#4 - He is the Stability of Our Times (Part 1) - Keeping Your Focus

Stability is always a need in our souls. It seems though at times of crisis in our lives and in our world to rise to the level of urgency. The psalmist wrote of feeling the earth shake beneath, of needing the Rock of Christ for security. In this series I talk about some of what God has taught me about trusting Him in especially challenging times.
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Keeping Your Focus
Guests:                      Dennis and Barbara Rainey                       
From the series:       Unshaken: He Is the Stability of Our Times (Day 1 of 3)
Air date:                     October 17, 2016
Bob: Do you ever find yourself being anxious or troubled by the events that are taking place in our culture?  You’re not alone. Barbara Rainey has the same feelings. 
Barbara: I mean, there are plenty of times that I’ve listened to the news, or read an article, or listened to someone and I’ve—my response has been fear. I have felt fearful in my heart, and that’s not what God wants me to do. He doesn’t want me to respond in fear / He wants me to respond in faith. So, my responsibility is to create a balance between the messages that I’m allowing to speak to my heart; and I want to grow the messages that are going to grow my faith. 
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, October 17th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. How do we foster faith in our own heart, and how do we help our children feel secure in times of instability?  We’ll talk about that today. Stay with us. 
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. You grew up in the Ozarks in southeast Missouri; right?—southwest Missouri. 
Dennis: Right. 
Bob: At that time, when you were growing up, was there a Silver Dollar City?  Did it exist?  
Dennis: No; there was a cave. [Laughter]
Bob: I’ve been to the cave. 
Dennis: There was a cave, and there were two shows in Branson. 
Bob: Yes; but Silver Dollar City came along years later. 
Dennis: The Presley Brothers and—what was the other one?  
Barbara: The Baldknobbers. 
Dennis: Baldknobbers—that was it. [Laughter] Branson, Missouri, was not the hotspot that it is today; but there was no Silver Dollar City. 
Bob: Your wife, who is joining us today—you obviously know the history of Branson a little bit. 
Barbara: Well, I just remember Dennis’s mother talking about that. I think they went a few times—did you?—when you were growing up? I remember her talking about the Baldknobbers; because it’s such an odd, strange—
Dennis: No. 
Barbara: —weird term. 
Dennis: We never. 
Bob: You didn’t go?  
Dennis: We never. 
Barbara: Well, maybe, she used to go—I don’t know! [Laughter]  
Dennis: I don’t know that my mother ever went. 
Barbara: Okay; well, she knew about them. [Laughter] 
Dennis: It was great, great cultural music; but maybe, a cut above where we were. [Laughter]
Bob: I remember—because I grew up in Missouri as well—and I remember vacationing in Branson, as a child, and going to Silver Dollar City. Here is my distinct memory—there was an attraction in the middle of Silver Dollar City called Slantin’ Sam’s Cabin. Do you remember Slantin’ Sam’s Cabin?  Does this ring a bell to you?  
Barbara: No. We took our kids there, too; but I don’t remember it. 
Dennis: It must have been a real high point. [Laughter]  
Bob: This was a cabin you’d go into where the walls all leaned one way and the floor tilted way up. In fact, I remember—in one room, you’d go in and water ran uphill because of how they had it all arranged. 

 Dennis: Oh, yes. 
Bob: And I loved going to Slantin’ Sam’s Cabin and just walking through it. You came out feeling disoriented. In fact, years later, when I took Mary Ann there, we walked through it— 
—she said, “I don’t want to go to Slantin’ Sam’s Cabin.”  
Barbara: “I don’t like this.”  
Bob: “It just gives me a headache.”  
There is something about the amusements—like those mirrors in the old amusement parks, where you looked everywhere—that can be fun for a day; but if the world you’re living in starts to feel like Slantin’ Sam’s Cabin, all of a sudden, it goes from being a fun attraction to being something that’s very disorienting. 
Dennis: You know, what you are describing, Bob, is what we want to talk about. Barbara has a passion—and I do too—for equipping families to know how to live in a culture that seems to be more disorienting today than it ever has been. I mean, think about what’s taking place politically, what’s taking place from a societal standpoint / the redefinitions that now have become the new norm, what’s taking place morally in our country, and then, how Christians feel / those who are followers of Christ—
—how they feel—because they’re no longer welcome, in many regards, in our own country. We’re now getting blamed for things that are being brought to our country by outsiders. 
Bob: Yes; we had a guest earlier this year who talked about—he used the metaphor—he said, “We’re no longer the home team.”  There was a day, when we were growing up—to be a Christian and to live out Christian values in this culture—people generally supported that and thought that was good thing. 
Dennis: I no longer sit down in an airplane, when I’m travelling to speak at a conference—I no longer think about explaining what I do with quiet the boldness that I used to. I mean, we’re about building marriages and families—strong families—that are based upon the Scripture and marriages that are based upon God’s design. Well, that view is no longer the majority view in our country today. 
Bob: Yes. Barbara, how has this unsettledness that we’re all experiencing—
—how have you felt it?  

 Barbara: I remember the first time being aware of this during September 11, because that really shook our country to its core. People didn’t know what to do / we didn’t know what to think—nothing like this had ever happened in any of our lifetimes. Then, again, I remember in 2008, when there was that big economic downturn. People were losing jobs, and people weren’t sure what was going to happen tomorrow. 
And I remember being in Bible study that year. We were—I don’t even remember what we were studying—but we were flipping through some verses and some different references. There was this verse that I didn’t think I’d probably ever read before—it is Isaiah 33:6—and it says, “And He shall be the stability of your times.”  That just jumped out at me; because it was in the fall of 2008, when life was feeling very uncertain for almost everybody in our country. It was just such an anchor point to me. I remember thinking: “This is it. This is the verse that I want to hang onto whenever life feels like it’s being turned upside down or when we’re walking through Slantin’ Sam’s Cabin”; right? [Laughter]
Bob: Yes. So, that was eight years ago. 

 Barbara: Yes. 
Bob: That verse kind of reemerged in your thinking this year. In fact, as you’ve been working on the Ever Thine Home® collection—the work that you do—that verse came into focus. You said, “This needs to be hanging in homes.”  
Barbara: Well, because I think it’s, not just the environment in our country, but it’s the things that we face as families. So, whether it’s the loss of a job, or your children are being bullied at school, or there are just difficulties—there are hard things in life. It doesn’t matter if it’s cultural-wide instability or if it’s just some instability you’re experiencing in your own family or in your own town—Jesus is our security / He is our stability. I just know that that’s true for all women / it’s true for all men too—that we need to remember that, no matter what’s happening around us / no matter what kind of change is happening in our culture, in our city, in our town, in our lives—
—Jesus is the stability of our times. 
Dennis: Barbara and I were talking about this as we drove down to see her mom last Sunday. She lives about two hours south of here. We were just talking about the need for families to kind of go back to Deuteronomy, Chapter 6, where God was establishing the nation of Israel. He did it by commanding them to “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and to train your children to do the same.” And He said: “These words which I am commanding you today shall be on your doorposts. They shall be on your gates.”  You need to remind yourself of where your stability really is. 
If you go back to the Bible and just start reading through the Psalms—I’ve been spending some times in the Psalms recently—there are a lot of “fear nots.”  There are a lot of passages that challenge us to make God our refuge. People ask me all the time: 
“What do you think about what’s happened today?”—and, I mean, it’s a different happening every day—it seems. [Laughter]

 Bob: You’re right. 
Dennis: And I just said yesterday—I said: “Well, I know who wins!  I know who wins in the end. I’ve read the Book.”  The Bible tells me that God, through Jesus Christ, did the battle that had to occur on behalf of our forgiveness and our eternal destiny by defeating death; and He has been seated at the right hand of God the Father. And you know what?  God’s going to win. 

 Now, in the meantime, will there be difficult days?  Yes. Are these days where we need to be training our children to know how to think about themselves / how to think about circumstances?  There is always going to be bad news. So, the question is: “What’s your grid?  How are you going to make God the stability of your days?”  
Bob: Barbara, you have been on a boat, when the waves come; and all of a sudden, the floor doesn’t feel as stable as it did. 
You’ve been on airplanes, when things get a little turbulent. In fact, you’ve slept through or been in an earthquake?  
Barbara: We didn’t sleep through the earthquake. [Laughter]
Bob: It woke you up; huh?  
Barbara: Yes; it woke us up. I remember, a number of years ago, Dennis and I had all six of our kids. We were staying with friends who live in Southern California. We were staying in a condo that they had borrowed—so it was fairly small. All the kids were sleeping on the floor in the living room. 
Dennis: Like cordwood, I mean— 
Barbara: And there were only two bedrooms. Dennis and I had one; and our friends, Ron and Mary, had the other bedroom. I remember we woke up at two in the morning. My first impression was that a Mack® truck had plowed into the building. Now, why I thought that—I don’t know, because we weren’t next to the freeway—but that was the feeling that I got, because the walls were shaking like something had just pounded into them; but it didn’t subside. Then, I realized the chandelier in the ceiling was going back and forth. Then, I realized it wasn’t just the one wall in our bedroom—  
—but everything was moving. 

 Dennis: And then, she woke me up. I heard the fireplace—the fireplace was rattling; okay?  

 Bob: So, you slept through the first part of this earthquake—[Laughter]  
Dennis: —until she woke me up. And I started realizing: “Something is happening here. Something is going on.”  
Barbara: Yes. 

 Dennis: And I mean, it was worse than Slantin’ Sam’s Cabin, Bob. [Laughter]  
Barbara: Yes; we jumped up, and the other couple did too / our friends did too. We all ran into the living room to check on our kids. And you know, I remember the chandelier in that room was swinging back and forth. I don’t know that the kids woke up; but we stood there thinking, “What do we do?” because we didn’t know how long it was going to last. We didn’t know if this was just a tremor, and then, it was going to be a really bad earthquake. 
Dennis: We went on the radio and listened, and there was no news. We heard some sirens, but you didn’t know where the earthquake had occurred. 
Bob: And you know, that picture is an apt metaphor for the kinds of emotional earthquakes—whether it’s a cultural shift like we’ve experienced over the last several years / an economic shift, like you’ve described, when you don’t know what tomorrow’s going to look like—
—there can be anxiety and fear that come along with that. 
Barbara: Yes; because what you trusted in is not stable anymore. So, the floors that we were used to walking on and weren’t moving—you don’t know quite how to walk on floors that are moving. 
The same thing is true, relationally. If there is a loss in your personal life or if just the culture that we’re living in has changed so that we don’t really know how we’re supposed to act anymore / we don’t really know what we’re supposed to say—it creates this insecurity / it creates this instability—because what we had once assumed was true is now no longer true. We have to rethink: “How do I live in this kind of situation?  How do I think in this country that feels like it’s going through an earthquake?”  
Bob: So, if somebody today looks at where we are living—and they feel anxious about the future / they’re concerned about bringing up their kids—
—I’ve had people say, “Would Belize be a place to move to?”  I mean, people are starting to think, “Where can I find something that will be a little more supportive of what I believe and what’s important to me?” How do you respond to the reality of uncertainty and the fact that you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, or next week, or on Election Day?  
Barbara: Well, I think for some people that may be a viable question to ask: “Do we need to continue to live here?”  We’ve had people say the same thing to us too: “Should we move to another country?”  But that’s not for everybody / that’s not even for the majority of people. 
I think the only answer is to go back to what we know is true of God. One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 13:8, where it says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  He is the same today as He was back when the ground wasn’t shaking; and He will be the same next year, when we don’t know what next year is going to bring. 
For me, personally, the solution is to listen less to all the fear speech and to all the—even weather reports are designed to scare you half to death—to listen to and to tone down all the stuff that’s generating fear and turn up the volume on what’s not changing, which is God and my relationship with Him. It gives me the opportunity to choose to grow my roots deeper into Him as opposed to assuming that everything is going to be the way it’s always been. 
Bob: Okay; so, I’ve got to just jump in here—because somebody says, “It sounds to me like what you’re saying is: ‘If the news is frightening, turn off the news. Just put your head in the sand/bury it; or put your fingers in your ears, and recite Scripture verses.’”  That’s not what you’re saying.
 Barbara: No, that’s not what I’m saying; because I don’t think we need to be ignorant. I think we need to know what’s going on, and we need to pray; but I think it’s the balance of who we are listening to:  
“Am I listening more to what is happening in the culture?  Am I listening more to those who are talking in terms that make me afraid?” I mean, there are plenty of times that I’ve listened to the news, or read an article, or listened to someone; and my response has been fear. I have felt fearful in my heart, and that’s not what God wants me to do. He doesn’t want me to respond in fear / He wants me to respond in faith. 
My responsibility is to create a balance between the messages that I’m allowing to speak to my heart. I want to grow the messages that are going to grow my faith. I want to increase listening to God in His Word and focusing on what I know to be true—that is unchangeable / that is the Rock. Jesus is often called our Rock, and I want to focus on the Rock and not on the shifting sand that’s all around me. 
Bob: So, I’d apply it this way—if you are spending more time with—you can pick your choice / Fox News or MSNBC, depending upon your political persuasion—
—if you spend more time listening to either of those outlets than you did listening to God’s Word yesterday, then, probably, you’re more consumed with fear than with faith; wouldn’t you think?  

 Barbara: I would say so; yes. 
Dennis: And think about what’s about to happen in our country—I mean, there’s going to be an election. Now, there’s going to be a winner—a bunch of winners—and there is going to be a bunch of losers. 
Bob: Yes; change is coming, and we have no idea where that change is going to take us. 
Dennis: That’s right. And there are people of all kinds of political persuasions, who listen to FamilyLife Today. You know what?  We welcome people of different beliefs—we’re glad you’re listening—because we’re just going to talk about what we see the Bible saying, and applying it to our lives today, and how to deal with it. So, the question is: “How are you going to deal with loss?  How are you going to deal with things not going your way?  What are you going to say to your kids the day after the election?” 
I think Christians today, more than ever, have to know the truth—first of all, about God; second, about themselves—and thirdly, about: “Why are we here?  What’s our assignment in the meantime?”  
And I just go back to these truths:
Number one, God exists. Faith has to have an object, and the object of our faith is God; because He does exist. 
Secondly, He has won the battle. As a result, He is ruling—He is the sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords. If He is not the sovereign King, that means man is in control. 
Third, if we know Christ / if we’ve been forgiven by Him, then, that means we have eternal life. We’ve got a purpose / a plan. 
Fourth, we’ve been rescued from hell—redeemed. 
Fifth, He’s given us good works for us to do. 
It says in Ephesians, Chapter 2, verse 10: “You are created in Christ Jesus for good works which He prepared beforehand, that you should walk in them.”  He’s got an assignment for you in the midst of this chaos. 

 Then, finally, sixth: “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  
So, my assignment is to be obedient to what God called me to do, to train my kids to do the same, and to not believe the lies of the culture and the lies of the news that want to create fear and want to cause confusion and to spike ratings. I’m in the process of living life, and I want to challenge Christians—in fact, this is really the purpose of these broadcasts—we want to anchor you in the stability of God; but secondly, we want you to seize the day. These are days—these ought to be among the finest hours for followers of Christ to represent Him as never before and to be on mission. 
You can’t do that if you’ve forgotten who you are / you can’t do that if you’ve forgotten what your assignment is—we need to be on that task today as never before. 
Bob: When I look at the plaque that you’ve created—that quotes Isaiah 33:6: “And He shall be the stability of your times,”—I think of Matthew 7 / the passage that you quote routinely, Dennis, about what you’re going to build your house on—sand or rock?  Is it going to be on something that’s shaky and shifty or on something that is stable?  That’s really Jesus telling us to go back to the foundation of: “What do we believe about who God is and about His love for us?”  
Barbara: I think this is really a great opportunity for us as believers to shine. God wants us to let His light shine; and if we have built our house on the Rock and if we are sinking our roots down into Him, then—no matter what happens after the election / no matter what happens tomorrow or six months from now—
—we will remain unshaken. And that, in and of itself, is a witness to the watching world that there is something different about Christians. 
Christians throughout the ages have been known for that. Back in Roman times, when they were killing Christians, they didn’t walk away from their faith just because they were being arrested and tied to the stake. They continued to hang onto what they knew was true no matter how hard the circumstances of their lives. 
Bob: And really, our day is—we’re still in a lot better shape than the first Christians—
Barbara: Oh my goodness; yes. 
Bob: —living under Roman rule in the first century; right?  
Dennis: I mean, it’s not costing us our lives, yet. I do think of a quote by a pastor down in Florida—I think he was in Melbourne, Florida. His name was Jamie Buckingham. He said, “The problem with Christians today is that no one wants to kill them.”  [Laughter] Now, I always kind of smirk about that; but it’s interesting—
—they so changed the world. Their message was so radical that there was an opposing force that wanted to take them out. 
I want to go back to what Barbara was talking about, just a moment ago, and just read the words of Christ. Matthew, Chapter 5, verse 14—this would make a great verse just to read this out loud as a couple or as a family every day in the morning or every evening at the dinner table. Jesus said this: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  
There’s our assignment—  
—be on mission. Don’t be neutral. Don’t be hiding in a corner, cowering at the giants that dwell in the land; instead, train your kids to know how to pick up five smooth stones and go slay a giant or two today at school or in the market place. I’m not talking about violence, by the way—I’m talking about with the love of Jesus Christ. 
Bob: I’m thinking there may be a lot of our listeners who would love to have, hanging in their home, Isaiah 33:6: “He shall be the stability of your times.”  You could print that out on a piece of computer paper if you wanted to; or I’d encourage listeners—go to our website and see the Isaiah 33:6 plaque—you can order from us online if you’d like. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also call to order if you’d like—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”  
Let me also mention—our team has put together a series of devotions for couples or families to go through—at the dinner table, or at bedtime, or in the morning when you’re having breakfast together—ten devotions where you can talk about how we can rest in Christ and how we can be full of faith, even in times of anxiety. These devotions are available on FamilyLife’s app. If you’ve not downloaded that yet, it’s available from your app store. Just click the link that says, “Help and hope,” when you download the app; or you can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to download the devotions as well. 

 Now, today, we want to say a special “Happy anniversary!” to Dave and Jane Rossiter, who have recently joined staff, here at FamilyLife. The Rossiters are celebrating 29 years of marriage together. They listen to FamilyLife Today on WCRF, out of Cleveland, Ohio. We’re glad to have the Rossiters joining our team. We just want to say: “Happy anniversary! Twenty-nine years together—
—that’s a pretty good accomplishment.”  
In fact, we think all anniversaries are pretty exciting and ought to be celebrated. At FamilyLife, our mission is to effectively develop godly marriages and families so that there are more anniversaries celebrated for more years. We want to see couples and families change the world one home at a time. 
And I want to say, “Thank you,” to those of you who share that mission with us and who make it possible for the content we’re creating to be distributed all around the world to millions of people who are connecting to the ministry of FamilyLife. Thank you for all you’re doing to help develop godly marriages and families. 
If you can help with a donation today, we’d love to say, “Thank you,” by sending a banner that Barbara Rainey has created that talks about your home being an embassy of the kingdom of heaven. It’s our thank-you gift when you go online to donate at FamilyLifeToday.com or when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation; or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we want to talk more about how we can raise up children who are not full of fear but who are full of faith and who are able to stand courageously for Christ in times of instability. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow. I hope you can be here with us. 
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today
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