Staying the Mind on Peace. Really?

Phyllis Nissila

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. [1]

We live in fearsome days. Preachers, teachers, and radio talk show guests warn of impending evil the likes of which we haven’t seen since before the flood. Prophecies gain speed on a collision course with Armageddon. Survival gear is selling like (freeze dried) hotcakes, and the smell of testosterone is thick in the air. Know what I mean?

And yet, and yet, the Gospel remains the same today as yesterday and forever: in the midst of the flak and fury, our inheritance, as noted in the verse above, is peace. Still.

Whoa. Really?!

At first, my thoughts on the topic of what is ramping up these days on not so good-old terra firma were to join others who at this troubled and troubling time are writing on the ways and wiles of our spiritual enemy. This is, of course, valuable information because all of the above is likely true. I had even started my own list of his MOs:

  • He of the Lower Realm strikes every which way from Sunday, usually all at once—and particularly ON “Sunday”;
  • he specializes in destruction inside, outside, and upside down;
  • he breaks whatever he can get his claws on; and
  • he mongers hate in all forms and fashions.

We SHOULD be afraid. Very afraid.

But rather than give more press (or WordPress) to the Prince of Doom, I decided to take a more helpful direction with this post. As gruesome as Gruesome is (with a multitude of minions at his beck and call), I have shifted my focus to God’s antidote: the wisdom—and power—of “staying our minds on Him.” Not only because Scripture is saturated with the message of peace bought and paid for by the Prince of Peace, but because taking a liberal dose, at will and often, of truth, nobility, righteousness, purity, and loveliness strengthens us not just mentally and spiritually, but in all ways.

For one, following the Philippians 4:8-9 prescription keeps us from damage due to constant stress. A little research into the down side of the hormones at play here, adrenalin and cortisol among others, reveals a list of health- and immune system-compromising maladies including,

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain, and

Memory and concentration impairment [2]

For another, God’s words and promises helps us avoid the temptation, and subsequent succumbing, to imagined scenes of horror. Doubtless, the real wrath of God will be bad enough. Soaking our minds with this stuff gums up other parts of the brain helpful in real crises.

And, of course, fear-mongering, whether legitimate or not, can corrode faith. So we need to be continually reminding ourselves of God’s provision for those who place their trust in Him, no matter how bad things get this side of the Pearly Gates.

And so, today, I choose hope over hype, however bleak the future looks. I choose to calm the cortisol as best I can, and to wash my mind and heart with the water of the Word of God. Here’s a hefty dose of Psalm 91 for starters, and there is plenty more where that comes from:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.

3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

~~~~~

See also my free, downloadable verse-by-verse devotional based on this Psalm, here:

In the Midst of the Fray, Psalm 91 Devotionals

***
[1] Philippians 4:8-9, NIV
[2]http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037

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5 Responses to Staying the Mind on Peace. Really?

  1. pnissila says:

    Early the third day…

    I read the “Proverb for the day,” i.e., that book has 31 chapters, the length of our longest months, so I read the number that matches the day of the month. So, look at this piece of “today’s Proverb,” that is, the 3rd day: “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee” (Pvbs 3: 1-2). I just thought this would be a nice little post script to this post. 🙂 Thanks, God. 🙂

    Like

  2. Carl Gordon says:

    *a sigh of relief! 🙂

    Like

    • pnissila says:

      I am glad to provide the relief!

      I attended a professional development workshop yesterday on “Emotional Intelligence,” a hot topic in the world of education and hopefully an antidote to the notion that computers can adequately take the place of real live teachers.

      I learned about even more of the negative effects of stress on the body, this time, on the cognitive interruptions that occur when due to the overproduction of stress hormones over time the brain’s ability to repair itself is hampered. In short, our ability to employ all of our “mental tools” can become seriously impaired by stress. Perhaps this is why people in abusive relationships experience the confusion they do, and think they are going crazy. They’ve lost a certain ability to think things through logically. And, I would add, in peace and safety. We are simply made to “live peaceable lives” if at all possible. Thank God Jesus came in part for the purpose of gifting us, through the Holy Spirit, the “peace that passes all understanding.”

      God knows what we need. I am so glad that even in the midst of much trouble, He still offers that provision. Indeed, made us to function at our maximum potential IN peace. PTL.

      Like

  3. What an awesome post! You grabbed me and pulled me in and didn’t let go. I loved every word. And Amen. We can all get swept up in the horrors of this world, but at the end of the day, He is there and He will make a way for us.

    Thank you for sharing. We can all use a little more of that kind of truth.

    Like

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