His Peace Outweighs My Anxiety


Read: Judges 6:1-16

Anyone who’s struggled with fear and anxiety understands the difficulty of overcoming these emotions. Gideon was a man who experienced great apprehension because he lived when Israel was being oppressed by the Midianites as a result of their rebellion against God.

Conditions had become so desperate that Gideon was threshing grain in a wine press so the enemy wouldn’t think to steal it. It was at this low point in his life that the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and told him to deliver Israel from the Midianites. Imagine his stress! He didn’t see himself as a great warrior and felt totally inadequate for the task.

Gideon’s problem was his focus. Despite being reassured that God was with him, Gideon observed the situation through human eyes and concluded that the Lord had abandoned Israel. Then he looked at himself from that same perspective and listed all the reasons why he was not the one to deliver Israel. But the Lord again responded by saying, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man” (Judg. 6:16).

Like Gideon, we too are prone to focus on our own weakness and inability rather than count on what we know to be true about the Lord. We can think of a thousand things to worry about instead of remembering God’s past faithfulness and the certainty of His future promises. 

Persevering through anxiety is easier when we know God intimately, believe His Word, and trust Him explicitly. In the process, we’ll discover that our anxiety is outweighed by His peace.

Prayer: 

Lord I ask you to comfort me and remind me of your peace. I ask of your  forgiveness, for not believing in who you say you are. Encourage me, and remind me each and everyday of your sovereignty and truth. I pray this in Jesus’ Christ name, amen.

A Different (and hope-full) Take on Life’s Difficult Seasons

A Different (and hope-full) Take on Life’s Difficult Seasons

 
 
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We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

The Christian faith walk can be likened to the life of a grape. Let me explain. I once heard a pastor begin her sermon with this statement: “We are all grapes”. Her words seemed a bit comical but little did I know that I was about to hear one of the most profound sermons in what was one of my most pressing seasons. The Holy Spirit began to pierce my heart with truth and revelation, and that is my prayer for you today.

Grapes and wine are referenced several times throughout scripture, and Jesus himself used this staple of Jewish life and tradition to illustrate who he was and who we are. Once the grapes are ready on the vine, they are picked and piled into a large winepress. In ancient times this was done with their feet in shallow limestone presses. The moment the juices touch the skin of the grapes, fermentation begins. Often the presses were on a hill and the fermentation pit would be at the bottom, so all the juices would run down, where they would bubble and ferment. Let me stop and say that fermenting smells really bad.

Have you ever experienced a “crushing” in your life? A time when you felt persecution, alienation or inadequacy? Nobody likes to feel that way but the Bible says that what the enemy meant for evil, God turns it for good (Gen 50:20). In Psalm 37:25, it says that the righteous have never been abandoned nor their children begging for bread. No matter what life is throwing at you, God sees you and he WILL turn it around. Just cling to him.

Continuing, a separation of the sediments and the wine take place and then the wine would be poured into clay jars or into wineskins and would be set out of the sun for several days. Even in winemaking today, its best when the wine is placed in a sealed container in a dark room without light because of the lactic-acid bacteria, which flourishes in the dark. This can affect flavor of the wine too. In some cases, the longer the wine is stored in the dark on a shelf the better it becomes.

There have been really long seasons in my life where I was that wine and let me just say that lactic acid bacteria was flourishing hundred-fold. I felt so alone, so forgotten, so abandoned, so overlooked. It was extremely painful but by the grace of God and a community that prayed for me, I persevered and the Lord brought me out of that seven-year season. Maybe you are walking in that wilderness, maybe you sense God bringing you out of that time, or maybe you’ve never experienced a season like this before- at some point we will all experience a wilderness season BUT being on the other side of it, I would say don’t waste it. I had some profound cherished moments with the Lord in the wilderness. I wouldn’t ever want to repeat it but I know that if God so leads me, he’ll be with me.

Jesus bring new wine out of me.

In light of the wine-making process, the request for Jesus to bring new wine out of us seems a whole lot less appealing. You see part of being a disciple of Jesus is becoming like Jesus, it is picking up our cross and following after him in every area of our lives.

Being a disciple of Jesus is about loving the Lord, seeking first his Kingdom, loving our neighbor, making disciples AND as we do all these things, God, through the power of the Holy Spirit is working on making us righteous; he’s refining us. Our mindsets change, our behaviors change, our speech changes; we begin to transform from the inside out!

Maybe you are going through a hard time in this season. You’re facing some big challenges, you have some giants ahead of you, some mountains that you seem to circle, and you’re feeling like that crushed grape; you’re feeling alone and in darkness, but be encouraged. The Lord’s presence is not determined by your feelings or your ability to sense him. God is omnipresent and he is with you, you just have to call out to him. He will not turn his eyes from you, for those who are seeking him or who need him will find him.

Please don’t give up. I’ve been there before; I’ve had the mental and emotional breakdown and I know you may feel like you’re losing yourself. Seek counsel if you need to AND know that God is for you no matter what anybody says or thinks-including what you say and think over yourself.

God is at work in your life. Real change is the transformational power of his love and presence. What a witness to the world of the power of the Lord!

Jesus bring new wine out of us!

 

Father God,

Thank you for your loving kindness towards me. Before the formation of the earth, you were thinking of me. Lord, you know my thoughts, you know my desires; I choose to fix my eyes on you alone.

As difficult as it may be, I will choose to walk with you because your word says that even when I walk through the waters, you will be with me. You will make a way where there is no way, and you will deliver me. My inheritance is secure, I need not worry because I am your child, a co-heir with Christ.

Jesus would you teach me how to live like you did. Would you teach me how to walk through the wilderness? No matter the cost, I want to be so rooted in the truth of your word that I will not be shaken by the things of this world. Refine me. Transform me. I will not be crushed because you are standing at my side. The victory has been won; I need only stand and endure.

Today, I dispel the lies of the enemy and the temptation to take the easy way back to comfort that is not of God. I will not give up on you Lord because you have not given up on me. I will finish the race set before me.  I adorn my head with the helmet of salvation, and take on the mind of Christ as a son/daughter who is being sanctified daily for the glory of the Lord.

 I pray this in the mighty name of Jesus Christ! AMEN

God’s Light in Us

God’s Light in Us

 
 
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Written by Kat W.

We have free will and live in a fallen and broken world. That is why we have temptations, sin, sickness, death, heartbreak, etc. I’ve been in a season of struggle, a struggle of belief and focus on what’s the truth. I felt lost in the sense if what I’m doing and if the direction I’m heading in is truly my calling. Anxiety had been overwhelming me in waves where I couldn’t even look up anymore. The word failure kept repeating in my thoughts.

This is what the enemy loves to do. He keeps picking at the same weakness and wound. He does it until it captivates your complete focus on that sin, on that problem, feeling, drama, on that mistake you made. The devils main purpose and goal is to make you believe in a lie, something entirely opposite from God’s truth.

The enemy will attack your identity because you were created in the image of God. He will attack your life calling with distractions so that you cannot do the will of God. He will attack your joy with selfishness and pride so that you cannot have the gifts God has given you. He will attack your thoughts with lies and so that you cannot live out in God’s truth.

It is very easy to let darkness in and consume us. As  Christians we need to say no to darkness and walk in the light. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) If God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all, then He should be and is our source of light. He is the deliverer from all darkness and obstacles to joy.

Yesterday, I was encouraged at the thought of being a light to someone in darkness. I believe that is a huge part of our calling as believers in Christ Jesus. God is light, therefore we are the children of light. God is with us and in us, His light should shine out of us each and everyday.

Today I want to encourage you in your struggle and whatever darkness might be surrounding you. YOU ARE LIGHT BECAUSE IN YOU IS THE LIGHT. Remember to keep your focus on God and His truth. Today start thinking of how you can show God’s light in another persons darkness. It might even be as simple as giving someone a compliment or even praying for that person.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light”-Ephesians 5:8

Keys to Your Divine Promotion

God’s plan for us is that we move from glory to glory, according to 2 Corinthians 3:18. As we grow and mature, God will move us into new assignments, or promote us. There are keys to divine promotion.

David is an example of a man who was promoted. David was the youngest child to Jesse, who tended the sheep for his family. His father did not even summon him when Samuel came looking for the son who would be king. David learned many lessons during his life. He learned to protect the sheep from wild animals. In his days of shepherding he learned how to abide in God’s presence. In time, he moved to the palace where he played his harp to soothe King Saul. He learned how to minister to the king even during fits of rage. When Goliath began to threaten the Israelites, David refused to listen to the taunts of the enemy and went out to defy him. David defeated Goliath with the 5 smooth stones and the power of God. He ended up in the wilderness running for his life as Saul tried to kill him. Even during this wilderness time, David refused to retaliate when he had the opportunity.

Eventually, David became King, just as Samuel prophesied. But in every season of his life, David overcame many obstacles and matured and grew in God. Even when David sinned against God, he repented and came back into right standing with God. God called David a man after His own heart. We can see from David’s life that as he overcame in each season, God promoted him to his next season.

Another key to promotion is humility. James 4:10 says that if we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will exalt us. That means that even as we have successes in life, it is important to stay humble and let God will promote us. Trying to promote ourselves is ineffective. If we manage to manipulate circumstances to promote ourselves, we will have to continue to use the same tactics to keep ourselves there. It is important to trust that God will promote us at the right time, when we’re ready. Proverbs 3:5,6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Promotion comes when God determines that we are ready. As we are faithful to do what He has given to us each day, He is ever molding and creating us into the image of Christ. It is our Christ-likeness that He is looking for in us. Psalms 1:1-3 illustrates this well. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Our prosperity and promotion are connected to the way we conduct our lives. When our hearts are pleasing to God, He can trust us with more. Psalm 20:4 says, “May He grant you according to your heart’s desire and fulfill all your purpose.”  As we walk through his process of preparation, our hearts are changed and made ready for promotion. And as we wait upon Him, He promises to renew our strength so that we will be ready for the next season.

Are you ready to unlock your promotion? Check out Isik’s guide for additional scriptures and prayer points!

Is it possible to heal from childhood sexual abuse?

Today, people everywhere are struggling through life with damaged emotions and broken hearts. They’ve endured a lot of negative things, causing untold damage that needs to be dealt with. But too often, these hurts are simply swept under the rug in an attempt to make them go away.

Through my own life experiences, and from helping others through this process, I’ve discovered that although God wants to help those who really want emotional healing, there are some very important steps these individuals must take for themselves. If you want to receive emotional healing, one of the first steps you must take is to face the truth. You can’t be set free while living in denial. You can’t pretend that certain negative things didn’t happen to you.

I’ve come to realize that we’re experts at building walls and stuffing things into dark corners, pretending they never happened.

I was four years old when I was sexually abused from a fifteen year old boy. It was a dark memory that I kept suppressed for about twelve years, until I confronted the truth of what happened. For years I made myself believe that it must have been a bad dream or even something I saw on tv by accident as a kid. I finally made the decision to ask my mom about this memory that I couldn’t shake.

Why don’t we want to bring things like that into the open? We’re afraid of what people will think. We’re afraid of being rejected, misunderstood, or unloved by those we care about or that they might have a different opinion of us if they really knew all about us. The feeling of unworthiness and filth is overwhelming. That’s what the devil wants, he wants you to keep quiet. His goal is to make you feel alone and unloved. That is why it is vital for you to speak up and allow light into the darkness.

There’s something about verbalizing it to another person that does wonders for us, but use wisdom. Choose someone you know you can trust. Be sure that by sharing your story with someone else, you don’t simply put your burden on that individual’s shoulders. Also, don’t go trying to dig up old hurts and offenses that have been buried and forgotten.

When I finally worked up the courage to share with someone what had happened early in my life, I actually began shaking and crying in fear. It was an emotional reaction to the things I’d kept buried within me for so long. Now when I talk about my past, it’s as though I’m talking about somebody else’s problems. Because I’ve been healed and restored, my past doesn’t bother me anymore.

Nobody can be set free from a problem until they’re willing to admit they have one.

Do you want to be free of the shame and trauma of your past? Download our prayer guide from Dr. Frank Meadows here!

Even though our problems may have been brought upon us because of something done against our will, we have no excuse for allowing the problem to persist, grow and even take control over our entire life. Our past experiences may have made us the way we are, but we don’t have to stay that way. We can take the initiative by taking positive steps to change things, and most importantly we can ask for God’s help.

I encourage you today to get whatever hurt you have out in the open. Find someone to pray with. Don’t just let them pray, pray yourself for your own healing out loud. Remember the devil wants you to stay quiet. Fight it with God!

Face the truth—it can be the beginning of a happier life!

Shame and Self-Contempt: Embracing God’s View of Me Instead of the Lies

Shame is an insidious liar, hiding in memories and early foundational messages sent to us by our enemy even as children. Shame whispers to us that we are a mistake, without value, marred and damaged property. This message can derail us from reaching our fullest potential and from walking in true freedom.

God’s intent for us is that when we fail or sin, our heart will feel the guilt of unrighteous behavior, causing us to seek cleansing and giving us motivation to make things right. Jesus made a way for us to be cleansed by His blood, to receive His forgiveness, and to be restored into fellowship with Him. 

Shame however, causes us to hide. Shame makes us feel unworthy, without value and beyond the reach of love. But shame is a liar. This message that has been imprinted on our soul can be difficult to discern, but it is one of the biggest lies that the enemy sends us. Shame can come as a result of rejection and abandonment, especially when parents or persons of authority in our lives do not fulfill our greatest needs of nurture and bonding. It can come in upon abuse, neglect, or dysfunction.  When we experience severe trauma, especially at a young age, we may subconsciously come to the conclusion that the fault is ours, due to some flaw in us.

There is a way to be set free from shame. God always has a path to freedom. The way to freedom is to partner with Holy Spirit and the word of God to reveal where the lie became our reality. Holy Spirit can take us to a memory where we received that lie, and we can use the word of God to replace that lie with truth.  As we recall those painful moments, we can ask Him to reveal His truth. We must receive that truth and allow it to replace what the enemy planted in us. It is the truth that we receive and apply that will make us free. God desires that we live in the freedom for which He paid dearly. Cooperate with Holy Spirit and be set free!

 

Additional Resources on this topic:

Jesus, Healer of the Brokenhearted by Frank Meadows

Releasing the Power of God

God has mandated that we walk in the power and authority that He gave us when we became His ambassadors in Christ.  Genesis describes how God created man in His image, and tasked him with stewarding the earth realm. Genesis 1:28 says, “God blessed them and told them, ‘Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.’” When Jesus paid the price for our freedom from sin and death, He charged us to continue His work on the earth. Matthew 10:1 describes this charge. “Jesus called His twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness.” Jesus gave believers a mandate to continue to establish His kingdom here on earth, and He gave us His authority to do so.

How do we come into agreement with this mandate? We must become a conduit of the power of God through Holy Spirit. Paul spoke about this in Romans 15. “I have won them over by the miracles done through me as signs from God- all by the power of God’s Spirit.” Paul was able to convince the gentiles of the Good News of Jesus Christ by the signs and wonders that followed him.

Read, pray and declare scriptures in Isik’s Prayer Guide!

Jesus began to speak of this mandate before He went to the cross. He spoke over His disciples, releasing His authority to them. We see this in Luke 9:1. “One day, Jesus called together His twelve apostles and gave them power and authority to cast out demons and to heal all diseases. Then He sent them out to tell everyone about the coming of the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Matthew 10:8 said, “heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received.”  It is clear that Jesus’ power did not cease when He returned to heaven, but He gave the command to continue the work that He began and equipped us with His authority and power to do so.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we can access all that He paid for us to walk in. As we extend our faith, we can connect with the power of God to see deliverance, healing and miracles. In Ephesians 1:19, Paul urges us to embrace this truth. “I pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. This is the same power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” This is resurrection power! As we believe, it will be done according to His word. In Mark 16:20, we see that the disciples believed Jesus and began to fulfill His mandate. “And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.” It is God’s plan that we walk in His power and authority and bring His kingdom to manifest on earth as it is in heaven.

Help Your Child Cope with Pain and Loss

As a parent, it’s painful to watch your child experience hurts and disappointments. Even though you would like to spare your child from difficulty, it’s not possible to keep him/her from the cruel realities of life. During childhood, your child will experience typical losses, such as losing a pet, being separated from loved ones, moving, or being excluded from a birthday party. Sometimes, a child can experience very deep hurts, resulting in great pain and suffering.

If you try to protect your child from all pain and loss, he/she will not be prepared to face difficult situations as adults. It’s better to allow your child to feel emotions and work through pain and loss when the issues are not serious. As parents, you are there to provide comfort and support during these times and help your child develop coping skills that will help in adulthood.

When we think of bigger losses, we typically think of death, illness, and divorce. But there are other types of painful changes experienced by children and families. Any kind of change can create a feeling of loss, but some losses are more intense than others, causing an adult or child to feel grief. Grief, a deep sadness or sorrow, is one of life’s most painful experiences.

When loss occurs, all members of a family are affected, whether directly or indirectly. A child experiences grief as intensely as adults, but often do not have words to express his/her feelings. A child can begin to act out during times of grief, so it is important to observe your child’s behavior and watch for signs of deep sorrow. Even if there are unspoken feelings in the home, children, including infants, can sense deep sadness.

Parents often become consumed with their own needs during the grieving process and lack the energy to comfort and support their child. A child can become the object of adult frustration and tension and grieving can alter the normal functioning of a family. When there is a lack of parent attention, as well as changes in routines and schedules, a child can become fearful of the future.

The Swiss psychiatrist, Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, identified 5 distinct stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Children and adults go through these five stages in the grieving process, following a loss. The way an individual moves through the stages and the length of time it takes depends on the person.

Below is a chart detailing the most common responses of children and adults to grief. These behaviors are normal, but if they become too intense or last too long, one should seek professional help. It generally takes an adult or child an average of 2 years to recover from a loss. Again, it depends on the individual.

 

It is important to recognize your child’s pain and find ways to support and comfort him/her in times of grief. Below are some suggestions to assist you in helping your child process a loss. • Take care of yourself as a parent.

• Communicate with your child. Instead of avoiding a discussion, provide an honest explanation as to what is happening. Only give information that meets the child’s level of understanding.

• Read developmentally appropriate books that will deal with an issue, such as death, moving, or divorce.

• Provide your child with ways of expressing himself/herself through play, story writing, Play-­‐ Doh, puppets, or drawing.

• Be available to spend one-­‐on-­‐one time with your child. Play, laugh, or share an activity or hobby together.

• Listen.

• Give lots of love and affection, such as hugging, holding, and soothing.

• Keep a stable, predictable environment by keeping normal routines, such as mealtimes, bedtimes, school schedules, or activities.

• Maintain family rituals and traditions, such as a movie night, pizza night, holidays, and birthdays.

• Develop an outside support system by connecting with caregivers, extended relatives or friends.

• Maintain consistent guidelines and limits to maintain a feeling of safety for a child.

• Reduce outside stress.

• Be sensitive and patient. Seek help from a professional who can provide the resources to help your child and family if the grieving process seems abnormally long or intense.

The professionals below can provide help as needed.

Psychiatrist

Psychologist

Professional counselor or therapist

School Counselor

Minister, priest, rabbi

Church, synagogue

Social worker

Service agency

Support groups

Parent Education Groups

Remind your child how much God loves him/her and that He sees and understands his/her sadness. A grieving child needs to be told often that he/she is loved and valued. Assure him/her that you are there to provide protection and security during this time. Your child will need to have abundant nurture and affection from you.

Try Something New

Talk with your child about God’s faithfulness.  Teach your child to go to God’s Word for help.  Pray with your child about the things that concern him/her.  Memorize verses together to remind each another of God’s care.

Verses for Encouragement

God understands our broken hearts.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

(Psalm 34:18)

God is our help.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. ( Psalms 46:1)

Do not be afraid.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  (Isaiah 41:10)

Don’t worry. Pray.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

(Philippians 4:6-7)

Raise Children of Character

You are Your Child’s Personal Trainer: Raising Children of Character

A personal trainer is a fitness professional who instructs and suggests an exercise program to meet the goals of clients.  A trainer critiques a client’s strengths and weaknesses, develops a plan with the client for improvement, provides feedback, and holds the client accountable to his/her fitness goals.

Make a list of character qualities that you would like your child to develop.

The Bible describes our parental role of training our child by recounting the story of Abraham in Genesis 18:19.

I have singled him (Abraham) out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.  Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.

Your goal is to train your child to do what is right and just, based on God’s principles.

It is important to have a plan and be intentional in helping your child develop good character.  Your child will be blessed if you teach him/her to follow the Lord’s paths.

  • Plan a set time to teach your child God’s principles; during mealtimes, before bed, or first thing in the morning.  If you are separated from your child, teach him/her through e-mail, phone calls, text messages, or letters.
  • Listen to your child’s questions.
  • Understand what your child knows and understands about a topic.
  • Use the principles of Scripture as your guide in helping your child choose the correct thinking or right path.
  • Help your child understand how to apply the Scriptures to his/her life.
  • Instill in your child a habit of turning to the Bible for answers to life’s questions.
  • Use teachable moments throughout the day.
  • Follow the example of Deuteronomy 6:6-7.  Talk about God’s ways throughout your day.

And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.   Repeat them again and again to your children.   Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.

  • Use experiences that you and your child encounter to reinforce an idea that you have previously taught him/her.

From the family archives: 

When our daughter was 5 years old,  we went into a small store to do some shopping.  Upon returning home, my daughter proudly showed me a pretty bracelet.  I was horrified!!  She had taken it without our paying for it.  We had been talking about honesty and right here was a “teachable moment!” Even though it was inconvenient and embarrassing for me, we returned to the store in order for her to return the bracelet.  My daughter explained to the cashier that she had taken it without our paying.  The sales lady was very kind, took the bracelet back, and thanked our daughter for her honesty.  That day, my daughter had an experience which reinforced our discussions about the need to be honest and live according to God’s principles.

  • Find the right time.
  • If you see an opportunity to teach, but don’t have time at the moment, postpone the discussion until later.
  • If you or your child are too emotionally upset, delay the discussion until you are both calm.
  • If you need to correct your child, but are in the presence of many people, take your child to a quiet place and talk about the misbehavior.

Use Media as a teaching tool.

  • Negative and corrupted values are constantly presented to your child.
  • Talk with your child about TV shows, advertising, movies, the Internet, music, video games, magazines, and signage.  Discuss how media lines up with Christian values.

Use conflicts between family and friends to show your child what to do in a   particular situation.

  • Use travel time to talk with your child.
  • Talk about something you see “out your window”, such as litter, inconsiderate drivers, or the homeless.
  • Talk about school-related topics or other topics that concern your child.
  • Reinforce positive behavior that you notice in your child.
  • Compliment specifically on your child’s honesty, kindness, or good habits.  Your child will tend to repeat those things that please you.
  • Remember that it takes 6 positive comments to cancel 1 negative comment.
  • Pray with your child about the things that concern him/her.
  • Your child is most receptive to your teaching at bedtime.  Use this relaxed time to pray with your child about things that worry him/her.

Plan family activities that teach good character.

  • Do community service.
  • Perform an act of kindness.  Write a note or make a picture to thank someone.
  • Read books on character.
  • Play  “What Should You Do? Make a set of cards describing real-life situations and ask your child what he/she would do. Talk about your child’s response to the situation.  Lead your child in discovering God’s path.
  • Play  “How Does It Feel?  Have conversations about how characters feel in real-life situations, movies or books.

Your turn!  List more family activities that would develop good character in your child.

You need to live your own life with godly character as an example to your child. You are your child’s most important role model and a powerful influence.  Be clear about what your values and beliefs are and pass them onto your child.

As a parent:

  • Read God’s Word.  The book of Proverbs is a practical guide and provides wisdom in daily living.
  • Guard your heart and look at your motivations carefully.
  • Confess your sins to God and others.
  • Pray with a friend about your spiritual and emotional needs.
  • Find someone or a community group who will hold you accountable.
  • Pray for wisdom.
  • Pray with a friend for each other’s children.
  • Attend church.

Try Something New

Ask the Lord to give you opportunities and wisdom to teach your child to do what is right.  In your own life, model the habit of turning to God’s Word for answers to life’s questions and commit yourself to obeying God.

Verses for Encouragement

Ask the Lord for wisdom in teaching your child.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  (James 1:5)

Be determined to live according to God’s Word.

How can a young man (young woman) keep his/her way pure?  By living according to your word.  (Psalms 119:9)

Expressing Feelings and Emotions Appropriately

When we are born, we are “hard-wired” for basic emotions. These emotions include anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise. Adults learn to control these hard-wired emotions throughout life. However, children need help in learning to regulate these emotions, beginning in infancy.  You help by comforting your child when he/she is feeling overwhelmed by feelings.  When your infant is hungry, cold, fearful, lonely, or overstimulated, he/she can experience intense emotion and anxiety, resulting in stress.  Staying with your baby until he/she is calm is teaching your child how to manage his/her own emotions.

Other feelings, such as humility, forgiveness, hope, compassion, sympathy, patience, cooperation, and gratitude must be learned.  As your child gets older, you will need to teach him/her the words and meanings of these emotions.  In this way, your child will learn how to appropriately express emotions in adulthood and avoid becoming overwhelmed during stressful situations.

Generally, humans deal with emotions by suppressing them, verbalizing them, or acting out with inappropriate behaviors. Just like an overstuffed trash can, harmful emotions that are suppressed will eventually overflow, causing a person to express sudden anger or experience depression. Many illnesses can be attributed to suppressed emotions.

Expressing feelings through words is a positive way to share emotions.  Sometimes, a child does not have the words to describe his/her feelings.  As a parent,  you will need to teach your child the words to respectfully express an emotion or feeling.

Acting out through aggressive, angry behavior is never an appropriate way to express feelings.  Sometimes, there is an underlying problem that a child is unable to express in words, such as fear, worry or pain. Look for the child’s hidden messages.

Because anger is one of the most poorly handled emotions in society, we will take a closer look.  Helping your child handle anger is one of your most important jobs as a parent and one that requires your ability to manage your own anger.

Anger is a very intense emotion that is triggered by an event or interaction between people.  It’s a primitive emotion and is usually a response to pain or fear.

As we saw earlier,  we are hard-wired with this emotion at birth.  It’s a self-defense response and its purpose is to defend or protect us from danger.  If not handled properly, anger can result in broken relationships and guilt.  It is often the basis for depression and anxiety.  It can cause physical illness.  Anger can cause more heartache and destruction in families than any other emotion.

We see anger inappropriately expressed in several ways:

  • Through body reactions, such as facial expressions, sweating, tears, tantrums, or loss of self-control
  • Through verbal expression by means of screaming, cursing, or arguing
  • Through physical aggression, such as hitting, kicking, or throwing things
  • Through passive aggressive behaviors, such as uncooperative behavior, procrastination, forgetfulness, and stubbornness
  • Through depression, resulting in feelings of hopelessness, isolation, and suicidal thoughts

Families have different ways of expressing anger.  How was anger expressed in your childhood family?

Holding anger inside, or pretending that something doesn’t bother you can be very dangerous, resulting in depression,  dependence on drugs and alcohol,  eating disorders and health problems.  Heart attack, stroke, lowered immunity, or suicide are often attributed to suppressed anger.  In many families, the expression of anger was considered to be unacceptable, but we now know, that acknowledging and working through anger in appropriate ways, is better than keeping it inside.

Children, just like adults, can experience anger.  Below is a partial list of common causes for anger in children.

  • Moving
  • Feelings of being misunderstood
  • An overloaded schedule
  • Feelings of being ignored or unappreciated
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Repeated abuse or unjust treatment
  • Being forced to takes sides in a parental conflict

How can you help your child manage anger in positive ways?

  • Be a role model by expressing your own feelings in healthy ways.
  • Help your child identify his/her own feelings and provide words to express those feelings.
  • Be emotionally available to your child by spending time, using good eye-contact, touching, and focusing on your child’s needs.
  • Listen to what your child is saying.

As you listen attentively to your child, avoid

Denying his/her feelings. Example: “You don’t hate your teacher.”

Minimizing his/her feelings. Example:  “You’ll forget about it tomorrow.”

Talking him/her out of a certain feeling. Example: “There’s no such thing as a monster.”

Ignoring your child’s  feelings.

Reassure your child that he/she can say anything to you, but that it must be said with respect. It’s never appropriate to say mean and ugly words to you.  Give your child time to process his/her feelings and offer your child words to express those feelings.

Let’s look at the following examples.  Help your child use appropriate words to express his/her anger in certain situations.

“I feel angry about that rule.”

“I feel jealous of my brother.”

“I’m mad. The teacher was unfair.”

Use the words sad, disappointed, and frustrated in the sentences below to express feelings in healthy ways.  The first one is done for you.

“I feel sad that my friend is moving away.”

“I feel disappointed_____________________________.”

“I can’t_______________________________________.  I am so frustrated!”

Let’s look at the following examples.  Help your child use appropriate words to express his/her anger in certain situations.

“I feel angry about that rule.”

“I feel jealous of my brother.”

“I’m mad. The teacher was unfair.”

By giving your child words to express angry feelings,  you are training him/her to respond to emotions in healthy ways as he/she matures.

Below are some additional ways to manage anger in your family.

  • Be watchful at the first signs of anger.  Don’t wait too long to address it.  If too much time is allowed to pass, a person loses the desire to work through a conflict.
  • Plan ahead. Anticipate things that could create a conflict between you and your child and find a creative way to avoid them.
  • Allow yourself and your child to calm down before addressing an issue.
  • Speak calmly.
  • Be willing to ask forgiveness if you were too angry in dealing with a conflict.  Ask yourself, “Did I contribute to the problem by reacting in anger?”
  • Breathe and count to 10.
  • Exercise.
  • Encourage your child to write his/her feelings in a journal or draw a picture. This strategy is good for parents too.
  • Pray and ask the Lord for wisdom.
  • Seek help from a professional, if necessary.

Try Something New

Be an observer of your emotions and those of your child. Try to respond during stressful situations in a way that is calm and logical, rather than reactive. Think ahead.  Plan how you will respond in certain situations.

Verses for Encouragement

Learn how to manage your own anger so you can live the kind of life that pleases God.

James 1:20

For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Maintain a calm voice with your child during stressful situations.

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Work through conflict as soon as possible.  Don’t allow anger to control your life.

Ephesians 4:26

And don’t sin by letting anger control you.  Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.

You are God’s Handiwork

As I woke this morning, the Lord whispered, “You are my handiwork.” Imagine! I am God’s handiwork! You are God’s handiwork! According to definition, handiwork is done, personally, by the hands of an artist; like a sculptor, weaver, painter, or craftsman. The Creator of the Universe, the One who made the Heavens and the Earth, personally took an interest in making me and making you. He made us with His own hands and oversaw every detail.

You [God] made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. Psalm 139: 13,15

We are not accidents. Even if we were born under tragic circumstances, the God of the Universe formed every intricate part of us. He loves us, no matter how we got here.

Why would God create us? He wants to love us. He wants us to love and experience Him. He wants to have a relationship with us. He wants us to praise Him for all He has done.

An artist of great skill fashions an outstanding piece of work, and calls it a masterpiece. Upon completion of that masterpiece, he signs his work so that others know he did it. In like manner, God, our Father, calls us His Masterpiece and puts His signature on our lives. God admires His work, you and me, and delights in us.

There can be copies of a masterpiece, but there is only one original. There is only one of you, uniquely designed by God, who has gifted you with personality, skills, abilities, and desires. Only you can do the good things that He has planned for you long ago.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

You are God’s handiwork, His masterpiece. Thank Him for creating you and giving you special qualities. Ask Him to lead you into the life He has planned for you.

Majesty

By Keiko Chibana-Shinn | Rediscovering Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name… Matthew 6:9

Jesus says to us: I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me. To many, this is an offensive concept. Once upon a time, it offended me. I would think, Why should there be just one way? There are so many paths, many beliefs, and many cultures. Can’t we all celebrate each other’s differences in belief? There is a certain truth to these thoughts, for God does celebrate our diversity for He is the Grand Maker of our individual identities and rejoices in the collective identity found within culture, language, and ethnicity. Learning about world religions and varied perspectives continually adds to our understanding and evolves us into a more integral people. For we are all unique but it’s clear that we all derive from the same foundational quest to find meaningful purpose in life.

Jesus struck me as truly unique in my personal quest to discover who I truly am. Jesus welcomes you to accept any perspective, worldview, mindset or religion. However, He assures us that there is no other who has the authority to reestablish the very fabric of your identity; to seamlessly graft you into the image of God through His paternal glory. He alone awakens your perspective on faith, love, and hope by fully reinforcing your identity through the fatherhood of God in Christ Jesus. You are sons and daughters of the Most High God. This is not a mere religion, worldview, or a 10-step program to become a better you. No, it’s holistic relationship that orients us not only to the Godhead-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit but it’s a reunification and restoration of the forever Family of God. Jesus imparts to us the greatest gift humankind could ever receive. Jesus’ Words reveal it to us:

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me… Jn. 17:22-23.

Jesus knows what we are in need of and our greatest need is the presence and love of Our Father. That’s why His greatest mission on Earth was not to condemn us but to reveal the love of our Father to us. Jesus responded to His disciples when asked about how to pray: “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven” He didn’t address the Father as His own but addressed God as Our. Father. Prayer is about rediscovering your identity as a child of God. Jesus makes it simple, when we enter into a time of conversation with God, we are to embrace Him in the confidence that God is as much our Father as He is Father to Jesus. Jesus affirms this by ultimately saying, My Father is your Father. What is Mine is also yours. We are to receive the love of the Father and come to know what His love imparts to us for our daily living.

Jesus’ initial teaching about prayer begins with a familial tone of belonging, a loving relationship, and of divine protection and possession. The Father’s love is ours. What more could we need? He loved us so much that our Father delivered up the centerpiece of His love, His Son for us that we could enjoy the richness of His loving devotion and splendor.

Everything God creates is meant to be filled with purpose and identity. The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He comes to keep you in void and in a perpetual state of lack. But God, for His children, He endures in faithfulness to all generations. The Lord’s heartbeat is for none to perish but for all to gain abundant living under the protection of His will so that life can continue to prosper as we lay down our lives for the good of others.

A little bit of Jesus can go a long way in our lives. The vastness of our God is too great to comprehend for all of heaven’s power is found in the supremacy of Christ. Who can measure the greatness of our God? For is it not He, God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it? With all His omnipotence, Jesus chooses to magnify the majesty of the Godhead through the fatherly attributes in humility and loving kindness. Jesus’ primary mission while on Earth was to lead us to the Father. Therefore, we cannot live the Christian life without the love of the Father.

The Fatherhood of God prospers us. Every area of our lives is to be influenced by His fatherly love. There is a well-known theory in the field of psychology that asserts all human beings have an inherent basic hierarchy of physical and emotional needs that are to be met in order to reach one’s full potential. Our Father fulfills each and exceeds our expectations by far. The Majesty of our God touches our physical life as much as our spiritual one. In His love there is safety, belonging, purpose, meaning, creativity to thrive, to innovate, and to empower one’s life to motivate another. If that were not enough He lavishes His love by instilling in us everlasting life to flow through us by His power for today and for eternity.

Like any good parent, God wants us to live a life of blessed assurance that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. He wants every area of our lives to prosper, for us to be in good health, and for our very souls to prosper. Why? Because He is a Good Father and He believes in His children. Let us then reclaim our position as children of Our Father in heaven.

The Spirit of the Lord says to us today: The search is over. I Am here- always have been and will always be, for you. That is My promise. Receive a willing spirit to surrender your doubts and fears to Me. The love of the Father is being poured out upon you to break the orphan spirit that oppresses you through constant feelings of abandonment and rejection. Though your earthly mother and father reject you, I receive you as my own. My hands have made you, not by mere human decision or by human descent but by My will. I unleash My Spirit to restore your identity and I break the yoke of fear and doubt off you that you may receive my love, my power to live and to think with a sound mind in Jesus’ name. Receive the revelation of My love as your Father, today!

Additional Verses: Jn. 14:6; Acts 17:26; Gen. 1:27; Eph. 1:4; Jn. 3:16; Ps. 63:3; Jn. 10:10-11; Ps. 100:5; 2 Pe. 3:9; Jn. 15:13; Is. 42:5; Col. 1:15-23; Jn. 5:19; Ph. 4:13; 3 Jn. 1:2; Rev. 22:13; Ps. 27:10; Jn. 1:13; 2 Ti. 1:7