Absolute Proof

So much of our modern-day culture is consumed with proving facts to be true… with a deep need to “KNOW” what is real and what is false. That is especially so with Faith.

I’ve watched my friends, family and own children go through the process of seeking out truth, of desiring to know for themselves what is true and what  is someone’s opinion. Our Faith is an individual and intimate treasure, one that we can either hold only for ourselves or choose to risk sharing, “entrusting” it to others.

We can all recall times when we foolishly shared that trust or Faith with others who we initially admired, but who failed us and ultimately betrayed that trust. As a father and a man, I must constantly resist the temptation to place my trust in savings, finances, career…  a common challenge among guys. For the ladies the issue of Faith and trust often centers around pleasing a parent or finding a significant “other’ who is trusted to “complete’ them.

As we process these life trust issues personally, our kids are watching our every move.

So what ultimately is the “proof” we can offer to them and ourselves of the assurance of placing our Faith in an un-seen, un-touched and un-heard God?

The option and logic of placing our Faith in someone or something we can see, touch, taste and smell is appealing and often the easiest choice. But as life slides by us we start to chalk up the wounds of failed trust and offense and eventually have to step back to really take inventory of what we are and where we’ve ended up.

I recently talked with a teen girl who at 14 years of age is struggling with the concept of having a “relationship” with Jesus… Her entire life she has been surrounded by the “evidences” of God in her family, yet she is still uncertain of how reliable or sane it would be for her give up what she wants and desires to follow and place her “faith” in someone she has never physically met. Understandable.

She wants “Proof”.

So did I and so do you. So what is the “Proof” we can offer her and others and our own hearts of the absolute evidence of God? 

I believe the answer is…PEACE

John 14:25-27 (ESV) – Biblegateway.com

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you.26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

When Jesus explains to his disciples that he must go…leave them after his work on Calvary, he describes the coming of someone else, the Holy Spirit who will seal them all with the presence and power of “PEACE“. It was meant to be the evidence of His still being with them… the “PROOF” if you will of his continued existence and involvement in their lives.

If your feeling disconnected from God, anxious and overwhelmed… it’s time to ask again for his gift of the Holy Spirit to fill you anew. If you have never experienced true and lasting peace, it’s available through the decision to trust and experience a new life, a second birth in following Christ. The Peace of God is yours in Him. All we have to do is simply ask for it. That’s called prayer.

(Phillipians 4: 6- 7)(ESV)  “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God,which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

The Faith that you and I and our kids are longing for… can be safely entrusted to an object that’s worthy of our affection in Jesus Christ. The evidence and powerful persuasion or “PROOF” of  our Saviors literal presence…is not an equation or formula of science, it’s not going to be discovered in a new end-times revelation or best selling self help book…no, according to scripture its as simple as having a Life that is lived in Peace. 

God help us to live in the Peace that you provide and to stop seeking to find it anywhere else.

Brad.

Fear and Anger, a parents worst nightmare

How many of us know all to well the terrible twins… “Fear and Anger“?  As parents its such a temptation to let those loose on our kids only to regret it later. If you’re scratching you head about this, well then this blog is probably not for you. If your holding your head in your hands about now… don’t be discouraged, you’re in good company and there is hope for change.

I got a call late one night from a nineteen year old who was really and truly hurt and upset at her father and mother and felt she couldn’t “talk” with them. She and her now grown siblings were struggling with a dad who didn’t seem to listen, or care or have a sensitive bone in his body. He was rigid, demanding and final in his words with them. He made laws and expected them to be obeyed without question. He had made it clear to his family, once he had made up his mind… well you get the idea.

The problem is two-fold and it’s critical we understand it enough to change its devastating impact in our homes.

1 – As parents we often “over-react” emotionally and vigorously out of fear and guilt and utter frustration with our teenagers. We remember our past mistakes, or the horror stories of our peer parenting friends… we ponder the risks and dangers of our kids being allowed more and more freedom.

We fume inwardly at the risks of broken hearts from boyfriends and girlfriends, of faded dreams and hopes that lay shattered in our past. We project those historical memories into our current homes and it scares the “crud” out of us. When we see one of kids stepping right up to the line we crossed… we might “freak” a little and in doing so, FEAR and ANGER emerge.

Wouldn’t it be so much healthier if we just allowed ourselves a moment to not flare up, and instead be straight with our kids about the “why” behind the reactions of fear and anger. To explain to them the past mistakes and humiliations, and tragedies of our own adolescence and to show them our love and our desire to protect and provide and nurture them.

2 – When we make a habit of giving in to the terrible twins of “FEAR and ANGER” we develop a pattern of inter-action between us and our love ones. It slowly builds a wall between our lives and eventually it blocks all communication from coming back from our kids to us. In the aftermath of such unchecked emotional reactivity… we see the charred remnants of what used to be a loving and intimate trust between us and our teenagers now blackened by the lack of any sensitivity to their thoughts, opinions or ideas. We teach them that a parents role is to  “TELL” them what to do, and kids are just there to “OBEY”.

It’s a forgone conclusion that if we react in Fear and Anger enough, they will withdraw  and never even dare to respond any longer. We will lose their trust, their respect and ultimately all of our influence to their heart. They will in time repeat the same with their kids and the painful cycle will continue to one more generation. Someday they might get the courage up to actually confront us with their own frustrations and anger and pain at the way they have been trampled, but that is a whole different issue entirely.

So… The Apostle Paul taught a bit differently on this, He suggested that only three things will endure into eternity… “Hope, Faith and Love…and the greatest of these is Love“.  It also is said in the bible that “Perfect Love casts out all fear”.  If that is true, then we need to seriously step back from our knee jerk parenting reflex of “Fear and Anger” for something better. We should seriously and soberly ask God for wisdom in how to Love our kids better and react to them slower.

Spend some time on that idea today… and ask yourself, why do I react the way I do ? Is it out of fear, anger or pride ? For me it was pride, it was the concern for my own reputation as a parent, as a pastor and out of the belief that if I was the parent, then I had to have the right answer every time etc.. yada didah doo. I was SO Wrong.

When your kids are little they will sometimes need fear and anger… if they want to play with electricity or drink paint etc.. but as they start to grow into adults, its time to lower your guard a bit and let them in. Let them see your own personal doubts and fears about life for themselves, let them consider with you the realities of our world and its dangers. Let them see your LOVE and Compassion and Concern for them in the struggles of it all. That DOES NOT MEAN BE THEIR BEST FRIENDS.  Let me be clear, as teens they will seek to manipulate and twist you for their own way. That is not what I’m suggesting at all, but when they do (and they will) don’t over-react anymore.

In the end they may not like what you decide any better than before, but they will LOVE the fact that you considered carefully before you spoke and that they had your ear in the process. That leads to respect and respect will lead to trust and trust will lead them to follow what you have taught them.

So lets throw out the terrible twins of “Fear and Anger” and let them leave our homes. Instead lets invite Peace and Love to rule our lives and ask for Gods wisdom and discernment instead of our own. Blessings to you as you like me… “seek to keep your kids on the road and in between the lines of life

Brad.