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Archive for the ‘2 Samuel’ Category

Unkind children

And now may the LORD show kindness and truth to you. I also will repay you this kindness, because you have done this thing. 2 Samuel 2:6 (NKJV)

 

Kindness is like good medicine to the soul, particularly when we witness it in children.  Who doesn’t melt when you see a child being kind, whether that’s sharing a favorite treat with a friend or giving someone a hug, just because.

And yet, maybe because of the barrage of social media, or all the stories of bullying, Americans feel that children today are not very kind.  NBC News[i] conducted a survey they called “the state of kindness poll” in which 62% of the more than 2,600 participants responded that they believe kids are less kind today than they were in the past. Women (66%) feel more strongly about this kindness deficit than do men (58%).

Interestingly, the overwhelming majority of respondents (77%) blamed parents for this seeming lack of kindness among children today, with only a few blaming the community, schools, or friends.  But while saying that, Americans say they don’t put kindness first when it comes to teaching kids values.  Instead, teaching children honesty, courage, leadership, and a strong work ethic trumped kindness by the majority of the respondents.

On the other hand, the younger generation — those 18-24 — thinks kindness rules, and these millennials chose kindness by 10 percentage points over honesty as the most important quality to teach kids.

The survey results also show that Americans are split on whether kindness is innate or needs to learned and nurtured over time. Slightly more than half (52%) of survey participants believe that all of us are born with the ability to show kindness, while 47% believe kindness must be developed.  Those without kids (56%) were more inclined to think that people are born kind, while 50% of participants with kids thought nurture trumped nature, and more men believe nature is innate while only about half the women believe it is inherent.  Parents do play a very important role in teaching kindness to their kids by example.

 

Father, help me to teach kindness to my kids through my own example.

[i] http://www.today.com/kindness/are-todays-kids-kind-most-americans-say-no-guess-whats-t57326

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Music helps your mind – 2

Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the LORD on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals. 2 Samuel 6:5 (NKJV)

Serusha Govender, from WebMD[i], tells us of five ways music helps your mind.

  1. Group singing makes you happier. Singing simultaneously lowers the level of cortisol, which is the stress hormone, and releases endorphins which makes us feel content. In addition, the anticipation of making a melodic change while singing in a group floods the body with dopamine which give you a sense of euphoria.  According to some research, singing in a choir releases the antibody s-IgA, which boosts our immune system, especially when the song is moving.  And if you don’t have a group to sing with, doctors say singing alone releases oxytocin, which is the happiness hormone, giving you an instant mood booster.

When you go to church, participate in the congregational singing; not only will you be praising God in music but it can give you a real high.  I especially appreciate these words: “Music can be made a great power for good; yet we do not make the most of this branch of worship…Music should have beauty, pathos, and power. Let the voices be lifted in songs of praise and devotion. Call to your aid, if practicable, instrumental music, and let the glorious harmony ascend to God, an acceptable offering.”[ii]

The Greek philosopher Plato wrote, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”  But it is not just music for our personal benefit that matters; instead, think of how the songs we sing brings us closer to God.  “The human voice that sings the music of God from a heart filled with gratitude and thanksgiving is far more pleasing to Him than the melody of all the musical instruments ever invented by human hands.”[iii]

Father God, thank you for your gift of music and song.  May I take advantage of what it can do to help me feel better, but above all, may it always be pleasing to you.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/5-ways-music-helps-the-mind?ecd=wnl_emw_102815&ctr=wnl-emw-102815_nsl-promo-2_title&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

[ii] White, E.G. Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, p. 71.

[iii] White, E.G. Letter 2c, 1892.

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The dating app – 2

After this Absalom the son of David had a lovely sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. 2 Samuel 13:1 (NKJV)

Elyse Murphy[i] offers several more tips to keep dating healthy, particularly if it is a long-distance or online relationship:

Read the gospels. Actually, don’t just read the gospels, or the bible.  Spend good quality time in serious study of the bible.  Part of the problem people have today is that they select only a few portions of the bible for a quick reading instead of seriously spending time with God and His word.  Listen to this important advice, “One passage studied until its significance is clear to the mind and its relation to the plan of salvation is evident, is of more value than the perusal of many chapters with no definite purpose in view and no positive instruction gained. Keep your Bible with you. As you have opportunity, read it; fix the texts in your memory. Even while you are walking the streets you may read a passage and meditate upon it, thus fixing it in the mind.”[ii]  And by the way, pray.  “Never should the Bible be studied without prayer. Before opening its pages we should ask for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, and it will be given.”[iii]

Keep good people around you.  Think about the experience of Ruth and Boaz.  Boaz saw Ruth in the field and immediately he asked one of his workers/friends, “Who’s that?”  Surround yourself with close friends who will listen and be a sounding board when it comes to your dating life.

Don’t get too serious too quickly. In that same story, Boaz invites Ruth to eat lunch with him, and brings her into a group setting.  If they were living today, he wouldn’t just say, “Hey, I saw your profile. Let’s get married.”  Take time to get to know personally the other person.

Regardless of how you choose to meet someone, in person or online, remember that God sees you, He loves you, and He has a plan for your life.  As Murphy writes, “He knows what you need, and who you need, and He knows how to get you there. Don’t rush the journey; enjoy it.”

Father God, lead me in my life and help me to follow your plan for me.  I need your patience and your guidance today more than ever.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Where-Is-Real-Life-Love-in-the-Online-Dating-Age-/

[ii] White, E.G.  Steps to Christ, p. 90.

[iii] Ibid.

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And King David longed to go to Absalom. For he had been comforted concerning Amnon, because he was dead. 2 Samuel 13:39 (NKJV)

Yesterday we considered the third of what Amy McCready, writing for TODAY Parents[i], lists as one of the five most common entitlement-prone parenting styles. Today we look at the fourth style:

  1. The Indulger. Have you ever been guilty of doing these?  Your 12-year-old demands to see a certain movie with friend, one you may not even approve of, but you hate to disappoint him, or embarrass him in front of them, so you allow him. . . he wins.  Or perhaps your 6-year-old insists on drinking soda with every meal, and you buy it for her… she wins.  Your daughter wants to wear the latest clothing style, even though they are not modest, in fact, quite revealing. . . buy when you take her shopping you buy her what she wants. . . she wins.

We’ve all probably been guilty on this one at one time or another. It’s not wrong to let our kids experience life’s little pleasures, but it’s our responsibility to set the appropriate limits we know are best for them. As McCready writes, “Entitled kids are known for thinking of themselves as above the rules, and deserving the best of what life has to offer.” We need to change this mindset by establishing boundaries and sticking with the limits we set, while at the same time ignoring the protests and attempts at negotiations.

Instead of indulging your kids, you can provide your children opportunities to learn to use age-appropriate control over their own lives in a decision-rich environment.  Allow your kids a sense of power over positive things like what kind of healthy snacks to buy, whether to do their homework in their room or at the table, and input into vacation activities within a set budget. As McCready explains, “When kids have more control over some aspects of their lives, they are less likely to pitch a fit when we have to say no or enforce limits in other areas, like bedtime or curfew.”  As Ellen White writes, “Children, when they become of age, will prize the parent who labored faithfully, and would not permit them to cherish wrong feelings or indulge in evil habits.”[ii]

Father God, help me as I guide my children to make the best decisions for their lives.

[i] http://www.today.com/parents/entitled-kids-these-parenting-tips-can-change-behavior-t32201?cid=eml_tes_20150720

[ii] White, E.G.  The Adventist Home, p.292

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And King David longed to go to Absalom. For he had been comforted concerning Amnon, because he was dead. 2 Samuel 13:39 (NKJV)

Amy McCready, writing for TODAY Parents[i], lists five of the most common entitlement-prone parenting styles, as well as a few proven fixes.  Yesterday we considered the first one:  The Enabler.  Today we look at the third style:

  1. The Rescuer. Does this describe you? Your child can’t remember his homework, permission slips, sports shoes, and lunch unless you remind him every single morning.  You can see that your child can remember their favorite show, or the game in which they are playing, or the date with their friends, but when it comes to remembering their sports equipment, they never seem able to.  Then they call you to bring what they “forgot” to them they feel entitled to your personal delivery service when they forget.  You need to remind yourself that whether you’re frantically helping your child finish the science project the night before it’s due or figuring out how to negotiate their grades and their involvement in sports or other activities, you may need to back off and let your child face the music when it comes to his/her own effort (or lack thereof) and forgetfulness.

McCready suggests you institute the “No-Rescue Policy” for repeated forgetfulness.  Anyone can make a mistake from time to time.  Have a good conversation with your child, and calmly let them know in advance that you will no longer be rescuing them.  Make your expectations clear, and help them brainstorm strategies to keep track of their responsibilities.   While it is difficult to watch as your child suffers the consequences of their carelessness or lack of responsibility, let the situation play out and soon your kids will learn how to follow through.

Read these sobering words:  “What right have parents to bring children into the world to neglect and to let them grow up without culture and Christian training? Parents should be responsible. Teach them control; teach them that they are to be managed, and not to manage.”[ii]

Father, while my heart goes out to my children to help them, show me how not to teach them to become responsible for their own choices.

[i] http://www.today.com/parents/entitled-kids-these-parenting-tips-can-change-behavior-t32201?cid=eml_tes_20150720

[ii] White, E.G.  Child Guidance, p. {CG 186.3}

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Where’s my dad?

I’ll be a father to him, and he’ll be a son to me. When he does wrong, I’ll discipline him in the usual ways, the pitfalls and obstacles of this mortal life. 2 Samuel 7:14 (MSG)

 

Research has shown that growing up without a father, whether due to death, divorce, or a non-marital birth, is associated with a host of negative effects on the children.  Researchers Sara McLanahan, Laura Tach, and Daniel Schneider[i], reviewing 47 studies made some interesting discoveries:

Education: There is consistent evidence that a father’s absence lowers children’s educational attainment and decreases the likelihood that they will graduate from high school.  When young people fail to finish high school it places them at a major disadvantage in life since workers without high school diplomas experience very high levels of unemployment and make less money than more educated workers.

Mental Health: There is a negative effect of parental divorce on adult mental health and problem behavior. Also, a father’s absence affects their children’s likelihood of smoking cigarettes and using drugs and alcohol. The authors write that “the effect of father absence on  mental health and social skills has implications even beyond children’s personal happiness.”

Labor Force: The researchers found that “divorce was associated with lower levels of employment,” and “higher levels of labor force inactivity among those who experienced divorce in early childhood.”  One of the studies they looked into also showed that growing up with stepparents and with a single divorced mother had negative effects on occupational status, while growing up with a single widowed mother was not a disadvantage relative to growing up with stably married parents.

In short, while there are other variables that play a role in the association between family structure and child outcomes, these studies show that a father’s absence does have lasting, causal effects on his children’s life outcomes.

 

Father God, help me to realize that the decisions I make as a father, especially to love my wife and to remain married to her, will pay off a very rich, positive dividend in the life of our children.

[i] http://family-studies.org/yes-father-absence-causes-the-problems-its-associated-with/

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Scripture: Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son Absalom; my son, my son Absalom; if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!”    (2 Sam 18:33 NKJV)

Observation: Absalom had show his rebellious spirit when he killed his brother Amnon, albeit to avenge the rape of his sister at the hands of Amnon, and by sitting at the gate of the city in judgment as if he were the king.  That spirit of rebellion ripened into a coup d’état against his own father, King David.   But for Absalom it was not enough that he had routed his father, he wanted to destroy him completely, so he pursued him as David fled.  Among the things for which Absalom was known was a head full of long, thick hair.  While pursuing David, Absalom ran under the thick boughs of a terebinth tree, his hair got caught in them and he was left hanging in mid air exposed to the enemy.  Joab, David’s general, came and killed him there.
Joab sent news to David of Absalom’s death, and today’s text tell us of his reaction to the news.  And while Israel could have been celebrating the victory and the fact David could now return to Jerusalem, they all felt awkward by seeing the king mourning.  Joab chastised the king for not affirming the troops which protected him and who won this victory over those who were pursuing him.

Application: I have been told by those going through it that there is no more painful death than the death of a son or daughter, regardless of their age.  I remember being at the hospital with the mother of a stillborn child and a few months later in another room nearby with the parents of a three-year-old.  As a police chaplain I had to give a family the news of the tragic death on a motorcycle of their seventeen-year-old son and have officiated at the funeral of a forty-five year-old daughter who died of cancer.  During times like these and many others like them, the parents have told me again and again how that the death of their parents or a sibling or a dear friend was painful but their pain at losing a child was so much worse, almost unbearable.  Even if their son or daughter had left the fold, like Absalom, their death was nonetheless sad for their parents.
It seems like the right order of events should always be that as you get older and your parents age by the time they die you are old enough to accept it as a natural part of life.  I lost my dad when I was fifteen years old and my mom when I was 42 years old, and their deaths affected me in different ways.  At any rate, it is expected that at some point in time your parents will pass on.  But your child will always be younger than you and thus you don’t expect to have them die before you; it is not the normal way of life.  For Adam and Eve, the murder of their son Abel, particularly at the hand of his brother Cain, must have been horrible.  For David the death of his first son with bathsheba and not of Absalom was most painful.  For God the death of His Son Jesus must have been most difficult.  And yet, he experiences the death of so many of His children every single day!  That’s why during the difficult, painful days following the death of a child we can find comfort in Him who truly knows what it is like to loose a child.  And with God, it’s not just the He understands, but somehow He also brings the healing we need.

Prayer: Father, I pray none of us ever experience the death of one of our children; bless them and protect them.  For those who have, bless them and comfort them, and may Your comforting, loving arms surround them during their time of mourning until healing comes.

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