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Archive for August, 2015

Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:17 (NKJV)

We continue with the five ways you can help your children grow and mature in the faith as suggested by Karen Huber[i] Yesterday we talked about the importance of worshipping and serving together as a family.

Encourage questions.  One way to learn to ask questions is by using a board game called “The Ungame.”  The Ungame is a wonderful game to teach us to communicate better by practicing both talking and active listening.  The game includes several cards with questions which can serve as icebreakers in general or for couples.  One set in particular has questions for spiritual understanding.  For instance, “What does baptism mean to you?”  “Who is Jesus?”  A question like, “A time when it helps me to remember God’s promises is … ” can encourage your child to place God’s word in his or her everyday life. These types of questions and conversation starters may lead your child to reflect on their understanding of God and their faith.  We don’t want children to simply memorize and respond like robots or computers; we want them to live and experience faith in God.   You can also make these conversation starters a habit at the breakfast table or at bedtime and allow the conversation to go where God leads.

Consider commissioning your children as they start the school year. Huber writes, “Help them to understand their spiritual gifts or love languages and how to practice them at school. A child who’s love language is service can be a wonderful helper for new students. Praise and affirm the godly gifts you recognize in your child. Pray for them before that first day, that they would feel God’s presence during their days and that He would show them ways to be a light, loving and serving their classmates and teachers. This can help them understand their place in God’s story and the world.”

We close with these challenge: “In order to be teachers, parents must be learners, gathering light constantly from the oracles of God and by precept and example bringing this precious light into the education of their children.”[ii]

Father God, help me to be a good learner and a good teacher.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Five-Ways-to-Help-Your-Kids-Grow-in-the-Faith/

[ii] White, E.G.  The Adventist Home. p.184

SEPTEMBER

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Growing your kids in the faith – 2

When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” Matthew 8:10 (NKJV)

Karen Huber[i] suggests five ways you can help your children grow and mature in their faith. Yesterday we talked about starting young.  Don’t wait until they are older, when you think they can understand.  They can appreciate, learn, and understand a lot from the time they are very small.

Let them see you worship.  When our daughters were born, my wife didn’t take a break of several week or months from church.  The very next week after their birth they were at church.  Sure there were times she needed to take them out because they were a bit cranky or sick, but they were in church from the time they were born.  Sometimes parents of newborns feel that they should wait to take them to church until they are older or until they are ready.  It’s best if the family worships at home and at church together from the time they are born so they get used to it and make worship a part of their lives.  You may also want to make sure your church includes children in the worship service.  If they don’t suggest it to the pastor and church board.

Give and serve together. Look for ways to serve with your family, in your church and in the community.  You can find opportunities to serve in community soup kitchens, raking an elderly neighbor’s yard, prayer walking your neighborhood, or sponsoring a child in need to attend church school.  When you get involved in mission service together as a family you will help your own children put feet to their faith. As Huber states, “Serving and giving together allows them to practice acts of love for neighbor and obedience to God.”

We play a very important role in the lives of our children. “Parents should in a special sense regard themselves as agents of God to instruct their children, as did Abraham, to keep the way of the Lord. They need to search the Scriptures diligently, to know what is the way of the Lord, that they may teach it to their household.”[ii]

Father God, guide us to worship and serve together as a family.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Five-Ways-to-Help-Your-Kids-Grow-in-the-Faith/

[ii] White, E.G.  The Adventist Home, p.184.

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When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. 2 Timothy 1:5 (NKJV)

From the moment they are born, we have so many dreams and wishes for our children.  We hope they will be good students, have good health, will one day have a good job, and finally that they will find a good spouse to marry, have a good home, and children of their own.  Among the hopes we have for them, none of them stands higher than the hope that the y will have a good relationship with God, accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, be guided daily by the Holy Spirit, and become good members of God’s church.  Sometimes we worry, or fear, that they will not walk in the Lord’s ways, that they will leave everything we believe and love, turn their backs on our faith and our God, and be lost.

We need to remember that everyone of us, including our children, have the gift of freedom of choice.  Just like us, they can also choose between following God or not.  Our responsibility as parents is to show them and teach them to love Him and follow Him, but the ultimate decision is theirs and theirs alone.  So, how can we naturally and consistently guide our children as their faith matures?  Karen Huber[i] suggests five ways you can help your children grow and mature in their faith:

Start young.  Even before the child is born they hear their parents’ voices.  Make it a habit to talk and sing about God.  Once they are born, continue the practice of singing to them; and the songs your sing to them in the nursery will be the first opportunity they will have to hear of God’s love for them.  Pray for your children out loud, as you hold them, and throughout the day and throughout their growing years. You can also help your toddler to recognize and name God’s creation as they touch the grass and the flowers, as you answer their questions about the clouds in the sky.  You can teach your preschoolers how to give thanks. Share stories about who Jesus is to you.  Make the bible stories personal and practical to their young minds.

Father God, use me to help grow my children in faith in you so they will love you and serve you always.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Five-Ways-to-Help-Your-Kids-Grow-in-the-Faith/

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Family traditions

One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you.’ ” Numbers 15:16 (NKJV)

As the school year begins, with all its homework, sports, and other extracurricular activities, it often becomes harder than ever for families to spend time together.  With all the busyness, it can be easy to neglect family traditions; and yet, it still feels important to foster family time.  You don’t have to think of family traditions as something big or complex; often the best and most memorable traditions had very small, simple beginnings.

Meghan Holohan compiled for TODAY[i] several tips from two experts who encourage us to “Think big, but start small.

Turn the mundane into a habit. Maybe the whole family walks the dog on the weekends. Or, every Sabbath you have a special meal, desert, or music you play.  These might seem insignificant, but doing the same task together every weekend fosters togetherness.

Set a meeting. Make brunch every Sunday for everyone in the family, or perhaps host a corn roast on Sabbath evening when all family members attend. Be sure to make the time the same each week so that everyone knows what time to gather.

Connect with family.  Make it a practice during the weekend to FaceTime or Skype with grandma and grandpa or aunts and uncles who don’t live close by. Those weekend conversations strengthen the bond between immediate and extended family.

Read out loud together. Pick a book that the entire family can read together, and make it age-appropriate. Besides the bible, there are many biography or history books, or stories from missionaries that can keep everyone’s interest.

Go with the flow. Set aside a block of time each weekend reserved for family time, and a different family member takes a turn picking the activity for the week.  If you have different age children, encouraging them to be in charge of the activity for the week helps them to be invested in it.  Remember to foster those traditions that bring your family together and set aside those that seem to have lost meaning.

Father God, helps us to develop and nurture those traditions that will bring and keep our family together.

[i] http://www.today.com/parents/family-time-5-easy-ways-create-family-traditions-t39746

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There I was! In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes. Genesis 31:40 (NKJV)

Jacob’s experience, keeping Laban’s flocks, resembles the experience of many parents taking care of their own children.  This seems particularly true when it comes to their child’s bedtime; or as some parents have come to call, the day’s final battleground.  You would think that after a long day of school and play children would be more than eager to go to sleep.  As parents we have also learned that most children need much more sleep than they actually get, so putting it back on the priority list, especially as school begins, is a must.

Amy McCready,[i] writing for TODAY, looks at four strategies that can help you do that:

Full “baskets.”  Change your own routine so that you are giving your kids the one-on-one attention they need.  When you do that, they will require (and demand) less attention at nighttime.  Try giving your kids just 10-15 minutes a day of uninterrupted, all-about-them time; that may be all they need to have their emotional basket (or cups) filled in substantial ways.

Watch your words.  It’s possible that bedtime is portrayed in a negative light; for instance, if you say something like, “Do something wrong and you’ll go straight to bed!” Instead, change how your kids view bedtime by calling it “snuggle time” and talking about what’s GOOD about going to sleep, rather than making it feel more like punishment than reward.

Turn the “world” off. Studies show late night screens keep our kids awake and away from the real, healthy sleep they need.  Make sure all your screens are off at least two hours before the kids go to bed.  It would good for you too.

Be consistent. If bedtime changes from night to night they will never know when the right time for bed is and you’ll forever be in negotiations, or battles.  Because kids need a certain amount of sleep every night, bedtimes should be the same seven days a week.  Children are more comfortable and less confused when there is consistency.

Father God, help me to provide for my children the time and the atmosphere where they can get the nightly sleep they need.

[i] http://www.today.com/parents/4-ways-improve-your-childs-bedtime-routine-t40086

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Men and breakup pain

Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better. Ecclesiastes 7:3 (NKJV)

According to some recent research, as reported by Kathleen Doheny of WebMD,[i] the pain of a romantic breakup may hit women harder at first, but they recover far more quickly from the loss than men do.  According to Craig Morris, study author, “at some point, clearly, women get over a breakup, they will discuss in great detail the pain, the suffering, the misery, but they are talking about it in the past.”  On the other hand, men may not feel the same painful stab initially, and yet they may never recover completely emotionally.  As Morris explains, “when you talk to a man about a breakup, you can see he is still there. The anger. The disappointment. There was never any end to this for him. Most men never use the phrase, ‘I got over it.’”

Morris makes it clear that these are largely generalizations and don’t describe everyone’s experience.  At the same time, states Morris, “it is far more than biology.”  Women may have more pain right after the breakup due to anxiety and fear.  For women, being physically alone may drive those feelings.

The new research suggests that men should also seek help such as social support from others or from a counselor.  That social support and positive coping methods are what helps women get over it faster.

It could be helpful if both men and women view the breakup in a positive light, as something that’s allowing you to get out of a bad relationship and move on to a better one.

One of the challenges men face is that they don’t feel comfortable asking for help.  As Morris stated, “men are conditioned to grin and bear it.”  As a result, men often move on to another relationship without processing the previous one.  Perhaps men and women should contemplate the following words carefully, “. Many young persons who profess to be followers of Christ, are indulging in romantic sentimentalism which is deteriorating in its influence, and dangerous in its tendency. They indulge day-dreaming and castle-building, and thus squander their precious hours, and unfit themselves for usefulness.”[ii]

Father God, help me to heal from the past to have a better future.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/news/20150814/how-to-mend-a-broken-heart-your-gender-may-matter?ecd=wnl_men_082415&ctr=wnl-men-082415_nsl-promo_5&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

[ii] White, E. G.  Signs of the Times, June 15, 1882

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“Come now, and let us reason together” Says the LORD. Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV)

Eli Finkel,[i] a professor of social psychology at Northwestern University says that “Marriage today is, in some senses, better, and in other senses worse than it’s ever been.”  He adds, “The best marriages today appear to be better than the best marriages we have ever seen —that humans have ever seen.  At the same time, the average marriage is actually a bit worse today than it was a generation or two ago.”  According to this marriage researcher, we’re living at a time when people see it as an “all or nothing marriage.”  In other words, people want their spouses to be their best friends, someone who encourages them to be better, and to meet all their needs.  The problem is that the more people expect of their marriages, the more likely that these marriages can’t live up to expectations.

An additional problem is that the demands of life today can make marriage seem like a tough endeavor.  We even hear experts say things like, “marriage takes hard work.”  As Finkel explains, “We’re spending more time at work, more time with our children doing intensive parenting. And then in the middle comes this problem of there’s not enough time for each other.”

However, having high hopes doesn’t mean that your marriage will fail. Finkel provides three tips to keep a marriage strong:

Write it up — Three times a year, for seven minutes, you should write down your disagreements as if you’re an impartial third person looking at your relationship.  This adds up to only 21 minutes a year; it doesn’t require a great deal of time.

Talking it out — Communicate with your spouse regularly. Listen to them, tell him/her what you understood them to say, and respond.

Rework expectations — Your spouse can’t be everything you need or want all the time. Try setting realistic expectations.

Marriages between spouses who love and encourage each other through the journey are the strongest.  As Finkel says, people in such unions “are through the roof in terms of how happy they are.”

Father God, help us to implement these three simple ideas so we can have a stronger, healthier marriage.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/3-tips-make-your-marriage-stronger-happier-ever-t40261

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