Soul Care

There has not been a time in recent history when taking care of your soul has been more evident than it is right now.  Not that caring for your soul has ever been less important before now.  It’s just that we have become aware that taking care of oneself is more than guarding against a viral contagion.  Soul care is the word that I use in addressing the “entirety” of your being.  According to the Bible, you exist as a spirit, soul, and body. You are both material and spiritual in being.  You have a body, you have a spirit, and you have a soul.

For the last three months or so we have all been given a crash course in taking care of our bodies in defense against the COVID-19 virus.  Wash your hands, practice social distancing, wear a mask, and avoid touching your face are among the most common guidelines we hear every day.  Of course, we Canadians are uniquely blessed to live in a country where we have access to the best universal health care in the world. (We owe that blessing in large part to the hard work of former Baptist pastor, Tommy Douglas).

But if you take care of your body and neglect your spiritual being you will only be addressing one part of your identity.  And the opposite is true.  There are many very committed Christians who neglect the proper care of the body and suffer needless consequences as a result.  Physical exercise and a good hobby, for instance, can contribute a great deal to your overall health. 

In his helpful book, Soul Care, Rob Reimer refers to soul care as the “foundation” of the “building” of your life. It’s a good analogy. If you spend all your time on cosmetics but neglect the foundation, your life is destined to weaken over time.   

I’ve always loved the simple description about the life of Jesus Christ offered by Dr. Luke in his Gospel account.   He says that Jesus “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”  Jesus experienced life as a whole human being.  He grew physically, spiritually, and emotionally. That is God’s equation for all human beings. 

The Bible has a lot to say about your “inner being”.  I’ve learned from experience that most problems can only be solved from a wholistic approach of balancing the body and the mind as it was designed to be lived.  When I’ve tried to force a lopsided answer to a problem in my life, it’s only frustrated me.

So, if taking care of your soul is the foundation, as Rob Reimer illustrates, what would you say is the first and most important lesson you have to learn?  It’s a good question.  Dr. Bill Thrasher wrote a book called “How to be a Soul Physician” in which he teaches that one “can never overemphasize the resting truth of God’s loving acceptance.”  Until we learn the basic truth that there is “no condemnation to those who are in Jesus Christ” we will suppress and silence the invisible working of our inner life.  Christians have been given the most coherent and compelling pathway to a thriving soul.  Here’s how the book of Romans puts it . . .

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Stop right now my fellow Christian and park on the idea that you are God’s beloved child. Do you see it, accept it, and thank God for it?  You are loved and forgiven. 

That is the rock-solid foundation upon which we build our lives. 

Shalom church family!
Pastor Deric

Calamity and Peace

One of the most intriguing names for God in the Old Testament is used in Judges chapter 6.  Upon realizing that he had just been visited by the angel of the Lord, Gideon pronounced the name of “Jehovah Shalom.”  (He literally thought he was about to die because he came face to face with the “presence of the Lord”).  The name Gideon crafted on that memorable occasion literally means “The LORD is peace.”  As he was about to die (as he reasoned) the Lord gave him the promise of peace, SHALOM.   

Who doesn’t want more peace in their lives?  Whether it’s peace in dying or peace in living.

The name “Jehovah Shalom” is even more exciting when seen in context; i.e. the book of Judges and the calling of Gideon in particular.  I like to think of the book of Judges as the “spiritual roller coaster ride” of the Old Testament.  Its storyline highlights the ups and downs of the dizzying cycle of sin, chastisement, repentance, and revival in the nation of Israel.   This 6th chapter begins by telling us that the “people did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” and as a result suffered the calamity of oppression and fear at the hands of the marauding Midianites.    

The 6th chapter includes the appearance of the “angel of the Lord” who calls Gideon to “save Israel” in response to their calling out to God in desperation.  This story unequivocally reminds us that when we mess up, He shows up.   He desires to give us peace even after we have done what is wrong.   It’s a “peace that passes understanding” because it comes from a God “whose ways are not our ways.”   It’s grace, all the way.  When we are caught in the loop of our sin, He extends the grace of forgiveness and restoration.  When Gideon realized that truth about God, he built an altar to the Lord and called it “Jehovah Shalom”. 

The bridge event in this exchange between Gideon and the “angel of the Lord” was when the doubting judge asked the Lord for a sign that would bolster his confidence.  The sign came as a result of Gideon offering the angel a sacrificial meal that was subsequently consumed by fire.  In this miraculous sign, God was preparing the world for another event that would answer all our deep longings for hope and peace.   

The Cross is God’s forever sign of peace.

Our greatest calamity is not the coronavirus, as disruptive as it has been.  Our greatest calamity arises out of the spiritual death that is lodged in our hearts.  Our greatest oppression is not political or biological, it’s spiritual.  Death and oppression threaten us today as much as Midian oppressed and threatened ancient Israel.  Yet God offers us peace as much as He did Gideon and the sinning Israelites.  His offer of peace comes through the sign of the cross. 

He came in the first century, not as an angel, but as a baby named ‘Immanuel’, “God with us”.  Jesus Christ arrived on this planet to give us THE sign that would lead us out of death and its oppressive ways.  His sacrificial death and victorious resurrection is the only sign we will ever need to live in hope, peace, and eternal life. 

Church family!  When fear and anxiety start to disrupt your confidence in the Lord, cling evermore confidently to the Cross.  Come to Jesus and keep coming to Jesus.  He is the Prince of Peace who gave us THE only sign we ever need to live in the “green pastures and quiet waters” of His Presence. 

Shalom for another week,
Pastor Deric