Four Ways to Make your Home a Refuge from Fear

Four Ways to Make your Home a Refuge from Fear

Refuge from fearIf I were a fly on the wall in your kitchen, or if I scrolled through your texts, what would I learn about how you’re handling the news these days? Banter over the news might sound less like afternoon tea with the Queen and more like a barroom brawl.

It is easy for frustration over what we cannot control (namely, most news) to degenerate into fear. Fear is a powerful tool of the enemy of our souls. As parents, we are concerned for our children that disturbing news not lead to fear.

In these contentious and uncertain days, how do we keep from allowing fear to rule us? Following are four ideas.

First, restrain “conversation” about fearful news.

Note that I did not say to not talk about the news. These days our children often know the news before we do, and we must talk about it with them. Isn’t it hard at times to find the line between righteous indignation and angry outbursts? At times, it feels justified to just vent. Afterall, I should be able to say exactly what I think in my own home. Right?

Overwhelmingly negative emotions are often a warning about where our confidence really is. I am not suggesting that a right response is easy. It is a struggle as we all know. By being mindful and restraining discussion when needed, we model the godly leadership our children need and set up the second way we can stop fear from gripping our homes.

Remind your family where our confidence is.

In writing to persecuted Christians, the writer of Hebrews says in 10:23. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” These believers were enduring far, far worse things than any bad news we have heard. The encouragement is to hold fast to Christ! We are not alone. God is with us. He is our confidence through to the end.

As the temperature rises, stop, and say something that breaks the emotional vortex and turns our attention back to God. “Wow, I am really struggling here. I/we need to remember that God is in control of all this.” Or “God is our refuge and strength.”

This morning as the conversation turned again to the news, I reminded my myself and my teenage son, that we are sojourners here on this earth. This is not our home. In the moment, it can be hard to say these things. My failure to say these things usually comes when I fear that saying them will sound preachy or out of touch. I have to be honest with myself and realize I also need to hear what I’m about to say. I will tell my kids, “I need to hear this too. I need you to help me remember what is true.” These are things we should be saying anyway! It is part of speaking the truth to one another in love.

Read the Word of God together.

The Word of God endures forever. It is unchanging Truth. It equips us for every good work. It is powerful. In it we find the accounts of many who have gone before us and overcome fearful challenges by faith in its promises.

Perfect love casts out fear. The word testifies to the perfect love of God. When we read it together out loud it brings calm to distressing situations. Developing a pattern of reading the word as a family prepares us for obedient living—especially in the next news cycle.

There are many Psalms that talk about God being our refuge. Over the next week, consider reading the following: Psalms 34, 62, 71, 91, 118, 142, 144 to your family. Each of these Psalms provide mental rest and emotional peace in the face of fear.

Pray for the salvation of our enemies.

It helps reorient our thinking away from people we don’t like by praying for them. This requires us to first remember our own place. We are sinners saved by grace. We need grace as much as the people we would otherwise hate in our hearts. Our sin is no less odious in God’s eyes and we have done nothing to earn anything but his judgement. Yet, we are undeserving recipients of his mercy and grace. This realization humbles us and fills us with compassion.

Last week there was a news article about a state law that would make it legal to deny care to babies that survived abortion. As I scrolled down and read the comments one particularly stood out to me:

…BABY KILLERS, DEMONIC, GOVERNMENT WORSHIPPING MARXISTS, AT LEAST WE WILL BE FREE OF THESE SOUL-LESS MONSTERS WHEN WE ARE ACCEPTED BY GOD’S GRACE INTO HEAVEN (All caps in the original post).

Certainly, a law like this is wrong and stirs righteous anger! But it’s hard to find anything redemptive in that comment. Its bitter and self-righteous. No grace there. Only judgement. God commands us to pray for our enemies. When we are humbled by our own debt and the mercy we have received, we see them differently and then we pray. Isn’t it harder to disparage someone we are praying for?

In many cases, they are afraid although that fear is masked by hostility. They act the way they do because they have no hope or feel that what their hope is in is being threatened.

This more than any other thing has helped me when I’ve wanted to stew or vent my frustrations about others. Would that I always remembered this. Pray for our enemies to come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I doubt that’s a newsflash. But are we doing it?

Remember who we are.

Because we are objects of mercy, we can be messengers of the hope we have in Christ. We will lose opportunities to bring that message of hope if we allow our conversations at home to be driven by frustration and fear. Hope is needed everywhere, beginning in our homes! Speaking hopefully in our home equips our children to be ambassadors of hope to their friends.

Bad news will continue. But praise be to God that we have an eternal hope in Christ! Do we really believe that? Does it impact how we discuss bad news? It must so our homes will be refuges from fear.

3 Essential Truths we Need to Teach our Kids— Now

3 Essential Truths we Need to Teach our Kids— Now

three simple truths to teach our kids

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

As the virus causes great collateral damage and casts an ominous pal on the future, what should we be teaching our children?  Try these three things (at least).

First, God is Sovereign (in Control)

Genesis begins with: “In the beginning, God.”  God has always existed.  He created the world by speaking it into existence.  He sovereignly rules over his creation (Col. 1:16-17).  He directs every detail of our lives.  God knew 10,000 years ago we would be dealing with Coronavirus today and he is firmly in control of exactly how all of this is going to play out.  All of this should bring us great comfort and peace.

Second, God is Using This Crisis to do Good in Our Lives

Because God is sovereign, he uses all things—including the things that we most dislike, suffering for example—for our good (Rom. 8:28-30; 2 Cor. 4:17).  This includes everything from mild anxiety about food shortages to significant distress about losing a job or retirement savings.  God can use it all for good.

Third, God is Love

Our children need to be reminded that God loves us especially at a time when there is so much fear.  Nothing shall separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:35-39).  God’s love is demonstrated in all that he has done to redeem us.  This includes the new identity we receive in his son, Jesus Christ.

That God loves us so much that he sent his son to die for us and then sent his Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts and never leave us, provides assurance of his love.  His love has not waned one iota even with current events.

Hope For The Fearful

These three truths about God are important for us and our children as Christians.  But that’s not all.  We are called to give an answer for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15).  How do we do that if we are as fearful as everyone else?  By intentionally focusing on these three truths—now—we strengthen our children’s faith in God and equip them to share him with others who are caught in the tsunami of fear caused by the virus and its ripple effects.

Practical Help Teaching These Truths

Mention of these truths in informal conversation can be reinforced by gathering the family together and teaching them, too.  I have prepared a simple 14 day study  that you can do with your family on these truths. Sign-up below to access the PDF!

 

 

Good News in Troubled Times: The Opportunity to Reset

Good News in Troubled Times: The Opportunity to Reset

real hopeReset [verb ree-set] “To set adjust or fix in a new or different way”

I’ll never forget my high school Physics class. We were four weeks into the first semester and the whole class was struggling. After a few disappointing quizzes, the first test proved dismal. The highest grade was a C. (And for the record, sadly that wasn’t mine.) I was particularly anxious about passing the class and I still have nightmares about it to this day—no joke. After discussing the horrible tests with us, our teacher decreed that she would throw out the test and quiz results and start over. That was a very refreshing reset: a new beginning for our class.

Perhaps in your homes right now, you’re seeing a lot of relational challenges and like my high school Physics class: a reset that will renew hope, confidence, and purpose seems like a pretty good idea.

Hope can be achieved through a reset! This reset can come by way of a change of perspective about how we approach family life. We typically look at life in a way that reduces it merely to right and wrong. What does the Bible say about marriage? What does the Bible say about raising children? For sure, we need to do seek and apply God’s wisdom. But there is often something missing that makes the difference between defeat and endurance that begins to see lasting change take place.

This change of perspective goes back to the foundation of the gospel itself. The gospel is more than the message that our sins are forgiven in Christ. Indeed, it is that. But it is more! Through the gospel, we learn all that God has done to help us live for him. This includes a new identity in Christ that we have been given that profoundly demonstrates God’s love.

Let’s take a very brief look at just a sample of what this identity includes: we are redeemed, adopted by God, hidden in Christ; made righteous, holy, blameless. We are dead to sin and alive to God, set free, and no longer under condemnation. (Download an A-Z List of our Identity in Christ).

Our identity is woven throughout the Bible and is intended to provide us with great joy and serves as a powerful motive for living the Christian life. Living out of joy in God is crucial to living for his glory and it is a far more effective tool than fear and guilt in our relationships.

Once you see these statements in your study of the Bible it will revolutionize your walk with God. It will change your perspective on living for him from one of oppressive obligation to glorious grace.

When we see how much God loves us, we will in turn love him and love others.

Real Hope for Your Home

real hope for your homeOur new book, Real Hope for Your Home, provides a reset in our homes around our identity in Christ so that we live with real hope, unwavering confidence, and joyful purpose. Begin your own rediscovery of grace today and hit the reset button in your home!

Seeing Past the Elevators a Lesson from Disney

Seeing Past the Elevators a Lesson from Disney

I’m not very good at hearing God speak. My life is loud and usually I can barely hear myself think let alone hear God. But God spoke to me recently in an unusual place. A 16 hour van ride with 5 kids and 2 grandparents is not where I would have expected to hear God. Me speaking (more like crying out) to Him, yes! But I didn’t expect the communication to be the other way around.

 

We took our family to Disney last month. It was a great trip with lots of memories made. My 3 older children had been before, but for the 2 younger ones it was the first time. And Benjamin, my 3 year old, was excited! I mean….Disney! It had been talked about for months, he had seen pictures of our last trip, and he knew he was in for a treat.

 

Now, Benji is 3 and he is one of the youngest of 5 siblings so his life is pretty small at this point. I mean, going to a new playground is a big deal for him. But his all-time favorite thing is riding on elevators and escalators. When you’re 3 this is a big deal. The buttons, the movement up and down, stepping on and off. It doesn’t get much better than that!

 


So now…  Disney! We arrived at our hotel late and tried to quickly unload and get to settled to get some sleep before our first day at Magic Kingdom. Our room was on the 2nd floor so we used the elevator to load our stuff up. Benjamin was in heaven. He got to press the buttons and it was like, wow, “we’re at Disney!” He was ecstatic.

 

The next morning; what did he wake up talking about?….the elevator. “Are we going to ride the elevator again?” “Are there going to be more elevators?” “Can I press the buttons?” We kept telling him about all the rides he’d be able to go on at Disney and how those would be so much better than any elevator, but he wasn’t convinced. In his mind elevators were the best thing there was, the best thing he could imagine.

 

Well he got plenty of elevator time that trip, each day when we left and then returned to our hotel. But he did also make it onto his first roller coaster: thunder mountain railroad. He was nervous as we waited in line, and then getting into this train car and having a bar come down over his lap. But he loved it! He had a blast and was so proud that he rode his first roller coaster. His excitement over elevators never ceased though, even after his roller coaster experience.

 

On our long drive home I was thinking about this and I felt God giving me a spiritual lesson through this observation. I realized that so often we plod through life being excited over elevators. Elevators may be all we really know or maybe we’ve experienced a roller coaster here and there but have fallen back into the rut of expecting elevators.

 

What I mean is that we have such low expectations of God sometimes. We don’t really expect that He can answer that big prayer, or that He could do that big thing in our lives. So we settle for praying small things or just looking for small things, or maybe not looking at all.

 

Ephesians 3 says that God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” It is good and right to be excited for the small things, to find joy in the elevators, but I picture God smiling at our excitement and saying, “Oh, just you wait for what I have in store for you!” Just like we knew what lay ahead for Benjamin at Disney. I believe God wants us to dream big about what He will do in our lives and in our families. He has roller coasters in store for us! I was convicted that my prayers are so small, they often revolve only around the here and now. But what excitement and anticipation I would have if I truly took God at His word that His will is for me to have life abundantly in Him (John 10:10) and that He is able to do more than I can even imagine.

 

Thankfully, His goodness and faithfulness do not depend on my expectations. But I do believe He takes joy in our faith and trust that He can and will do big things in our lives. He has more in store than we can see.

 

God is at work, even when all we can see are elevators.

Lauren Stadig

Lauren Stadig

Wife, Mom, Friend

Lauren is a dear sister in the Lord as well as sister-in-law to Eric and Leslee. She brings music and order to any event. She lives with her husband, Paul, and their five children in Charlottesville, VA.

New Year 2020

New Year 2020

2020

Every year around this time, we do a lot of reflecting. Christmas is over, there are new gifts to enjoy and some to exchange and return:) We are sad to see it go and very glad to put decorations away and get back to some order!

As you reflect on the year past and make plans for the new year, here are a few articles to consider:

Will you Say "No" this Year?

If you have not yet carved out some time to quiet yourself and think about some basic goals…

Simple Way for your Family to Pray for a lot of People

Our family has been using this approach for years now!

How to Prioritize your Relationships

One of the problems with being too busy is that we easily lose sight of our priorities…

Ministering to Neighbors

Practical ideas and encouragements for making ministry in your neighborhood a reality this year!

It is important to start off the new year remembering that we are New Creations! If you have not already purchased a copy of one of our Who Are You? resources, consider signing up for our newsletter you will get a free PDF copy of twelve key identity statements to meditate on. Fill out the form below!

It is easy to get overwhelmed with plans for great change and personal growth. These goals in themselves are not harmful. They should never be made outside of the Gospel and our identity in Christ. We are new creations in Christ, this means for us that everyday is New Year’s Day. If you don’t already have a copy, consider reading through Who Are You? as you start your new year. Remember your identity!

Helping our Children Face Difficult Circumstances

Helping our Children Face Difficult Circumstances

Have you seen this before? If you look at it one way, you see an old woman looking down. If you look at it another way, you see the profile of a beautiful young woman looking away. You can look at the same picture and see two entirely different things. It’s all about perspective.

Our Children Need a Change of Perspective

This is a perfect analogy for understanding one of the most essential truths that our children need to grasp: how to look at life, especially the circumstances we don’t like, from God’s perspective. (Be sure to grab the PDF printable to use with your children at the end of this article!)

As parents, we are familiar with long, late-night conversations that often boil down to a child’s struggle with a particular circumstance. Some circumstances are of their own making, such as waiting until the 11thhour to complete a school assignment, maybe a Facebook post that backfired, or the fallout from poor spending choices. Other circumstances might be out of their control, such as a sibling who continues to push their buttons, the fact that they do not have a car to drive, or a chronic health condition. Either way, circumstances usually present emotional pain that we as parents are called upon to remove—and quickly!

How do we help our children see what happens to them in life from God’s perspective?

Usually, my instinct as a father is to simply fix their problem by immediately telling them what to do. While that response is understandable, and even appropriate in certain cases, alone it falls short because it misses the point of what God might be trying to do in the situation.

The perspective that says, “Okay, God. What are you doing here?” needs attention in all of our conversations with our children, but especially during the challenging moments.

Two Things to Say to Our Children to Help Them Change Their Perspective

Here are two thoughts we can share with our children as they are trying to reconcile their view of how life should be with the circumstances they are facing.

First, we might not grow as much when things are going well for us. In fact, things going great may simply mean our idols are working for us. Or perhaps, God in his kindness may indeed bless us with a season of reprieve. Either way, it usually isn’t very long before adversity returns. She breaks a nail, he is asked to clean up his room, or a much more serious event occurs and the emotional roller coaster begins again. This is where what they believe about God is tested and—if they’re looking—they can grow in their relationship with him.

Second, discomfort, emotional distress, and even physical suffering is often the crucible God uses to help us grow in Christ. Personally, I wish there were another way but this is why perspective is so important.

Think of Jonah. The circumstances he was in were in one sense of his own making because of his sin, but in another sense they were very clearly of God’s doing in response to his sin. Scripture says that God sent the fish to swallow Jonah.

By using Jonah as an example, I am not suggesting that every bad situation is God’s discipline for something we have done wrong—it isn’t. There was mercy even in how God dealt with Jonah. Through Jonah we also see how God deals with one man’s sin within the much larger context of his redemptive plan which only deepens our awe of God’s power and wisdom and compels greater love for God.

You don’t need to use your imagination very long to appreciate how hard that must have been for Jonah. But God was with him through those circumstances. God used adversity to do a great work in Jonah that resulted in Jonah being used by God in an incredibly powerful way.

God Is Working Through Our Circumstances to Do Good—We Can Be Assured

In Romans 8:28, we learn God works all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose. Do we often forget verse 29? What is his purpose? His purpose is to conform us to his image.

As we guide our children through their circumstances, we do well to help them look for God’s message to them through those circumstances. What is this teaching you about yourself? What sin is God exposing? How is God proving himself faithful? Are the judgements you are making demonstrating a belief in what God says is true, or belief in a lie by the Evil One?

While we often can’t control what happens to us, we can control our response. We are not victims in the sense that what happens has to be determinative. Toward that end, it is far more helpful to realize that God is sovereignly in control and can use our circumstances, most especially those we do not like, for good when our children look at them from that perspective.

This does not justify harm done or necessarily remove the real pain they endure in this life. But this change in perspective enables them to proceed with real hope, confidence, and the resolve that God is working through it, ultimately, for His glory and our child(ren’s) ultimate good and joy.

Please download this PDF guide to help you work through circumstances with your children!