If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.
Religion can be a source of comfort that improves well-being. But some kinds of religiosity could be a sign of deeper mental health issues.
Seeing their kids more eager to pray than play video games, most parents would shout, “Hallelujah” or whatever their expression of joy. And they should. Research shows that religion can be a positive force in the lives of children, just as can be for adults. “Religion,” says Bill Hathaway, a clinical psychologist of religion and Dean of the School of Psychology and Counseling at Regent University, “is related to the child having a higher sense of self esteem, better academic adjustment and lower rates of substance abuse and delinquent or criminal behavior.”
So if your child is immersed in scripture after school and prays regularly throughout the day, you may breathe a sigh of relief. She’s such a good girl. My boy is okay.
Or maybe not. Your child’s devotion may be a great thing, but there are some kids whose religious observances require a deeper look. For these children, an overzealous practice of their family faith — or even another faith — may be a sign of an underlying mental health issue or a coping mechanism for dealing with unaddressed trauma or stress.
Therapists in private practice report that they are seeing children and teens across a range of faiths whose religious practice can be problematic. The amount of time they spend praying, or in other acts of spiritual practice, is not as important, they say, as the quality of this devotion, and whether it helps the children or instead isolates them and undermines their schoolwork and relationships. Children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), for example, may rigidly repeat holy verses, say Hail Mary’s or focus on other rituals less out of a deeper sense of faith but more as an expression of their disorder. “It looks positive but could be negative,” says Stephanie Mihalas, a UCLA professor and licensed clinical psychologist.
Such ritualistic behavior, she says, may also reflect a child’s way of coping with anxiety, and in reality could be no more spiritual than fanatical hand washing or dreading to walk on cracks. “These kids fear that if they don’t obey their religious rules perfectly,” explains Carole Lierberman, MD, a psychiatrist in Beverly Hills, “God will punish them.”
Some children suffer from scrupulosity, a form of OCD that involves a feeling of guilt and shame. Sufferers obsessively worry that they have committed blasphemy, been impure or otherwise sinned. They tend to focus on certain rules or rituals rather than the whole of their faith. They worry that God will never forgive them. And this can signal the onset of depression or anxiety, says John Duffy, a Chicago area clinical psychologist specializing in adolescents. “Kids who have made ‘mistakes’ with sex or drug use,” he says, “may have trouble forgiving themselves.”
Such fastidiousness to religious practices may not seem so harmful, but extreme behavior such as delusions or hallucinations may be a sign of serious mental illness. Seeing and hearing things that are not there can be symptoms of manic-depressive, bipolar disorder, or early onset schizophrenia. But parents may be less attuned to such unhealthy behavior when it occurs under the guise of faith.
It’s not unusual that children in families where marital discord, harsh discipline, abuse, or addiction are present, perform rituals for protection. If they know their parents approve of religion, says Lieberman, “they try to be good little children and stay below the radar of the family chaos or parents’ rage.” Or, as Mihalas has seen, some children push their already observant parents to be even stricter, fearing that catastrophe will strike otherwise.
When does religiosity raise these red flags? The crucial test focuses on how the kids are functioning in the rest of their lives. Are they doing well at school, playing sports or music, socializing with friends? If so, then their faith is probably a source of strength and resilience. If, however, the religious practices and rituals seem to be overtaking their daily lives, and displacing their normal activities, experts suggest taking steps to understand what’s triggering the focus on faith. To guide the discussion, here’s what they recommend:
Model a healthy balance between religion and life
Show them in your own behavior, suggests Mihalas, how religion can co-exist with enjoying life.
If your child switches to a different style of religion, be tolerant
If your children are doing well in other areas of their life, don’t panic, says Hathaway. Unless you feel strongly that they are morally wrong, take this shift in stride.
Be alert to a sudden and pervasive shift in religious practice
Talk to your child about it. Ask her what her religion means to her. Ask him what he is getting out of it, how it makes him feel.
If you feel your child needs help, find a therapist comfortable with religion
Before engaging a therapist, ask about his or her comfort level with devout religious practice.
Religious families need not worry that therapy will draw their child away from their faith, Hathaway says. He recalls one girl struggling with anorexia who felt that she could never be “good enough” to satisfy the harsh, judgmental God of her imagination. After psychological treatment that included a spiritual element, she not only recovered from her anorexia, she developed a more positive view of God, of other people and herself. Instead of being weighed down by guilt and anxiety, her spiritual life became a comfort and joy. And that’s the role that religion should have for people of faith.
Courtesy of Francine Russo and written for for Time
Psalm 20:5 – “We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.”
Song of Songs 2:4 – “He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.”
Song of Songs 6:4 – “You are beautiful, my darling as Tirzah, lovely as Jerusalem, majestic as troops with banners.
Exodus 17:15 – “Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner.
1 Corinthians 1:27 – But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty KJV
Psalms 149:3 – Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. KJV
Psalms 150:4 – Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. KJV
Psalms 60:4 – Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah. KJV
Song of Solomon 2:4 – He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. KJV
THE WEAPON OF PRAISE: Psalm 150
“Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. LET EVERYTHING THAT HAS BREATHE PRAISE THE LORD. Praise the Lord.
When we give praise to the Lord, we are in a spiritual battle. We may be totally unaware of it, but the battle is there! This is my favorite army position. As we are giving praise and worship to the Lord, we become so delighted in his presence and his greatness, that we usually are unaware of the spiritual battle going on. Don’t be fooled. This isn’t just a pretty scene of colorful, fun looking flags. This is a battle. While we exalt Jesus, we tear down the enemy’s camp at the same time. However our focus should always be on the Lord our God while we worship!
When a shout was given out from the army of Joshua the walls of Jericho fell. David killed Golitith with a mere stone! Samspson had supernatural strength with his uncut hair. Though there was no power in the yell, stone or hair itself, they became mighty weapons. A stone on it’s own has no power, but add faith with it and it becomes a massive destructive weapon. Dangerous enough to kill the enemy! That is like worship flags and accessories. There is no power in the flags themselves, however the power comes in what we proclaim with them as we use them. Then they become destructive weapons, which disable the enemy!
Flag Color Symbols
It has been my experience that each colour has a specific meaning. May I suggest that you be sensitive to the Holy Spirits leading, as you prepare to worship through flagging. He will guide you as to what colour to use, depending on what the Holy Spirit chooses to communicate through you and the flags. So please prayerfully consider your colour choice. Below, I have listed several colours and their meaning.
Gold – Glory, Deity, Godhead, Divine Light
Silver – Word of God, Righteousness, Wisdom
Royal Blue – Priesthood, Holy Spirit, Truth
Red – Blood of Jesus, Cleansing, Atonement, War, Life
Green – Praise, Mercy, Prosperity, New Beginning, Healing
The church should also stay out of politics and concentrate on what they are supposed to do, bringing souls to Christ.
I am talking about politicians who claims to be Christians but at the same time are very unlike Christ. Such behaviors I believe inflicts damage to Christianity and makes it that much harder for other Christians to win souls for Christ.
Forgiveness is a huge subject and certainly one in which the Bible is not silent. In the Bible we can read about our amazing and loving Heavenly Father who forgives us of all trespasses. God calls sinners to seek Him and promises them forgiveness. It is because of His great mercy and grace that God rescues the believer from the dominion of darkness that began way back in the Garden. Jesus extends a loving invitation for forgiveness of sins which is only possible through His shed blood. He gave His life so that we may live. We are forgiven because He was forsaken – That is amazing love! Here are some encouraging Scripture quotes about forgiveness.
Isaiah 55:6-7 “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
God’s Character is Forgiving
Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 86:4-5 Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Psalm 103:8-12 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
Jesus Invites and Forgives
Matthew 5:22-24 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 11:28-30 “… Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Luke 7:47-48 “…Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Jesus speaking to the accusers and the woman caught in adultery)
Luke 23:43 “…Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Jesus speaking to the thief on the cross)
John 4:13-14 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jesus speaking to the woman at the well)
God’s Gift to All – The Only Way
Acts 4:10-12 “… let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Peter speaking to the rulers of the people and the elders at Jerusalem)
Acts 10:42-43 “…And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Peter speaking of what Jesus commanded the Apostles to do)
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Ephesians 1:7-10 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Colossians 1:13-14 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The Christian’s Attitude of Forgiveness
Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you (attitude: forgive because you love the Lord)
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (attitude: can love cover it?)
2 Corinthians 2:5-8 Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. (attitude: stand ready to forgive)
Galatians 6:1-2 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (attitude: approach gently and stand ready to restore the relationship)
Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.(attitude: loving and forgiving just like God forgave you)
Christian Quotes About Forgiveness
“A forgiveness ought to be like a canceled note, torn in two and burned up, so that it can never be shown against the man. “ ~ Henry Ward Beecher
“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom
“Man has two great spiritual needs. One is for forgiveness. The other is for goodness.” ~ Billy Graham
“Forgiving and being forgiven are two names for the same thing. The important thing is that a discord has been resolved.” ~ C.S. Lewis
“To err is human, to forgive, divine.” ~ Alexander Pope
Looking For Something Else? Here are some more Bible verses and pages about forgiveness that you might want to check out:
Easter is all about the resurrection, the rising again of Jesus on the third day after His Crucifixion.
Death is an all encompassing word, powerful by definition, feared by most, yet totally incapacitated by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Blood of Christ revives our spirit, restores our inheritance, and renews our life. In Christ our rebirth is a great resuscitation that overcomes and redefines death; opening the pathway to an eternity with our Redeemer.
Physical death is but one way we face demise in our lives. We face bereavement from a variety of sources, in our marriages, in our friendships, and in our relationships.
Every year we celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the grave, undoubtedly the single greatest event in all of recorded history. The resurrection of Christ was the metamorphosis of God’s design for all of humanity, birthed in Adam and delivered on the cross…