The Importance of Being Peaceful

Joyce Meyer Got a Tattoo! Surprised? Hold on, we’ll get to that later. First, let me share some of what Joyce taught me about peace.

Peace is wonderful, but it isn’t automatic. Hebrews 12:14 says, Make every effort to live in peace with everyone.” A life of peace doesn’t just land in our laps. We have to “make every effort.” How? We could always start by taking these steps:

Value peace. Then you’ll be willing to make the effort.

Stop being angry. Let the offensive moments of life roll off your back. Proverbs 17:9 tells us, “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”

Avoid peace killers. God is good. Good is going on in the world. But that’s not what you’re likely to hear about when you’re plugged in to mainstream media for hours on end.

Humble yourself. It’s a whole lot easier to experience peace once you no longer need to impress people.

Avoid “acceptable sins” like jealousy and unforgiveness.

Be nice. Be helpful. Be positive. Give people mercy.

Mind your own business. That can be a tough one, but give it a try!

Now, about that tattoo. Proverbs 16:28 warns that, “A perverse person stirs up conflict,and a gossip separates close friends.”  One way to express that in today’s language might be “mind your own business!” Joyce Meyer recently got two tattoos. One is generally unseen, but I saw the one on her ankle (from a distance). It reminds her to walk in love.

Unscriptural? Probably not. Some people believe the Bible says we shouldn’t get tattoos. Others, including Joyce, believe the verse used to forbid tattoos is talking about a pagan act done to honor the dead.

Controversial? Probably so. But only for those who choose to mind Joyce’s business instead of their own. We aren’t free to judge people who do what we think they shouldn’t do, particularly when the Bible is fuzzy at best on the matter. Perhaps Joyce was led to get tattoos to make that very point.

Are you losing your peace over someone else’s choices today? Are you angry? Jealous? Bitter? Flooded with negative media? Bound up in a desire to please other people? Value peace! Hit your knees and ask our Lord to renew you from within. Then continue, by his grace, to make every effort to live in peace with everyone. We can change the world that way.

photo credit: @ isracguti19 via

Silence Is NOT Golden

An earlier blog of mine extols the wisdom of Thumper. In essence, that cartoon cottontail said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep quiet.” Taken to the extreme, though, that word of advice can do terrible damage. So here’s another thought: never stop talking.

I know of siblings who refuse to speak to one another, spouses who have gone days without a word, and friendships that have nearly slipped away as resentment dissolved into silence. I fell into that trap myself and nearly lost a now precious relationship. While we may be tempted to count our quiet resolve as a noble response to injustice, a refusal to speak says far more than any words. What it says can be, whether intentional or not, very cruel. “I hate you. I hope that my silence is causing you pain. I no longer value you. I want to pretend you do not exist.”

Silence gone longer becomes so much stronger. The initial wound that causes a rift may fade over the years, but by then the tear in the fabric of friendship or family ties may gape so wide that neither party knows how to mend it. Never stop talking.

Forgiveness is easier earlier. No, it’s not easy, just easier. And it’s demanded by our Lord. We do not have the right to resent. We have been forgiven, and we are commanded to forgive. When our children are small, we teach them the process of apology and forgiveness. “Susie, say ‘I’m sorry.’ Now, Sally, say, ‘I forgive you.’” But the two are not inextricably linked. We can apologize even if we fear that our apology will be met with a refusal to forgive. And we can—we must—forgive, even when an apology never comes. It doesn’t matter who “started it.”

1 Peter 2 speaks volumes on this issue. I’ve pasted a portion of it below, setting in bold type the phrases I find most convicting. Never stop talking is simply one of a thousand corollaries to this far more important directive: never stop forgiving.

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good…But now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy…

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us…

 Show proper respect to everyoneFor it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God…Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

Correct Tire Pressure

I’m starting this post by asking a favor of you. Will you please tell a friend, someone who needs a bit of weekly encouragement, about my writing? If they are inclined to subscribe to this blog, send them to the link below and ask them to follow the instructions on the left side of the page. I will not share their email address. Like you, they will begin to get my weekly essays via email every week.

 Smoother Sailing | How to’s from the Big Book (

Photo by Gerd Altmann on

And now on to my somewhat silly story…                

Our car monitors various items of safety, displaying messages as needed. Last week, “Correct Tire Pressure” showed up on the screen.

“Well,” thought my misinformed husband, “how nice of them to give us that bit of encouragement!” Upon further reflection, of course, he realized the word “correct” was being used as a verb, not an adjective, as a warning, not as a compliment.

Continue reading

Granting Extra Grace

Have you ever goofed ? Forgotten to do a book report? Backed into a parked car? Given away a secret… Of course you have. Me too. Sometimes we have a reason for our missteps, perhaps lost sleep or a distracting tragedy. Sometimes, we just mess up.

We are now living in days of distraction. Days of concern and unnoticed self-absorption. I hope you will join me in this challenge:

Choose to be one of those who grants extra grace. If you are slighted, offended or inconvenienced in the weeks ahead, chalk it up to the offender’s lack of sleep or focus or to their unseen hardship. Absorb the discomfort inflicted by another with a great degree of patience and understanding, whether it is deserved or not.

“What would Jesus do?” is a time-worn question now, but it’s still a valid one. He would act with extra grace. He DID act with extra grace, in indescribable ways. And, while calling us to do the same, he enables us to do the same. So, we have a responsibility to follow in his footsteps. This is a part of loving one another as Christ loves us, a Bible lesson we’ve all been taught and can easily spout, but now have a chance to live out on a daily basis.

And that’s enough for today.

Tell me, though, if you have the time to comment, where is it the hardest for you to follow in His steps? And how are you managing?


He Lived Well and Loved Hard

We were back in Houston for the funeral of a long-time friend named Mike. The service was honoring, both to the Lord and to the one He had called home. One sentence, spoken by Mike’s grandson, remains with me:

He lived well and loved hard.

I had to ask myself, am I doing that? What does it look like? How would our Lord have us live well and love hard? An hour before the funeral, driving around our old neighborhood, we’d stopped for a taco at a simple Mexican restaurant where one wall was full of those popular wooden signs that say so much in so few words. One said this:

  • Love spoken here.
  • Joy chosen here.
  • Grace given here.

That, my friends, is in great part how we live well and love hard.

We speak love—to our Lord, to those around us, and to ourselves, sometimes with words, but more often with actions. The Bible is full of reasons to love, ways to love, and commands to love. It requires humility, selflessness, and a willingness to do whatever we feel God is calling us to do. When we ask him to help us love, he will provide creative answers and the wherewithal to follow through on his directions.

We choose joy—no matter what. Joy doesn’t always happen to us, or envelop us, or even well up within us. Most of the time we have to choose it, to wake up in the morning and say, “God made this day, and I will rejoice in it. I will make a conscious effort to see his presence in every moment.” This habit heightens the niceties of life and gives perspective to the uglier side of living on a fallen planet.

We give grace—both deserved and undeserved. Spilled milk? An angry look? A hurtful comment? A selfish choice? God said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” He didn’t say, “Love people when they behave.” And so, we give grace, even when the only reason we can think of to do so is in remembrance of the grace that God has given us.

As you go about your day today—and every day hereafter—I hope you will speak love, choose joy, and give grace. And then, maybe one day, someone will say that you lived well and loved hard!

photo: @peterbucks via


wedding Beatriz Perez Moya via

Today marks the 54th anniversary of a couple dear to me. In their honor, I’m writing about marriage today. But if you’re single, think of it as tips for a deep and dear friendship.

Our pastor, Ky, said this about marriage: “The essence of marriage is for 2 people to live out gospel grace with each other.”

What does that look like in a practical sense?

  • I think it involves spending time together. For Steve and me that includes syncing our schedules as much as possible, and being very careful about our use of “screens.” Taking regular walks together enhances our communication, as does just sitting down to the table for a meal or a game.
  • It includes making prayer a priority—together and out loud—even if it’s only for a couple of minutes a day.
  • And it means each putting the other first.

This excerpt from an earlier blog based on the writings of Sheldon Van Auken covers a great deal of marital grace. His lesson is two-pronged:

  • Love others far beyond yourself.
  • Do your best to trust the people you love.

Sheldon and his wife, Davy, made this pledge to one another: “Whatever one of us asked the other to do – it was assumed the asker would weigh all the consequences – the other would do. Thus one might wake the other in the night and ask for a cup of water; and the other would peacefully (and sleepily) fetch it. We, in fact, defined courtesy as ‘a cup of water in the night’. And we considered it a very great courtesy to ask for the cup as well as to fetch it.”

Imagine what would happen if all requests between spouses (and, for that matter, friends) were handled in this manner! Were love and trust to prevail, there would be little room for discord. I try to ask of Steve only that which I have already weighed and considered best for him to do. And while I sometimes fail, it is my intention never to question his requests of me. In a perfect world, where the “cup of water in the night” principle reigns, each request one of us makes of the other is granted if at all possible. Isn’t it what our Lord would do and would have us to do?

Grace. It’s a tricky thing. May we give and receive more and more of it as the years go by! (If you have a tip to share regarding grace in marriage, please send it on!)

And for a bit more of Sheldon Van Auken’s wisdom, here’s another archived blog: