Pastor: Finding peace in stressful world is possible

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 26, 2005

Natchez &8212; Asked to present a program at a recent conference, the Rev. Steve Pearson began to look around for ideas. &8220;It came to me that there is so much stress in the world today,&8221; he said Friday, taking a break from his many tasks as pastor of Community Chapel Church of God in Natchez.

He decided on the topic for his program, &8220;Living a Life of Peace in a Stressful World,&8221; and began searching the Scriptures as well as his own experiences for ideas.

The program was a big success, getting an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 points for relevancy in their lives when rated by the audience who heard it. It became a sermon Pearson presented to his congregation.

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&8220;We&8217;re so overwhelmed today by the cell phone, telephone, fax machine and e-mail,&8221; he said. &8220;Life is more complicated than ever.&8221;

Finding peace in today&8217;s world must be a choice, and it begins inside a person, he said.

&8220;There will always be stress,&8221; he said. &8220;There will be trouble, death, sickness and bills to pay. But the Bible teaches us that there can be peace amid all the stress.&8221;

He used John 16:33 as one text, &8220;I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.&8221;

So where does one begin to search for peace in a troubled world? The text in John may be a beginning. What else?

&8220;I thought about the peace that God gives me as a pastor,&8221; he said. &8220;I live a crazy life.&8221;

Pearson divided the plan for finding peace into three areas. &8220;When you get down to basics, there are these three areas. You have to be at peace with God; be at peace with yourself; and be at peace with those around you, past, present and future,&8221; he said. &8220;If you can do those things, you can be at peace in a troubled world.&8221;

Learning to get along even with those around you with whom you have had disagreements is possible, he said. &8220;And it&8217;s important to be able to do that.&8221;

First, there is God, though. &8220;I believe that with God, you first go to him and confess your shortcomings. You ask him to help.&8221;

Pearson cited 1 Peter 5:7, &8220;Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.&8221;

To be at peace with God requires some work, however. &8220;You have to have a daily walk with him, a daily relationship. Without that, there can be no peace, and there will be a big void,&8221; he said.

The message in Philippians 4: 4-7 is a guide to follow: &8220;Rejoice in the Lord always. &8230; Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.&8221;

To find personal peace also requires work, Pearson said. &8220;You have to recognize who you are, what your gifts are and what disabilities you have. You accept yourself for what you are.&8221;

He has met and counseled people who do not like themselves. &8220;You must accept what you have and do the best you can do,&8221; he said. &8220;I&8217;m not Billy Graham. I know I will not ever be, but I can brighten the little corner of the world where I am.&8221;

The third step to peace is getting along with the people around you, he said. &8220;It kills me when people say, &8216;I don&8217;t have any friends.&8217;&8221; He has found that most people who say that are not friendly people.

Many people have asked him how they can get along with others. &8220;That&8217;s the worst turmoil to have in your life,&8221; he said. &8220;And there are no easy answers. You have to work at these things. It takes deliberate action.&8221;

Pearson uses a well-known passage, Philippians 4:8-9, as a guide for that action, &8220;&8230; whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable &8212; if anything is excellent or praiseworthy &8212; think of such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me &8212; put into practice.&8221;

Turning anger around requires a soft touch. Respond to anger with a smile and gentle voice, he said.

&8220;There are no easy answers. You have to work at these things,&8221; Pearson said. &8220;It takes deliberate action.&8221;

If a person does not get along with others, he should first be sure he is not a part of the problem.

&8220;Peace is not the absence of conflict. It has to begin inside of you,&8221; he said. &8220;And you&8217;ve got to go to the source. God is that wonderful, overwhelming source of power. How do people face death without hope? How do people face each other every day without love, hope and peace?&8221;