Daily Devotions

Self-Help and More

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All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The New Testament is about two thousand years old and the Old Testament is hundreds and thousands of years older than the New Testament. Yet, it remains the number one contemporary self-help book today. Forge Magazine’s Darius Foroux just wrote an article, “10 Bad Habits of Unsuccessful People.” Each of these ten “bad habits” was first addressed in the Bible. Let me give you some examples.

The article’s number one bad habit was “1. Always being distracted.” We live in an age with distractions all around us. I just have to look down at my phone to prove my point. But the Bible remains relatable. Proverbs 4:15 says, “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” The article’s number two isn’t any more unique. “2. Only talking the talk,” speaks to having the integrity to have your words match your actions. Again, Proverbs has already affirmed integrity in 10:9, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” If only our political leaders who put refugee children in cages would live Proverbs 10:9!

These two self-help passages are not the only ones with earlier Biblical parallels. The article’s number three is, “3. Spending time with the wrong people.” Foroux points out, “The friends you surround yourself with can encourage you to be your best self, or they can bring out your worst tendencies.” The Bible’s Book of Proverbs in 13:20 has an earlier answer, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for the companion of fools suffers harm.” The article’s fourth self-help isn’t much better than Biblical plagiarism. Foroux confirms, “Always focusing on the negative.” Philippians 4:8 affirms, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.

“5. Procrastinating” and 6 – 10 all have Biblical parallels. Rather than writing thousands of self-help books, I wish more people would turn to their Bibles. The Bible and the Christian faith remain not only relevant, but the most powerful means of living a joyous, meaningful life than any other book, philosophy, or vision. Along with receiving good advice in the Bible, in reading the Scriptures we learn about how God speaks to us, and we receive the Holy Spirit’s guidance and love. Today, renew your commitment to reading your Bible each day. Then, pray for our society, that people will renew their faith in God and the wisdom of the Bible.

Childhood Anxiety

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…or God did not give us a spirit of anxiety, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I’ve written a number of devotions on anxiety, and how faith and prayer are a means of relief and support. These devotions have been directed to adults. I was reminded in Christopher McCurry’s book, “Parenting Your Anxious Child with Mindfulness and Acceptance,” that children, like adults suffer from anxiety. In fact, childhood anxiety can often be more challenging because children do not have the life experience and intellectual maturity to work through the strong emotions in the same way.

This past week our church has been experiencing Vacation Bible School. Our theme was In the Wild, and that got me thinking about the wilderness moments in children’s lives. Children worldwide are more educated than ever before. Children worldwide are physically healthier than ever before. But with the advent of social media, internet, and other means of information, children have more frightening information at their fingertips. Further, with more divorces and the breakup of the family, children are left with fewer support systems.

I would add another loss that leads to childhood anxiety. With fewer children being introduced to the church and a faith, they have fewer healthy adults in their lives, and no Divine support to address their fears. All of these issues have led to a generation of more anxious children. Books like McCurry’s have healthy tools to assist your child in their normal anxieties as well as those children with more serious anxiety issues. But a book alone cannot be the whole answer. Pray for parents. and help them understand that children are in need of a church family and a relationship with God that can guide them through their fears, so they can lead healthy and meaningful lives.

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