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.

 

Confidence in the Lord

I have new goals and a new life. A total change from the last 30 years.  Not without problems, though, but a new outlook. A more mature outlook.  I am excited about my future and my family and we are getting closer everyday. 

A recent scripture came into focus for me.

Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust…

Psalms 40:4a

images (1)Blessed is the person that makes God his confidence and confidant. I am leaning on Him and relying on Him, whatever else I rely on in life: connections, education, or charisma, the Word of God always leads me back to the fact that none of those things means anything without trust in God. 

I’m reminded that God is in control even when my life seems chaotic.  I remind myself of this time and time again. Each time, the situation is different.  Often more complex or difficult than the last in some way, shape, or form.

It all has to do with our trusting God in our circumstances and for our life.  This doesn’t mean being impractical or shrugging shoulders just hoping it works out.  That is leaving your life to fate with no direction.  God gives direction.  There are efforts we have to put forth that are within our reach, and then we see what God will do. download (2)

I remind myself that God takes care of the flowers and birds which we pay so little attention to, and yet, he still is focused on us and our problems in every detail, even when it seems that he’s left us alone.

When I feel alone in my troubles, I’m  reminded that Christ felt alone on the cross. He also felt God had forsaken him when God was indeed with him more than ever as he completed his divine mission.

It’s odd how God in our creation blessed us with emotions.  They are a blessing even though they can often seem a curse. Oh, that we could go through life and feel nothing. But we only wish that kind of stuff when things hurt. We hate pain, and so don’t want anything to befall us that’s painful.

We only love our emotions when things are well.  I guess it’s all part of being human. But I’m learning to deal with the devil on my shoulder and push negativity aside.  Often I have to ignore feelings and that voice in my head that screams doom and disaster,  just to get through the day. 

Sometimes it seems like torture, and other times, I begin to understand the value of those emotions. They teach me to overcome.

They teach me that feelings are not truth itself, they are only reactions to truths and circumstances.

I am determined more than ever not to let the past dictate my future or encroach on the present.  

We have a family crisis but we are hopeful for the new year because of our reliance on the Lord. So many don’t have confidence in the son of God, but I do.  I believe he is all that he says he is.

Focus on the good things.

It takes practice when you’re surrounded by pressures and problems, but it’s worth the effort to stay positive, to stay present.  

Trust in the Lord is a wonderful thing. 

 

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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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Hannah’s Angst: Desires Stuck On Pause

The real lesson in Hannah’s story is her worry about a situation in her life that needed healing. She could not have children, and it was a constant source of worry, hurt, and concern

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In the bible, God leaves on record the story of a woman named Hannah. She was the mother of the great prophet Samuel. On its surface, it’s the story of how Samuel was dedicated to the Lord from birth. The real lesson in Hannah’s story is her worry about a situation that needed healing. She could not have children, and it was a constant source of worry, hurt, and concern.

Continue reading “Hannah’s Angst: Desires Stuck On Pause”

The Things I Allowed.

No matter how badly other people behave, you have to heal by looking at yourself and how YOU are handling their actions.

One of the first questions my therapist asked me was not about my religion but about me.  She was getting me to focus on MYSELF. I had to stop talking about everything wrong in my life.  I am usually very intense about everything, and when I would come, I would talk about all of the weird things that were going on at church and in my life.  Then it finally hit me. I realize that the things that I was complaining about in life were the result of the things I allowed.

No matter how badly other people behave, you have to heal by looking at yourself and how YOU are handling their actions.

Continue reading “The Things I Allowed.”