Category Archives: Family

Anchor

Thank God for Moms

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorMother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.
—William Makepeace Thackeray

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Her children rise up and call her blessed.
—Proverbs 31:28

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To a child’s ear, “mother” is magic in any language.
—Arlene Benedict

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Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for He who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother.
—St. Clare of Assisi

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As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.
—Isaiah 66:13

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My prayer for you, mother.

Heavenly Father,
Hold my precious mother close to Your heart as I hold her close to mine.
Let her know today and every day how much I love her.
Lord, comfort her mind and reassure her
that her motherly care was everything I needed and wanted, and that I love her dearly.
Lord, comfort her body as she ages and grant her health and vitality as she goes through her days here on earth.
Bring all good things to my mother, dear God, and bless her every day, in every way.
In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.

—Author unknown

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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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What Dinah Craik wrote about friends can be beautifully applied to mothers: “Oh, the comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”
—Abi F. May

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You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be—
I had a mother who read to me.
—Strickland Gillilan

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I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians of England.
—John Wesley

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A wise woman once said to me: “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings.”
—Hodding Carter

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Old-fashioned motherhood never goes out of style, because it’s all about love. I made people to need love, and I intended for them to first experience that love through their mothers. Mothers are the embodiment of love and care and tenderness—love that even the tiniest baby can feel and respond to.

Love is the best thing in life! It’s the most important lesson anyone can ever learn and the greatest gift anyone can ever receive—and mothers teach it and give it like no one else. Life would go on fine without many things, but not without mothers. Old-fashioned motherhood is here to stay!

—Jesus, speaking in prophecy

 
Why God Made Moms

Answers given by second-grade schoolchildren to the following questions:

 
Why did God make mothers?

  1. She’s the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
  2. Mostly to clean the house.
  3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

 
How did God make mothers?

  1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
  2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
  3. God made my mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

 
What ingredients are mothers made of?

  1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
  2. They had to get their start from men’s bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

 
Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?

  1. We’re related.
  2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people’s moms like me.

 
What kind of a little girl was your mom?

  1. My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
  2. I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
  3. They say she used to be nice.

 
What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?

  1. His last name.
  2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
  3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

 
Why did your mom marry your dad?

  1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my mom eats a lot.
  2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
  3. My grandma says that mom didn’t have her thinking cap on.

 
Who’s the boss at your house?

  1. Mom doesn’t want to be boss, but she has to because dad’s such a goofball.
  2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
  3. I guess mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

 
What’s the difference between moms and dads?

  1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
  2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
  3. Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power ’cause that’s who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friends.
  4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

 
What does your mom do in her spare time?

  1. Mothers don’t do spare time.
  2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

 
What would it take to make your mom perfect?

  1. On the inside she’s already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
  2. Diet. You know, her hair. I’d dye it, maybe blue.

 
If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?

  1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I’d get rid of that.
  2. I’d make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it, not me.
  3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

—Source unknown

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

The Secret to Child-Training: Love!

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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

Activated

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

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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

How to Have a Happier Home

Adapted from Virginia Brandt Berg

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What is the greatest weakness in most families? According to Dr. James H. Bossard, a former professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania who spent 40 years probing what he called “neglected areas of family life,” it is the way parents talk in front of their children.

After studying extensive recordings of table talk, he wrote, “I had no idea I would discover a real pattern in the [mealtime] conversation of families. I just wanted to learn what families talked about, but to my amazement I have found that family after family had definite, consistent conversational habits, and that the critical pattern was the most prevalent.

“These families rarely had a good word to say about anyone. They carped continuously about friends, relatives, neighbors—almost every aspect of their lives, from the lines of people in the supermarket to the stupidity of their bosses.

“This constant negative family atmosphere had a disastrous effect on the children, because a high percentage of [these families’] children were antisocial and unpopular. And this pattern of the family’s hostility many times turned to quarreling amongst themselves. Without fail, their meals were a round of insults and bickering. The children absorbed that pattern, and it caused the children trouble.

“Long ago,” Dr. Bossard continued, “a great Teacher pointed out that what comes out of the mouth is a great deal more important than that which goes in to it.” That Teacher was Jesus, and that wisdom is found in Matthew 15:11.

Jesus also said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). If your soul is superficial, egotistical, and mean, all those qualities are going to permeate your words as they flow from your lips. But if the Holy Spirit has control, the words you speak will be filled with divine light, just as Christ is light (John 1:4; 8:12).

Words flowing from a soul filled with God’s Spirit of love will have a magnetic quality that will draw others. When the heart is burning with divine love, you don’t need to try to put pathos or tenderness into your conversation. All your words will have a savor and a power that comes from an inner depth.

Do you want to always speak just the right words at just the right moment in just the right way so that they will have a lasting good effect? That probably seems almost impossible—and it is humanly impossible. But it’s not impossible when you let the Spirit of the living Christ speak through you.

How can this be? How can you be so filled with the Spirit of Christ that He can guide you in all that you say? It can only happen through you taking time with Him, getting filled with His Spirit and His love. You must take time to read His recorded Word, the Bible, and partake of His Spirit by letting Him speak to you personally in prayer and reflection.

But if you don’t do those things, then just when you want and need them most, the right words will not come forth. What will come forth will more likely be shallow, lukewarm, or negative. But if you let Jesus live in you and take time in His presence, soaking up His love and Spirit, “from your innermost being shall flow continuously springs and rivers of living water” (John 7:38 Amplified Bible).

So the root of the problem isn’t actually the tongue, but the heart. Words only convey what’s in the heart. Jesus taught that our words reveal our heart’s character. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matthew 12:35).

There is no way under the sun to change the quality of our words except to change the spirit from which those words flow. There has to be a change of heart.

If you need such a change of heart, begin by praying, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). Then as you spend time with Jesus, the fountain of all goodness and kindness and gentleness, your relationship with Him will deepen and you’ll soon find your words to be conductors of His Spirit, making you a greater influence for good in the lives of those nearest and dearest to you.

 
 

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Answers to Your Questions

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Q: Lately my children have become quite disrespectful. It also seems that whenever I try to correct the situation, I only make matters worse. What can I do?

A: The first step in correcting such misbehavior is facing the hard truth that it’s partly your fault that your children got into that state. As with most problems, you need to start by examining your own attitudes and actions and determining to make whatever changes you need to make first, before you can expect to help others change.

Though children will naturally become more questioning and challenging as they grow older and need more explanations, outright disrespect and disobedience is usually the result of being too lenient, because leniency teaches children to manipulate rather than respect their parents. The solution is to learn to be firmer, but making such a change is usually easier said than done, because the unacceptable behavior has become a bad habit and because you probably felt at the time that your motives—love for your children and wanting to see them happy—were good.

Those are good motives, but if the results are bad, it’s the wrong form of love for that situation. Firmness is also a form of love, and sometimes it’s the best form. Children usually think in terms of what will make them happiest in the short term, so their parents need to take the responsibility of judging what will be best for them in the long run, which often means saying no.

Next you need to have the issues clearly sorted out in your own mind. Exactly what constitutes acceptable behavior and what doesn’t? Before you can hope to convince your children that certain changes are needed, you need to be fully convinced yourself.

If you aren’t sure what to do in a particular situation, pray and ask Jesus to show you. Or if you aren’t sure what general approach is best for each of your children, ask Him to reveal that to you. Or if you feel rules that are needed are going to be difficult for you to enforce, ask Him to strengthen your conviction. Whatever your question or need, He’s ready, willing, and able to help you. He loves your children even more than you do, so you can be sure that He’s going to do everything He can to help you become the best parent you can be.

In implementing the rules you feel are needed, you’ll get a lot further by discussing them with your children and reasoning with them, trying to win their cooperation, than you would by merely laying down the law and demanding their respect. Your discussing it—which includes hearing them out and being willing to show yourself flexible and make modifications if needed—conveys your respect for them. Most likely, they will respect you back, and that is the first step in the right direction.

How you explain things will depend on your children’s ages and levels of maturity. Again, there’s no substitute for asking the Lord for His counsel, because what could help one child may not work with another.

Begin by taking your share of the blame and explaining why the change is needed. “Because I didn’t put a stop to it from the beginning, you’ve gotten in the habit of talking back and being disrespectful. That needs to change, because it’s not acceptable behavior in a loving household, which ours should be.”

Be sure to make not only the rules clear, but also the consequences for breaking them. “If you talk back or are disrespectful, you’ll have such-and-such privileges suspended.” Be sure to enforce the consequences consistently, or your rules will become of no effect.

Along with the promised punishment, you should also promise rewards for good behavior. “As soon as you correct the problem, we’ll be able to reinstate the suspended privileges and possibly add some more.” End your discussion on a positive note.

Lastly, pray for patience. Remember, you’re trying to do more than change behavior; you’re trying to change the attitudes that have led to that bad behavior and build positive new habits to replace their old ones. That takes time. Prayer, consistency, and firmness, tempered with love, are the keys. So commit to making the change together, and keep at it until it happens!

 
 

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Qualities of a Good Marriage

By Maria Fontaine

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So much has been said and written about marriage—much of it rather complicated or seemingly contradictory—that I was curious as to what Jesus would have to say on the subject. He has such a wonderful way of explaining things simply, clearly, and positively that I was sure He could put things in perspective. So I asked Him to summarize some of the main qualities of a good marriage, and He did. Here’s the message He gave:

Marriage wasn’t meant to be so complicated or difficult that only a few could do it successfully. It’s within the reach of nearly everyone. It’s also what will make most people happiest and their lives most meaningful, productive, and satisfying, because it’s a basic part of God’s plan for mankind. No one excels in all of the following areas, of course, so don’t be discouraged if you feel you fall short in some. Just do your best and ask Me to help you with the rest.

 
Putting Me first. It’s a spiritual law that when you put your time with Me first, both alone and with your husband or wife, everything else falls into place. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these [other] things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

 
Unselfishness. Selfishness is at the root of most marriage problems. For a marriage to work, both partners need to put the happiness of the other before their own. That’s real love—the kind that lasts.

 
Willingness to recognize and work on problems. Most of the problems that sink marriages start small but grow out of hand because the couple fails to deal with the problems soon enough. Often they tell themselves that the problem will go away if they ignore it or when circumstances change, but that passive approach seldom works. Those with the strongest marriages are those who learn to face their problems head-on and take active steps to overcome them together.

 
Good communication. In order to understand and meet each other’s needs, as well as to unite to overcome problems, good communication is a must.

 
Forgiveness. A readiness to forgive is a key to a solid, secure marriage. Be quick to apologize for any hurtful words or actions you may have directed at your wife or husband.

 
Being supportive. To make your marriage all it can be, dwell on each other’s good qualities and always look for ways to bring out the best in each other, rather than belittle, criticize, or nag.

 
Teamwork. Discuss and agree on goals and priorities, and learn to tackle problems together. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

 
Consideration. Being considerate of each other’s feelings, likes and dislikes, time, and energy not only says “I love you” in a most convincing and endearing way, but it also relieves stress, prevents friction, and keeps lots of little problems from ever happening.

 
Affection. You’d be surprised at how many marriages fall short because of a lack of outward affection. Vocal expressions of your love for one another are also important, but sometimes touching, kissing, and hugging can convey love and reassurance even better. They are physical manifestations of inward feelings.

 
Equality. Equality means involving each other in decisions, parenting your children together, and sharing financial and household responsibilities, but it goes deeper than that. It’s not just a matter of scheduling or dividing the workload equally, but of valuing and respecting each other so each one’s strengths can come to the fore.

 
Admiration. Few things boost self-esteem or make people want to succeed in the truly important things of life more than hearing that their good qualities are noticed and admired. Sharpen your appreciation of the wonderful person you married, and watch him or her become even more wonderful.

 
Reaching out to others. Even if you seem to be the most compatible couple in the world and feel completely satisfied and secure in each other’s company, in order for your marriage to thrive, you both need other friends. Others can help you grow in ways that your husband or wife can’t, so your marriage will actually be strengthened as you each spend time and do things with others.

 
A sense of humor. “A merry heart does good, like medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). Lighten up a little and you’ll find that most of the everyday inconveniences, annoyances, and problems you face aren’t so bad after all.

 
Optimism. Optimism—the tendency to believe and expect the best—linked to faith in Me nearly always pays off big, because I love to reward faith. Conversely, few things can drag down a marriage faster than pessimism—expecting the worst and complaining about the downside of situations.

 
Including Me. I want to see you succeed in marriage and as individuals, and I’m the Answer Man. I can make mountains of problems melt away, and I can make your dreams come true, but there’s one condition: Include Me. You’ll be amazed at what the three of us can accomplish together!

 
 

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That Wonderful Thing Called Mother

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A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.
—Tenneva Jordan

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The best medicine in the world is a mother’s kiss.
—Anonymous

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Mama was my greatest teacher—a teacher of compassion, love, and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love.
—Stevie Wonder

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To a child’s ear, “mother” is magic in any language.
—Arlene Benedict

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Youth fades, love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; a mother’s secret hope outlives them all.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes

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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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God sees us through our mothers’ eyes and rewards us for our virtues.
—Ganeshan Venkatarman

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

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My mother’s love for me was so great I have worked hard to justify it.
—Marc Chagall

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No influence is so powerful as that of the mother.
—Sarah Josepha Hale

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The strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.
—Barbara Kingsolver

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Mothers are instinctive philosophers.
—Harriet Beecher Stowe

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A good mother is worth hundreds of schoolmasters.
—George Herbert

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The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.
—Henry Ward Beecher

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Mother-love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.
—Unknown

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A mother loves her children even when they least deserve to be loved.
—Kate Samperi

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Mother is the one we count on for the things that matter most of all.
—Katharine Butler Hathaway

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A mother understands what a child does not say.
—Jewish proverb

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All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.
—George Washington

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The noblest calling in the world is that of a mother. True motherhood is the most beautiful of all arts, the greatest of all professions. She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves the plaudits and admiration of mankind, but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters whose immortal souls will be exerting an influence throughout the ages, long after paintings shall have faded and books and statues shall have been destroyed, deserves the highest honor that man can give.
—David O. McKay

 
 

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