Category Archives: Children

The Secret to Child-Training: Love!

free-bible-studies-online-the-secret-to-child-training-love

It’s true, almost everyone loves their own children. After all, the Lord made them so precious, so sweet and beautiful! Even the hardest of hearts are touched by a child’s loving little hugs, kisses and warm smiles, which certainly brighten our lives and cause us to respond to them with love and affection also. But besides this natural affection that parents feel for their children, there is an even GREATER and more precious and lasting Love that we as Christians can give our children. A SUPERNATURAL Love that will help them to be truly happy, fulfilled and well-behaved: GOD’S LOVE in JESUS!

To explain more about how we give God’s Love to our children, we’d like to now share some practical, tried-and-proven ways of “training up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6), that have been a great help to us in raising our little ones. We hope that you will find these tips a help and blessing to you and YOUR children also!

 
FIRST AND FOREMOST: EVERY CHILD NEEDS TO RECEIVE JESUS, and the sooner the better! Receiving Jesus is so simple that even a TWO-YEAR-OLD can do it! It’s our RESPONSIBILITY as Christian parents to see to it that our children, WHATEVER age they are, come to know and receive the Lord and His wonderful Gift of Eternal Salvation!

You can constantly point a child towards the Lord, even from the time he’s born, just by your example and your love, even before he learns to talk, by talking to him about Jesus. As any parent will attest, you can hardly find anybody more sincere than a small child. We have found that two years old is an ideal age to actually lead your child to receive Christ, because that’s usually when he’s learned to talk and he understands the words you’re saying and he will be happy to follow you in a simple prayer.

If you have faithfully shown and taught your child WHO Jesus is (Children’s Picture Bibles are a great help for this), when you simply explain to your two-year old, “If you pray this little prayer now with Mommy (or Daddy), Jesus will come into your heart and save you,” your child will believe YOU, and he’ll believe in JESUS. If he’ll simply pray after you: “Dear Jesus, please forgive me for being bad. I believe You died for me to take my spanking for me. Please come into my heart and help me to be good and to love You!”, and Jesus WILL come in!

“VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, WHOSOEVER SHALL NOT RECEIVE THE KINGDOM OF GOD AS A LITTLE CHILD, HE SHALL NOT ENTER THEREIN.” (MARK 10:15)

As long as any child or person, no matter WHAT age they are, simply believes and prays for Jesus to forgive him and come into his heart, Jesus surely WILL come in, just as surely as He has promised, “Ask and ye shall receive!” (Matthew 7:7). So lead your child to Jesus so he can be eternally saved, simply for the asking! There’s no greater gift of Love you could ever give your child than Eternal Life and Love in Jesus!

 
NEXT MOST IMPORTANT: FEED YOUR CHILD THE WORD OF GOD. What could be more valuable and vital and faith-building than feeding your children GOD’S OWN WORDS, giving them God’s answers to all of their questions and problems? “FAITH comes by hearing the Word of God!” (Romans 10:17). You can pass a knowledge of the Bible on to them by daily using Bible story books, Bible pictures and flannelgraphs, posters, readers, Bible-based songs and Scripture etc., and your children will soon be “ROOTED and BUILT UP in the Lord, ESTABLISHED in the FAITH!” (Colossians 2:6-8).

If you are faithful to give them the TRUTH, they won’t be fooled or deceived by this World’s false teachings or poisoned by the lies, violence and spiritual garbage found in so many books and on most TV programs! There will be no need for your child to wander around aimlessly searching for answers, Truth and satisfaction in life if you’ve directed him to GOD’S ANSWERS through His Own Word, the Bible!

We have found that just as we ADULTS need to read and feed on GOD’S WORD in order to GROW spiritually, so our children also must be fed the wonderful Word of God if they are to make spiritual progress. The WORD OF GOD is the MOST POWERFUL TRUTH on Earth and in God’s Word they can find the answer to EVERY question, EVERY problem that they will EVER have in life! If they know the Scriptures, they will have the answers for EVERYTHING!

“FROM A CHILD THOU HAST KNOWN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, WHICH ARE ABLE TO MAKE THEE WISE UNTO SALVATION THROUGH FAITH WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS.” (2TIMOTHY 3:15)

The BIBLE gives us God’s principles and standard to live by, and having learned the Scriptures while very young, your children will grow up with solid Christian convictions, knowing what GOD has said and promised in HIS WORD! This is the key to true happiness for everyone, children and adults alike: To know JESUS, and to know what GOD says right there in HIS WORD! Be faithful to give these to your child, and you’re BOUND to get good results!

 
INSPIRE YOUR CHILD TO DO GOOD BY GIVING HIM A PURPOSE IN LIFE! If you’ve led your child to JESUS and you make it a point to faithfully teach him GOD’S WORD, he will learn and understand that Jesus is his very BEST and closest Friend Who is with him ALL the time. As he learns how much JESUS loves HIM, and how much Jesus has DONE for him by dying for him, so he can have a wonderful life in HEAVEN, your child will soon learn to want to please the Lord and do what HE can for JESUS.

This is one of the greatest rewards Christian parents can receive: To see their child begin to do things for JESUS, to actually SERVE the LORD! If your child is taught that this is what he is here FOR, to love and please the Lord, then from a very early age he can start living a genuine Christian life by learning to be loving, kind and considerate to OTHERS, praying for his family, friends and playmates etc., as well as coming to the Lord in PRAYER when he personally needs help.

“I HAVE NO GREATER JOY THAN TO HEAR THAT MY CHILDREN WALK IN TRUTH.” (3JOHN 4)

If your child learns to really LOVE THE LORD, knows the TRUTH of GOD’S WORD and has a genuine desire to please and serve Him, he will have the personal CONVICTION to withstand the many temptations he will encounter in school and from Worldly children who don’t know the Lord. So it certainly PAYS to do your best to teach your child to “LOVE THE LORD with all thy heart, and to LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR as thyself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

 
FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, STRIVE TO PROMOTE AN ATMOSPHERE OF HONEST, OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR CHILDREN. Encourage each child to feel free to honestly share what is on his heart with you. Of course, it’s very important to avoid reacting in a critical, condemning or condescending way to a child who is pouring out his heart, confessing a mistake or sharing a fear etc. If your child meets such a negative reaction from you, he will probably have second thoughts before sharing his heart with you next time.

We have found that “SPECIAL TIMES” of open-hearted discussions, combined with lots of loving embraces, greatly assures young children of our love and genuine concern, as we strive to intently listen to and understand them! Your child will never forget such special times spent with you. In most cases, these are the moments that WE treasured most when we were children: When our parents invested their love in the form of PERSONAL TIME and attention with us, just TALKING about things together.

“TO DO GOOD AND TO COMMUNICATE, FORGET NOT: FOR WITH SUCH SACRIFICES GOD IS WELL PLEASED.” (HEBREWS 13:16)

Of course, before we can expect our children to be honest with us, WE must be HONEST with THEM. It greatly encourages children to know that their parents are not exactly perfect. (Besides, you can be sure they’ve noticed!) By your own honest admission of YOUR mistakes and weaknesses, you are setting a good example for them of what HONESTY and HUMILITY are all about, and your children will love you the more for it!

As in any kind of honest communication, it can’t be emphasised enough how important it is to be a GOOD LISTENER to the one who is talking. A good, listening parent is not busy reading the newspaper or making a cup of tea while his or her child is pouring out his heart about the loss of a best friend, or communicating his innermost worries and fears. As parents, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is our sincere INTEREST in them and their problems, as manifested by our UNDIVIDED ATTENTION and uninterrupted LISTENING whenever possible.

By the act of simply LISTENING, you are telling your child: “I want to understand and help you. I think you are WORTH listening to, and I want you to know that I have FAITH in you. You can always TALK to me because I LOVE you.”

ASK QUESTIONS. (Kids shouldn’t be the only inquisitive party!) When genuinely communicating with children–or with anyone for that matter–asking questions helps to draw them out and shows your concern and interest in them. Get THEM to talk.

And when they are asking YOU the questions, be careful not to philosophise or pretend to be something you’re not. Just stay SIMPLE! And don’t offer any advice that you wouldn’t want to practically apply yourself.

LEARN TO PRESENT YOUR ADVICE OR ANSWERS IN WAYS THAT ARE EASY FOR THEM TO ACCEPT. MAKE IT “EASY FOR THEM TO BE GOOD” by allowing them to think that it’s at least partly THEIR idea too. For example, “I liked your comment on needing to change things a bit. Let’s try your idea!”, or “What do you think about trying this idea?”, or, “Haven’t you found that this works better?”

WHEN SOMETHING GOES WRONG, IT’S IMPORTANT NOT TO BE TOO QUICK TO JUDGE A MATTER. There are always at least TWO SIDES to every story, and it helps greatly to hear ALL SIDES from all those who are involved. Most of us have made the grave mistake of making a snap judgement or acting impulsively, resulting in a child being unjustly accused and deeply hurt. A mother could hear a crash in the room, and run in to find her young daughter in tears beside a shattered vase on the floor. To immediately whack the child with no explanation adds insult to injury, when by merely asking what happened first, the child could explain that she was attempting to stop the cat from climbing on the table, trying to shoo it away, when the CAT knocked the vase over, not she!

Remember, as Christian parents, we are trying to establish our child’s CONFIDENCE in both the Lord and ourselves. Jesus forgives US in love, and, thank God, does not spank us for every mistake or sin we commit. Likewise, we should forgive our children and be as fair and merciful with them as possible. But by continually passing quick harsh judgement on them, our children could easily lose such trust and confidence in us. And could wind up being AFRAID to confide in you and confess things that they really ARE guilty of or need help with!

And that’s another point: NEVER LOSE FAITH IN YOUR CHILDREN! If you can’t determine what’s right or wrong when a child claims innocence in some situation, and there’s no way to prove otherwise, it is almost always the wisest thing to let it pass, rather than risk punishing or judging unjustly for something. Try taking your child’s word for it! Such love will prove your faith in them and will inspire them not to disappoint your trust. Showing a child that you TRUST and BELIEVE in him shows him that you LOVE him.

 
TRY PUTTING YOURSELF IN YOUR CHILD’S PLACE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. This will give you a much better understanding of him. Make it a habit to try to see things through THEIR eyes and understanding. Ask yourself, “What if this were I? How would I want to be treated in this situation if I were in his shoes? If I were only 5 years old and were the one being laughed at by the adults, how would I feel?”

What may seem cute or funny to US, may be very embarrassing and humiliating to a CHILD. Most of us know what it’s like to be embarrassed, hurt or slighted by others. Realising that such unpleasant experiences can be much more traumatic and painful to a small inexperienced child should cause us to do our best to spare them from such incidents.

“THEREFORE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER YE WOULD THAT MEN SHOULD DO TO YOU, DO YE EVEN SO TO THEM!” (MATTHEW 7:12)

By putting yourself in as close a situation as you can think of to your CHILD’S situation, imagining how YOU would feel, you will gain a much better understanding of him and his feelings.

 
TRY TO SET A GOOD EXAMPLE. Not of some kind of a perfect, sinless saint which your child may feel he could never measure up to, but of an honest, happy, humble example of a friend and loving parent, someone whom kids can look up to and trust. YOU have to try to be what you want your CHILDREN to be.

“THOSE THINGS WHICH YE HAVE BOTH LEARNED, AND RECEIVED, AND HEARD, AND SEEN IN ME, DO: AND THE GOD OF PEACE SHALL BE WITH YOU.” (PHILIPPIANS 4:9)

Children are great mimics, and this is largely how they learn, by imitation. Children seldom forget what they SEE. They go more by what they SEE than by what they HEAR, more by your ACTIONS than just your WORDS. Children will learn more from your ACTIONS and even your ATTITUDES than they will from what you SAY! THINK of what you would like to be in the eyes of your child and BE that parent!

Likewise, if you need to leave your child in the care of SOMEONE ELSE, you should do your best to find someone who will be the kind of GODLY EXAMPLE that you would want your CHILD to follow. As a parent, YOU are responsible to make SURE that your child is left in good TRUSTWORTHY HANDS when you are not with him. So it’s important that you have good honest communication with those who help care for your little ones, and that they understand and agree to uphold the CHRISTIAN principles and guidelines which you follow.

It’s also very important to try to reach and relate to children on THEIR OWN level, and not expect TOO MUCH of them. After all, a child is a child. But if you make an effort to make your lessons easily understood, so they can easily be learned by your child–you’ll be surprised at how quickly your child will learn and grow!

 
LOVE IS ALSO DISCIPLINE. Children are happiest when they know the boundaries and limitations that adults have set for them, not when they are totally free to go wild, and thus end up in big trouble! A spoiled and demanding child becomes a spoiled and demanding adult, so the importance of teaching a young child obedience, submission, yieldedness and unselfishness is evident. Failure to instill these virtues in a child will result in his failure in these same areas later on in school, business and the social world.

It’s best to start when your children are quite young, and practice consistent, loving discipline by setting limits and boundaries for them to follow for their own good. There’s never been a child yet who didn’t need it, because, as the Bible says, “We are ALL sinners”. (Romans 3:23). Parents need to make it very clear exactly what the rules are, and one of the best methods of establishing the rules is to get the children to help make them, or at least to agree to them with you.

The best kind of so-called punishment should be what the Bible calls “chastening”, which literally means “CHILD-TRAINING”, something that will TEACH them something, train them and help them to learn the lesson so they’ll not want to make the same mistake again. Of course, to win and lovingly PERSUADE children to obey out of LOVE may seem to take a lot of time and patience, but they’ll turn out to be far better children and much more obedient in the long run if they are persuaded to OBEY through LOVE, rather than by trying to break their will and FORCE them to obey merely for FEAR of punishment.

This is another reason why it’s so important to first of all lead your children to JESUS and fill them with HIS WORD, because a child who loves the Lord will WANT to obey his parents out of LOVE for you and JESUS.

Discipline is a form of Love that is very, very Scriptural. Even God Himself disciplines His children when they need it! He says, “Whom the Lord LOVES He CHASTENS, and disciplines every son whom He receives!” (Hebrews 12:6). In learning obedience and submission to their ELDERS, our children receive and see a visible example of their own relationship with the LORD. Children who benefit from such Scriptural training grow to be happier and better behaved individuals.

“FOOLISHNESS IS BOUND IN THE HEART OF A CHILD; BUT THE ROD OF CORRECTION SHALL DRIVE IT FAR FROM HIM. THE ROD AND REPROOF BRING WISDOM: BUT A CHILD LEFT TO HIMSELF BRINGETH HIS MOTHER TO SHAME.” (PROVERBS 22:15; 29:15)

Earthly parents are an EXAMPLE, a picture, to a child of how GOD, our HEAVENLY FATHER, is with US, HIS children. If a child learns good Godly disciplinary standards of behaviour when YOUNG, he’ll find it much easier to submit to the LORD as he grows up and eventually is on his own.

Even if it hurts you, the parent, to have to sometimes spank or punish your child, you’ll benefit from obeying this Scriptural commandment, and be rewarded by seeing your child’s improved behaviour.

 
PRAISE AND ENCOURAGEMENT ARE ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTS OF CHILD TRAINING. Be generous with praise and APPRECIATE your child’s good intentions and strong points. For example, if your son makes a failing grade on his school work, you can still find something to commend him for, his neat handwriting, perhaps. There’s always SOME good to be praised and appreciated.

“FINALLY, BRETHREN, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE TRUE, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE HONEST, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE JUST, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE PURE, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE LOVELY, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE OF GOOD REPORT; IF THERE BE ANY VIRTUE, AND IF THERE BE ANY PRAISE, THINK ON THESE THINGS.” (PHILIPPIANS 4:8)

All children thrive on praise. It’s more important to PRAISE a child for his GOOD deeds and his good behaviour than it is to SCOLD him for his BAD behaviour. Try to always accentuate the POSITIVE!

Of course, it’s important when giving praise and appreciation to remain HONEST and SINCERE, and it must relate to him or her. For example, YOU may consider your pre-teen daughter to be beautiful, but if she perhaps doesn’t compare favourably to many others her age, in spite of YOUR opinion and feeling on the matter, she could think that you are being insincere or falsely flattering if you are constantly telling her how beautiful she is. So why not commend her in some OTHER positive area in which she excels and shines: Her eloquence of speech or her good grades or her loving, sweet character and spirit–which the Bible says is one of the most beautiful virtues a woman can have. “The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price.” (1Peter 3:4).

Be outspoken with praise for your children. Just about everyone loves kids, but it’s extremely important that the children know this by hearing you SAY it and seeing you SHOW it.

 
CONCLUSION: All these suggestions and pointers are ways to put LOVE into ACTION! Love is not “real” or practically applied without a living EXAMPLE by you and me, today’s parents who are molding the future! The World of tomorrow is what the mothers and fathers of today make it, according to the way we raise our children!

So try LOVE, it NEVER fails! Do you show YOUR children the genuine Love of JESUS? Will they grow up learning to love the Lord and share His Love with others? God BLESS and help you to be a loving parent and example to your little ones! We LOVE you!

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

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The Amazing Love of Mothers

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorA mother’s love is like a circle; it has no beginning and no ending. It keeps going around and around, ever expanding, touching everyone who comes in contact with it. Engulfing them like the morning’s mist, warming them like the noontime sun, and covering them like a blanket of evening stars. A mother’s love is like a circle; it has no beginning and no ending.
—Art Urban

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Motherhood is a hard job! There’s just no way to make it easy. It takes the strength of Samson, the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, and the faith of Abraham! He had an awful lot of faith: He was the father of faith and the father of the faithful. It also takes the love of God, that’s for sure! And you could also say the insight of Daniel and the courage of David. At least the administrative ability of David, that’s for sure. David was a fighter, and it takes a lot of fight to be a mother. What a job!

I think motherhood is just about the biggest calling in the world, the greatest calling in the world! Mothers of the next generation. They are the ones that are molding the future. The world of tomorrow is what the mothers of today make it, according to the way they raise their children.

They used to say, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” And that’s the truth! My mother had the greatest influence over me of anybody in my whole life.

—David Brandt Berg

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All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.
—Abraham Lincoln

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Men are what their mothers made them.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The future destiny of the child is always the work of the mother.
—Napoleon Bonaparte

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A little boy went up to his mother and he handed her a piece of paper that he had been writing on. This is what it said:

For cutting the grass: $5.00
For cleaning my room this week: $1.00
For going to the store for you: $.50
Baby-sitting my kid brother while you went shopping: $.25
Taking out the garbage: $1.00
For getting a good report card: $5.00
For cleaning up and raking the yard: $2.00
Total owed: $14.75

Well, his mother looked at him standing there expectantly, and you could see the memories flashing through her mind. So she picked up the pen, turned over the paper he’d written on, and this is what she wrote:

For the nine months I carried you while you were growing inside me, no charge.
For all the nights that I’ve sat up with you, doctored you and prayed for you, no charge.
For all the trying times, and all the tears through the years, there’s no charge.
For all the nights that were filled with dread, and for the worries I knew were ahead, no charge.
For the toys, food, clothes, and even wiping your nose, there’s no charge, son.
And when you add it all up, the full cost of real love is no charge.

When he finished reading what his mother had written, there were great big tears in his eyes, and he looked straight up at his mother and said, “Mom, I sure do love you.” And then he took the pen and in great big letters he wrote: “ALREADY PAID.”

—M. Adams, adapted (http://www.frtommylane.com/stories.htm)

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A mother is the truest friend we have. When trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us, when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.
—Washington Irving

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Mother is the bank where we deposit all our hurts and worries.
—Author unknown

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Don’t nothin’ come before my kids. My kids always come first. If I had food and I didn’t have enough, I would let them eat first. If they left anything, I’d eat. If they didn’t, I would just wait until next time.
—Lillie Jackson

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She broke the bread into two fragments and gave them to the children, who ate with avidity.
“She hath kept none for herself,” grumbled the sergeant.
“Because she is not hungry,” said a soldier.
“Because she is a mother,” said the sergeant.
—Victor Hugo

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There were two warring tribes in the Andes, one that lived in the lowlands and the other high in the mountains. The mountain people invaded the lowlanders one day, and as part of their plundering of the people, they kidnapped a baby of one of the lowlander families and took the infant with them back up into the mountains.

The lowlanders didn’t know how to climb the mountain. They didn’t know any of the trails that the mountain people used, and they didn’t know where to find the mountain people or how to track them in the steep terrain. Even so, they sent out their best party of fighting men to climb the mountain and bring the baby home.

The men tried first one method of climbing and then another. They tried one trail and then another. After several days of effort, however, they had climbed only several hundred feet. Feeling hopeless and helpless, the lowlander men decided that the cause was lost, and they prepared to return to their village below.

As they were packing their gear for the descent, they saw the baby’s mother walking toward them. They realized that she was coming down the mountain that they hadn’t figured out how to climb. And then they saw that she had the baby strapped to her back. How could that be?

One man greeted her and said, “We couldn’t climb this mountain. How did you do this when we, the strongest and most able men in the village, couldn’t do it?”

She shrugged her shoulders and said, “It wasn’t your baby.”

—Jim Stovall (You Don’t Have to Be Blind to See (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004), copied from http://storiesforpreaching.com)

 
 

Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.

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The Babe in the Manger

Three Christmas stories

free-bible-studies-online-anchor“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
—Luke 2:11–12

 
Remembering the Giver

One Christmas a pastor received a telephone call from the school principal, who was a member of his church. His voice was choked with emotion as he asked his pastor for his assistance. On the last day before school was dismissed for the holidays, a six-year-old boy came into his classroom with a note pinned to his tattered coat. It was from his father. The note read, “Please help my son if you can. His mother recently ran off and left us, and last week I lost my job. I’m swallowing my pride for his sake. I have never had to ask for help before, but could you make it possible for him to have a gift for Christmas?”

As the pastor heard that story, he identified with that father’s pain. He agreed to help, and decided to get his own children involved in sharing the gift of giving. That afternoon they went to a grocery store and purchased food for the man and his son. Next, they went to a toy store and each child bought a present for the boy and then went home and wrapped it. Later that afternoon they drove to the small frame house in need of paint and repairs and knocked on the door. When the man opened the door and saw the pastor and his children bearing groceries and gifts, his moistened eyes betrayed his stolid posture.

The little boy, whose eyes were as big as saucers when he saw the gifts, did not first reach out to accept them but rather reached out to the pastor and gave him a big bear hug. He looked up at his face and said, “Thank you, mister. My teacher said you would come. He said that you would come.”

The little boy was just so on target. His attention wasn’t on the gifts but on the giver.

I think the little boy in the story got it right. I can learn from him. This Christmas, not only do I remember the gift of life that the babe in a manger has brought, but I remember the babe in the manger. It is in that relationship with him that I am made whole. It’s in the connection with him that I have my hope. It’s in my yielding to him that I have the promise.

—Author unknown

 
The Camel Had Wandered

Our family has always enjoyed a Christmas tradition of setting out a ceramic nativity scene complete with wise men, camels, shepherds, sheep, and, of course, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. Each season the nativity scene was the same.

One year when my children were young, I carefully unwrapped each piece and set up an artistic display representing the first Christmas. The children gathered around to watch. We talked about the birth of Jesus and the visit of the shepherds and Magi. Then I cautioned the children, as always, not to touch the pieces, explaining that they were fragile and easily broken.

This year, however, the temptation was too great for my two-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. The day we set up the nativity scene, I noticed several times, with some irritation, that a camel had wandered from its appointed place or a sheep had strayed from the watchful care of the shepherd. Each time, I returned the piece to its rightful place, then tracked down the culprit and admonished her to leave things alone.

The next morning, Elizabeth awoke and went downstairs before I did. When I walked into the living room, I noticed right away that the manger scene had been disturbed again. All the pieces were clumped together in a mass, as tightly as they could be fitted together. Impatiently, I stepped forward to put things right; but I stopped short as I realized that some thought had gone into this new arrangement. All twenty-three figures were grouped in a circle, facing inward, pushed together as if to get the best view possible of the figure resting in the center of them all—the baby Jesus.

The spirit touched my soul as I pondered the insight of a two-year-old. Certainly, Christ should be the center of our holiday celebrations. If we all could draw in around our Savior, not only during the Christmas season but during each day, what a better perspective we would have. The love he offers to each of us would be easily shared with others who have not ventured so close. I left the nativity arranged according to Elizabeth’s design that year. It served as a poignant reminder during the rest of the season of what Christmas is all about.

—Janet Eyestone

 
Two Babes in a Manger

In 1994, two American volunteers answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach Bible-based morals and ethics classes in several schools and institutions, including a home for about 100 orphaned, abandoned, or abused children.

Shortly before Christmas, the volunteers told the children at the home the story of the first Christmas—a story that most of them had never heard before. The children listened in rapt amazement as Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, found no room in the inn, and ended up taking refuge in a stable, where Mary gave birth to baby Jesus and laid Him to sleep in a manger.

Afterwards the volunteers organized an art project. They gave each of the children a small piece of cardboard to make a manger, part of a yellow napkin to cut up for straw, a piece of beige felt from which to cut baby Jesus, and a scrap of fabric to wrap Him in. As the children assembled their mangers, the volunteers moved around the room, interacting with the children and offering a little help where needed.

When one of the volunteers came to six-year-old Misha, she found that he had already finished his project. But as she looked closer, she was surprised to see two babies in his manger. When she asked him about this, Misha crossed his arms, knit his brow, and began explaining very seriously. For such a young boy who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related it all quite accurately, until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger. Then he started to ad lib.

“Baby Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told Him I have no mama and no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with Him. But I told Him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give Him like everybody else. But I wanted to stay with Jesus very much, so I thought about what I could maybe use for a gift. I asked Jesus, ‘If I keep You warm, will that be a good enough gift?’ And Jesus told me, ‘If you keep Me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave Me.’ So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and said I could stay with Him for always.”

As little Misha finished his story, tears filled his eyes and splashed down his cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, he dropped his head to the table and sobbed. Misha had found Someone who would never abandon or abuse him, Someone who would stay with him “for always.” (Stories sourced from http://homeandholidays.com.)

—Author unknown

 
 

Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.

Activated

Things Every Parent Should Know (But Shouldn’t Have to Learn the Hard Way)

free-bible-studies-online-activated-things-every-parent-should-know

 
We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.
—Stacia Tauscher

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You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.
—Franklin P. Jones

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Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.
—Rabindranath Tagore

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There’s nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitive child.
—Frank A. Clark

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There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.
—Walt Streightiff

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Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
—Elizabeth Stone

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Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories.
—John Wilmot

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To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself.
—Josh Billings

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It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it myself.
—Joyce Maynard

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Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.
—Robert Fulghum

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If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.
—C.G. Jung

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Children have more need of models than of critics.
—Carolyn Coats

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Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.
—Charles R. Swindoll

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What a child doesn’t receive he can seldom later give.
—P.D. James

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If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others.
—Haim Ginott

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In bringing up children, spend on them half as much money and twice as much time.
—Author unknown

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What’s done to children, they will do to society.
—Karl Menninger

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You have a lifetime to work, but children are only young once.
—Polish proverb

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Kids spell love T-I-M-E.
—John Crudele

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The guys who fear becoming fathers don’t understand that fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man. The end product of child raising is not the child but the parent.
—Frank Pittman

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If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.
—Diane Loomans

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Activated

Tightrope Tandem—Decision Making in the Teen Years

By David Brandt Berg, adapted

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By the time children reach their early teens, they have grown to nearly the physical stature of adults, but often still think and behave like children. That’s the age when a lot of young people do wild, crazy things and get into trouble, and of course if they start going that direction and no one is there to help turn them around, things are likely to go from bad to worse.

Teens are at the age of decision, and that’s a troubling, perilous time. They’re trying to find their place in life, where they fit, and it worries them. They can be pretty difficult to live with, and they even find it difficult to live with themselves, because they are in a quandary, in a state of flux. They can be very idealistic, and at the same time very critical of their parents and other adults who aren’t perfect.

Making the transition from childhood to adulthood can be like walking a tightrope, a high wire, and teens need someone there, a parent or other strong role model, to help them find their footing and steady them as they cross over.

Teenagers may not act like it, but they actually want leadership, they want direction, and they know they need it. They want help, but you’ve got to win their confidence. They’ve got to know that you love them and are trying to help them.

When children become young teenagers, they start wanting to make their own decisions and run their own lives. That’s a natural part of coming into adulthood. Of course, by that time their parents should have taught them how to make right decisions, and if they haven’t, things are likely to go haywire. When that happens it may seem like it’s too late, but better to start late than not at all—and it’s never too late, with God’s help.

When my first four reached their teens, I tried to guide them through the decision-making process, but then I’d get them to make their own decisions. I’d say, “You know what’s right and what’s wrong. What do you think you ought to do?”

They’d often try to get me or their mother to make the decision for them, so they wouldn’t have to take the blame if things went wrong. Or they’d try to persuade us to say yes to them doing something that they knew they shouldn’t do, so we’d be guilty and not them.

But I would tell them, “Don’t ask me. You know what’s right and wrong. What do you think you should do?” Afterwards they were usually glad that we made them decide, because they knew that was the way it was supposed to be and it helped them feel trusted and respected, which is a very important thing at that age.

Most of the time they knew what was right, and they wound up making the right choices. Even after they had made a wrong choice or two, they usually turned around and made the right one after a little wisely presented advice. I believe that most teens will do the same, if shown enough love and patience and understanding.

Parenting or mentoring teens is a difficult, sacrificial, and sometimes scary job, but it also has thrills and rewards that are all its own.

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Activated

Start Early—The Need for Loving, Consistent Discipline

By Maria Fontaine

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Parenting is more than comforting children when they fall down, or making sure they get proper nutrition, and brush their teeth, and so on. Parents are responsible for their children’s spiritual training as well, and the foundation stone of that training is loving and consistent discipline—and when I say “loving,” I mean reasonable, even-tempered, and nonviolent. Children begin forming behavior patterns and their ideas of right and wrong very early in life, so the earlier you can start teaching them, the better.

Discipline means training your children to lead a disciplined life, and eventually to discipline themselves. If discipline is something that you only do “to” children, the end result will be that as soon as they get out from under your control, they will go wild. But if you discipline them in the sense of consistently trying to teach them to lead disciplined lives, eventually they will be able to discipline themselves.

Discipline is not only about correction or the consequences for unacceptable behavior, although those are each a very important part of it. Discipline starts with step-by-step teaching, setting clear boundaries and guidelines, setting a good example in your own behavior, and being consistent.

If you’re like most parents, it was initially difficult for you to administer correction, and perhaps it still is. You love your children and don’t want to see them unhappy. You wish with all your heart that there was some way around it, that they could learn the lesson some easier way, but because you do love them, you correct them because you know it’s what they need and what will keep them from being hurt worse later. As the Bible says, discipline “yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

You can’t expect children to learn good behavior on their own; it’s a long-term process that requires consistency, love, and fairness. It’s probably the biggest challenge and the hardest job you’ll ever face as a parent. It’s easier in some ways to just let them run wild and entertain themselves, but in the long run you’ll find that it’s much more worthwhile to do the hard work that is needed to discipline your kids. In fact, you’re in for a lot of heartache if you don’t.

Until children learn the simple, basic lessons of obedience, respect, concern for others, self-control, and discipline, they won’t mature or reach their full potential. They’ll also be less happy and fulfilled in life, and they’ll probably make those around them less than happy too. And if you don’t give children loving, consistent discipline when they’re young, then when they get older they’ll be much harder to handle. You’ll wind up having to really crack down on them to keep them from hurting themselves or others—and it won’t be their fault. It will be your fault for not teaching them earlier, when the stakes weren’t as high.

When you look at it that way, you’ll see that the loving thing to do is to teach your kids from the beginning, gently, lovingly, and consistently showing them how to make the right decisions, laying the boundaries for acceptable behavior, and administering some form of consequence when they cross those boundaries.

So the first step is to believe that discipline is necessary, that your children not only need it in order to grow up to be productive and useful members of society, but also to be happy and secure in their relationship with you, their parent. Deep down inside, children know they need boundaries and want their boundaries to be defined, and they’re happier and more secure when they receive consistent, loving discipline.

Once you make the commitment to be faithful in the training and discipline of your children, there’s another hurdle to cross, which is consistency. There will be times when you’re busy with other responsibilities, times when disciplining would be inconvenient or you will worry about what others would think, times when you don’t want to “spoil the moment,” and times when your children will try every trick in the book to talk you out of it. Unless you’re careful, situations and your own mood or energy level will have a greater bearing than they should on how you mete out discipline; you will either ignore misbehavior because you feel that would be more expedient, or you will resort to sharp words or nagging. But inconsistent discipline, for whatever reason, is confusing and even damaging for children and will only make it harder on you and them. By disciplining consistently, you will need to discipline less, because your children will learn their lessons quicker.

If you’re going to discipline your kids, you have to be involved in what they’re doing. When you make the commitment to train your children to lead disciplined lives, you’re also making a commitment to spend more time with them, because it does take being with them and tuning in to them. You might not enjoy the moments when you have to correct them or discipline them, and at the time it will seem like a lot more work to teach them the right way to do something rather than just letting them do what they want to do. But in the long run, you’ll find that you’ve saved yourself a lot of work, and you’ll enjoy your times with your children much more.

Consistently administering loving discipline has great rewards. In the end, not only will your children love, respect, and enjoy being with you more, but you will feel the same way about them, because you will have helped bring out the best in them.

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Activated

The Problem with Modern Entertainment

By David Brandt Berg

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Have you ever noticed how audiences these days laugh the most when the actors make cutting remarks and try to embarrass or hurt each other? That’s supposed to be funny. Well, to me it’s offensive! When I was young, audiences would be stunned and offended at that sort of thing. Now they just roar with laughter.

You can hardly find a movie or TV show about a family with children where the kids aren’t fussing and fighting like mad. The parents do it too. Husbands and wives are constantly arguing and putting each other down in front of their children—and in front of your children. Because this has become the norm among families in the media, the children watching naturally assume that it’s normal and acceptable for families to behave that way.

Sad to say, it probably is typical of the average U.S. home, since that’s where most of those shows originate and that’s who the producers are appealing to. It’s normal in that sense, but it certainly shouldn’t be considered acceptable. It’s unloving, hurtful, and wrong—and it’s contagious! It’s also rapidly becoming a picture of home life almost anywhere, largely due to the influence those shows have as they spread around the world. Isn’t that horrible?

Children imitate what they see and hear, and they seem to have a penchant for copying the negative. Young children, especially, can’t always tell the difference between good or bad, and it’s even harder when those guilty of some of the worst behavior are made to look so enviable, so “good,” in other ways—good looking, affluent, popular, smarter than the adults, and free to do as they please.

Children are in the process of forming the values that they will carry with them through life, and it’s their parents’ responsibility to guide that process. Parents are failing at that job if they let their children watch what they want without any parental guidance or explanation as to what is acceptable civil behavior and what isn’t. And that goes for shows that are supposedly geared to children, even the ones that are meant to be educational.

Just because a movie or TV show is rated for children doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good for your children. Parents need to take personal responsibility for that decision. They also have a responsibility to steer their children away from the negative, either by not exposing their children to it in the first place, or by explaining why it’s bad and not to be imitated.

What a mess the entertainment world is in! It could be such a good tool for teaching about life, as it once was, but instead it’s getting worse by the year!

Today’s mainstream media rarely mentions God except in profanity, the occult is intriguing and “cool,” and religious people are usually portrayed as kooks. When I was growing up, many movies had positive, reverent references to God and prayer, and often even the most wayward characters would wind up learning their lesson and reforming. Movies back then usually had happy endings, with morals and lessons being taught.

Not now! Sometimes you can hardly tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. What I really hate are those stories where the evil wins out in the end.

In Greek drama, European opera, and Shakespearean plays there were lots of tragedies, but there was always a lesson to be learned. The Greeks believed that the emotions tragedy released, sadness and grief, were good because they had a purgative, purifying effect. Shakespeare’s tragedies were insightful and meaningful. Every Aesop’s Fable had a moral at the end.

But most of today’s music, movies, television, videos, and other entertainment have nothing sensible to teach, no lesson to be learned. They leave you with a feeling of hopelessness. “Everything’s a mess! The world’s a terrible place! God must be a monster to have created such a thing!” They blame it all on God. Even if they don’t mention God, that’s what they mean. “Why me? This is unfair! Why does this have to happen to me?”

Cartoons have always had their share of violence—cartoon characters hitting each other and blowing each other up and that sort of thing—but some of the latest cartoons are even worse because they introduce children to the occult and other evil supernatural stuff. I love the supernatural—the good side—but many of today’s cartoons portray and promote the other side, a full array of Satan’s goods! It’s like stepping back into the Dark Ages. It’s terrible!

It’s the same with much of today’s music and music videos. You can hardly ever understand the lyrics—at least most adults can’t without really making an effort. But if you make that effort, or if you read the lyrics [most can be found online], in many cases you’ll be shocked and appalled at the perversions and warped values that songwriters and bands are preaching to young people through their music.

If you’re a parent, you need to take a long, hard look at what’s out there and decide if that’s how you want your children to turn out, because what they watch and listen to and imitate today, they will become tomorrow.

 
 

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