It has been a traumatic week. The raging winds and rains of hurricane Sandy have wreaked havoc in the lives of so many along the East Coast and even inland this time around. Now, days after the storm has finally abated, we witness the devastation left in its path—people who died, pets swept away, homes and even an entire community destroyed, coastlines washed away, cars tossed about like toys, boats smashed into houses and marinas, and businesses in rubble. The images are hard to comprehend. There is so much damage.
Storms remind us that there are forces operating in our lives bigger than we are and that we are often powerless against these forces. How we respond to the storms of life matters. Our response is the only part of a storm we can ultimately control.
The Apostle Paul knew this well and did not give in to panic or worry when the storms of his life hit (imprisonment, torture, etc.). His example challenges us to not lose perspective when times are tough, to trust God and to patiently submit to His ways. Hope is always present. It was God who brought a quiet calm to Paul’s faith in the middle of trials. Paul lived independent of everything, and dependent on God. This is how he could rejoiced in all circumstances. What a challenge for us this week.
After the storm, our dependence on God is evident. Like Job, we gain perspective—we are small, God is large. And the largeness of God is comforting. He holds tomorrow and today in His hands. Nothing happens away from His watchful eye. He sees the devastation and promises to rebuild our lives if we allow Him to do so. The challenge is to not give in to despair, but hope in God, to center our lives on the One who can remake disaster into something new, and to trust that beauty can rise from ashes.
Be encouraged, God is with us. He sees the damage but promises to rebuild! He will make something new out of the rubble.
Q: Our child is three-years-old and doesn’t really know much about Halloween yet, but we do. I have been surprised at how many people, Christians included, have given us a hard time about our decision not to celebrate. There is so much about Halloween we don’t like that we prefer to ignore it. I know this might become more difficult as our son gets older, but what is your opinion on this?
A: After researching the roots of Halloween, I am not a fan either. I don’t like the connection to occultic roots, the scary costumes, the gore and the idea of frightening kids and desensitizing them to the dark spiritual world that does exist. So every family needs to make a decision as to what they are going to do with Halloween. You have that right no matter what others tell you.
Some people allow their kids to dress up in fun costumes and trick or treat. Others say NO to that activity and attend alternate harvest parties at their churches. Some feel alternatives should not be offered as it assumes kids are missing something. The important thing to do is research the holiday, pay attention to what you feel the Lord is telling you to do, and talk as a family. Pray for wisdom and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, not other people. Then, help your children understand the position you take and why.
It would be nice if other people respected your decision, especially if you have had any personal encounters with the dark side of the spirit world in your family or through the generations. And if your decision is simply based on the idea that you don’t like what Halloween stands for and do not want to participate, you don’t need the approval of others. Romans 12:2 reminds us not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
In our post Christian culture, taking a stand for what you believe is an important lesson to model for children. Perhaps that is what you will teach your child as he gets older. And one of the best things that comes out of deciding what to do with Halloween and taking a position on this topic is that other people awaken to the idea that evil really exists and isn’t some Hollywood fantasy. What they do with that reality, is up to them.
This topic usually raises all kinds of opinions, what is yours> SHARE
The technology invasion has happened. Too often we hear how social media and other media have taken us captive and ruined our relationships and lives. Teens texting at the dinner table, kids obsessed with gaming and never giving an adult a glance, adults constantly checking sport scores, messages or texting. We are all guilty of allowing technology to control us, rather than controlling it. An unintended outcome of not being in control of our choices is that our family relationships could suffer.
So what is our role in taming the technology giant? We are responsible for managing our choices and creating the lives we want when it comes to engaging technology.
Here are two principles to balance your healthy family life with technology:
1) Disconnect from technology for brief moments and unplug to talk, read, do homework or even play as a family. Determine not to take technology interruptions, look at your phone or engage technology in any way. This can be 30 minutes at dinner, a drive in the car together, or just a family time. See what a difference this makes in the quality of face-to-face interactions. You can unplug for brief seasons. And the benefit to your family will be felt.
2) Spend time with the people you love. You can have hundreds of “friends” but no real quality relationships. So we must be intentional about connecting with family/friends in person. Look each other in the eye, talk and share. We have to work at sustaining long-term relationships and that takes being with someone. There is no substitute for real time relationships.We need to practice the skills of interpersonal relationships. A smile at the end of text does not compete with a smile and touch in person.
Technology won’t ruin your relationships if you think of it like a tool, not a substitute for real and honest relationships. Using technology, we often present our best side to people. But in authentic relationships, families see our flaws, our weaknesses and learn how to love us anyway. And that is worth a moment of shutting down the technology!
Today, the east coast is being slammed by the impact of hurricane Sandy. I lived on tidal water and know the fright of those storms, especially during high tide. The winds sustain and the full moon creates atmospheric problems.
How do you stay calm when the winds rage around you, knocking down trees, power lines and flooding your home?
In the natural, it is almost impossible. The mind gives way to anxiety and worry. We see the power of the storm and feel helpless to stop the damage.
But with God, there is a way.
When we face storms beyond our control, we must remind ourselves that God is aware of the raging. He is with us. We don’t face difficulty and uncertainty alone.
With the sea raging around him, the apostle Peter had to step out in faith to meet the Lord. The minute he took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink. For a moment, Peter underestimated Jesus’ power, presence, and knowledge of his troubles. But to his credit, he shifted from doubt to what he knew to be true. Only God can calm the storms in our lives and bring peace.
Today, whatever storm you face, keep your eyes fixed on Christ. Don’t sink into worry, anxiety and distress. Panic makes us sink. Faith lifts us up!
Today the storms rage. But God is aware and can calm your heart and bring peace. These are not empty words. Peace in the storm is what God promises.
Psalm 112:7-8–He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look triumph on his foes.