We have been talking about violence in the world today in my last 2 posts and I must admit, it can be very overwhelming and hard to remain positive or hopeful with new reports of violence daily. We know more about what is happening in our local communities, our nation, and around the world, but unfortunately, most of that news entails some type of disorder or bloodshed. Most of us wonder if violence is on the rise, or if technology merely allows us to see more of what happens around the world. Personally, I don’t know, but I do believe that the more we know, the heavier our hearts may feel the weight of such pain and injustice.
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Solomon encountered this dilemma in his quest for understanding wisdom, madness and folly, and eventually concluded it was futile: “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow: the more knowledge, the more grief.” Eccl 1:18
He looked at everything that was happening in the world at that time, tried desperately to understand it, but could not. In fact, the more he knew, the greater his frustration. “What is twisted cannot be straightened, what is lacking cannot be counted.” Eccl 1:15
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Keeping up with current events can be frightening. There are new reports of violence, murder, abuse, and devastation each and every day. Sensational stories receive the most attention and to an alert and watching child, they may cause fear and anxiety in their young, impressionable mind.
I recognized this when my oldest had to prepare a current events project two years ago which she chose to do on ISIS. As we read a few articles together and discussed the information, she asked me, “Mom, are they coming here?” Will they come for us? ISIS, was after all, in the headlines for their latest string of beheadings of Christians, westerners, and non-converts.
And today, we hear new stories of mass shootings nearly every week… Lord give us strength…
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Recently, another heartbreaking event occurred. A church massacre left 26 dead and 20 more wounded. And now there has been another school shooting. And unfortunately, we can probably expect more.
We take to social media with comments like, “What do we tell our children? How do we keep them from thinking this is “normal” with new reports of violence, hatred, rioting, etc with each new week?”
Before we address this with our children, we must address this with ourselves. How are we interpreting what is happening all around us? As a Christian, I turn to the Bible to help adjust my view, my perspective on things happening in the world. If I only look from the ground level, I can be filled with fear and hopelessness. I look around and see senseless violence, hatred, and discord, and tremble in fear for my self and my family. But when I pull back to the bigger picture, with a different perspective I find understanding, power, and hope.
Where does confidence come from? We can all recognize self-confident people— they seem to know who they are, what they should be doing, and believe they can get it done.
That might describe you or how you have felt at a particular season of life, but rarely can we say we have always felt clear and confident in what we are doing or in our own ability to do it.
It reminds me of these string puppet toys that stand upright and strong until you push a hidden button causing them to collapse. As you release the button, they are transformed and stand completely upright again.
Confidence helps us to stand upright and be fully committed, but once our own “button” is pressed, we may start to “faint” or crumble due to our lack of conviction. You could call this uncertainty or doubt. These buttons can be triggered by life’s circumstances which are beyond our control, or losses that throw us into a state of confusion. We may begin to question everything we previously relied on and left unchecked, those doubts can crush our confidence and hopes for the future.
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If you have been struggling to hear God, to know where He wants to you go, what He wants you to do, and you have been praying, seeking, and patiently waiting, then maybe there is something wrong.
If you are standing at the foot of a mountain, but in spite of your trust and faith in God’s power to move it on your behalf, it remains in your path. Then there may be something else in the way of your prayers and the answers you desire.
I was hurt by a friend recently. She doesn’t know she hurt me, but she did. And I’ve struggled with it for months now. I knew it was unintentional and deemed it unworthy of the instructions outlined in Matthew 18:15-17 for confronting an offending brother or sister.
I had forgiven this individual and felt free from the anger I had previously felt in my heart. But then something would happen and the anger returned. She hurt another friend of mine. Little things here and there reminded me of her offenses and my list of grievances grew and grew.
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Both women had experienced inexplicable pain in life. Margaret was angry and bitter over yet another divorce and had accepted that her only recourse was to toughen up and protect herself. She became demanding, paranoid, and quite lonely, not to mention, an extraordinarily difficult co-worker. Most could guess that her caustic personality was the result of many hurts and betrayals she had suffered in relationships both professional and personal.
Grace was sexually abused by her father for over a decade despite her reporting this abuse to the one person she could trust, but who had ultimately failed to protect her— her own mother.
With numerous blogs, articles, and testimonials of teens or young adults leaving the church for various reasons, parents have begun to doubt that they no longer hold any power or lasting influence in the faith of their adolescent and young adult children. The media has told us, and we have believed them, that friends, social media, entertainers, and pop culture have the greatest influence in our teen’s lives. Therefore, many parents have given up even trying to guide and direct their teen’s faith, or religious beliefs, out of a growing sense of futility.
Yet this longitudinal study has proven otherwise! In a Huffington Post Blog,The No. 1 Reason Teens Keep The Faith As Young Adults writer David Briggs explains encouraging and surprising results: the connection between children and teens who were raised by parents who “talked about faith at home, attached great importance to their beliefs, and were active in their congregations were themselves religiously active as young adults.”
In fact, Briggs reports that the connection, according to Dr. Smith, the lead researcher, is “nearly deterministic.”
Wow! That’s encouraging to me!
“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov 22:6 (KJV)
In my last blog post, I discussed the critical, yet simple elements of faith for salvation such that one as young as preschool could receive Christ as Savior. However, our work does not end there. In fact, it is just beginning! What we must seriously consider, is our role AFTER a child makes a profession of faith. That rests on us as parents, grandparents, teachers, or mentors in their life.
Anxiety Disorders affect roughly 40 million Americans according to the National Institute of Mental Health and women are 60% more likely to experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime than men. This means that anxiety disorders (Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Phobias, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) affect roughly one out of every five adults!
Statistics indicate that you or someone you know will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in life.
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In my last post, I wrote that anxiety is often rooted in the false belief that we can/should be able to do everything on our own- but the realization that we cannot possibly control every circumstance, nor can we have complete confidence in our own strength, abilities, efforts, or relationships— creates tension. This tension may motivate us toward greater effort and discipline, but also may produce fear and anxiety we cannot manage properly.
You lay in bed, trying to sleep, but you can’t. The minutes fly by and soon the hours, but you can’t stop thinking– your brain is going a million miles a minute playing out scenarios, ideas, replaying past events, wondering where you went wrong. You ask why this is happening to you and what you will do about it. You see no answers or easy path forward. You are dealing with anxiety.
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Anxiety is worry, impatience, restlessness, unease, or eagerness to see things happen— and if left unchecked can have disastrous effects on our health, relationships, even our faith!
To root out this issue, we have to dig deep.
Most of us believe anxiety is driven by our circumstances – financial instability, conflict in relationships, uncertainty about the future, feeling a loss of control, etc…but those are just circumstances. They are still part of the surface. What is the root problem when I am experiencing the financial instability, a broken relationship, or uncertainty about the future?
We all enjoy stories of hope, success, overcoming the odds, and victory over our struggles. Most of us do not see ourselves in those stories, however. They are usually other people’s stories- at least in our minds they are. We rarely see our own life story as one of overarching hope, victory, and blessing.
But that doesn’t have to be the case- it mustn’t be the case– because God’s wisdom gives us everything WE need to accomplish those goals and experience transformation. Wisdom guides us in our relationships, in management of finances, our parenting, taking control of harmful habits and destructive thought patterns, and much much more!
But most of us don’t know where to begin. Most people do not know the foundational elements to a life of wisdom and sadly, they miss the countless rewards that come from it!