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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Helping Children Prevent and Conquer Fears

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt


Yesterday Renee and I hosted a picnic lunch at our house for about 30 plus Discipleship Interns from our church. These are young adults preparing—spiritually, educationally, and hands on experience, for the ministry.  I teach some of the classes and have truly grown to love these future leaders.
I was sitting around a table with about seven guys when they got into a discussion of scary shows they watched as children, and the fear and nightmares it created for years from seeing them.

When Renee and I were young with four small children, we were involved serving in children’s ministry. It was during that time that our eyes were opened to just how much small children are afraid to go to bed and to sleep at night. Their imaginations are vivid and often become very active with fear at night.

We learned that most parents let their children watch horrible and violent and scary things on television, at movie theaters, or on electronic devices. They also let them read about witches or creepy things from library and other books, and let them play creepy or violent video games with scary creatures. It all seems so innocent on the surface and most parents assume that all the other parents let their kids watch these things, so they do too!

For nine years every other week we held a Sunday School class for four and five-year-olds. Week after week as we asked the children if there was anything they would like Renee and I to pray for them for, it would be about them being afraid at night. They were afraid of the dark. They were afraid of what was under the bed. They were afraid of the boogie man or monster in the closet. They were afraid of the burglar outside the bedroom window. The shadows, the dark, and their imaginations were hard on them. We did not get the impression that the kids shared this reality with their parents. Maybe because their parents would have given them the pat answer, There is nothing to be afraid of now go to sleep!

It was through this repeated experience that we realized our own kids battled the same fears. Now, as adult children they tell us the stories of their fears back then. We, by the grace of God and the instruction of the Holy Spirit learned how to help them defeat many of these fears as children.

the first step was prevention when possible. We screened every book they read. We explained to them how important it was to stay away from things that produced fear. We were at the library weekly, so over time they became good at helping us find positive things. Like all children they were still curious of the rest but, we worked on finding them great reading!

Although Renee and I had little money, we had made a decision early on to spend the little extra we had on resources for the kids that would help them spiritually grow and develop. We bought every Christian children’s book, video, and age appropriate Bible from our church bookstore that we could possibly afford. The long term effect this had was that it created a real love for reading in all our children and put good things in their imaginations and heart. We didn’t know it at the time, but learned later that helping children develop reading skills at the earliest age is one the most beneficial things you can do for their academic development. It helps them to learn academically all the rest of their life..

Fear is a very real thing. It is designed to undermine your faith and trust in God. And it is tormenting! 1 John 4:18 (NKJV) says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment…” God doesn’t want us to be the victim of fear but Satan would like to control our lives with it. Fear is the strategy terrorism and of the ultimate terrorist—Satan. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” God does not want us to be controlled by fear. He wants us to become overcomers of fear. 1 John 4:4 (NKJV) says, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He (Jesus) who is in you is greater than he (Satan and every demonic spirit) who is in the world.”

We are to learn to overcome our fears and to teach children to overcome theirs. Helping them commit verses like these to memory and heart, and using them like a sword when those fears come, taught them how to be overcomers by chasing those fears away. Learning that our mind belongs to us and not Satan, and learning to take dominion over our thought-life is where it all begins. Are you chasing out the fears in your life?

Psalms 27:1 (NKJV) "The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?" 

In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt

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