Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sticks and Stones...

"...May break my bones, but words can never hurt me." Why is it that we (society) still teach children something that is so clearly untrue? Perhaps we hope to protect our kids from drowning in the big scary world, but does it really work?

"Life and death are in the power of the tongue." Now that IS true. Just one word can be the difference between freedom and death in a country with capital punishment. For example: "We find the defendant guilty." or "We find the defendant NOT guilty." The very life of a prisoner can depend on that tiny, three-letter word, "not".

Children need to know the truth about words. The careless lie of "words can never hurt me" won't protect them from the violence of mean and nasty words, it will confuse them. And it may even tempt them to bully others (because they think words don't really hurt), or lie to protect themselves from "consequences". Adults too, need to understand the truth about words. A broken bone can be re-set, a broken reputation may be a lifelong disability.

There are many cautionary Proverbs in the bible about the power of the tongue. There are also Proverbs that teach the power of words for good, such as, "A soft answer turns away wrath." We may feel helpless to defend our kids against the cruel words of others, but we can teach them to respond with care and kindness. We can teach them to know their true value. Angry and bitter words do hurt, but the truth is what sets us free.

A kid who doesn't fight back with words might seem a soft target for bullies. Our kids can't expect that speaking nicely to others will mean others speak nicely to them, but the book of Proverbs also points out that "he who digs a pit will fall into it; he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him". In other words, if we lash out at others with our words, we can expect them to "roll" right back on us... someday.

Doing the right thing can seem pretty lop-sided if we are surrounded by gossip and "little" lies. Life won't be "fair" and reward us every time we use our words for good. The question is, will we let our character be defined by those who would drag us down? If we do, then they have won.

If you're looking for a new way of dealing with life's challenges, try reading Making Life Work.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why Is It So Hard To Really Love My Kids?

In that afterbirth glow, I felt like I would do anything for my kids. Even while I was pregnant, I was prepared to move mountains for them. Well, sort of.

Why is it so hard to really love my kids? I'm talking about hard like threading a camel through the eye of a needle. Like picking up a mountain and planting it in the sea. Really hard.

Sure, I serve them first at dinner time... That way I can enjoy my meal in peace. Sure I hug them lots - that gives me a warm glow that makes me feel good. Sure I feed them healthy food... because healthy kids are happier kids. None of that means that I really, truly love them.

See (I actually do know the answer), true love is too hard for normal people. We are able to give something that looks a lot like love, but in the bible there's this word for love in Greek: Agape. It means pure, self-sacrificing love that seeks nothing in return. Just a few days ago we observed Passover, a memorial to Jesus Christ dying a horrible death because of His love - Agape - for mankind. The bible tells us that God IS Agape.

It's so hard to really love my kids because on my own I'm incapable of Agape love. The love that our kids need is more than a warm and fuzzy glow. If real love were easy, then I wouldn't have eaten so much chocolate while I was pregnant. If real love were easy, then supermarkets would sell a lot less lollies. If real love were easy, then I wouldn't yell at my kids just because I'm frustrated. If real love were easy, then I wouldn't pretend not to see my kids being naughty (because dealing with it is hard work for me). If real love were easy then... well, you fill in the blank - we all have ways we let our kids (and others) down because real love is humanly impossible.

But there's hope! Firstly, God loves my kids more than I can ever even imagine. He also loves me. And if I turn to Him and try to obey Him, God will put His love in me. Still hard work, but no longer impossible. With God all things are possible - things like threading a camel through the eye of a needle.

To read about God's plan for your family, take a look at Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why A World Without The Easter Bunny?

Around this time every year, my girls are taken by surprise. Someone somewhere asks them something like: Are you looking forward to Easter? Inevitably, they respond with a stunned silence, usually until I answer for them. We don't celebrate Easter. I can almost hear what they are thinking.

That's weird.

Poor kids. (This photo shows two of our deprived children enjoying time during one of God's appointed festivals)


And sometimes:

I thought you were Christians.

Imagine this little scenario for a moment:

A married woman has an affair and leaves her husband for a number of years. Eventually she realises that she was better off with her husband. Her lover is cruel and abusive. Finally she breaks off her affair and returns to her loving and forgiving husband. However, she can't understand why he gets so mad when she throws a big party on the anniversary of her affair. She invites all of her lovers friends and gets caterers to prepare his favourite foods and provide his favourite drinks. She thinks her husband shouldn't mind - that he should be grateful, even - because she says she is throwing this party for him...
What do you think?

Yes, I guess it is weird to most people that we don't celebrate Easter. No, not poor kids. Yes, we are Christians - followers of Christ. Christ did not celebrate Easter. Easter started long before Christ was born, and bunnies and chocolate eggs have everything to do with worshipping a false goddess and nothing to do with Christ's death and resurrection. Even though they are still young, our children are already learning and appreciating the importance of worshipping God as He commands on His Holy Days. We cannot truly worship God by throwing a party for ancient pagan gods and saying that it is for the True God. It's like the woman throwing a party for the anniversary of her affair.

There are plenty of fun things we can do for and with our kids without disobeying God's command NOT to worship Him in the way other religions worship their (false) gods.

We want to honour God as HE wants to be honoured - that's why we have a world without Easter bunny.

To read more about the origins of Easter, look here, and to find out about the holy days that God expects Christians to observe today and what they represent, click here