to get there sometimes has to go over old, rickety bridges with weathered and worn out planks.

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I’ll take your part
When darkness comes around
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down…
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down…

 Who can you be a bridge for this week?

(*Note: This post originally appeared on the Clutter Interrupted website on November 23, 2014)

8 THINGS TO STAND FOR IN A WORLD THAT’S FALLING DOWN

There’s a popular song on the radio that I really like to sing along with, but the lyrics trouble me.

Oh, Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for…What Do I Stand For?
What do I stand for?
Oh what do I stand for?
Most nights I don’t know any more…

Isn’t that sad? At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, not to have any idea what you stand for. To be that clueless, or misguided, or misinformed, or confused, or torn. But I think, unfortunately, this would describe a growing number of people in the world.

Here’s the problem as I see it:  This crazy, messed up world we live in has hijacked our truth, our morals, our values, our ethics, our virtues, our integrity, our standards. We have no idea what we stand for because we live in a world where tolerance reigns and truth seems to be a moving target. We live in a world that celebrates boundary-less individuality. We live in a world where any behavior, any response, any treatment, any reaction is acceptable because, after all, “I’m just being ME.” Barf!

The great country music theologian Aaron Tippin sang a song back in the early 90’s which stated:

You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything
You’ve got to be your own man not a puppet on a string
Never compromise what’s right and uphold your family name
You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything

Here’s what I think we should be standing for (otherwise we’ll fall for just about anything)…

Stand for:

  • Treating people fairly and justly–God loves people and so should we
  • Grace–even when you think you’re right, grace must win out
  • Giving, not getting–change your perspective from what you can get out of something to what you can contribute
  • Honesty–if you tell the truth the first time, you won’t have to remember what you said
  • Positivity–negativity is a buzz kill any way you slice it
  • Peace–though you can’t control the actions and reactions of others, you can control yours. As much as it depends on you, live at peace
  • Hard work–slothfulness and apathy will never get you where you want to be
  • Compassion–remember not everyone is as cool as you, as fortunate as you, as put together as you, as healthy as you, as problem-free as you, as smart as you, nor as talented as you

What about you? What do you stand for?

PEACE OUT! (5 Keys to Consider)

In 1960, President John F. Kennedy challenged the students at the University of Michigan to serve their country and the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. As a result, the Peace Corps was established on this day, March 1, 1961.

Peace. What exactly is it? It’s a sense of calm. It’s the absence of chaos. It’s that feeling we have when all is right, and good, and positive in our lives. Unfortunately there are many things that disrupt our “peace”—illness, tension in a relationship, financial woes, job conflict, difficult teenagers, trying toddlers, stress, etc. And we can certainly be disruptors of others’ peace ourselves—when we make the comment we know we shouldn’t have, when we fail to follow through on a commitment, when we’re late or make others wait on us, when we’re insensitive to the needs of others, etc. The truth is that we can be contributors to a lack of peace for other people and vice versa. We don’t necessarily intend to be hurtful or intentionally add stress or discord to our friends and family, but somehow, in our careless, self-centered ways we can interrupt the peace of the people we love and care about.

As far as it depends on you...live at peace with everyone

The Apostle Paul gives us a great challenge in Romans 12:18. He writes, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” He went on to say a couple chapters later, “So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.” (Romans 14:19, HCSB).

We cannot control what other people do, what they say, how they act, or how they react. But to be sure, we can take the lead in our own behavior. We can control the things we say. We can be intentional about our conduct. We can live and act on purpose.

Let’s look at it from another angle. Let’s consider the common, every day staple of salt. Salt is a natural preservative. It adds flavor. It’s a disinfectant and purifier. Jesus said “Good salt is worthless if it loses its saltiness; it can’t season anything. So don’t lose your flavor! Live in peace with each other” (Mark 9:50, TLB).

When it comes to living at peace with each other, here are some keys:

  1. As for your part in it…just do it — remember, as far as it depends on YOU, live at peace with everyone.
  2. Pursue the things that promote peace — pursue means to proactively seek out. Peace doesn’t just happen, it takes effort on our part.
  3. Pursue what builds others up — again, hunt down and go after the things that build up other people.
  4. Be salty — be a preservative of peace, be a purifier in your conversation, disinfect your comments that might create discord.
  5. Peace out — what you emanate, what you project out of you, likely comes back to you.

As you think about the inception of the Peace Corps today, as you may even call to mind those you know who have served in it, may you also recall God’s Word which exhorts us to live at peace with one another. And know that the ultimate giver of peace is Jesus Himself. His desire is to bring peace into your chaos. His desire is to speak peace into every area of your peace-less situation.

Take a deep breath, relax, inhale God’s peace, and exhale God’s peace.

PEACE OUT!

HAPPY “WORLD HELLO DAY”!

HELLO! SALUT! HOLA!

World Hello Day

Today marks the 40th annual World Hello Day. Did you even know this day existed? I didn’t either. But in honor of it, I say a hearty HELLO to you all.

World Hello Day was conceived as a result of the conflict between Israel and Egypt in 1973. The single purpose of this day is to demonstrate the significance of personal communication for maintaining peace. Since the inception of World Hello Day, folks in 180 countries have participated in World Hello Day simply by greeting at least 10 people. Cool, huh?

I do find it interesting, though, that a world-wide effort like this for preserving peace didn’t go into effect until 1973. I mean, why have we waited this long? Check out what the Apostle Peter wrote back in the 1st century. “Greet each other with Christian love. Peace be with all of you who are in Christ” (1 Peter 5:14, NLT). Just imagine if we all would have been heeding Peter’s advice since the 1st century. What might the world be like?

Here’s my advice…Do more than just imagine!

If 31 winners of the Nobel Peace Prize are among those who have realized World Hello Day’s value as an instrument for preserving peace, then you and I can certainly participate as well.

If you’d like to participate in this world-wide event, simply say HELLO to at least 10 people today. How hard can that be, right? But I think in order to capture the real essence of World Hello Day, you’ve got to reach out, go beyond your comfort zone, and say HELLO to folks that you might not normally engage with. Get up out of your seat, and walk across the room. Seek out the challenging people in your world. And if you really want to score some points and have a lasting impression, call them by name. Or go on a quest to warmly greet 10 perfect strangers today. Think of the possibilities. A peaceful, warm, engaging, invitation to interact with 10 other people.

And it all starts with HELLO!

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