3 Ways to Encourage Sibling Love


During the Valentine’s Day season we often relate this time to the love a man and woman share. But I would like to speak to the loving bond of siblings.

I have to admit, one of the joys (and frustrations) of parenting is cultivating that bond between brothers and sisters. While on the one hand my children certainly did their fair share of fighting and bickering (the frustrating part), they also engaged in total loyalty and love for one another. However, the latter didn’t come without some intention on our part.

There were many ways that my husband and I encouraged our kids to love each other, but there were three that I’d like to share with you. I hope these three ways will benefit you in doing the same with your kids.

1. Teach them to cheer. As with any parent we had our kids in sports, music lessons, dance and other activities. The temptation was to allow our child’s siblings to do other things while we attended these events. We certainly heard the complaints from our kids: “Do I have to go?  It’s boring!” To not deal with their complaints, it would have been easy just to let them do something else so we could enjoy the game, dance, or recital. But we made a resolute decision; we were going to teach our kids how to cheer for their sibling. We wanted our kids to look beyond themselves and see the need their sibling had for encouragement.

Teaching our kids how to cheer for their siblings and be present during their accomplishments has not only taught them that others are important, it has given them a voice in their sibling’s need for support. Instead of saying to your kids, “You have to go see your brother play baseball”; say, “Your brother will play so much better because you are there encouraging him. He values what you think of him.”

Give your children a purpose in being at their sibling’s events.

As adult children now, our kids value each other’s opinions and support. For example, when our oldest son went on his first mission trip to Bangladesh, each of his siblings wrote him a letter to read while he was on the plane. Often throughout his trip, he read those letters over and over. When the mission trip was hard, his sister’s words lifted him up and gave him the courage to carry on. His youngest brother made him laugh, while the other reminded him of why he was on this trip. I don’t think our kids would have even thought to encourage him in this way if this was not the norm growing up.

Teach your kids to cheer their siblings; it keeps the bond of love going long after the growing years are over.

2.) Teach them to share. Sharing doesn’t mean to allow your kids to run wild in their sibling’s room taking what they want. But instead, sharing is learning to join in each other’s happiness. On each child’s birthday, we did not insist the birthday child share his or her new gift; instead, we taught their siblings to be excited about their joy; they would watch their brother or sister open and play with their new toy. In time, as they were excited for their sibling, it was a natural consequence for the birthday child to share the gift with the other.

Of course, there were lessons of respect for other’s things taught and waiting their turn to play with each other’s toys. There were even those times when a child just needed time to enjoy their new gift alone. But we found over time, that because we taught our children to be happy for someone else’s happiness, they wanted to share what they had.

Teach your kids to care about other’s happiness; it seems that caring begets sharing.

3.) Teach them to sacrifice. Teaching our children how to sacrifice for their siblings first comes by watching us sacrifice for them. When our children see us giving up what we want for their sake, they learn the love of sacrifice. Over time they see this as normal.

It’s a beautiful thing to see one sibling have much and notice that their brother or sister has nothing, and then split what they have so their sibling can have something.

Besides a parent modeling sacrifice, teach your kids to notice what their brother or sister has or doesn’t have. Ask questions like, “How do you think they feel right now?” Teach them to look at their sibling’s eyes and pay attention to how they change when they are happy or sad. Sacrifice teaches children to notice others when they are hurting. When a child sympathizes with the feelings of another child, it’s a lot easier for them to sacrifice for them.

This simple act of sacrifice raises children into adults who choose to be there to help their siblings when they are going through tough times. They find that the difficult times in life are smoother when they tarry together through them. They learn that sacrifice means to care. They learn to put their differences aside and put the other first above their needs. They find joy in this type of giving.

Teaching our kids to love through cheering for one another, sharing with each other, and sacrificing their wants for the need of others is not an easy task. But the hard work produces adults who choose to be a blessing in their world and not a drain. It also teaches them to lead like Jesus, love like Jesus and reflect Him to others. They cause others to question, “What makes that person different from what I see in this selfish world?” What a great platform to work from so that others can know Christ!

“Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus” Philippians 2:3-5.

What Can a Mere Child Teach Us?


Acts 23:11-35; Mark 10:13-15

A conspiracy was formed. Forty Jews came together and developed a plot to finally rid Paul and his message of salvation through Jesus Christ. “They bound themselves under a curse: neither to eat or drink until they had killed Paul.”

Unbeknownst to them, Paul’s young nephew overheard their plot. With great courage, he came to his uncle and told him what he heard. Paul instructed the centurion to take him to the commander so he could give his report.

The commander took the boy by the hand and listened to what he had to say. Remarkably, this commander took seriously what this child reported. He did not underestimate the intervention of a child.

As a result, this commander put in motion a plan to protect Paul. He was able to securely and successfully escort Paul to Rome. While a prisoner, yes; but not just any prisoner, one who was in chains for the gospel and one who would boldly preach the good news of Jesus.

And who did God use to help Paul? A mere child! We assert that he was a child based on the language used in Acts 23:19, “Then the commander took him (Paul’s nephew) by the hand, led him aside, and inquired privately, “What is it you have to report to me?”

It’s not likely the commander took the hand of a grown man and led him to a place to hear his report. Either way, a child or one younger than ourselves, we can never dismiss the wisdom of those that God uses to instruct us.

One thing we can learn from children is how to have the kind of faith we need to get to heaven. Over and over, my children have taught me as much as I have taught them. God works through His people regardless of age. To be a learner like children means to set aside our pride, come humbly to the water and drink. It doesn’t matter if the pool is prestigious in form or simple. Does it have fresh water where we are spiritually nourished, is the question?

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t keep them away. God’s kingdom belongs to people like them. What I’m about to tell you is true. Anyone who will not receive God’s kingdom like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15).

Children are very receptive to truth. They want to know what is real and what is not. They have an inner desire to know God and worship Him.

Children have great faith! We would do well to learn from them as well as help them grow in this faith of theirs.

I came across an interesting illustration that Charles Spurgeon shares:

I heard the story of a man, a blasphemer…an atheist, who was converted singularly by a sinful action of his. He had written on a piece of paper, “God is nowhere,” and ordered his child to read it, for he would make him an atheist too. The child spelled it, “God is n-o-w h-e-r-e. God is now here.” It was a truth instead of a lie, and the arrow pierced the man’s, own heart.”

Because of their humility, children are able to see truth. Their innocence allows them to approach life with a deep desire to seek what is real. They can teach us much. Never underestimate the wisdom and intervention of a child or a disciple younger than you! God can teach you so much through them!

 

 

When Misery is Hard to Bear


Did you know that God pays very close attention to us? He takes a specific interest in our misery, especially when we cry out to Him in prayer.

The good news is He doesn’t just listen to us; He acts on our prayers. Just like He acted on behalf of the Israelites, who were enslaved to Pharaoh of Egypt, He will act on your behalf, too!

For years the Jews suffered under Pharaoh’s rule and then finally when the people probably thought there was no hope, God came to their rescue.

As with these people, when no hope seems to be in sight, He will stand up and make His greatest, most powerful move in your life.

“The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…” Exodus 3:7-8

Notice what we learn about our Merciful and Gracious God:

  • He sees our misery.
  • He hears our cries.
  • He’s concerned about our suffering.
  • He comes down to rescue us.
  • He brings us up out of our demise into a good and spacious place of peace.

God is faithful. Faithfulness defines Him. We may not be consistently faithful. We may not always do the right thing. But if we confess our sins and trust in Him, He reveals to us who He is – faithful – no matter where we have been or what we have done. He forgives. He brings new life. His patience with us carries on and on; for even “if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).

Don’t give up. Don’t relegate yourself to the failures. Cry out to your God! Cry out to Jesus! His arms are open; is your heart open to Him?

God’s words to you:

“I have paid close attention to you and to what has been done to you. I see your misery. I hear your cry for help. I’m here for you, my child. I’m here for you, did you hear that? Open up your heart and trust My ways; for they are good and perfect. I will come to you, rescue you, and give you a new strength so you overcome your slavery. You will be whole and free. Just do this one thing, will you? Trust Me. Meditate on My Word and believe that I AM who I say that I AM. I’ll take care of the rest for you.”

 

Finding Peace 


Are you lacking peace this Christmas season? Consider where your thoughts are. Where your mind dwells will result in turmoil or peace. 
For example: If you…
“Remember your affliction and your homelessness, the wormwood and the poison. And continually remember them, you become depressed.” Lamentations 3:19-20 
This is one way to let your mind settle, on all the bad that’s happened to you or is happening right now.  
Or you could:  
“Call this to mind and therefore have hope.  
Because of the Lord’s faithful love you do not perish for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is His faithfulness! You can say: the Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.” Lamentations 3:21-24 
Where you choose to set your mind will determine the condition of your heart. 
#choosepeace #resetyourmind

Step One In Disciplining Your Kids


A. W. Tozer explains the psychology of sin as a person who has no fear of God. When people no longer fear God, they sin against God’s laws without hesitation. Even the fear of consequences is no deterrent when the fear of God is gone.

Such is the reason we should teach our children to fear God before we teach them right behavior. It makes the process of discipline much smoother.

Fear is so much more than trembling with fright, it’s a devoted love that chooses to honor, obey and trust God and nothing else.

This fear is the beginning of all knowledge and wisdom in which a child needs to be successful and be a blessing in this life.

Choose step one in disciplining your kids: At an early age teach them to walk in the fear of God.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7).

A Wisdom Byte On A Parent’s Words


A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath. Proverbs 15:1

When it comes to parenting, the stress of so much responsibility can make it hard to maintain a sense of control. Whether it’s the kids, the house, work, marriage and other duties that pull at us, it’s tempting to take it all out on the kids with a harsh word.

Our wisdom byte for today is that even in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of life, we can be intentional at responding to our kids with gentleness. There are consequences if we don’t.

If we choose to allow our stress to become a fountain of fury, we are tempted to take it out on the kids. The consequences of careless callousness are devastating.

A harsh word…

  1. Provokes rebellion.
  2. Breaks the spirit.
  3. Cultivates foolishness.
  4. Tears down relationship.

Those are pretty grave outcomes of a harsh word spoken. And if a child is under that day in and day out, they become just like this. They will speak this way to others. They learn how to be by the model in front of them.

On the other hand, when we choose to slow down, think first and then respond, we gain perspective. Yes, it may very well be your kids who are creating your stress, but it is highly unlikely that all your stress results from them alone.

You may be feeling overwhelmed with life, and the easy target to release the stress upon are your kids. When we gain perspective, we can deal with the situation we are facing as it is, not as it feels. The many great rewards a parent receives from being temperate is long-lasting; they reap beyond the child rearing years of their kids.

A gentle answer:

  1. Chooses words wisely.
  2. Speaks what is edifying.
  3. Intends to bring healing.
  4. Instructs with a purpose.

Those are just a few of the many blessings of a gentle answer. They each are worth taking a deep breath, praying to God for clarity on the situation; then moving forward in gentleness.

Your children will emulate what they experience. If they experience a harsh word, they will be harsh. If they experience a gentle word, they will be gentle. As parents, we do reap what we sow.

Sow well and you will reap well.

Take A Moment


“Is anyone going to heaven because of you” is the question that was asked of me this morning.

My answer, “Yes!”

I was encouraged as I began to think of the people who know Jesus because God used me. Then, as quickly the encouragement came, discouragement moved in.

I immediately thought, “But who have I not reached? Who did I miss? Who is not hearing about Jesus today? What more can I do for you, Lord?”

My soul depleted of all rest. Robbed was my hope in what God has done through me. Back to the grind. Keep working. I have no time to stop. No time to rest in God’s goodness today.

And then the Lord quickened me with, “Take a moment, my child.”

There are times we need to stop and meditate on the good we are doing for Jesus. We need to be happy about it. We need to feel the joy of just serving our Lord. We need to embrace this moment long enough to be encouraged along the way.

But we don’t take this moment in life, do we?

It’s so easy to add a tag line to the good we are doing with, “but you need to do more or you can do better.” It’s true, we do need to do more, we can improve, but we can also rest in God’s pleasure that we have done well.

Life is hard. It beats us down.

Busyness keeps us from being still.

Media berates us with anxiety, fear, and despair.

Troubles and trials make us weary.

Demands and expectations never take a vacation.

We end most of our days deflated as we reflect on what we have not accomplished.

The tension is this, we need to evaluate, we need to learn how we can do better, but we need to rest our soul from the incessant assessments, too. The cost to not resting is too great. Rest does more than just give us the time to sleep and gear up for the next big job we need to do.

Look at what we put aside when we choose not to glory in God’s work through us:

We don’t embrace God’s pleasure.

We don’t allow ourselves to feel His love.

We don’t take the time to hear how much He is proud of us.

Not feeling His pleasure, His love and His pride in us is a sure way to serve God without passion one day. We will lose our vision, joy, and purpose. We will forget why we do what we do. We will do out of duty not love. As the church of Ephesus was so acutely scolded, “I know your works, your labor, and your endurance…but I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:2-4).

You are His. I am His. Being a good Father, God wants you and me to come to Him and tell Him the good we have done. He wants to celebrate with us. Just as Jesus did when the seventy disciples returned with joy after being sent out to heal the sick and share the power of the Kingdom of God with those in need. (Luke 10:1-20). Jesus took a moment with them.

And we need to take the moment, too. We need to take a minute to reflect on the goodness God is doing through us.

Make a list of those people who are now children of the Most High God because you helped them get there. Reflect where they would be if you didn’t take the time to share Jesus with them.

Be pleased that the last church event you organized went well, or the sermon or worship set moved people to action; take a moment, experience the thrill of that one conversation you had that changed a life. Delight in the fact that God gifted you and you used that gift to bring Him glory!

Take a moment!

Be encouraged. Stay there a while. Praise Jesus! Thank God! Worship Him!

Don’t bring out that evaluation yet.

Do what the Psalmist said; “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you” (Psalm 116:7).

The time we take to rest our soul is so much more than just giving ourselves a pat on the back. It’s called taking a Sabbath. The Sabbath is a time to rejoice in all the Lord is doing in our life. It’s time to rest the soul from the “to do” list and the “evaluations” that are necessary, but not for today! Take a moment.

Run to your Father in Heaven; allow Him to refresh your weariness and encourage your soul.

Tomorrow you can bring out the evaluation. Tomorrow you can get on that ‘to do’ list.

For now, just take a moment!