The Mind of Peace

The Mind of Peace

 

by Tass Saada

 

In today’s seething caldron of attacks and counterattacks, we can drive ourselves crazy trying to understand what motivates the mind of a terrorist. But sooner or later, we need to take a deep breath and raise a contrasting question: What motivates a mind of peace? What wires the brain of a person who leans toward harmony and reconciliation rather than hostility and revenge?

As any psychologist will say, we almost never accomplish that which we do not first envision in our heads. Our words and hands (and guns) only follow what is in our minds. First we think; then we do.

Here are five vital elements of a solution-oriented person, as expressed in the words of Scripture:

 

  1. A decision (no doubt risky) to trust divine wisdom rather than human reasoning. The apostle James drew a sharp contrast between the way our world thinks and what God recommends:

 

Where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

(James 3:16-18, emphasis added)

 

As we watch the daily news, it is hard—I admit it—to take this passage at face value. The urge to strike back against violence and mayhem is powerful. It takes an act of faith to say that God knows better, that he has a better way in mind for us.

It won’t pay off immediately. The passage uses a gardening metaphor when it talks about sowing in peace. The time when we get to “reap a harvest of righteousness” doesn’t happen overnight. We have to wait for the crop to ripen. But when it does, the “good fruit” is delicious.

There is no such thing as a chemical formula for “instant peace.” But as God is allowed to work through us, permanent changes can grow.

 

  1. An admission that human force usually isn’t forceful enough. The heaviest artillery, the most fearsome arsenal seems as if it should be able to bring in a new world order of peace—except that it doesn’t.

For a large stretch of my life as a young freedom fighter, I thought it would. If my comrades and I could just put enough hot lead into the Israelis, they would back off and give us what we wanted. Unfortunately, it didn’t work.

Whenever someone asks me how many enemy soldiers I killed in my days as an al-Fatah sniper, I answer, “The truth is, I don’t know; it’s impossible to say, given the long distances from which I was shooting. What I do know is that I deeply regret every one of those deaths. I caused overwhelming grief in numerous Israeli families. I feel terrible about that. And I didn’t achieve the goals for which I was fighting, anyway.”

The last time I saw Yasser Arafat, just six months before his death in 2004, I told him, “Enough blood has been shed. Enough hatred has been sown. Enough is enough! Let us come to peace. And that peace comes only through Jesus, the Christ.” He studied me with a careful gaze for several seconds then adroitly changed the subject.

In saying this, I hoped to echo what Jesus had said in the midst of his trial before Pontius Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36). The Roman magistrate—like Arafat—couldn’t quite figure out what to do with that mentality.

Since I left the life of violence many years ago, I can no longer think of retaliating violently to any action against myself or anyone else. I can’t go back to my old ways.

The great Mahatma Gandhi of India, though a lifelong Hindu, read much of the New Testament gospels and thought about their meaning. He is often quoted as saying, “In a system of ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,’ the whole world ends up blind and toothless.”

Weaponry can force a person to move his body, but it cannot change his mind. The adjustment toward peace happens at a deeper level than bullets can penetrate.

 

  1. A desire for God’s smile. Or to use Jesus’ term, blessing. Isn’t that what he told the crowd on the mountainside that day long ago? “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). People who engage in the hard work of peacemaking may be mocked, criticized, or called unflattering names (“naïve,” “idealistic,” “a bleeding heart” “a Don Quixote tilting at windmills”). But God watches their efforts and is pleased. In fact, he even calls them his children. They bear his likeness.

One of the first-century apostles we greatly admire was Barnabas. The book of Acts tells how, not long after a fiery vigilante (terrorist?) named Saul was converted to Christ, the man arrived in Jerusalem and

 

. . . tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.

(Acts 9:26-28)

 

The gentle words of a peace-oriented man soothed the fears of many and opened the way for Saul (Paul) to flourish thereafter in ministry.

 

  1. A taste for personal joy! This probably isn’t the most important motivation for the mind of peace, but it is real nonetheless, according to Proverbs 12:20—“Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy” (emphasis added). Few rewards in life can compare with bringing reconciliation to two parties who have been fighting each other. When misunderstandings are cleared up, when walls come down, when channels of communication open up after years of blockage, one can’t help but feel a warm sense of gratification on the inside.

 

  1. A recognition that peace is more than just a nice theory; it is our calling. It’s our mission assignment in the world. It’s the job we, as followers of Christ, have been given to do.

How else can we interpret the words of Colossians 3:15? “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (emphasis added). The mind that is filled with Christ’s peace is thereby equipped to disseminate it in an argumentative world. People who have spent their lives fighting and resenting their adversaries can be brought to a whole new understanding of life’s purpose. This work is our vocation, commissioned by our Savior.

Allowing our minds to be infused with divine peace, regardless of outward circumstances, and then radiating that peace toward others as the opportunity arises—this is one of the great joys of life. It is what God asks of his children. It is not usually a simple, one-step process. And the results are not always quick to appear. We have to remain patient, trusting that God will water the seeds we plant and bring forth his harvest in his time.

 

Night of Power

Night of Power

The room is darkened, only lit by the warm glow of candlelight. There are soft, rich rugs, and large comfortable pillows scattered about. And all around the room, people, with eyes closed, simply praying.

It’s Laylat al Qadr, known as the Night of Decree, or Night of Power. It’s the 27th day of Ramadan, and Muslims all over the world will stay up late into the night, asking God to hear them, forgive them, and reveal himself to them like they believe he did their prophet Muhammad.

night of prayerBut on this night, the dark room lit by candlelight is not filled with Muslims. This is a Christian congregation, and they are praying for 6 hours, until Midnight, for Muslims around the world. This is Savannah Christian Church, in Savannah, GA, and they set this time aside every year to pray for the 1.5 billion Muslims all over the world.

It is said that no one can know when Laylat al Qadr takes place, only that it is sometime during the last 10 days of Ramadan. Muhammad said that prayers and good deeds done on this night were worth the reward of 1,000 months worth of worship to Allah. That’s more than 83 years worth of continuous worship. This they hope will earn them much rewrd with Allah, and a lot of good to balance out the bad on the mizan (weighing scale). They also believe that Allah will make decisions about everyone’s future on that night. So the very devout Muslims will spend the last 10 days of Ramadan in earnest prayers, asking Allah to hear and forgive them. Traditionally though it is celebrated by the majority of Muslims on the 27th day of Ramadan.

Laylat al Qadr begins Monday evening. As we join in prayer today and tomorrow, with churches like Savannah Christian, we want to use a lot of scripture, in order to break down spiritual strongholds and trust God to do some miraculous things!

Ask God to build His church throughout Asia and the Middle East. Build it solid and don’t let Satan prevail against it. Matthew 16:18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means rock), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
Pray that many Muslims will turn to the Lord so their veil will be removed. II Corinthians 3:16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
Ask God to turn them from darkness to light. Acts 26:18 open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.
Ask God to bind up the spiritual forces that hold so many captive in Islam. Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ask God to rescue 1.5 Billion people from spiritual slavery. Colossians 1:13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves
Pray that many Muslims read the scriptures and see Wonderful things. Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law.
Ask God to reveal to them their sins and their need for a Savior. I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Ask God for a “Road to Damascus” moment for Muslims ALL OVER the world. May Jesus reveal himself to them and lead them to believers who can show them truth. Acts 9:3-6 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”

It All Started With A Broken Family … And A Promise

Once Upon A Time …

We often make a crucial mistake when reading the account of Abraham and his family in the book of Genesis. When we read the story, we see Abraham and Sarah, Abraham and Hagar, Sarah and Hagar or Isaac and Ishmael. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say, we see Abraham vs. Sarah, Abraham vs. Hagar, Sarah vs. Hagar and Isaac vs. Ishmael.

This story doesn’t feel like a children’s fairy tale with a happy ending. We see battle lines being drawn. We see a broken family. We see wrongs that need to be righted. And, depending on our perspective, those wrongs might look different for each of us. We want to take events that occurred over 4,000 years ago and apply them to current events in order to decide an outcome that aligns with our world view.

However, we make God very small-minded if we think He gave us Genesis as a way to judge who was right and who was wrong.

arrowInstead, everything in Genesis, as well as the remainder of the old testament, is a giant arrow that points straight to this world’s need for the Messiah. God repeatedly told Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that through their seed, all the nations would be blessed. (Genesis 22:18, 26:4 and 28:14) And then, to make sure we don’t miss His point, He follows up with us in Galatians 3:16.

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. (For further study, read Galatians 3:13-16 and verse 29.)

This is where the fairy tale gets its happy ending. This story is not about what things went wrong, and what was broken, but how God made things right. The story is not so much about Abraham and his descendants, but rather, just one descendant. The only one that ever mattered. Jesus, The Messiah.

Often, when considering the Middle East conflict, we as believers take our notions of right and wrong in Genesis, and filter our opinions through that.  But this is exactly why Hope for Ishmael chooses to not be political in our support of efforts in the Holy Land. Genesis was not just about a broken family, but a Promise. A Promise for the whole world …

John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

What You See with Your Eyes is Never the Whole Story

Ephesians 6:10-12 (NLT) A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Any time innocent people are hurt and murdered, it grieves us all. It’s easy to see the stories we read of the attacks and think that what we are seeing is the whole story. But we are reminded in Ephesians 6, that the real battle is taking place on a spiritual stage. And there is likely no soil on earth that has been scorched more by spiritual battle than the very place where Jesus came to earth and conquered sin and death for all of mankind.

Living in this beautiful and broken land, we hear many stories of hurt, fear and anger from our friends on both sides of the line. We are deeply moved by the stories of these people we care so much for, however, as an organization, and in agreement with our partner organizations, we do not take sides in the politics of the region. We believe that we are called to point ALL to the Messiah. God sent his son to earth with one agenda … to seek and to save those who are lost (Luke 19:11).  However, as believers, it’s all to easy to become confused and believe that our agenda is God’s agenda.  As one of our volunteers put it, “The difficulty is to feel the pain in people’s stories, while also finding ways to speak truth about reconciliation rather than resentment of an entire people group.”

Please know that safety is not our main concern. At least not physical safety. This is a spiritual battle and the stakes are high. We count it a privilege to have been placed here for such a time as this. Please join the battle with us on your knees. We covet your prayers of peace and reconciliation through Christ, now more than ever!

 

We Are The Persecuted Church

11194565_10204279293491212_3879659517419792258_oI Corinthians 12  “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body . . . There are many parts, but one body . . . If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

We often think of the persecuted church as far away. What happens to them is terrible, but it is not our problem. Right? How would our lives be different if we considered their persecution, to be our persecution as well?  Their trials as our trials? Their losses and abuses as though shared with us? “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it;” According to I Corinthians 12, We are the persecuted church. Read more

13.1 Miles for a Great Cause

LHP 13.1 miles

Meet Ian.   On March 22, 2015 he started a GoFundMe site to raise $3,500 for LHP, in a half marathon he was running on March 29, 2015. That meant only seven days for this fundraiser to take place. His congregation had generously agreed to match the donations dollar for dollar, and so with only a week to make this happen, we partnered with him as well, in order to help this amazing school get some much needed funding.

And that’s where you stepped in. Making his dream into a reality, you donated $3,500 in just a week’s time! Thank you for stepping up and giving to this incredible school that has blessed so many families in Jerusalem. Because of you, they can continue their efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in their community!

To top it all off, he ran his best time, coming in at 1:52:02!  Way to go! Thank you, Ian, for doing what you love, to help the kids at LHP continue to go to school in a place they love.

God wants to use all of our talents and gifts to bless people all of over the world. How is he using yours?

If you would like to give so that we can continue to support programs like this one throughout the Holy Land, click on the button located to the right of this post.

Thank You!