Helping Children with Anxiety
Feeling anxious is part of living in a broken world, and God weaves those feelings into his providential plan for our spiritual growth. As we mature, our feelings of anxiety may abate, or they may swell. What runs constant is God’s call to trust him and act in the context of our feelings. Simply listening to our kids express their feelings is a great way to ease their burden by assuring them of our non-judgmental presence.
It takes time for us to realize we aren’t made of glass, that shattering isn’t imminent, that God can always bring us through to the other side—no matter what hellish things we experience. Time teaches us. In fact, for any person of faith, time is the only tutor.
But kids don’t have time yet—at least, they have more ahead than behind. Each day holds out threats without the assurance of safety, let alone the promise of strength for having weathered hard things. And so, for kids, fragility comes naturally. They see their smallness in a wild world. A tiny scratch demands a Band Aid. The sidewalk cracks threaten their bicycle tires. Honey bees have daggers attached to their abdomens. The world is big. Children are small. Dangers abound.
As parents, with more time behind than ahead, we go through seasons when we feel confident in God’s sovereign care, maybe even impervious to harm (or at least ignorant of it). But the longer we live, the more quickly we spot this feeling as a momentary illusion. We lose a parent. Our highschool friend dies of spinal cancer at thirty-one. A Yellowstone mudslide wipes out a bridge as if it were built of toothpicks and glue. Health issues crop up like weeds in everyday conversations. The world is uncontrollable. And though we’re more confident in God’s control than we used to be, we’re still small. And dangers abound.
Maybe that’s why nearly 20% of the American population battles an anxiety disorder, including yours truly for the last 16 years.1 I’ve written about my own anxiety war in Struck Down but Not Destroyed. But I’ve also had the joy of being a parent for nearly 9 years, which means I’ve had to take what God has shown me about anxiety and use it to help my own children. I approach them with deep empathy, as one whom the Lord has shattered and put back together many times. Let me offer what I’ve learned so far and then point you to some resources I’ve found helpful along the way.
What I’ve Learned
1. Kids are very perceptive.
While children deal with their own fears and worries, they’re also watching you, taking cues on how they should respond. As parents, we tend to think it’s best to shield our children from our anxiety, and there are times when that’s appropriate. But shielding them and denying the presence of anxiety teaches them to do the same. That’s unhealthy, and it’s unbiblical. The psalmists didn’t bottle things up; they poured everything out. That doesn’t mean you should pour out your soul before your kids each day. But it does mean they should see it’s okay that you deal with fear and anxiety, too, and you do something about it: you turn to your heavenly Father in prayer. You read his word. You walk by faith. You believe. Showing them what to do with anxiety is much healthier than modeling denial.
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God Is Not SmallBy Guy M. Richard — 2 years ago
Written by Guy M. Richard |
Friday, October 1, 2021
When we come face-to-face with the God of the Bible, when we look out over the expanse of who He is and we really see it, we cannot help but be overwhelmed with His weightiness and significance. And when we do, inevitably we will see how incredibly small and insignificant we are in comparison. It is an excellent antidote to the priorities and perspectives of the world in which we live—which is, as Packer called it, a world of “God-shrinkers.” But, more than that, it is only when we come face-to-face with the “Godness” of God that we will feel the full weight of our sin and gain a full appreciation for the cross of Christ, which sets us free from the full weight of our sins forevermore.
Just over sixty years ago, J.B. Phillips wrote a book in which he attempted to call out many of the common tendencies that he saw in the twentieth century to reduce God down to size. His book, aptly titled Your God Is Too Small, was an effort at presenting a clearer and more accurate picture of “the God who is there” (to borrow the name of one of Francis Schaeffer’s well-known works). More recently, J.I. Packer and David Wells have followed Phillips’ example and have called out contemporary misconceptions of God in similar ways. Wells, for instance, has argued that modern Western people now generally see God as carrying little or no weight in their lives. He is inconsequential, unimportant, and barely noticeable for most of us. Packer has even gone so far as to suggest that our time will be remembered, above all other times, as the age of the “God-shrinkers.” More than any other period in history, he says, our age has become convinced that God is irrelevant and insignificant. As Packer puts it, God is barely a “smudge” on the page of our secularized lives.
In one sense, these ideas are really nothing new. Ever since the garden of Eden, Satan has been seeking to convince each of us that we can “be like God” (Gen. 3:5). The clear assumption behind this lie is that you and I can actually be like Him. It is an explicit denial of the “Godness” of God, an obvious rejection of the Creator-creature distinction, and a glaring repudiation of the holiness of God (defined as otherness). To believe that we can “be like God” is to exalt ourselves and, at the same time, to reduce God down to size. Satan has been working that angle since the very beginning. So, we really should not be all that surprised when we see it at work in our own day and time.
Long before Phillips, Packer, or Wells walked the face of the earth, the Apostle Paul warned us about these things. He told us that sin would run its course in our lives and that, as a result, we would “[exchange] the truth about God for a lie” and would “[worship] and [serve] the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!” (Rom. 1:25). Satan, according to Jesus, is a “liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). He would like nothing more than for us to believe that we can “be like God.” He would like nothing more than for us to shrink God down to our size, to render Him inconsequential, unimportant, and barely noticeable in our lives. And it would seem that we have embraced the lie. In mass quantities, we have swallowed it whole.
But, as Phillips reminded us, the God of the Bible is not small. He is no mere lightweight. In the words of Mr. Beaver from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the God of the Bible is definitely not “a tame lion.” He is significant and weighty. He is exalted and regal. He is “high and lifted up; and the train of his robe fill[s] the temple” (Isa. 6:1).
A Sheep Speaks: A Testimony to the National Partnership, Part 5By Tom Hervey — 1 year ago
If you will accept it, this is written not in belligerence and quarreling, nor to fulfill a salacious need to ‘fight a culture war’ or engage in doom-mongering, but to give you a frank, unfettered testimony to how your deeds appear to someone in the pews; and judging by the conversations and correspondence I have had with other members, this perception of you is by no means unique to me. Repent of your secrecy and of your scandalous deeds.
Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
A Final Concern
You seem to regard alcohol with excessive fondness. In speaking of a candidate for moderator you speak of his service and virtues and say that “this is not to mention his collection of whiskeys and his willingness to kindly share them.” In praising the vigor of the new members of your organization you say that they “were asking good questions, crafting motions, present for every major vote, worshipping well at the evening services, and keeping up with our whiskey consumption,” while elsewhere gratitude is extended “for working together, and for stepping into the gap when it was needed on committee reports, microphones, bottles of bourbon and cigars” and a reference is made to “a well-deserved beer after a long business meeting.” An observer may be forgiven for thinking there is something a little inappropriate in elders regarding themselves as ‘deserving’ a beer after doing denominational work, or in equating an elder’s possession of a fine whiskey collection with his years of service, to say nothing of putting “worshipping well” and “keeping up with our whiskey consumption” alongside of each other.
Now maybe you will object and note that you forewent beer in order to vote, as is stated several times, but it is curious that this seems to be, not so much restraint, but a practical necessity to advance your agenda: take a break from your drinking to come and vote, not because it is inappropriate for an elder to be out on the town during a week that he is supposed to be doing the grave, consequential work of the church of Christ but because the agenda needs your support. It is curious too that these rejoinders to abstain are frequently accompanied by an assurance that it will be compensated for by an occasion for communal drinking later, and that it is often enjoined that voting times are not a good time to get a beer, but somewhat less frequently that they are poor times to get coffee, read a newspaper, go for a stroll, make phone calls, or any of the other things an elder might be expected to do between assembly sessions.
Laying aside that this comes across as simply immature and juvenile, there are some pointed statements about such things in Scripture. As for your newer members doing well by keeping up with the whiskey consumption of the old hands, Isaiah testifies “Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink” (5:22); while for his part Hosea condemns the faithless inhabitants of Israel because they “cherish whoredom, wine, and new wine, which take away the understanding” (Hos. 4:10-11). In Prov. 31:4-5 Lemuel says that “It is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.” The principle applies to elders as well: for as kings were the civil shepherds who were responsible for the temporal order, justice, and wellbeing of the people, so are elders responsible for the order, discipline, and fidelity of the spiritual commonwealth that is the church – yet their need for sobriety is greater, for they deal with questions of eternal significance, rather than ones of a merely earthly nature.
The New Testament supplies further instruction on this point, for it says of the man qualified to be an elder that he is “not (one who lingers) beside (his) wine” (1 Tim. 3:2, Hendriksen-Kistemaker commentary translation), while it elsewhere states that “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble” (Rom. 14:21). That last verse establishes the duty that all believers have to respect the rights of conscience of their brothers in matters that are unessential to the faith (v. 17), a duty you seem to forget in this matter. There are and have been numerous Presbyterians who are teetotalers, both within our denomination and in others such as the ARP, and to see your cavalier attitude toward drink is no doubt a source of offense to them. In addition, there is a much larger body of people, again within our denomination and outside its fold, that have struggled with alcohol addiction and abuse, and your behavior provides a terrible example and testimony to them. In this matter you disobey the great principle of Romans 14, and you ought to give thought that your actions may well lead others to stumble or otherwise limit the effectiveness of your ministry.
Perhaps you will rejoin that the talk of hardy drinking is all in jest; fair enough, but does Scripture condone such coarse jesting as appropriate for those that would rule Christ’s church? Does it not rather say that “All impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints” and that there should be “no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking” (Eph. 5:3-4)? Or perhaps you will say that drinking is no sin and that it is excessive drinking that is the problem that ought to be foregone. There are sins besides excessive consumption that come into play in relation to alcohol: an excessive fondness of it (especially one that values it above good testimony and brotherly respect) or an excessive tendency to look to it to relieve distress (as in ‘deserving a beer’) are also faults in this respect, and they seem to show in your speech about alcohol. Then, too, excess is not always a question of drunkenness, as there are occasions where any consumption of alcohol is inappropriate, most notably in handling matters of great importance, whether temporal or eternal, civil or ecclesiastical. Our society frankly worships alcohol and our job as believers should be to extol its responsible use and a right attitude about it, and this is undercut when you join in the beer and whiskey worship yourselves.
Last, in this your behavior in this matter is like that of the old liberals in the PCUS, who loved drink and made wide use of it. Kennedy Smartt says in his I Am Reminded that some of them even gave drink to underage assembly attendants, and that the disgust this lawbreaking engendered was part of the impetus for desiring to be separate from such people, while an early PCA history mentions how the groups that laid the groundwork for the PCA sometimes received the PCUS liberals’ bar bills by mistake.
A Final Objection
Now you may object that much of this criticism proceeds on the assumption that the National Partnership is one, where in fact you have – and celebrate! – diversity of thought, voting habits, and manners of internal and external expression. You are both one and many. You have one purpose, one program, one agenda, and while there may be some diversity of thought or voting, it yet occurs within the scope of achieving the one, agreed-upon aim that you all share of giving the denomination the character you desire. As for those of you who have qualms with some of the precise behavior of some of your members that I have criticized here, consider the instruction God gives you: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Cor. 15:33). You are the company you keep (comp. Prov. 13:20), and as for those of you who do not approve some of the behavior or beliefs condemned here, why persist in keeping such company or in following the lead of those that do such things? Is it safe or wise to do so, or is it rather likely to bring you trouble (like Jehoshaphat allying with Ahab, 2 Chron. 18:1-19:2) and needless grief?
A Final Appeal
If you will accept it, this is written not in belligerence and quarreling, nor to fulfill a salacious need to ‘fight a culture war’ or engage in doom-mongering, but to give you a frank, unfettered testimony to how your deeds appear to someone in the pews; and judging by the conversations and correspondence I have had with other members, this perception of you is by no means unique to me. Repent of your secrecy and of your scandalous deeds. You have done an outrageous thing in Israel and have left a bad testimony to others both within and outside of our fold. You have despised both shepherds and sheep, and have sought to use our denomination for your own ends, rather than to serve it in humility and submission for the good of the sheep. Time will fail to tell of your failure to “be above reproach” (1 Tim 3:2) in these things; and however much you may be inclined to deny that, as you have for years, there is no sense of that phrase which is met by your secretive doings or by many of the things you have said or done. Repent in haste, with fullness of heart and sincerity of purpose, for this word stands, and it should give us all an occasion to fear: “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God” (1 Pet. 4:17).
Tom Hervey is a member of Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Simpsonville, S.C.
The Digital Will Never Make Us BetterBy C. R. Carmichael — 1 month ago
Written by C.R. Carmichael |
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Arrogance is at the root of our problem, as pride arrives just in time to initiate the tragic fall (Proverbs 16:18). We may be technologically advanced, but it isn’t helping us if we wield our latest digital tools as weapons against God….Thankfully, all is not lost because God is still in control, the Spirit is still moving, and salvation is always near with the redeeming power of Jesus Christ—f we only have faith.
Understanding the Digital vs. the Analog
So what is meant by putting forth the metaphorical argument that “the Digital” of transhumanism is an evil and dangerous corruption of the righteous design of “the Analog” established by God for the fruitfulness of mankind?
Technically speaking, digitization is the process of converting analog information like an object, image, document, or signal into a computer-relatable language encoded with a mathematical combination of “ones and zeroes.” Though its primary function is to speedily generate and disseminate data, it has become a darling of transhumanists because digitization can also be used as a powerful tool to transplant reality and, according to journalist Gil Press, “encourage the replacement or augmentation of the physical with the virtual or online presence.”
Of course, the “physical” that they desire to replace is nothing less than the creation of God, which, in a rhetorical sense, is the “Analog” of God. This is so because long ago He spoke the world into existence and saw that everything He had made answered the plan which His eternal wisdom had conceived; and “Behold, it was very good” (Psalm 33:6-9; Genesis 1:31).
Why call it the Analog? Think of an analog watch built with a traditional clock face and hands. Back in the days before digital watches, it was just a “watch.” But now, to differentiate it from the digital display, we call the very first watch, “analog.” The name is an example of a retronym, which is defined as a word created to avoid confusion between older and newer types of creations, usually because of advancements in technology.
From a Biblical standpoint, therefore, the Analog can be broadly defined as the elemental state of the world as originally created by God (even after the “generation loss” caused by the Fall), and the Digital can be viewed as the latest attempt by man to improve upon or completely remake that original design by digitization or digitally-driven science and technology.
Today, most people would likely assume that the digital process is superior to the analog. But such is not always the case. In the area of sound recording, for example, many audiophiles will tell you that digitization has not served us well. As often reported by those who have ears to hear the difference, the digitized music presented in compact discs and streaming audio can generally sound compressed, lifeless, bass shy and synthetic; whereas analog from vinyl records and tapes has “a physicality and immediacy in the sound of musical instruments” that is “warm, airy, and much closer to a live performance.”
The public at large, in fact, seems to agree with this assessment. Worldwide sales of vinyl records have increased sharply in recent years as people everywhere have rediscovered their fondness for the analog listening experience which, as one audio engineer tells us, “feeds the soul” because it most faithfully captures the original signal and waveform of God.
Indeed, according to mathematician Katrina Morgan, there is a credible scientific reason for this perception. “Analog captures a physical process,” she explains, “whereas digital uses mathematics to reduce the process to finite bits of information. What, if anything, is lost in that reduction is difficult to pinpoint. But the limitations of math in replicating reality may factor in to the difference in listening experiences reported by so many vinyl lovers.”
If Morgan’s general assessment is correct, there is a real danger of corrupting reality when we try to copy it with a binary conversion process that is inherently limited and reductive. Is it not prudent, then, that we ask what other aspects of God’s “analog” world are not improved by digitization?
The Increasing Dissonance of the Digital
To put it plainly, human beings are not computerized robots; we are image-bearers of God formed from the earth and comprised of flesh, soul and spirit (Genesis 2:7; Zechariah 12:1; Matthew 26:41; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). While the Digital is nothing but a “hall of mirrors, deterministic, cold and sterile,” we as part of the Analog are “numinous, reverberative, warm and fertile.”
Can we not spiritually discern the important difference? Our earth and sea is vast and spacious and teeming with life, and it vibrates with His wisdom, eternal power and divine nature (Romans 1:20; Psalm 104:24-25). Did God not create the physical world with these nurturing properties so that mankind could “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28)?
Surely, this is why the Analog has a pleasing full-spectrum resonance, and the reason why we find that there is an increasing dissonance in the world when we blindly pursue a conversion to the Digital.
For decades, digitally-driven science and technology has been touted for their revolutionary capacity to usher in a new age of health and well-being, and yet in many ways our lives do not appear that much improved. Perhaps more than ever before, we are finding our highly-digitized world struggling with a malaise of the spirit, a strange wave of sicknesses, and the menacing advent of unexpected death. So why does it seem we are no longer truly thriving on this earth?
Statistically, we are in poorer overall health, despite amazing advancements in diagnostics, trauma medicine and other specialties. The CDC, in fact, has recently reported decreases in life expectancy and increases in obesity and drug overdose rates. Fertility rates have plummeted 50% over the last 70 years, post-pandemic deaths rates are up by 40%, and three million more people between the ages of 16-64 have been added to the U.S. disabled population in the last two years.
Even worse, our usually-resilient young people are now more prone to serious health problems. The incidence of cancer in people under 50 has increased around the world. Millennials have also noticed a spike in strokes among their peers, as 10% of U.S. victims are now under the age of 45. And the autism rate among American children (which back in 1970 only affected one in 10,000) has now dramatically risen to one in 36 (CDC).
Truth be told, something very strange is going on when public school systems are scrambling these days to provide more classroom space for the rising number of psychologically troubled or special-needs students.