Peace, Prosperity & Politics

By Erika Rizkallah

I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. My parents worked in the Capitol – one in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives – though neither were politicians. They worked grueling hours for Congress and I grew resentful about the way our government treated its workers.

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Politics was the news in our town. Other than that, we just got doom and gloom reports of crime and death in what was then “the murder capital of the world.” What I remember most was a having a sense of overwhelming fear. Almost every thought and decision was filtered through a lens of anxiety.

I felt like a captive.

Many of my friends thrived on political discourse but I hated it. I didn’t want to hear or talk about it so I stopped watching the news.

I learned the “behind the scenes” truth from my parents. Though our politicians fought and filibustered on television, many were backroom buddies. The powerful and power-hungry dined and drank together in posh clubs, away from the C-Span cameras.

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When I turned 40, God called me to a new place – hours away from the ladder climbing and clamor. It’s my personal “Promised Land” and the home I’d always longed for.

Ironically, I’m a political junkie now. I guess it’s woven into the fabric of my life. However, I’m no longer anxious or fearful about the state of our country or world. I believe making it a better place is up to us.

It’s the duty of those who believe in Christ, to be salt and light. To help create reform. We’re able to create positive changes because we have true power.

We have the Holy Spirit.

I’m halfway through the book of Jeremiah and it reminded me being a captive. Jeremiah warned people for years that if they didn’t reform their ways, they’d be exiled to Babylon. But they didn’t listen and were sent to live in a land with a new ruler, customs and language.

 

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In the midst of their servitude to King Nebuchadnezzar, God gave them instructions for living through a letter sent by the prophet Jeremiah. He said, “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper . . .”  Jeremiah 29:5-7

I love the phrase . . . Build houses and settle down.

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It conveys a sense of peace in frightening circumstances. Though their rebellion resulted in captivity, God still comforted them. He always has a purpose and plan for his people.

The letter also said, “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “ v. 29:11

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We often hear the prosperity part without the following verses:

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” v. 29:12-14

I believe his declarations. His gracious promise of peace and prosperity. He’s for us no matter the political posturing or predicaments.

When we seek him with all our heart and seek the peace and prosperity of our cities, he will listen and we will be found by him.

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Oh what a reason for rejoicing and wonder!

How about you: Are you seeking?

 

 

The Secular and the Sacred: Is one more important than the other?

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Do you ever wonder if what you’re doing in the world – whether it be running a business, homeschooling children, or bandaging a friend’s paper cut – is making a difference in the world?

I do. All the time.

I’m constantly criticizing myself or listening to the critic in my head tell me I’m small potatoes. That I have nothing, nada, zilch to offer. And worse, I’m running out of time and if I don’t do something soon then . . .

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I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think secretly many women struggle with similar thoughts. Maybe they’ve even occurred to you?

But really, what’s the worst that could happen? We’d become “irrelevant?” (as my teenage boy likes to say). We’d leave no legacy? Or be forgotten?

I was reminded of this at an estate sale I went to last weekend. I was rummaging through stuff in a Mid-century modern home that was like a time capsule. I even took a picture of their linoleum . . .

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They don’t make it like this anymore . . . thank God.

Anyway, the owner of the company and I were marveling at the goodies the homeowners curated. I mean this stuff would make even top-tier interior designers wet their pants – I know I almost did. Especially over these . . .

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#vintagecameras   Follow me on Instagram @ springbythesea

Another customer chimed in, “You know I was talking to my daughter about a Dean Martin record I picked up and she didn’t even know who he was!”

Is he irrelevant? My kids would say, “definitely,” but I disagree. In his day he was known as the “King of Cool.” And he may be gone, but his music and movies touched millions of people, set the stage for romance and gave people someone to look up to.

His audience was considered secular, but he wasn’t secular to Jesus – in whom all things were created.  Our Jesus, who also isn’t irrelevant. He’s God Incarnate . . . God in the flesh.

And as for being small potatoes, there’s nothing wrong that. Our world is made better by those who choose to serve on the sidelines. And by those being served on the sideboards . . . they’re particularly yummy fried. And very much appreciated in my home!

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Small potatoes. Yummy!

The Way

Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Isaiah 35:4

Living with fear, especially in our day and age – these days of brazen and barbaric wickedness – can seem like a normal way to live.

I lived much of my life with fear. In fact, I was one of the most fearful people I know…until I was delivered of it. Fear is a form of bondage. It causes anxiety, stress on the body and affects all aspects of our lives. We are clothed in it and everything we do is borne out of it. In short, it’s a terrible way to live.

…he will come to save you.

And Jesus did. He came to save us and set us free from the oppression of it. I know this to be true because it’s part of my story. One of my earliest memories is one of fear. And even when I accepted Christ as my savior, at the age of 26, I wasn’t immediately released from it. God had some serious work to do in my spirit and my freedom wouldn’t come until years later.

I urge you to read all of Chapter 35 in the book of Isaiah. It’s titled Joy of the Redeemed and speaks of Jesus well before he ever walked the earth as a human. Isaiah gave God’s people a hint of what was to come and this picture always makes me think of him.

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It says our savior will:

give sight to the blind. And Jesus did.

unstop the ears of the deaf. And Jesus did.

cause the lame to leap like a dear. And Jesus did.

cause water to gush forth in the wilderness. And Jesus did.

cause the burning sand to become a pool and the thirsty ground bubbling springs. And Jesus did.

It speaks of new growth and a new road, a highway – a way in which the righteous walk. And Jesus was.

Jesus is The Way.

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Those who walk in this way have no fear, because His perfect love casts it out.

What about you? Do you walk in this way? Have you accepted Him as your savior? If so, fear not!

And if you don’t know Him as your savior yet, I urge you to choose life now. Your reward will be great. Your reward is Jesus himself and a new life. All you have to do is ask him to be the savior and Lord of your life. And he will because he loves you.

Isn’t that amazing?! It is! He loves you. He wants you and he wants to give you this new life and Way of life.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Finding comfort in a “messy” world.

Yesterday our President said, “…The world has always been messy.”

He’s right.

As I watched the news and lamented over the brutality of ISIS, one picture filled my mind. It’s a scripture from the book of Isaiah:

…All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:6

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Think about it. Whatever ISIS is doing and whatever our government is not doing, this is the truth – God is watching over us and his ears hear our prayers for peace. 

Here’s more truth to comfort you:

He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff. Isaiah 40:23-24

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Regarding barbarians like ISIS: We have nothing to fear. Our God is stronger and His ears hear our prayers.

Jesus never worried about men and what they could do to him. We are His followers. So today Lord, we ask in your name that you blow them away like chaff. Blow them all away.