Overcoming fear by reading and speaking words of life

December 8, 2022

I’ve dealt with fear my whole life as a mom. 

I was so excited about the process, but fear spoke to me constantly, telling me lies about my capability, my circumstances, and God’s faithfulness. Listening to fear caused a loss of joy as I believed these lies. I read lots of parenting books in an effort to overcome my negative thoughts and be a good mom, but the thing that really made an impact was literature.

I read The Hiding Place while we lived through the pandemic and knew that the God who kept Corrie ten Boom alive through the holocaust could keep us safe. I also read Endurance, about a feat of survival in Antarctica, and I knew that I could survive and thrive in my own circumstances. By fighting fear with literature and letting the truth of Scripture hammer it home, I recaptured the magic of motherhood. 

In Mothering by the Book, I share the lessons I learned from these books but one of the key steps that helped me overcome was simply speaking life.

My second child had problems focusing, forgot information easily, had seizures, and was a delayed talker. All of these issues opened the door to fear as I tried to figure out how to help her. In the long search for answers, when I was comparing my child to the “normal” children around her, I felt afraid and worried.

This fear led to believing and speaking the worst. My tone would convey my frustration and fear. Busyness in itself can lead to fear as we push ourselves to exhaustion, but sometimes in our lives as mothers, we are up against a wall. Babies are crying, toddlers need help finding their shoes, and school-aged kids have to finish their homework. We are pushed to the edge of our endurance.

The read-aloud that helped me overcome fear was about a runty little pig who wanted to live. In the book Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, Wilbur comes to the terrifying awareness that he is destined for the Christmas dinner table. Fear grips him, but Charlotte, a mere spider, intervenes in a most unusual way. She decides to endow Wilbur with greatness through her words. She blesses Wilbur with words like “radiant,” “humble,” and “some pig,” and she convinces the world around him that he is indeed special. When Mr. Zuckerman, the owner of the farm, first encounters Charlotte’s words in the web he says, “There can be no mistake about it. A miracle has happened and a sign has occurred here on earth, right on our farm, and we have no ordinary pig.”1White, E. B. 1899-1985,, and Garth Williams. Charlotte’s Web. First edition. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1952.p.80

Wilbur tries to live up to her expectations. When Charlotte’s web said SOME PIG, Wilbur had tried hard to look like some pig. When Charlotte’s web said TERRIFIC, Wilbur tried to be terrific. As I read Charlotte’s Web, I realized that I was letting fear speak to me instead of words of life. Charlotte could have agreed with the barnyard animals that Wilbur was just a piece of meat, but rather, she changed his identity and his destiny through her words. The words of literature helped me encounter the truths of Scripture in real life situations.

Research confirms this power of words. In the book, Words Can Change Your Brain, Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman say, “And as our research has shown, the longer you concentrate on positive words, the more you begin to affect other areas of the brain…. A positive view of yourself will (then) bias you toward seeing the good in others.”2Newberg, Andrew, M.D. and Waldman, Mark Robert, Words Can Change Your Brain, Avery/Penguin Random House, New York, 2012, p.34

As Wilbur received the words spoken to him by Charlotte and believed those words, his life began to change. He felt radiant and terrific, and he started behaving like a radiant and terrific pig. People around him began to believe he was special as well, and it changed the course of his life.

Similarly, as I read, I realized that fear had caused me to speak fearful words over myself and my child. I whispered worst-case scenarios, “Maybe she will never learn to read,” “What if I can’t help her?”, “I can’t do this,” and these whispered words began to steal my confidence and lead me to criticize my daughter.

Perhaps you have been letting fear speak to you, letting fear shape your perspective? Perhaps in an effort to be honest, you’ve cursed yourself and your children, predicting future doom based on current behavior. Some of you might even have been under the impression that to speak blessings, to speak life over yourself and your children is new age mumbo jumbo. 

But is this truly what we learn from the Bible? Is speaking life over ourselves and our children somehow ungodly and uttering curses over ourselves and our children the holy thing to do? I make no claims of being a Bible scholar, but it’s imperative to understand that speaking words of life is biblical. 

Our children pick up on our attitudes and perceptions about them, and if we let fear cripple us and cause us to curse ourselves and our children, we are perpetuating pain into the next generation. In Romans 12:14, we are told to, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them,” so even when we feel persecuted by our children, we still need to speak life over them. Even when we hate ourselves and feel like we are our own worst enemies, we still need to speak life over ourselves.

When I realized this, I started speaking life in a new way over my family. I prayed the word of God over my children, and I was careful not to speak unkind or disrespectful words to them. If I needed to correct them, I would use words that separated the behavior from the child. “Your attitude isn’t very kind. I love you; you can do better.” Instead of saying, “You are a whiny brat!” Better to say “Please clean your room,” than “ You are such a little pig!”

Early in the book Charlotte’s Web, when Wilbur arrives at the farm and has to be away from his first friend Fern, Charlotte notices him and chooses him, “I’ll be a friend to you. I’ve watched you all day and I like you.”3White, E. B. 1899-1985,, and Garth Williams. Charlotte’s Web. First edition. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1952, p31 Right from the beginning, her words convey blessing, identity, and life. 

I believe that God is saying the same thing to us, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17, ESV) God loves us, celebrates us, calls us his own, and when we agree with God and start speaking life over ourselves and our children, fear has nowhere to land.

Jennifer Pepito

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Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24