Monday, September 29, 2014

Sharing Your Faith: Mercy

I just love watching this cat clip. If it makes you laugh it is because we tend to laugh at things that are unexpected. The cat opens its mouth and we expect a “meow” but we hear a “honk” instead.

In the Bible story about Joseph and his brothers, (Genesis 37-45) we hear Joseph say something we do not expect. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and then lied to their father. Joseph ended up in prison before God’s plan for him played out. Joseph was the number two ruler in Egypt when his brothers came to him for food for their starving families.

We would expect Joseph to say angry things. We would expect him to deny his brothers food and instead throw them into prison.

But the words that came out of Joseph’s mouth were words of mercy.

So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. (Genesis 45: 4-5, ESV)

Because Joseph had forgiveness from God, he was able to forgive his brothers for the terrible things they did to him.

You are also forgiven by God and God can help you to say the unexpected. The next time a brother or sister, or a classmate, does something mean, let the words that  come out of your mouth show mercy. Let them be unexpected. Let your words be kind and forgiving.

God will help you. 

The reaction you get just might be unexpected, too.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Share Your Faith: Strength

A soda can is stronger than it looks. As you can see from this picture, even an empty can is strong enough to support the weight of an adult.

That is because the shape of a can (a cylinder) is a strong shape. It is strong because it is round. If a can was a square column it would have weak points along the corners.

Go ahead and stand on the empty soda can. It should easily hold your weight as long as the sides are smooth and straight.

Push in the sides of the can with your fingers and try to stand on it.
Now, you should be able to crush the can easily. When you pushed in the sides of the can, even a little bit, you made a shape different from a cylinder and you took away its strength.

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (Ephesians 6:10b, ESV)

When we are strong in the Lord it is because of the faith God has given us. There are two ways to grow faith: through Word and Sacrament.

When you were Baptized God named you as His child and the Spirit made your faith grow.

Read, hear, study, say, or sing God’s Word and the Spirit uses the Word to make your faith grow.

Don’t let the problems of this world crush you. Find time each day to read God’s word. God’s Spirit will work in you to make your faith strong.

You will be strong in the Lord!

Here is another cool can crushing experiment to do with your parents.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Parenting: Conflict

Nearly every parent has experienced relief at dropping children off at school because it meant a few sweet hours free of conflict. There are days, sometimes weeks, when siblings seem to be engaged in a competition to find the most inane topic for argument.

“He looked at me.”

“Her finger is touching my side of the car.”

“She won’t let me . . .”

“He says I can’t . . .”

“Tell her not to . . .”

Or, my personal favorite:

“He’s thinking about hitting me!”

These are just things I remember from my childhood, I haven’t even started on the phrases my children used that caused my neck muscles to tense and my temples to throb.

These selfish, sometimes ridiculous spats, are ample proof that children are sinners living in a sinful world. So what do we do about the fighting?

Make them play. 

Resist the temptation to separate the combatants. (Unless what they really need most is a nap.) Put away the electronic devices that keep each child quietly entertained. Send them outside, or to the playroom. Give them a board game, a ball, or a large cardboard box and make them play.

Let them play because when they play they learn how to deal with conflict. Play offers children a unique opportunity to observe, try solutions, and learn about their feelings in a relatively safe environment. Some days when I supervised school recess, I wondered if play wasn’t just a series of small spats interspersed with an occasional good idea.  I probably wasn’t too far off in my evaluation.

When children play they get a chance to acknowledge (and announce) their feelings. They get to make choices and see the good and bad consequences. They get to think about alternatives and learn to make plans. They get to learn how to identify the problem, regulate emotions, and learn what they can and cannot control. Fighting at home, or on the playground, teaches them better solutions for social interaction.

Play gives them practice in conflict resolution.

If you find you need to step into a sibling squabble ask your children to talk to each other and start with this phrase:

I don’t like it when you . . . 

Help them to identify feelings and possible solutions – then let them try the solutions.

As you can see from this verse, even St. Paul had to deal with tattling and conflict.

For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. (I Corinthians 1:11, ESV)

God will bless you and your children in play, prayer, and patience.

And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. (II Timothy 2: 24-25a, ESV)

Here is a great article that talks more about the benefit of play and conflict resolution skills.