Some of the women especially reading this today, may have heard of a reality show called ‘The Real Housewives of….’. For the uninitiated, it’s a reality TV show that follows the lives of small groups of successful women as they ‘do life’ together.
It’s all about friendship and relationships. Whilst not the kind of show I normally watch, I’ve gleaned it’s not just the good times that the show focuses on, but the all the ups and downs of friendships the world over.
It is literally astounding to see how quickly the beauty of sisterhood can quickly disintegrate into ‘frenemies’. The ‘ups’ are all cosy huddles, kindness, laughter, loving support etc. The ‘downs’ are gossip, arguments, judgements, offense, and betrayal. Nothing new under the sun then.
As pastors wives or women in leadership roles, (as well as the male equivalent!) we can all attest to how difficult it can be at times to be around certain groups or individuals. In all fairness, people may say they find it hard to be around us too! I know many readers have been hurt and burnt by the words of others, and it’s so devastating when this happens. The point of this piece today is to stir up a passion again that we as godly women/godly men choose to be totally biblical in our love and acceptance of others in our lives - friends, acquaintances, and other pastors/pastors wives.
It’s time to raise up a fresh standard, a standard for purity and holiness from those of us who are part of the church of Christ.
God takes our speech very seriously.
‘And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.( James 3:6-8 ESV)
In Matthew 12:34 Jesus says ‘From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks’. Perhaps the first step we need to take is to do some checking in with ourselves for any wounds, hurts, jealousies, unforgiveness, etc. After all, our tongues will only speak what they have access too.
Proverbs 18:21 puts it this way: “The tongue has the power of life and death.” How tragic that we can bring death to others so glibly if we aren’t careful. Death to someone’s character, reputation, role, and even friendships. A great quote is “If you have nothing good to say, then say nothing at all”. Choose to speak only good things.
Don’t be someone who listens to gossip either, it’s nasty and hurtful and never wholly truth. People will only bring you gossip - if you are someone who tolerates it, or even enjoys it. ‘The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts’.( Proverbs 26:22)
Chances are most of us have battled with various insecurities over the years, and that is probably the same for the very individuals we may be quick to judge. Remember that there is another side to everyone, and none of us really know what goes on in another person’s world, heart, or mind. That’s God’s place, not ours. It’s so unpalatable and indeed totally unbiblical when we know better, but still chose to trash others with our words.
Imagine now if you will, a televised show from your own world ‘The Real Pastors Wives of …OR ‘The Real Pastors/ Real Pastors Spouse of…. ’
If you were followed by cameras and every word and action recorded, would we be known for being integrous, loving, gracious, non-judgemental and pure? Or would our flaws be magnified in our speech and behaviour as we were exposed for being more of a frenemy than a true friend. Let’s choose God’s way today, the high calling of life and love, purity and holiness, and instead of imagining film crews and TV appearances, we remember that we live under His constant gaze and listening ear.
Here are some helpful words from The Word to inspire us today.
“Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4 )
“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)
“A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.” (Proverbs 18:4)
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1v19-27)
I saw a video of a glass walk-way built around the side of a mountain. The glass was constructed in such a way that when a person put their weight on it, it made the sound of breaking glass. Not only that but, when the person looked down, the glass appeared to be breaking also. People were screaming and crawling to get back to the start. These are real people facing real fears, and this walk-way was constructed to take advantage of those fears. I would have been one of them! This is just not right!
The truth is that all of us have fears of some kind at one time or another in our lives. Most pass by as we get older, some stay with us, but there are others which have to be overcome if they get in the way of our functioning.
For the past 10 plus weeks we have been served a steady diet of “fear.” After this trial is over how are we going to get back to some sort of functioning with all that we have been told to do and not do as to “not spread the virus?” or “stay safe!”
For us as Christians, any fear that gets in our way of serving and obeying God is not given by God. 2 Timothy 2:7 tells us that fear is a spirit that is not given from God because He gives us power, love and self-control. It takes courage to face our fears but God gives all we need to do it.
Times of trial are often fearful but they also increase our faith and help us grow (mature) in our faith. To mature we have to overcome, and for Christians overcoming our fear is rooted in trusting God, believing God loves us, and that God will not harm us. How do we get to this point? By believing God’s Word. God’s Word helps us cast out our fears. Strong faith helps us overcome our fears.
I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?
Psalm 119:10-16, 105 - God’s Word lights my path and guides me.
Romans 8:31-39 - Paul declares that nothing will get between him and God.
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
As we are returning to some sort of normalcy, take courage and go forth in faith, knowing God is holding our hand, walking with us. Calm my fears, Father, as I face the unknown and the unexpected. Increase my faith so I can face my fears and grow in my relationship with You in Jesus name. Amen.
Dr. Allen Tyndall – Lead Director, PastorCare Network, Inc.
This article originally appeared here:
Did you know that the most tech-cautious parents are tech designers and engineers? Nick Kardaras, author of Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids—and How to Break the Trance, pointed out in a recent article that “Steve Jobs was a notoriously low-tech parent. Silicon Valley tech executives and engineers enroll their kids in no-tech Waldorf Schools. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page went to no-tech Montessori Schools, as did Amazon creator Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.”
What do they know that we don’t?
It’s that iPads, smartphones and Xboxes are a form of digital drug.
Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex—which controls executive functioning, including impulse control—in exactly the same way that cocaine does. Technology is so hyper-arousing that it raises dopamine levels—the feel-good neurotransmitter most involved in the addiction dynamic—as much as sex. This addictive effect is why Dr. Peter Whybrow, director of neuroscience at UCLA, calls screens “electronic cocaine” and Chinese researchers call them “digital heroin.”
Dr. Andrew Doan, the head of addiction research for the Pentagon and the U.S. Navy—who has been researching video game addiction—calls video games and screen technologies “digital pharmakeia” (Greek for drug).Hundreds of clinical studies show that screens increase depression, anxiety and aggression and can even lead to psychotic-like features where the video gamer loses touch with reality.
According to a 2013 Policy Statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 8- to 10-year-olds spend eight hours a day with various digital media while teenagers spend 11 hours in front of screens.
One in three kids are using tablets or smartphones before they can talk.
The handbook of “Internet Addiction” by Dr. Kimberly Young states that 18 percent of college-age Internet users in the U.S. suffer from tech addiction. The immersive and addictive world of screens dampens and stunts key developmental processes.
An ounce of prevention
Kardaras has worked with over 1,000 teens in the past 15 years, and has concluded that the old axiom of “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is especially true when it comes to tech addiction. He says:
‘Once a kid has crossed the line into true tech addiction, treatment can be very difficult. Indeed, I have found it easier to treat heroin and crystal meth addicts than lost-in-the-matrix video gamers or Facebook-dependent social media addicts.’
He noted that “once a person crosses over the line into full-blown addiction—drug, digital or otherwise—they need to detox before any other kind of therapy can have any chance of being effective.”
With tech, that means a full digital detox—no computers, no smartphones, no tablets. The extreme digital detox even eliminates television. The prescribed amount of time is four to six weeks; that’s the amount of time that is usually required for a hyper-aroused nervous system to reset itself. But that’s no easy task in our current tech-filled society where screens are ubiquitous. A person can live without drugs or alcohol; with tech addiction, digital temptations are everywhere.
That’s why the key is prevention, pre-emptive action to stop our kids getting hooked on screens when they are young.
That means Lego instead of Minecraft; books instead of iPads; nature and sports instead of TV. If you have to, demand that your child’s school not give them a tablet or Chromebook until they are at least 10 years old (others recommend 12).
Kardaras challenges parents to have honest discussions with their children about why they are limiting their screen access, and also to “eat dinner with your children without any electronic devices at the table—just as Steve Jobs used to have tech-free dinners with his kids.” Don’t fall victim to “Distracted Parent Syndrome”—as we know from Social Learning Theory, “Monkey see, monkey do.”
And just in case you think it’s impossible to rescue your digital junkie, Kardaras concludes with:
We also know that kids are more prone to addictive escape if they feel alone, alienated, purposeless and bored. Thus the solution is often to help kids to connect to meaningful real-life experiences and flesh-and-blood relationships. The engaged child tethered to creative activities and connected to his or her family is less likely to escape into the digital fantasy world.
(This article originally appeared here – https://churchleaders.com/youth/youth-leaders-articles/299374-protecting-kids-digital-heroin-david-murray.html)
Dr. David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Seminary. He is also Pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. David is the author of Christians get depressed too, How Sermons Work, and Jesus on Every Page. You can read his blog at HeadHeartHand.org/blog or follow him on Twitter @davidpmurray.
This year we have had to approach the summer holiday season in many differing ways as we ease out of Lockdown. Now that we are starting to return to some sort of normality, it’s good to make time to have an intentional break from routine. Holidays abroad to certain countries and staycations are what’s on offer.
It can be beneficial to draw a line in the sand on what’s been before moving on into the next season. The pandemic and resulting lockdown were such unknowns and consequently affected home, work, and family life. Suddenly we found ourselves foraging for toilet roll and pasta, being creative cooks in the kitchen, balancing home schooling with copious amounts of laundry, refereeing family tensions, and to top it all, having a spouse doing church online from a room in our hard to keep tidy house! For some readers it was also a heightened time of anxiety if they or people known to them contracted Covid 19.
As well as a general malaise from being out of routine, many of us can attest to a weariness that we may not realise is because we are actually emotionally drained. All the fear, worry ,stress, upheaval, and interruptions to family and church life may have left us feeling exhausted and in desperate need of some R&R. Some of our husbands/wives who are pastors or in Christian leadership, have been so busy and under pressure in lockdown that they too are heading for burnout. As couples and as a family unit, now is the time to re-charge our batteries before the next season of increasing busyness catches us out.
When we are at rest and at peace we are able to tune our ears to hear God more clearly. I love the well known quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson “Let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God”. In and from that place, we can stand on the promises of God and His word for our renewing and refreshing – from the inside out!
“Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you” ( 1Peter 5:7 NIV)
“And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” ( Philippians 4:7 NKJV)
“But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)
Wherever you are, and whatever a holiday break looks like for you, God bless you and your family having fun, laughing, resting, and making new memories this summer season.
Each of us is here by divine appointment. God looks upon each and every person as a parent looks on a growing child, and is filled with specific hopes and plans for each of us. Every person is viewed by God as a unique creation with a special calling.
There is something special that God wants to do through you. There is something specific that God wills for each person who is brought into the world, and if you do not do the good that you were ordained to do, something wonderful will be left undone. Your calling may not be to do something great in the eyes of the world, but what the world calls little is great if God is in it.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
When God interrupts, it would be foolish not to heed Him. As I was praying over this week’s articles, I sensed a brooding of the Spirit over a change of direction. I was reminded of the sad death of the philanthropist Steve Bing earlier this week who at 55 years old, with seemingly everything to live for, tragically took his own life. I read of two other similar situations in the news as the week progressed.
Perhaps today is a timely word for someone who has or is wrestling with suicidal thoughts, or you think your spouse is. Please don’t suffer in silence. Whether you are overwhelmed with physical, spiritual, or mental health issues, or just feel a sense of hopelessness, please speak out today and start getting the help you need. As a society we are at last breaking taboos around mental health. We will continue to make positive strides as a church body when we are honest with ourselves and others. Many variables can affect our thoughts, emotions, and moods, and can quickly overwhelm us, so we need to take our mental health seriously, especially if we’re struggling with suicidal thoughts.
As I’ve been reading up on this subject, I want to share with you some of the best articles I have come across. They all deserve to be read through rather than sporadically quoted, so I am including the links for you. They are mostly from the American church perspective, but just as relevant to any pastors context worldwide. I pray God would breathe on them, and lead you to find hope and courage today to get the help you may need. Keeping up a façade is exhausting, and so unnecessary. We need to break this lie and shame that we as pastors are immune to such human challenges.
At the end of the list of recommended articles is a beautiful prayer and some contact details of organisations that can provide help.
Why Pastors are committing suicide –www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-pastors-are-committing-suicide/
A Psychiatrists thoughts On Pastors and Suicide - www.keyministry.org/church4everychild/2019/9/16/a-psychiatrists-thoughts-on-pastors-and-suicide
When Pastors Silent suffering turns tragic –
Church leaders to confront mental health www.keepthefaith.co.uk/2019/09/17/suicide-of-prominent-pastor-forces-church-leaders-to-confront-mental-health/
Focus on the family – Pastoral ministry and suicide www.focusonthefamily.com/church/pastoral-ministry-and-suicide/
Please allow yourself to acknowledge any suicidal thoughts and desires, and then share how you feel with someone in your family, a friend, colleague, GP or counsellor. Your life is worth more than you can imagine.
If this article is speaking to you directly today, as well as encouraging you to speak about it and so seek help, be blessed and strengthened by these further thoughts and prayer.
A Prayer for fighting suicidal thoughts - Beth Ann Baus
Over the years, I’ve learned three important things about fighting suicidal thoughts:
- Having suicidal thoughts and being suicidal are two different things. Both, however are very serious and deserve attention.
- People have suicidal thoughts for a wide range of reasons. Therefore you shouldn’t compare yourself, your circumstances or your state of mind to anyone else.
- It’s often hard to pray when you’re consumed with suicidal thoughts. In fact, while praying is the most important thing you can do, it’s often the very last thing you want to do. It will require self-discipline and self-control. It will require a strength that can only come from God. For this reason, it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Write a prayer when you’re able to express your pain and thought process, then you’ll have it ready to read the next time the suicidal thoughts come. Perhaps the following prayer can be of some help.
The darkness has taken hold of me and I can’t find my way back to the light. In this moment, ending it all seems like the best option, the only option, the only way to escape. Yet, there is something in me that wants your light to snuff out the darkness. So I ask, Lord, that you would do just that. You are the only light that can shine in the darkness.
I know when I’m consumed with thoughts of death I’m believing lies from the enemy. I ask Lord that you would remind me of these truths: when I feel alone, you are with me; when I feel invisible, you see me; when I feel worthless, my value is knowing you and being known by you.
Lord, help me to understand that you are enough, because you are everything I need and more. Remind me that when I feel hopeless, you have hope in me and for me. Remind me that when I don’t have the words to cry out to you, your son Jesus is praying for me, and your Spirit intercedes for me with groanings too deep for words. Let this remind me that I am seen, heard, and deeply loved.
I often feel out of place in this world. I don’t fit in and I’m not sure I want to. Remind me that this world is not my home and while, as your child, I will never fully fit in here, my time here isn’t over. Not yet. Please, give me the desire to live.
When I feel like I don’t matter, remind me that I was created with purpose. When I don’t know or understand why I feel the way I feel - remind me that you know the depth of pain in my heart, in my body and in my being. You know me better than I know myself… and yet you still love me.
When I feel like my death would go unnoticed because my life seems to go by uncelebrated, remind me that you celebrate me and that you hurt for me when I’m in this dark place. Remind me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and I am worth more than I know. Remind me that this life is not mine to take. Remind me that suicide is not the only option. Remind me to love you and to love myself.
As I say these words I know in my heart that you love me and I feel incredible guilt for wanting to take the life you gave me. I feel embarrassed to admit these thoughts to you. I feel overwhelmed that you know these thoughts without my even saying them, and yet you still love me. Remind me that Jesus did not come to earth and die for me so that I could live a defeated life. Help me to desire life and to live fully in you.
In Jesus precious name, Amen
(This prayer first appeared here –
Please don’t be afraid to reach out if you find yourself struggling with any of these issues, or if you are aware that your spouse is. God won’t ever let you go and promises to be with you in ALL circumstances.
You can access help and support from the following:-
Anthem of hope - a Christian mental health organization dedicated to amplifying hope for those battling brokenness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide - http://anthemofhope.org/#home
Samaritans – for everyone
Call 116 123
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day
Papyrus – for people under 35
Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 9am to 10pm, weekends and bank holidays 2pm to 10pm
Text 07860 039967
Choose Life - Public Health Scotland
Whilst todays thoughts may not be applicable to some of us, lets collectively pray for those for whom it’s a very real and current issue. And of course their families.