Keeping Our Peace

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid

In Acts 1:6-7 the disciples asked the risen Christ legitimate questions about the future,  but his response was:

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

I’m sure that’s not what they were looking for.  Some of them might have said  to themselves “well thanks Jesus, we followed you for 3 years believing that you would restore Isreal to a kingdom status and you’re still only giving us bits and pieces”.

This passage reminded me that at times we ask God reasonable questions, seemingly vital to our sanity.  Are you going to help us?  Give us a clue? What is your ultimate plan?  Let us in on this one. Still, Christ only told them the immediate things they needed to know and do.   He didn’t tell them everything — and yet he did.  He sidestepped their question and went straight to what they actually needed for their coming role in the world

You will receive power.

They needed his strength, gifts, and ability to spread the gospel and go through their own struggles while He transformed their lives into his image.   And that’s it isn’t it?

Often I hear Christians who read scriptures about power and focus, like Simon the sorcerer, on something everyone can see. After all, shouldn’t we do things to amaze and convert like in the Book of Acts?    Let’s show them that we can perform miracles, prophecy future events, go to church and kiss the coronavirus on the forehead and not be harmed.  We’ll show those unbelievers!

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On the contrary, our power is living our lives according to God’s word and having peace in the midst of confusion.  Strength comes by using our gifts to be Jesus’ hands, feet, and heart in times of crisis.  Sound mundane? Less than spectacular? Consider that the ability to endure, and make it through trouble is something few have the patience for.  One of the fruits of the spirit is PATIENCE. The ability to wait and see. Less talk and more prayer. This pandemic will definitely try our patience.

Inner peace and patience are prized possessions (yes more than toilet paper and hand sanitizer). Having God’s peace in a time of trouble has stellar, black-market value.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27( ESV)
The disciples just needed to know that he would be with them.  They didn’t need to know every detail of what was coming at them, but they did need to know that his presence would be there to help them.
That he would not leave them in time of distress, tragedy, or sadness.  Having peace is powerful. We just need to know that He walks with us from day today.

 

Truth Be Told

I’d like to tackle a particular scripture that says  God will not hear the prayer of sinners. Those that take a literalist view of scripture will say that it means what it says without reference to context and the character of God.   One of the greatest detriments to the gospel is teachers that don’t fully explain scriptures but simply repeat them the way they heard them.   There has to come a time when Bible teachers reconcile real Christian life with scriptural fallacies. Continue reading “Truth Be Told”

Learning to Breathe As A Christian Parent, Ages 3-18

I love that definition of prayer.  Simply putting oneself in the hands of God.  One thing my experience as a Christian parent has taught me:  Breathe, pray and don’t take everything so seriously. Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to be the perfect parent.  If we believed that God created them and has plans for their lives, then realize that God is there to talk to them when you’re not. 

Casting all your cares on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7.

God is not this judgmental ogre who stands there waiting to condemn you at every turn.  He does not force us or even micromanage our affairs. He simply teaches and loves. I’m learning to imitate that part of the divine.  

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved  children. Ephesians 5:1

Our children are wonderful human beings that we’ve been blessed to raise.  Each one of them is different in their own manners, thinking process, emotions and character.  As I pull away from toxic things I see my kids for what they are: individuals.  

There is something about looking at my children this way and not as an extension of my own image that is freeing and refreshing. So often as Christians we tend to focus on how our children make us look since there is this duty to bring them up in “the fear of the Lord”.

So to continue my discussion of child development, here we go:

Ages 3-5

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Experts tell us this is an “assertive” age with a lot of activity and questions.  Kids want to initiate and interact. As much as possible, try to support their desire to learn or  avoid over controlling them at this age. If they’re constantly criticized or overly controlled they will learn to withdraw and develop guilt about normal behavior.  Try not to make them feel like they’re a nuisance even when they ask questions over and over again. Of course some guilt is necessary so that the child will have a conscience. 

I used to wonder why highly controlled children seemed to have little initiative and seemed almost blank in creativity. Maybe this is why.

Age 5-12

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If children are encouraged and reinforced for their initiative, they begin to feel industrious (competent) and feel confident in their ability to achieve goals. If this initiative is not encouraged, if it is restricted by parents or teacher, then the child begins to feel inferior, doubting his own abilities and therefore may not reach his or her potential. If the child cannot develop the specific skill they feel society is demanding (e.g., being athletic) then they may develop a sense of inferiority. Resource

To learn competence, the child has to experience failure. Kids learn by initiating, doing and seeing if they can be successful in things they started.   If they are not allowed to do anything on their own, the skill and power of feeling competent is a struggle. I’ve seen children, including my own that have grown up in a highly controlled existence. Usually they struggle with self-esteem and feeling accomplished.

Adolescence

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 Any of us that have teens knows that our relationship with them changes during this time.  We have to move along with their maturity. Teens are looking toward, careers, relationships, family housing and becoming independent and wanting to find out who they are.  It’s a critical stage. Sometimes in religious settings it’s styled as an age of rebellion. I prefer to think of it as adult discovery. They are discovering relationships, sexuality, their own thoughts on subjects, what careers they might be good at and even their own belief system.   They may not want your religion or lifestyle and it’s ok because they are finding out about their own identity. Many Christian parents are afraid of this stage because the questions come out and doubt comes in and the parents are afraid they will lose the child forever. Just pray for them.  

f God loves and understands them at this stage so should we. The child needs to understand that you’re there for them and will listen to them and talk to them like the adults they are becoming.

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Now, About Those Other Sheep

Let’s take God out of the box.

The idea of that one church, religious group, or denomination has a lock on God is ludicrous. The idea that God will only lead a person to one church organization is equally not supported by scripture. Frankly, when a person lets Christ into their heart and life, nothing else is needed, they are already a member of God’s church. God never says, “Now find a Pastor from _________church, and then you’ll be alright.”

Continue reading “Now, About Those Other Sheep”

A Word About Women’s Clothing

When my daughter was 16 we went to a child therapist because my daughter was having so much trouble with depression. When Sydney left the room, she took me aside and said “You know, I was one of the child therapists that assisted in providing care for the children from the LDS cult of Warren Jeffs. I’ve worked a lot with children from strict religious backgrounds. The children who had strict clothing rules were actually well adjusted. You know why? Because that’s all they saw. They were in an enclosed environment, so the clothing issue was not damaging to them. But your church is trying to live that way in the middle of a big city where the kids are sent to school, and other places looking completely different from everyone around them. While that may be your church beliefs, your leaders should reconsider what they are putting their children through by doing this, and the damage it can cause in some children.”

Continue reading “A Word About Women’s Clothing”