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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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Image – Pixabay




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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Image – Pixabay

Snowplow Parenting by Arti Patel

The Proving Ground

The Proving Ground

Proving ground earth

Technology has now made it possible for us to witness any event happening anywhere on the planet in real time.  It’s gut wrenching to see bad things happen to good people.  War, tragic accidents, illness, crime, corruption, and a myriad of other events that plague this world can cause us to question, “Why is God allowing this?”  Even as I write this post the world has just surpassed the one million mark in Covid 19 deaths.  It’s perfectly normal to have questions, just be on guard against the devil who will try and persuade you to believe his answers.  Welcome to The Proving Ground.

In the seven years I spent at Defence Research & Development Canada in Suffield, Alberta, I worked almost exclusively in an area called the Experimental Proving Ground.  This is where new products and ideas in troop protection are tested and improved upon before being put into service.  The tests were called “trials” and lives literally depend on these things doing what they were designed to do.  Planet earth is indeed one big proving ground where we all endure trials and tribulations in the hope of improving ourselves.  God doesn’t test us to find out what we’re capable of, where we will succeed or fail, He already knows.  These things happen so that we can see where improvement is needed in our own lives.  Hopefully we learn in times of trial and make the appropriate changes, hopefully we grow.

So if God loved us enough to die for us then why all the trials and tribulations of life?  If He knows the plans He has for us, plans to prosper and not to harm… (Jeremiah 29:11) then why do we experience pain and suffering?  Well, first of all, the way things are now isn’t the way God originally made them to be.  When Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God cursed the earth and sent them out of the Garden of Eden.  He didn’t stop loving and caring for them or the rest of us.  To this day we live in a fallen world, but we are not without hope, we are not alone.  Knowledge of the curse has not brought me comfort when everything is falling apart.  Knowing what God’s Word says and believing the promises Jesus has made is where I find great comfort, strength and hope.

Our biblical picture of God affects the way we live our lives and how we treat the people who share it.  It’s important to have an accurate view of Who God is and how He deals with sin.  We read that He is loving, forgiving, kind and merciful and also that He is holy, righteous and just.  This can sometimes lead to confusion between grace and judgment.  We are comforted by His Word and at the same time fearful of it.  Some Christians pride themselves on being tolerant and accepting of everyone, despite a lifestyle that reflects a total disregard for God’s law.  Other more rigid Christians place a heavy emphasis on God’s judgment.  Neither reveals the whole picture.  We must be careful not to get so caught up in the good stuff that we lose sight of the warnings.  Everyone should have a healthy, reverent fear of the Lord and yet, through Him, “…draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16.

Be cautious of the prosperity preachers that say you can have everything your heart desires if you just come to Jesus.  The “name it and claim it” crowd that would have you believe that life is a bed of roses if Jesus is your saviour; not true.  In many cases life can get harder once you belong to Christ.  You are now going against the flow and the devil may take a more active interest in you.  Satan is diametrically opposed to God, so when you give your life to Christ, he loses you and that makes him angry.  This is nothing to be worried about.  I love what 1 John 4:4 says, “…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  Jesus has already won the battle and the devil is thrashing around in death throes wanting to take as many down with him as he can.  Jesus tells us in John 10:28 that we are perfectly safe in His hands.  He has our backs.

Many soldiers have died needlessly because they were thrust into battle before receiving the proper combat training.  For anyone to be effective at what they do, they must be trained.  If you’re involved in an accident you take comfort knowing that the paramedics rushing to your aid are highly trained, right?  The pilot who flies the plane you’re on, the police or firefighters you call, the surgeon who is about to hold your heart in their hands; all have proven that they know what they’re doing.  Spiritual warfare rages all around us and God takes an active roll in making sure we are prepared for battle.  Tangible weapons of war are useless in the spiritual battle against Satan and his demons.  In Ephesians 6:11-18 , Paul tells us about the full armour of God.  Three times, in verses 11, 13 and 14 we are told to “stand firm.”  If we faithfully follow these instructions we are guaranteed victory over any scheme of the devil.  I have put a link in the resource section of this post that describes the armour of God in detail.  I do think it’s interesting that the first piece of armour is truth.  Being truthful at all times is not only important to our relationship with God, but also for those to whom we witness.  Lying and deception is detestable to God and destroys relationships.

One thing I hear a lot lately is, “Everything happens for a reason.”  While it is true that God is sovereign and that every event has a reason behind it, there is no scripture that spells it out exactly that way.  Sometimes we say that “everything happens for a reason” to make ourselves feel better after making bad choices.  There are many examples of Romans 8:28 throughout the entire Bible and this seems to be where this popular saying comes from.  We may tell someone that “everything happens for a reason” to get them to examine their actions in the hope that they will learn from their mistakes.  We may even say it as a means of comfort, but there is a right time and a wrong time to say it.  For example, a funeral is not the place to suggest there is a reason.  Paul writes in Romans 12:15 “…weep with those who weep.”  I had an experience that drove this point home.  I was telling a friend about the idea I had for our home page header on this blog that would illustrate my family situation.  As she listened, tears formed in her eyes, she didn’t say anything at all.  I was deeply moved and comforted by her silence and her sincere sympathy for my personal tragedy.  It is perfectly normal to feel like we have to say something in order to bring comfort to hurting people, but sometimes silence speaks much louder than words.

It has been my experience that much of the suffering I have endured during my lifetime has been due to my own mistakes and poor choices.  I definitely don’t blame God for them.  In fact, I credit Him greatly for seeing me through those difficult times.  Even when suffering arrives at my door through no fault of my own, I clearly see God’s hand at work.  During the hardest of times I run to Him, cry out to Him, seek Him and find comfort, help and safety.  My faith and trust in Him has grown stronger with each passing storm, and they do pass.  Testing, trials and tribulations are for our benefit.  James 1:2-4.  The last thing I feel when I’m in the middle of a storm is joy.  And yet, when I force myself to refocus and look upward instead of outward at what lies ahead, that is when help arrives.  Yelling, swearing and throwing a fit has never helped solve anything in my life.  It has only served to aggravate the situation and raise the anxiety level of those around me.  Taking the time to ask for God’s help taps you into the awesome power of the creator and will yield results if we are patient.  Most of the time we don’t see what God is doing, when He’s doing it.  He loves to surprise His children.

When others see our patient perseverance in the midst of a storm, God is glorified.  When people in our lives witness us “bearing up” under fiery trials (1 Peter 4:12) they want that same confidence, they want to tap into that same power.  This is a large part of what draws people to Christ.  Weathering the storms of life not only develops our character and helps us to be more like Christ, but also greatly increases our faith.  Tribulations are to faith as water and nutrients are to a tree.  Without them there is no growth.

God may bring about trying times in an effort to draw our attention to sinful behaviour.  We tend to continue acting in whatever way works best for us or that brings about the desired results, even if it’s clearly not what God wants.  If yelling and physical abuse or lying and manipulation has proven effective in controlling the people who share life with you, then you may find yourself rationalizing and justifying the behaviour.  Unless there are consequences, you may continue to employ these sinful tactics.

God isn’t so much interested in our comfort as He is our growth.


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Image – Pixabay – What Is The Full Armour Of God?

The Hope Of Heaven

The Hope Of Heaven

floating to heaven

Of all my posts so far, this is the one I am most excited about.  It will help take your mind off what is past and cause you to look forward with great expectation.  Colossians 3:2 tells us to “Set our minds on the things above, not on earthly things.”  This doesn’t mean to be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good, but to live each day to the glory of God and in a manner worthy of the name Christian.  Hope is a critical ingredient in our physical lives as well as our spiritual life.  When our relationships need work it is the “hope” that things will get better which spurs us on to action.  Hope helps us to hang in there.  Whenever I’m having a bad day or facing a difficult situation I remember 1 Peter 5:10 “…after you suffered a little while…”  In other words, it’s not forever.  When we are besieged with worry time seems to stand still and so we hope for better times.  Psalm 103:15-16 states that our days are like grass, we sprout, grow and are gone.  Welcome to The Hope Of Heaven.

I once did an object lesson that beautifully demonstrated the fact that, in the scope of eternity, we really aren’t here for long.  If you have five minutes to watch, it can be found here.

The Bible doesn’t have a lot to say about heaven but one thing is for sure, you won’t want to be anywhere else.  Heaven is the final destination for the believer, it is a very real place.  It is my sincerest hope that as you read on, you will be inspired to think more about heaven and get excited not just about the destination, but the journey toward it.

It is impossible to get excited about anything unless you really believe it is going to take place.  The hope of heaven is what drives Christians forward even through the most difficult of circumstances.  The promise of eternal life with Christ is filled with hope.  Paul wrote that our hope isn’t only for this life but our hope in God’s promise of heaven is, “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…”  Hebrews 6:19.

God takes a personal interest in protecting those who belong to Him until they have accomplished what He has sent them into the world to do.  Psalm 91.  Who would want to live a day longer?  I can totally relate to Paul in Philippians 1:21-23.  The believer knows where they are going and even long for it.  Sadly, the wicked are never satisfied, even with long life.

Glimpses of Heaven


Glimpses of heaven are described in the Bible.  When we read these divine revelations and use our God given imaginations we truly begin to get excited about our arrival.  Jesus wouldn’t have told us about it if it didn’t exist and He clearly wants us to look forward to it.  I have never been to heaven, but Jesus has.  He came down from there to tell us about it and died on the cross to pay our way in.

In John 14:2-3 Jesus tells us that He is preparing a place for us and that He will come back and take us there to be with Him forever.  Some translations refer to these dwelling places as mansions.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it will look like but I know that my “place” is being built by Jesus Himself, the Master carpenter, and it will last for all eternity.

Unlike references to hell, there is no nighttime in heaven.  Revelation 22:5.  Our earthly bodies need rest and sleep to rejuvenate, in heaven you will never get tired nor have any desire for sleep or darkness.

Misleading images of human creation like someone sitting on a billowy cloud with wings on their back and a harp in their hands can lead us to think that heaven will be boring.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Those fleeting moments of happiness that we are blessed with here on earth will be provided in never ending abundance in heaven.  I love what the late Rev. Billy Graham once said, “God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he’ll be there.”  God created me and knows what makes me truly happy.  I have total confidence that my experience in heaven will directly reflect this reality.

I am also convinced that the things which cause us to dread certain activities here on earth won’t exist in heaven.  In an effort to get help with my family situation I met with a Christian counsellor many years ago now.  She told me that it’s possible that my relationship with my family won’t be healed until heaven.  This didn’t make me feel any better at the time, but now that I have grown in my faith I understand what she was talking about.  Sin is not allowed in heaven.  The sinful behaviour that was the root cause of the dysfunction here, won’t be allowed there.  All of our relationships in heaven will be exactly the way God intended them to be; perfect, harmonious and unending.

1 Corinthians 15:42-44 describes the sharp contrast between our earthly human bodies and the heavenly spiritual body we can look forward to.  Paul tells us that our natural bodies are perishable, dishonourable and weak where as our spiritual bodies will be imperishable, honourable and powerful.  Think about that for a minute, “imperishable!”  No longer will we be subject to sickness and disease, accidents or injury, extreme heat or cold nor hunger and thirst.  No more decay; indestructible and enduring for ever.  We will no longer feel any shame having been cleansed from sin by Jesus shed blood on our behalf.  We will be free from the natural laws of gravity, time and space, no longer weakened by sin and temptation.  Our glorified bodies will belong to Christ and be empowered by His Holy Spirit for all eternity.

Everyone on earth longs for lasting peace.  We pursue happiness, safety and security for ourselves and our loved ones, a life free from pain and strife.  My friends, it lies just ahead.  All birth defects, mental or physical handicaps, injuries and the debilitating effects of illness will be healed in heaven.  Isaiah 35:5-6.

Having a new “spiritual body” doesn’t mean that we will be an unrecognizable mist floating around aimlessly.  We will be recognizable, we will have form, solidity of touch and great purpose.  We are told in  1 John 3:2 that our resurrected bodies will be like that of Jesus resurrected body.  This verse really gets my imagination working overtime.  For instance, on Easter morning when the women visited Jesus tomb they found an angel had rolled away the heavy stone from the entrance and was sitting on it.  Matthew 28 tells us that this was to allow the women to see for themselves that Jesus had risen and was not there.  Jesus had already left before the stone was rolled away, did He walk right through solid rock?  As funny as that may sound, will we be able to pass right through solid objects in heaven?

In John 20:19-29 the disciples are hidden away in a room with the doors secured for fear of the Jews when suddenly, “…Jesus came and stood in their midst…”  Jesus didn’t need to use the door.  Eight days later in the same room we hear about Thomas.  He would not believe unless he put his fingers into the nail holes in Jesus hands and the spear wound in His side.  Clearly Jesus could be where He wanted to be when He wanted to be there, without need of travel as we know it.  His resurrected body was solid, touchable and recognizable.  It is fitting that Jesus wounds remain on His resurrected body as they are a permanent reminder of what our salvation cost Him.

For those of us who love food there is more good news.  After showing them His hands and feet Jesus asked if there was any food in the room.  His disciples gave Him a piece of broiled fish which He then ate in front of them.  Luke 24:40-43.  Jesus didn’t need the nourishment, He did this to further drive home the point that He was still Himself in every way.  Eating is a pleasurable experience and even though we will not be driven to it out of necessity or gluttony we will still be able to enjoy food.  Again my imagination runs wild thinking about what amazing new tastes and treats that await us in our heavenly home.  My diabetes won’t be there anymore so I’ll be able to try everything without the worry of falling to the floor and flopping around like a fish.  I can see no evidence that the “…marriage supper of the Lamb” spoken of in Revelation 19:9 isn’t an actual prolonged celebration feast with real food and drink.

In Revelation 21:10-27 John likens the appearance of the City of God to a brilliant stone.  The angel with him took measurements to show the size of this massive area.  It’s length, width and height are equal…fifteen hundred miles.  To put that into perspective it would span from Vancouver, B.C. to Winnipeg, MB. and down to Houston, Texas.  Square that off and it would cover well over half the continental U.S.  To give you an idea of what fifteen hundred miles high is like, the International Space Station orbits at an altitude of 248 miles, so six times the height of the ISS.  I can’t even begin to imagine the stunning architecture that such an huge area would contain.  Our earthly cities are limited by gravity and thus are spread out over two dimensional areas.  To date, the best that man can do going skyward is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  At 2,722 feet it is the tallest self supporting structure in the world.  Our bodies need oxygen above three miles and above one mile it is much colder.  So, near as I can tell, gravity, atmosphere and temperature will not be an issue for our glorified bodies in heaven.

God clearly wants us to be excited about heaven but also wants us to heed the warnings of hell, He wouldn’t bother mentioning it otherwise.  The Bible is very clear on what it takes to gain entry into heaven.  In John 14:6 Jesus tells us that “…no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”  In Paul’s letter to the Romans he writes, “…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved…”  Romans 10:9.  This is why I greatly caution people against waiting until later to make a decision about Christ.  First of all, no one knows when they are going to breath their last.  And secondly, after a lifetime of hardheartedness, it may not be so easy to truly believe.

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Image – Pixabay

The Rev. Billy Graham

When To Forgive

When To Forgive

woman holding a Bible.

You may think the title of this post is odd because, as believers, we are commanded to forgive period.  The Bible is filled with scripture on forgiveness, the very core of our faith and belief.  Most of us key in on Matthew 6:14-15 which states that unless we forgive others, God will not forgive us.  I find myself wondering how many deeply hurt people searching for comfort in the Bible or from other believers have turned away from Jesus because of this sobering passage.  Forgiveness is just too hard.  Welcome to When To Forgive.

As an adult child I have been estranged by my entire family of origin for going on twenty years now.  The agony, pain and suffering this situation brought into my life and that of my wife and children made forgiveness a distant hope.  The fact that this could happen in a professing Christian family nearly caused me to walk away from my faith.  Many years of pleading and reaching out for reconciliation were met with rejection.  My father passed away in December 2019.  I didn’t think I had any tears left.  My stepmother called a couple of days after the fact.  I had already been informed in a text from a concerned friend.  My wife and I travelled to the funeral and prayed for the Lord to be in our thoughts, words and actions as we entered the service.  I crossed the floor and introduced myself to two nephews and a niece whom I’ve never met.  As always with my family I was hoping for some sign of a change of heart.  I felt great compassion for them all as they were losing dad for the first time, I was losing him a second.  I felt pity for them because pride and judgment still reign.  Nothing has changed.  One sibling in particular looked up at me with such bitterness, anger and hatred that my blood literally ran cold.  I wasn’t afraid of him, I was very afraid for him.  I haven’t been around for over twenty years and I’m still the scapegoat.  I mention these things to help you to understand how difficult true forgiveness can be.

I know full well that God has forgiven me for my sins and what it cost Him to do so.  Who am I to withhold forgiveness from anyone else.  Many years ago I made the difficult choice to forgive my family for what they have done to me and move on.  To be clear, no one in my family has ever expressed remorse or a willingness to be held accountable for what has happened.  No one has ever asked to be forgiven for their hurtful words and actions.  I have always spoken up when I see blatant wrong-doing  and poor treatment of myself or others.  This has cost me dearly, both in my professional life and that of my family.  I don’t regret a single time.  James 5:20  Isaiah 1:17.

True forgiveness means that you no longer hold anything against a person and that you forfeit the right to ever bring up the matter again.  Still, every time the subject of my family comes up I say, “I still hold them responsible.”  I have been very conflicted for years over this.  Have I not truly forgiven them?

A few months ago I came across an article that beautifully described when we should forgive.  It has completely changed my understanding of true forgiveness and is the reason for this post.  I will share a link to said article in the resource list at the bottom.

The article had such an immediate and deep impact on me that I did further research on the subject and quickly realized that it’s one of those hot button issues with different schools of thought.  I sent the article to my pastor to get his reaction.  He really enjoyed it and said that he would share most of it’s sentiments.  Even as I sit here typing, the Christian radio station playing in the background just shared a story about an African American jogger.  A truck with five white guys in it pulled up along side him and began yelling racial slurs and threats of harm.  Being Christian, the jogger didn’t respond but said he chose to forgive them.  It was wise not to respond as the situation could have easily spiralled out of control and ended badly for him.  There was no mention of the offenders being sorry for their despicable treatment of the man.  Unless those men cry out to God from a repentant heart and ask Him for forgiveness, their guilt remains.  The jogger’s choice to forgive would be more accurately described as a willingness that they be forgiven.  This is bared out in scripture with Jesus own words on the cross in Luke 23:34 and the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7:60.  They were expressing their heart’s desire to God …their willingness to forgive.

Ephesians 4:32 clearly tells us to forgive others as God has forgiven us.  So first, let’s take a look at how God forgives us.  Our God is a Holy God and sin must be answered for and paid for.  He gave up His only Son, Jesus, to a torturous cruel death on the cross as the final sacrifice for our sins.  Jesus literally paid for our salvation with His life.  God doesn’t want anyone to perish.  He patiently waits for us to change our behaviour (repent) 2 Peter 3:9.  Through Jesus work on the cross, God offers us forgiveness.  So for us to be truly forgiven we must first humbly agree with the Lord that what we did was wrong and ask to be forgiven.  Then we must repent of the wrong by changing our ways.  This doesn’t mean that we never slip up again.  God knows our heart, and He alone knows the depth of our repentance.  Our actions should indicate that change of behaviour as we strive to Love the Lord and each other.  So clearly God’s forgiveness is transactional.  For years I have said that reconciliation always takes two, but forgiveness only takes one.  I was wrong.  What God looks for is a heart that is ready and willing to forgive, a heart that truly wants to forgive.  We may never hear the words, “please forgive me,” but a persons actions can also be a means by which they apologize.

Forgiveness is not the same as forbearance.  To forbear is to patiently endure poor treatment as long as you are able.  It is a virtue, to be sure but there may come a time when you must speak up.  Luke 17:3.

Forgiveness is not forgetting.  It means that we no longer hold the offence against the offender.  Trust takes time to rebuild.  To “forgive & forget,” is something I have not found to be possible, I’m human.  But I can tell you from experience that when a person is truly sorry for what they have done, it goes a long way to putting it your rear view mirror.

Forgiveness does not necessarily remove all consequences.  Boundaries may need to be set until trust is restored.

Forgiveness is not self-serving.  This is the one that may get some hairs standing up on the back of your neck.  Psychologists, well meaning friends and others may push you to forgive for your own sake.  “You simply must forgive them or you’re just hurting yourself.”  I have often wondered what an unrepentant offender would say if I told them I have forgiven them?  “Oh…well that’s nice, but I haven’t done anything wrong so…carry on.”  It totally negates the purpose.  They are not sorry and they have not changed.  We must be very careful not to say, “I will never forgive you for this!”  Confession and repentance is what God requires and we are commanded to forgive as God has forgiven us.  Still, as important as it is to seek justice, we should always err on the side of mercy.  We all sin and we all fall short of the glory of God.  If someone has hurt you and doesn’t apologize or show any sign of being sorry then they really don’t understand what it means to be forgiven.  This is especially tragic for a professing Christian.  I love 1 Peter 5:10.  Our suffering is but for a little while.  God calls us to patiently endure until then.

Some of you may have a hard time agreeing with the views taken in this post.  Even my own wife, who is one of the most committed true Christians I know, continues to believe that we are to forgive…period.


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Image – Pixabay – Since God withholds forgiveness, can we?

The Sociopath

The Sociopath

sociopath two faces

It’s not easy to distinguish the difference between a narcissist and a sociopath because they share many common behaviours and motivations.  Some experts state that the term “sociopath” is the same thing as psychopath.  This is further supported by the definition offered in the dictionary.  Sociopath; “A person with a psychopathic personality whose behaviour is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.”  This does not mean that all sociopaths engage in criminal behaviour.  A high functioning sociopath can get along quite well in everyday life without breaking the law.  A doctor’s official diagnoses of either a sociopath or a psychopath will usually be the term: antisocial personality disorder.

Similarities of a narcissist and a sociopath

  • Lack of empathy; narcissists are not able to see an-other’s point of view where as a sociopath recognizes the effect they have on others but doesn’t care.
  • Both are quick to take credit when things go right but when they don’t, it’s someone else’s fault.
  • Both maintain an agenda that is self-serving.  Even when they put the needs of others before their own it serves only to supply and preserve the “false self.”
  • Both can skilfully re-create past events to suit the needs of the moment.
  • Neither will apologize for their words or actions but a sociopath may fake one in an effort to move on.
  • Both believe they are entitled to being loved, admired and obeyed, despite their behaviour.
  • Both have no idea why they are the way that they are.
  • Both can be very engaging and even charming so long as you don’t question or critique.


  • A narcissist wants to be perceived well, a sociopath wants to be perceived in what ever light suits the need of the moment.
  • A narcissist ignores social rules because they’re simply not aware but a sociopath will consciously manipulate situations to suit their agenda.
  • A narcissist doesn’t recognize how their words and actions hurt people.  A sociopath is very aware but does it anyway.
  • A narcissist may belittle and antagonize you over the short term if they perceive you as a threat but a sociopath will take you out altogether.  They are patient and methodical, often playing the long game.
  • The narcissist will feel victimized when their efforts to interact with empathetic people fail.  Not so with the sociopath, they simply disregard the feelings of others and hold to their own reasoning.

These lists are definitely not exhaustive descriptions of either personality and are intended to be food for thought only.  I encourage you to do your own research and even seek out professional help if you are unsure of what your dealing with.  It’s far more important to discover and align yourself with the truth about your own life than it is to correctly diagnose someone with NPD or antisocial personality disorder.  The heartbreak and trauma that results from being in a relationship with this kind of person can be devastating.  It is a humbling act when we say, “It’s not about me,” but in this case it’s very much about you.  What ever you tolerate, you will receive.

You do have two powerful defence tactics at your disposal, prayer and boundaries.  Never under estimate the power of prayer.  Lift the person up before the Lord and ask Him to soften their heart and open their eyes to the truth.  The first step in Alcoholics Anonymous twelve step recovery program is admitting that one cannot control their alcoholism, addiction or compulsion.  Recognizing and admitting that a problem exists is critical to the healing process.

God knows the person far better than you do so rely on Him to create the right conditions and bring about circumstances that will wake them up.   There has been a few times in my life where I was so enraged over poor and unfair treatment that I wanted to cry out for God’s wrath to crush the offender.  I know it may sound corny but I was reminded of a line from an old Spider Man movie, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  Prayer is great power.  We need to be very careful of what we pray for.  “Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord.”  Romans 12:19-21  One important reason for this is because, being human, we tend to jump to conclusions and make mistakes.  We leap into action and take matters into our own hands hoping for immediate justice.

Have faith that God will do the right thing, for the right people, in the right way at the right time.  Be persistent in your prayer life and always thank God for the blessings He has sent your way.  “Be anxious for nothing…”  Philippians 4:6.

In order for your prayers to be effective you must be right with God.  Harbouring dark vengeful thoughts about others is a condition of the heart and proves the injured person unfit for divine fellowship.  Guard against that “root of bitterness” at all cost.  Being aware of our forgiveness in Christ allows us to forgive others.


To discover if a person is capable of taking responsibility for their actions and willing to be held accountable without putting yourself at risk of yet another offence, it is highly recommended that you set boundaries.

Personal boundaries are like a line in the sand.  They are rules or limits that you create to protect yourself by identifying reasonable and permissible ways other people are allowed to treat you and how you will respond to anyone who crosses it.  They can be constructed out of your personal beliefs, conclusions and past experiences and help define who you are as an individual.  They can include physical, mental, psychological and spiritual boundaries and are two directional affecting both incoming and outgoing interactions with others.

Setting boundaries can be the catalyst by which a narcissist will hit rock bottom and wake up.  The thought of losing you can open their eyes to reality and act as a call to action.  This is the time you need to keep your eyes open as well.  The following is a list of traits a genuine person will display when healing their narcissism.

  • Display a willingness to take ownership of what they have done and be held accountable for the damage caused through a show of total remorse.
  • Full focus on helping you feel safe and cared for in an effort to rebuild trust through actions, not just words.
  • Be willing to commit to ongoing therapy and personal development.  If they only go a couple of times in an effort to appease then they are not taking it seriously.
  • Repair any damages (including financial) to the best of their ability.
  • Respect the boundaries you have put in place and cease all displays of entitlements, jealousy, guilt trips or revenge.  Accept the fact that it is because of their behaviour these boundaries now exist.
  • Grant full disclosure of their life.  Be willing to answer questions you or anyone else who cares about you may ask in order to understand and help rebuild trust.  They must do so in full humility and not deflect, distract or in anyway defend their poor behaviour.
  • Love and care for you enough that they are willing to let you go, putting your best interests before their own.

This list may seem impossible to you but there has been those who have successfully altered their narcissistic actions and become strong, supportive and nurturing friends and family members.  If you have ever experienced soul crushing, prolonged abuse of any kind you know it’s something you never want to go through again.  Without this level of authentic sincerity you should not re-engage.

Decide who it is that you want to be and set upon it right away.


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Image – Pixabay – Sociopath – What’s the Difference Between a Sociopath and a Psychopath?



Secrets covered ears covered eyes

Up until about seven years ago I had never hear of the term narcissism, I didn’t know what it was or what it meant.  A friend of mine was talking about it one night and noticed my interest in the subject.  He took me into his office and brought up a website that listed all the traits of someone with NPD.  “This is my father,” he said.  My jaw dropped, my eyes were opened.

In many cases of heartbreak the “why” will never be answered this side of heaven, but in my case it was.  I sincerely hope the following information is of help to you.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

According to the Mayo Clinic NPD is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration.  Troubled relationships and a lack of empathy for others is hidden behind a mask of extreme confidence, but beneath the mask lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

As I stated in our “About Blog/Vlog” page, I am not a doctor.  I have no specialized training in any field of human behaviour and thus I am not qualified to make a professional diagnosis of anyone.  You don’t have to be a meteorologist to know what a tornado looks like, even if you’ve never seen one for real.  We’ve all seen news coverage of the devastation they leave behind and know that when we see a funnel cloud forming we should pay attention and get out of the way.

A narcissist can be difficult to identify due to their ability to be so loving and supportive, giving of their time, money and affections for long periods of time in between narcissistic episodes.  Their ability to change from protector to persecutor in a heart beat causes mind-bending confusion, shattered trust and deep emotional pain.  Our genuine love for them makes us more than willing to stick it out because we fear losing the relationship.  They are capable of saying wonderful things and that they will always be there for you only to repeat the hurtful behaviour again and again.

It’s important to note that most of us have exhibited narcissistic behaviour at some point during our life but we are able to recognize it and take steps correct it.  We are willing to take responsibility for our words and actions and ask for forgiveness.  We genuinely try to change our behaviour, we feel remorse.  Change takes time and failures can occur but any honest attempts to heal should be noticeable and thus supported.

Someone who has full blown NPD is incapable of taking responsibility for their actions and will not be held accountable for them.  If you try and force the issue they can fly into a vengeful rage employing any tactics at their disposal to punish you.  They will often accuse you of everything that they themselves are doing and then some.  They will lay twisted guilt trips on you and lie to your face and to others behind your back.  They will enlist the support of third party allies starting with those whom they already control and then branch out to anyone else who will listen.  Drawing their attention to poor behaviour that is having a negative effect on your relationship, even when done in the most loving and gentle way possible, will be viewed as an attack and met with extreme opposition.  You become the object of their wrath and they will hit back hard.

I can relate to a recent Facebook post that read, “The only way to win with a narcissist is don’t play.”  Not that it’s about winning and losing, although, being human we tend to think of it in those terms.  To me, it’s about recognizing the truth and aligning myself with it.  There is no excuse for abusive behaviour of any kind.  If you don’t look after yourself what good will you be to anyone else, especially those closest to you?  If you tolerate toxic people in your life that cause you great pain and suffering then you are abusing yourself.

The term “False Self” has come up a lot as I have researched this subject over the years.  Apparently someone with NPD needs energy from an outside source (other people) to confirm their very existence, this is referred to as mirroring.  I can’t even begin to imagine the inner conflict that must rage when a narcissist is also a professing Christian.  Basic knowledge of who we are in Christ (His children and co-heirs) along with one look at the cross is all we should need to not only prove our existence but great worth as well.  These facts may not yet be fully realized by new believers but should most certainly be evident to more mature Christians.  Thankfully, Jesus never threatens to stop loving us, even when we fall.

Narcissism is all about control and keeping it by fostering dependence in those who are inside their circle of influence.  Codependency is often the result.  Those who never dare to question, correct or threaten the narcissist’s false self, no matter how blatant the offence, are enabling them.  The threat of love being withdrawn in response to a perceived act of disobedience is a cruel yet powerful way to keep them in line and ensure a constant supply of narcissistic food.  Anyone who has ever been addicted to drugs or alcohol knows that the effects eventually wear off and when this happens, all they can think about is getting more.  They will do whatever it takes, even if they have to lie, cheat and steal from their own families.  The narcissist’s false self needs to be fed regularly in order to maintain that inner fullness that they are unable to create for themselves.  For the believer, that inner fullness comes from trusting in Jesus Christ and we are called to “mirror” Him.

A narcissist is more than capable of saying loving, caring and supportive words.  They perform selfless acts in order to receive the attention, approval and praise they crave.  They will mention how “everybody else thinks they’re wonderful” in an effort to make you feel foolish for having the audacity to question their behaviour.  They can appear to be genuinely concerned and filled with compassion at just the right moments, usually when others are watching.  Anything to advance their agenda and maintain an image of being worthy and lovable; give a little, take a lot.  The false self has convinced them that they are entitled to be agreed with and that they have done nothing wrong.

Long periods of time can pass and everything appears to be fine.  You believe the issue has been dealt with and stability has returned to the relationship.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, it resurfaces and things are worse than before.  The painful grudge being harboured (that root of bitterness) is once again assigned to you and you must be punished.  If you’re starting to think that healing a relationship with a narcissist is impossible, that’s because, for the most part, it is.  I don’t mean to say that there is no hope, there is the possibility that they will hit bottom and wake up to the fact that they need help.  Consistent, professional therapy to address their inner issues responsible for causing the narcissistic behaviour along with a healthy support system can turn things around, but here’s the rub.  In order to seek help, they must first admit that they need it.  This is all but impossible for the pathological narcissist.  To further complicate matters, codependents and those who are being used as mirrors only serve to enable and entrench the behaviour.

If you suspect that you are in a relationship with a narcissist and find it difficult to distance yourself from them, look inwardly.  You may discover unhealed areas of your own life that are making you susceptible to the abuse.  A situation where you are heavily invested in the relationship can lead you to believe that you can’t get along without them.  A narcissist will stop at nothing to re-enforce this faulty idea in your mind.  Remember, it’s all about control and it is a great affront to them when they lose it.

Let me be very clear, THIS IS NOT LOVE LOST.

Love does not lie.  Love does not seek revenge or maliciously engage in smear campaigns against you.  Love does not abandon you nor turn hearts against you.  Love does not ignore responsibility or refuse to be held accountable.  Love is not apathetic.  Love does not seek to control everyone and everything around them through manipulation and fabrication.  Love does not hold a grudge.  In a nut shell, everything that the Bible says true love is, these things are the opposite.  Paul describes love as an action word in 1 Corinthians 13, not a feeling.  A narcissist will say and do things that make you feel loved but is only interested in the final result, getting fed.  They don’t care about how you feel or why you feel that way but are only concerned with how it reflects on them.  They care very much about their image and how things appear and are quick to establish their superiority.  Egos receive a boost by pointing out the faults and short comings of others.

The most telling characteristic is their inability to empathize.  A narcissist’s brain is simply not wired to be able to sympathize with anyone else’s pain or validate their feelings in any way; a key prerequisite to healing any relationship.  If they become fixated on you as the reason for all of their pain they will repel any attempts to be reconciled and fiercely defend the image of the false self.

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Image – Pixabay – 6 Common Traits of Narcissists and Gaslighters



The masks we wear.

I have always been a huge fan of make believe.  Every Halloween I do my very best to make our home a memorable one to visit… sometimes a little to memorable.  It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure, but weather Darth Vader or a terrifying zombie, the kids love it… mostly.  Welcome to Masks.

How odd that I’m writing this post in the midst of a global pandemic that has exposed the critical shortage of medical masks in the world.  We are now in week five of self isolation and the health authorities have advised wearing masks when out and about for supplies.  But even before Covid 19 was a thing, we have become masters of disguise.  If you’ve ever forced a smile and told someone that you’re doing great but deep inside your falling apart, then you know what I’m talking about.  Sometimes we’re fearful that the world will find us out.  We feel that we must portray strength and confidence to a watching world at all times, it really can be exhausting.

The “Avoidance Mask” is often the mask of choice to avoid the pain of believing others will judge you or look down on you.

The “Happy Mask,” my personal favourite.  Happy all the time, nothing ever gets me down.  Those who know me best see the holes and tears that have developed from years of constant use.

The “Functional Mask” is the natural go to at work.  This is the one to wear when you need to be in charge and nothing phases you, even though you have just received terrible news and you’re not sure you can keep it together.

The “People Pleaser Mask.”  This is the one you put on to prove to others that you are willing to do whatever it takes to make them happy.  You want them to accept you and not treat you poorly, they are less likely to emotionally attack you.

The “Anger Mask.”  If you want to keep people away from you when you’re feeling vulnerable this can be a powerful one to wear.  Emotionally sensitive people who don this mask are often left feeling lonely and struggle with self worth.

The problem is that, over time, the masks we wear can become difficult to take off.  You may also be at risk of forgetting who you really are.  God made you just the way He wanted you to be.  You have nothing to be ashamed of, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Psalm 139:14.

“Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” —  Oscar Wilde

We choose to put the masks on and likewise, it is up to each one of us when to take them off.  The first step is to make a firm commitment to yourself that you will make the effort.  It may even be painful in the beginning so take it one step at a time.  Accept your feelings and trust that they will pass.  Stand up straight and let yourself be seen.  Don’t be afraid of expressing your opinions and thoughts in a kind and gentle manner.  Everyone is fighting some sort of battle within themselves and their fight isn’t likely to be the same as yours.  It is so important to be kind to everyone and to treat people the way you would have them treat you.  Matthew 7:12.

Being rejected or criticized is not a pleasant experience, but you’ll find out that you’re actually stronger than you think.  Put your trust in God and be not afraid of what mere mortals may do to you.  Psalm 56:3-4.

The following poem found it’s way into our hearts over twenty five years ago.  The Author is unknown and it has been published in a number of books and online.  It has been in the public domain since the late 1960’s.  As you read it, you may see a bit of yourself in the reflection.


Don’t be fooled by me.  Don’t be fooled by the face I wear.  For I wear a mask.  I wear a thousand masks – masks that I’m afraid to take off and none of them are me.

Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me, but don’t be fooled, for God’s sake, don’t be fooled.

I give you the impression that I’m secure, that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without, that confidence is my name, and coolness my game, that the water’s calm and I’m in command, and that I need no one.

But don’t believe me. Please!

My surface may be smooth but my surface is my mask, my ever-varying and ever-concealing mask.

Beneath lies no smugness, no complacence.  Beneath dwells the real me in confusion, in fear, in aloneness.

But I hide this.  I don’t want anybody to know it.  I panic at the thought of my weaknesses and fear exposing them.  That’s why I frantically create my masks to hide behind.

They’re nonchalant, sophisticated facades to help me pretend, to shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only salvation, and I know it.

That is, if it’s followed by acceptance, and if it’s followed by love.  It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself, from my own self-built prison walls.

I dislike hiding, honestly, I dislike the superficial game I’m playing, the superficial phony game.

I’d really like to be genuine and me.

But I need your help, your hand to hold.  Even though my masks would tell you otherwise.

That glance from you is the only thing that assures me of what I can’t assure myself, that I’m really worth something.

But I don’t tell you this.  I don’t dare.  I’m afraid to.

I’m afraid you’ll think less of me, that you’ll laugh and your laugh would kill me.  I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing, that I’m just no good and you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate, pretending game.  With a facade of assurance without, and a trembling child within.  So begins the parade of masks.

The glittering but empty parade of masks, and my life becomes a front.  I idly chatter to you in suave tones of surface talk.

I tell you everything that’s nothing and nothing of what’s everything, of what’s crying within me.

So when I’m going through my routine do not be fooled by what I’m saying.  Please listen carefully and try to hear what I’m not saying.  Hear what I’d like to say but what I can not say.

It will not be easy for you, long felt inadequacies make my defences strong.  The nearer you approach me the blinder I may strike back.

Despite what books say of men, I am irrational; I fight against the very thing that I cry out for.

You wonder who I am, you shouldn’t, for I am every man and every woman who wears a mask.

Don’t be fooled by me.

At least not by the face I wear.

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Image – Pixabay

Red Flags & Warning Signs

Red Flags & Warning Signs

Red flags and Warning signs

Love is blind.  It has also been accused of being deaf and mute.  There is good reason people have attached these labels to such a wonderful word.  When we love someone we tend to overlook their shortcomings and even hurtful words or actions directed at us.  While it is commendable to overlook a transgression it can also be dangerous to ignore these red flags & warning signs.  We tend to forgo seeking an apology.  We avoid bringing up the matter in the hope that things will just work themselves out.  A common statement after a relationship ends is, “I saw this coming a long time ago,” or “I knew this was going to happen.”  Welcome to Red Flags & Warning Signs.

In healthy families things are worked out.  The offender recognizes their mistake and either through word or deed, apologizes.  “…love covers over a multitude of sin.”  First Peter 4:8.  When we love sacrificially, we are willing to forgive.  We don’t run around telling others what has been done by our brother or sister in Christ, nor does it mean that we should sweep it under the rug.  There are those who will take advantage of the forgiving nature of love in an effort to hide egregious sins.  True Christ like love seeks to protect both the victim and the offender and takes action to prevent any further offences.  It is important to acknowledge the hurt when it happens.  At that point we really only have two choices, overlook it or deal with it.

When a once close relationship ends, it has usually been a long time coming.  Looking back, even as far as your childhood, you may now recognize a traumatic event as a foreshadowing of things to come.  If you were a child of divorce, did you have to live with relatives or your God parents for a period of time?  Did your new stepparent accept you as one of their own, or were you threatened with boarding school?  As a child, you don’t even know what a red flag is, much less have the power to do anything about it.  Our heavenly Father keeps a close eye on children.  Thinking back, do you remember those who protected you, those who watched out for your best interests?  God put them there.  Blended families have become common place in today’s society and growing up in one can be complicated and challenging.  It is important to remember that, before God, stepparents have the same responsibilities as your biological parents.

Emotional Abuse

That persistent feeling of being on the outside looking in whenever you’re with your family is a major red flag.  Emotional abuse is at the top of the list as the major contributing factor in family estrangement.  At it’s core, it’s all about power and control.  Feeling uncomfortable, insecure or anxious around your family is not a good sign of an emotionally healthy environment.  If you find yourself constantly seeking reassurance that you’re part of the family it’s a good bet that you have toxic family members who are actively engaged in a campaign against you.  We all have our own ideas of what a toxic person is but narcissism and other personality disorders are often sighted as underlying reasons for the label.  Abusive and emotionally immature personalities along with alcoholic or addicted individuals are also referred to as “toxic.”  The first step in moving on from the psychological torture of toxic people is to recognize their tactics.

Jealousy and envy

Jealousy and envy are major contributing factors of family dysfunction.  Victims often feel blindsided by the sudden on-slot of abusive behaviour from a loved one because they have no idea what they’ve done or why it’s happening.  Rarely is any explanation given by the offender and the punishment is often way out of proportion to the perceived slight.  This may have nothing to do with anything the victim has actually done.  A few examples of this could be favouritism by grandparents, success in business or just doing well in life period…who knows.  A person motivated by jealously and/or envy will wait for any excuse, no matter how lame, to pounce on their victim.  Character assassination is a common tactic used by abusers.  They will begin a campaign of malicious gossip to anyone who is willing to listen, starting with those inside their circle of influence.  Covert character assassination is a cowardly act designed to negatively influence how others feel about the victim.  The abuser will use a combination of truth,  half truths and outright lies behind the victim’s back in an effort to get others to “see what they see.”  This is extremely painful when done to your spouse.  If you recognize what’s going on and confront the abuser you are likely to be met with total denial and anger as they try to turn the tables on you.  They may be trying to “divide and conquer” in an effort to drive a wedge between you and your spouse.  Can you see why God hates those who sow discord?  Proverbs 6:16-19.  Typically these offenders are projecting onto the victim the very things that lie deep inside their own hearts.  Feelings of insecurity and vulnerability have made them uncomfortable.  They look for anything and everything they can use as an excuse to banish the victim from their lives.  Whenever someone complains to me about what another person has done, I always suggest that they take it up with that person in private.  This lets them know that I’m not interested in gossip.

Lack of Empathy

An inability or unwillingness to care about how your feeling or why you are feeling that way is another warning sign of impending estrangement.  Empathy is a critical ingredient in the healing process, without it there can be no meaningful or lasting reconciliation.  People who lack empathy see others as mere objects to be manipulated and controlled for their own benefit.  They have a very difficult time understanding how their words and actions hurt others and are prone to angry outbursts and cruelty.  It’s very much all about them.  They refuse to take any responsibility for their behaviour and will lie if confronted.  If they claim to be a Christian, then they know the consequences of lying, but do it anyway.  Their anger at you will increase because, after all, it was you who made them lie.  Can you see how mind bending this type of situation can be?  If you continue to confront their abusive behaviour they will see you as a threat, one that has to be removed.  My friend, listen to me carefully;  This is not love lost, love doesn’t even come into it.

Control & Manipulation

Typically, a dysfunctional family consists of one abusive parent and one codependent parent who looks the other way.  This is not what God intended the family unit to look like.  The Bible describes the role of both husband and wife in Ephesians 5:22-25.  Sadly this very scripture has been abused by some in an effort to manipulate the other.  While each parent has a different part to play, God’s intention is that they work together in love, compassion, forgiveness and patience both with each other and their children.  Children learn from their parents.  When they witness abuse by the dominant parent and the weaker parent turns a blind eye they may even begin to believe that it’s their fault.  Young children have no other basis of comparison, but as they get older the sins of the abusive parent can no longer be ignored.  It is a common lament among estranged family members that someone would have come to their rescue and stood up against the abuser.

Red flags and warning signs of impending estrangement may begin with relatively small and insignificant provocations but can increase over time to major acts of cruelty, even total abandonment.  Sibling rivalry happens naturally, of course, but it can also be fostered by a jealous parent.  An example of this might be pictures of your siblings and their children being displayed prominently in your parents home while the only picture of you and your family is taken down because the frame is too nice.

Malicious gossip about your spouse is passed on to you from your own parent.  This is when your very spirit is provoked.  You try your best to defend them, you long for your spouse to be loved and accepted by your family but the disparaging remarks continue.  Like a “constant dripping,” the instigator is relentless and can turn your entire family against you.  Any attempt to bring peace and understanding is met with resistance and even angry outbursts.  This leads to “no further discussions on the matter” and exclusion from family gatherings.  For all intents and purposes…you’re out.  The abuser will frequently play the victim in an effort to turn the tables on you.  They will try and convince anyone who asks, that you are the cause of all their woes and that they are brokenhearted by the situation.  Even after you’re gone … the lies continue.

Often we put off asking the hard questions because we are terrified of the answers.  Oddly, deep inside, we already know the truth.  My friends, listen to me carefully;  if you suspect something is amiss in a close relationship, you owe it to yourself and your family to deal with it sooner rather than later.  In healthy families there should be no fear of, or resistance to, honest questions being asked by any of it’s members.  Secrets are extremely harmful to families but speaking the truth in love brings understanding and healing.  Don’t be afraid of asking the tough questions.  Hope for the best, be prepared for the worst and if the worst comes…accept it, embrace it, mourn the loss and move on.  This can take many years, but the healing begins with acceptance.  The Bible says “… as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  Romans 12:18.  If you have done everything that God would have you do to bring peace and healing to a broken relationship, then before Him, your conscience is clear.  That’s all any of us can hope for.

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Images – Pixabay – collage by Mark Webb – What does it mean that love covers a multitude of sins?


Enemies of Peace

Enemies of Peace

Confronting the enemy

“You can close your eyes to the things you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel.”  – Johnny Depp

If you choose to love, you will experience pain.  Not loving leads to a lonely, unfulfilled and wasted life.  Love is not an option, it’s a command and as such, it is never a waste of time.  Jesus tells us the first and second greatest commandments in Luke 10:27.  Welcome to Enemies of Peace.

Love is precious, it is wonderful and extremely powerful, but love has enemies.  When they show up at your door, peace seems to vanish.  If we allow them in for too long, they may never leave.  As diverse and complicated as relationship issues are, I believe the list of things that cause these problems is relatively short.  The following topics are three of these relationship killers, and as such, are enemies of peace.  The same things that hamper and destroy our relationships with each other can also do likewise with our relationship with Christ and topping the list is pride.


The seven deadly sins are a group of vices with each one directly giving birth to a host of other immoralities, chief among them is pride.  Towering Christian teachers throughout history like Calvin, Luther and C.S. Lewis along with many others all agreed that it is “the great sin.”  It was through pride that Eve fell victim to the devil’s lies and bit into the forbidden fruit that caused all mankind to fall and through pride Lucifer was cast out of heaven and became the devil.  So what is it about pride that leads to such devastating consequences?

Pride causes us to elevate ourselves beyond our place as God’s own creation and leads us to depend entirely on our own abilities.  This pushes God into second or third or even tenth place in our lives and can even remove Him altogether.  This lies at the heart of “new age” teaching and is gaining a lot of traction these days convincing people that they can be their own god.  It’s easy to spot in the rich and famous, business leaders, politicians and even in some church leaders, but I assure you, it exists in all of us.

Pride is the most destructive and effective weapon in the devil’s arsenal, it is the complete “anti-God” state of mind.  Spiritual darkness grows as people push God aside and make themselves the centre of their own world.  In their minds they are the smartest person in the room, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-important and totally self-sufficient.  Arrogant and sometimes abusive behaviour follows and relationships suffer, families are destroyed and nations go to war.  Pride is at the heart of racism and intolerance in the world to this day.  Even as believers we are vulnerable to it’s allure.  The apostles themselves argued with each other about which one of them was the greatest in Luke 22:24-27.  If even those who walked the earth along side Jesus can fall victim to pride, so can we.

Humility is the only known antidote for pride.  An excellent example of humility and it’s effect is given in Luke 18:9-14 and addresses the dangers of spiritual pride.  The self-righteous Pharisee was not justified before God but the sinful tax collector was.  What made the difference?  The tax collector recognized his sins and was totally dependant on God’s mercy.  In verse 14 Jesus tells us that, “…everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.”  Wouldn’t it be better to work on our humility now instead of having it forced on us later?  The key ingredient when we do fall victim to pride is that we recognize it and immediately repent and forsake it.  Don’t let it grow, don’t feed it.

God hates pride and will oppose it wherever He finds it, both in believers and nonbelievers.  It is easy to spot in others yet we struggle to see it in ourselves.  God takes pleasure in our efforts to be humble but knows that we will never be sufficiently so while here on Earth.  There is no better example of humility than Jesus Christ.  This is why I can’t stress strongly enough to read your Bible.  Get to know Him, learn from His teachings and strive to be like Him.

Sinful pride makes it difficult for some of us to admit our mistakes and worse yet, the ability to say, “I’m sorry,” so critical in the healing process.  We live in a world that views humility and meekness as a sign of weakness.  I remember reading a statement years ago that stuck with me, “Meekness is great strength, under control.”  I like that.


Next on the list of relationship killers is lying.  We have all been lied to and we have all lied.  Most common among us are the “little white lies,” the ones we tell to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or to make ourselves or others feel better by avoiding criticism or condemnation.  But a case can be made that we aren’t so much worried about other people’s feelings as we are that they love us.  We don’t want to anger or upset them, that could lead to losing them.  Humanity has coined them “little white lies” because that conjures up images of innocence and non-severity and gives them an almost God like quality when done for the sake of love.  It’s a slippery slope, once we tell a smaller lie it can only be covered by a larger one.

Much  of the time we get away with it and there is no need for a cover up, so we rationalize it away as no harm done.  But what if we’re found out?  Feelings of guilt and anxiety are common side effects of lying but can lead to full blown paranoia and even depression as we become preoccupied with keeping our secrets.  Stress levels rise and peace begins to wain.  One way to avoid being exposed is to stay away from people who could spill the beans.  Sadly this results in fractured families and very distant relatives.

Our brains are amazingly complex and highly efficient.  Science has proven that when you repeat a behaviour your neurons branch out to each other so that the flow of information becomes easier the next time you do it.  “Neurons that fire together, wire together,” so the more you practice lying the easier it becomes.  You can literally re-wire your brain.

The bigger the lie, the more devastating the consequences.  Lies destroy, period.  The devil is referred to as “…the father of all lies.”  John 8:44  So if you practice lying you are brother/sister to the destroyer.  Telling the truth came naturally to Jesus and should come naturally to the redeemed, but it does take work.

Don’t think for a moment that you can get away with lying.  You may never be found out by man, but God hears your every word and knows the intentions of your heart.  I have gained much comfort from this particular verse over the years, Luke 8:17.  If you have ever been treated poorly, robbed or abandoned and the ones who are responsible seem to have gotten away with it, they have not.  The Lord will take action.  Romans 12:19

The bedrock of any solid relationship is trust.  Lying destroys trust, so we must choose our words carefully.  The Bible has many sobering references to lying.  The devastation it brings into our lives and the danger it poses to our souls.  God hates it.  Proverbs 6:16-19.


Is it okay to get angry?  Absolutely, anger is a God given emotion and some things should make us angry, but there is a caveat; don’t let your anger cause you to break God’s law.  Ephesians 4:26-27.  We are God’s image bearers, His moral law is written on every human heart and as such, what displeases Him, should displease us.

When I get angry, peace seems to vanish along with my self-control and common sense.  I have found it helpful to ask myself, “Is this something that God is not happy with (righteous anger) or is this an opportunity for Him to grow my character?  More often than not it’s the latter, a chance to work on my patience, perseverance and self-control.

Anger is an emotion that can strike quickly and with great intensity leaving little time for rational thought.  Holding your tongue and being “slow to anger” is not easy but necessary in nurturing your relationships.  It is a sure sign of Christian maturity.  Whenever I have lost my temper guilt was close behind, and, an apology was issued.  I felt shame and greatly respected those who did not respond in kind.  Worse yet than course language and temper tantrums, anger can lead to violence and hatred.

Not letting the sun go down on your anger means don’t stay angry.  One often quoted tidbit of advice at wedding receptions is, “never  go to bed angry.”  I would always add, “you can go to the couch instead.”  This always brings a laugh but it is true to the fact that not all heated disagreements can be solved the same day.  You can’t just flick a switch and suddenly become calm, it takes time to slow your heart rate and clear your head.  This is when it’s especially important to guard against that “root of bitterness.”  Not giving the devil opportunity, or a “foothold” as some translations call it means that prolonged and unresolved anger is like a door through which destruction enters.  Ephesians 4:26-27.  If you have ever been  lied to, abused or mistreated in anyway by someone you love and they aren’t the least bit sorry or remorseful for their actions then you know how easily bitterness can start.  Bitterness hurts you and those who care about you.

The more you grow in a relationship with Jesus Christ and let Him live His life through you, the less likely you are to fall for the devils schemes.  I love the saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you could fall for anything.”  This is not an exhaustive list of the enemies of peace but I believe they are the top three of many more that are birthed from pride.

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Image – Pixabay – The science of lying.