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The Source

The Source

Finding Peace

I wanted to share with you information critical to finding true and lasting peace.  This would not be possible without me pointing you toward Jesus Christ, the “Lord of Peace.”  2 Thessalonians 3:16.  There have been many things that have masqueraded as a source of peace in my life but none of them worked for long.  Just momentary reprieves followed by crippling addiction and emptiness.  It bears mentioning that even as I write this post, I have just passed five years of sobriety.  Welcome to The Source.

It’s true that I have no formal training in theology or counselling and at times I hear the enemy whisper, “What makes you think you can help anyone?  I don’t have all the answers, but I know the One who does.  I don’t know the intimate details of your situation, but He does.

Up until 2003 I had only read a handful of books in my entire life.  I just wasn’t a reader.  After my “Christian” family banished me I needed answers.  My faith had been shaken to the point where I almost walked away.  I began reading anything and everything I could find on broken relationships, especially from a Christian perspective.  Of the thirty plus books I devoured over a two year period it was the Bible that spoke the loudest and clearest.  I have never questioned the authenticity of the Bible as being the inspired Word of God nor it’s authority as the ultimate source of truth.

A while ago I heard a lady say, “Christians are the most guilt ridden people I know!”  Thank God for guilt.  Without it we would keep on rolling down the road that leads  to destruction, blissfully unaware that we are the ones driving.  The Holy Spirit, active and alive in the heart of a believer, uses guilt as a means of correction.  He lets us know when we are in error and acting out of character, the character of Christ Himself living in us.  Even though I hindered His efforts and pushed back, He never gave up on me.  I was always aware of His presence.    Jesus is the only true source of peace.

Many homes have a family Bible, but all to often they are viewed as a decorative heirloom and never opened.  An unopened Bible does about as much good as an unopened parachute to the one who’s falling.  Open one and you will find love, peace and hope.  It is the living Word of your creator giving you detailed instructions on how to find your way back to Him.

For scripture to have a life altering effect on the reader, they must first believe that it’s true.  Followers of Jesus throughout history not only preached His Word with confidence and boldness but knew with certainty that the Holy Spirit went before them, working in the hearts of those who listened.  This is why it is sometimes referred to as the “Living Word.”  The very One who knew you before you were born and knit you together in your mother’s womb is the One who is writing to you.  He is alive and ever present, watching, listening and answering.  He is the one and only true God before which there is none higher.

The Bible has some difficult passages for each of us as they expose our pride and character flaws, areas of our lives that need work.  We are naturally rebellious and have trouble submitting to anyone.  We like to be in control of our own destinies and can harden our hearts against God’s ultimate and unquestionable authority.  This leads to a darkened understanding.  1 Corinthians 2:14.  If this is where you are, take heart, you don’t have to stay there.  God’s Holy Spirit never gets tired and never takes a break.  He is pursuing you, using His empowered Word to point you to Christ and bring you home.

We are all created in the image of God and are without excuse.  If you are human then you witness His glory every day, all around you in all creation.  Romans 1:18-20.

I have shared my belief in the Bible and my faith in Jesus Christ many times over the years.  This has sometimes led to ridicule and other times to questions.  I always ask the Lord to put the right words into my mouth if I am to say anything at all.  Whether with friends, co-workers or customers the conversations are always exciting to me because I literally feel the presence of Christ in our midst.  Some are in agreement while others say, “If Jesus is real then let Him appear before me right now and I will believe!”  He did come, He did stand before men.  Some accepted Him, others rejected Him, it is no different today.  The New Testament is full of eyewitness accounts from those who knew Him, but again, this takes us back to the trustworthiness of the scriptures.

Many have tried to debunk the Bible over the years, especially intellectuals and those from a scientific background.  They have been trained to experiment and question everything until they see the proof with their own eyes.  God doesn’t mind people asking questions and He has nothing against science or the laws of physics, He created them.  No one has been able to disprove the Bible and many of those who have tried only succeeded in confirming its validity.  Many of them have come to faith in Christ.

Every prophecy foretold in the Bible that has already come true, has done so to the letter and those yet to be fulfilled will do likewise.  Fortune tellers and mediums have plenty of clientele all looking for what lies ahead, what’s going to happen in the future.  The Bible tells us that our lives are short and to use our time wisely, that this cursed world is passing away.  Those who know Jesus Christ as their saviour have nothing to fear.  Everything that He has promised to do, will be done.

Some parts of the Bible are a little dry, especially the genealogies, but they are there for a reason.  I always suggest that new comers start in the New Testament, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Ask the Lord to open your eyes and heart, to guide your thoughts as you read.  If you know Him already, wonderful.  If you want to know Him, wonderful.  Seek Him with all your heart, and you will find Him.  Jeremiah 29:13.

It helps to have a thirst for God’s Word.  I had read bits and pieces of the Bible from time to time but it wasn’t until tragedy struck that I read it from cover to cover searching for answers.  I have not been disappointed.  I would recommend not waiting until calamity strikes before reading the entire story. You will be far better prepared to weather the coming storms if you have biblical knowledge and wisdom.  I know a few people with great knowledge of the scriptures, but lack the wisdom to use it correctly.  “…if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God…”  James 1:5.

In today’s world, things that were once highly offensive, shocking and completely unacceptable have become main stream.  We are becoming hardened and desensitized.  This can easily spill over into our relationships and cause us to throw in the towel long before we should.

The character of Jesus is the ultimate example of how we should treat each other.  He didn’t just tell us, He showed us.  He died for us and the only thing He asks in return is that we live for Him.  No matter where you go nothing affects your life more deeply than relationships.  God made us that way.  We are social beings, we need Him and we need each other.  God created the family and He holds it in very high regard, so should we.

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Of all our earthly relationships there is none more important than family.  God created it to be an ongoing source of strength, comfort and instruction as well as a trusted place of safety and nurturing.  The family unit is the school of life and the Bible has much to say about how to run this school.  Most importantly, God must be kept in first place.  First in our personal lives and first in our households as the true head, the real Lord of the family.

Extended families can grow quite large including grandparents, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles.  Whether by blood or marriage some families could fill a baseball field.  Being a family member is a lifetime commitment ordained by God and both husband and wife are responsible for holding it together, no one is disposable.

The home is a child’s first exposure to the love and truth about God.  When we are patient and kind, supportive and understanding and every time we forgive and ask to be forgiven we are modelling the love of Christ.  This also means correction and discipline when necessary just as long as it is a thoughtfully measured response.  As parents, we hope that our children will listen when instructed and learn when disciplined and not become rebellious.  God wants the same thing with us, His children.  Proverbs 3:11-12.

A child’s experiences at home have everything to do with how they are able to relate to God, so be very careful how you treat these little ones.  Still, the fact remains, that even if you have done your very best to “Train them up in the way they should go…”  Proverbs 22:6 they sometimes go a different way.  Being raised in a Christian home does not guarantee that you will live a Christ centred life.  It is a deeply personal choice that every human heart must make for themselves.  As parents, there is nothing our kids could do to cause us to stop loving them, guiding them and praying for them…nothing.  This is what God desires for the family.

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal saviour then His Holy Spirit now dwells in your heart and His redemptive work of regeneration has begun.  That being said, it is now impossible for you to sin and not be convicted.  We can ignore the conviction and continue doing things our own way but at some point we must come to repentance.  Years ago I heard a statement that I have often recalled, “Christian, change your behaviour or change your name.”  The longer we ignore conviction and refuse to alter a sinful lifestyle the more the family unit will suffer.  Children learn from their parents.  Having been literally banished from my “Christian” family many years ago Psalm 27:10 brought me great comfort.  “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.”  God is my Father, He is steadfast, merciful and full of love.

False Christian?

There is no such thing.  People either have Christ or they don’t.  It’s tempting to say, “they can’t be a real Christian” whenever we witness sinful behaviour in a professing believer, especially when we’re on the receiving end.  Sometimes you’d be right, and sometimes you’d be wrong.  When a new believer truly opens their heart to Jesus, He takes up permanent residency inside that person and begins His work of regeneration and instruction.  This takes time…a lot of time.  Our free will and our sinful nature can impede our growth in Christ.  Once God’s Holy Spirit has come into your heart you are “born again.”  You are adopted into His family and sent to school, so to speak.  A child of God in His kindergarten is just as real and just as saved as an honour grad in His university.  The difference being that the kindergarten student has yet to learn a great deal.  That being said, there are things to look for in the life of a true believer.  There should be evidence like the “fruit of the Spirit” Galatians 5:22-23.

Satan has been attacking families since the beginning.  He hates the family and goes to great lengths to destroy it.  The primary reason for this is that the believing household is where the Gospel is taught and hopefully, demonstrated.  I say “hopefully” because far too often we parents hold our children to a higher standard than we have obtained ourselves.  Children tend to imitate our behaviour much more than they obey our words.  Not only does the devil want to prevent the teaching of God’s Word in Christian homes but he also uses members of unbelieving homes to lure these little ones away.  Witnessing the actions of an unbelieving and undisciplined world can be a powerful draw to both children and adults alike.  Choose your friends carefully and your spouse even more so.

Parents often quote “Children, obey your parents” from Ephesians in an effort to get the kiddos to fall in line.  They are leaving out important information here.  Read Ephesians 6:1-4.  Notice the “do not exasperate your children” part?  Discipline is necessary and sometimes a child will become angry because of it, that is perfectly okay.  Not provoking your child to anger means to be careful that you use appropriate means to correct poor behaviour.  Pick your battles and be sure that they line up with what God’s Word says.  Discipline produces respect, first in the home and then toward God.  This will spill over into all aspects of their lives later on.  Respect for police, judges, government, co workers and neighbours.

It’s easy to see when and where others fall short, not so easy to judge ourselves.  Only when we are in a right relationship with God and are open to His guidance will we be able to influence a hurting world for Christ in the appropriate manner.  Not long ago my failures far outnumbered my victories, now victory is far more common than the occasional failure.  This is God at work.

If children are not taught obedience and respect in the home then they feel free to do as they please in all aspects of their life.  If they don’t learn that there are consequences to their actions, then they will learn the hard way, the world’s way.  Teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted disease and abortions continue to rise at an unprecedented rate in many areas of the world.  The examples you set for your children and the lifestyle choices you make is the best way to teach them self-control and godly behaviour.  Not saying no is as good as saying yes to a child.  It is every parents God given duty to follow the instructions spelled out in Deuteronomy 6:1-9.  Whenever we stray from God’s original template for the family we will have trouble.  Any time society re-defines what a family should look like, watch out.

“As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”   – Pope John Paul ll

As important as our earthly families are in God’s eyes, more important by far is our membership in His heavenly family.  This has been a huge comfort to me in the loss of my family of origin.  Being part of God’s spiritual family means all those who are heaven bound are my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I have a very large family.  Matthew 12:46-50.  Jesus is not dismissing His biological family as unimportant, He is making the clear theological point that the most important family connection is spiritual, not physical.

It’s hard to watch our children struggle with various issues as they enter adulthood.  Love makes this part of parenting very difficult and painful.  Our first reaction is to rush in and help solve the problem, help ease the pain.  Knowing when help is actually helping and not hindering God’s ongoing work in our children’s lives is something we ourselves must learn as parents.  A recent news feed article caught my eye.  It’s called, “‘Snowplow parenting’ is preventing young adults from learning basic life skills” by Arti Patel.  She talks about the dangers and damage done by parents who continually jump into rescue mode and fight their children’s battles for them.  They make appointments for them, wake them up in the morning and even call their children’s place of work if there is an issue.  This runs a very high risk of the child being incapable of coping in the world as an adult and can lead to mental health issues, relationship problems and even overall hygiene.

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Snowplow Parenting by Arti Patel