Thursday, May 27, 2010

75) Teach children lessons using stories- P.U.S.H

"If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you" Luke 17:6

A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and God appeared. The Lord told the man He had work for him to do and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin.

The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. So, this the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all of his might.

Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Since the man was showing discouragement, the Adversary (Satan), decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the weary mind:

"You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn't moved." Thus, he gave the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. Satan said, "Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort, and that will be good enough. That's what the weary man planned to do, but decided to make it a matter of prayer and to take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. "Lord," he said, "I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?" the Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to Me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. Is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy and brown; your hands are calloused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. True, you haven't moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. That you have done. Now I, my friend, will move the rock." At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just a simple obedience and faith in Him. By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who moves mountains. When everything seems to go wrong...just

P.U.S.H.! When the job gets you down... just P.U. S.H.! When people don't react the way you think they should... just P.U.S.H. When your money is "gone" and the bills are due... just P.U.S.H! When people just don't understand you... just P.U.S.H.

P= Pray

U= Until

S= Something

H= Happens

There are many stories told on faith and perseverance, but this one is special. God takes time to explain things to the man who is discouraged. And what a lesson He teaches! As we learn to persevere in faith, let our children learn from us. There will be many times when we and our children will be tested.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

74) Teach children lessons using stories - A Child's Love

"Children are the only earthly possessions we can take with us to heaven."
Robert C. Savage

Bailey's Jesus

God recently allowed me to see Jesus through the eyes of someone seeing Him for the first time. Having the advantage of knowing how the story ends, we can easily forget the cost of our redemption and the love of our Savior.

Every year we attend a local church pageant at Christmas time, which tells the story of Jesus from His birth through His resurrection. It is a spectacular event, with live animals and hundreds of cast members in realistic costumes. The magi enter the huge auditorium on llamas from the rear, descending the steps in pomp and majesty. Roman soldiers look huge and menacing in their costumes and makeup.

Of all the years we have attended, one stands out indelibly in my heart. It was the year we took our then three-year-old granddaughter, Bailey, who loves Jesus. She was mesmerized throughout the entire play, not just watching, but involved as if she were a player. She watches as Joseph and Mary travel to the Inn and is thrilled when she sees the baby Jesus in His mother's arms. When Jesus, on a young donkey, descends the steps from the back of the auditorium, depicting His triumphal entry into Jerusalem , Bailey was ecstatic. As he neared our aisle, Bailey began jumping up and down, screaming, "Jesus, Jesus! There's Jesus!" Not just saying the words but exclaiming them with every fiber of her being. She alternated between screaming his name and hugging us. "It's Jesus. Look!" I thought she might actually pass out. Tears filled my eyes as I looked at Jesus through the eyes of a child in love with Him, seeing Him for the first time. How like the blind beggar screaming out in reckless abandon, "Jesus, Jesus!", afraid he might miss Him, not caring what others thought(Mark 10:46-52). This was so much fun.

Then came the arrest scene. On stage, the soldiers shoved and slapped Jesus as they moved Him from the Garden of Gethsemane to Pilate. Bailey responded as if she were in the crowd of women, with terror and anger. "Stop it!" she screamed. "Bad soldiers, stop it!" As I watched her reaction, I wished we had talked to her before the play. "Bailey it's OK. They are just pretending.""They are hurting Jesus! Stop it!" She stood in her seat reacting to each and every move. People around us at first smiled at her reaction, thinking "How cute!". Then they quit smiling and began watching her watch Him. In a most powerful scene, the soldiers lead Jesus carrying the cross down the steps of the auditorium from the back They were yelling, whipping, and cursing at Jesus, who was bloodied and beaten. Bailey was now hysterical. "Stop it! Soldiers! Stop it," she screamed. She must have been wondering why all these people did nothing. She then began to cry instead of scream. "Jesus, Oh, Jesus!" People all around us began to weep as we all watch this devoted little disciple see her Jesus beaten and killed as those first century disciples had.
Going back and forth between her mother's lap and mine for comfort, she was distraught. I kept saying, "Bailey, it's OK. Jesus is going to be OK. These are just people pretending to be soldiers". She looked at me like I was crazy. In my lap, we talked through the cross and burial. "Watch, Bailey, watch for Jesus!"

The tomb began to tremble and lightening flashed as the stone rolled away. A Super Bowl touchdown cheer couldn't come close to matching this little one's reaction to the resurrection. "Jesus! He's OK. Mommy, it's Jesus!" I prayed that she wasn't going to be traumatized by this event, but that she would remember it. I shall never forget it. I shall never forget seeing Jesus' suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection through the eyes of an innocent child.

Following the pageant the actors all assembled in the foyer to be greeted by the audience. As we passed by some of the soldiers Bailey screamed out, "Bad soldier, don't you hurt Jesus." The actor who portrayed Jesus was some distance away surrounded by well-wishers and friends. Bailey broke away from us and ran toward him, wrapping herself around his legs, holding on for dear life. He hugged her and said, "Jesus loves you." He patted her to go away. She wouldn't let go. She kept clinging to Him, laughing and calling His name. She wasn't about to let go of her Jesus.

I think God in heaven stopped what ever was going on that day and made all the angels watch Bailey. "Now, look there! You see what I meant when I said, 'Of such is the kingdom of heaven?'"

Bailey's reaction should be our reaction every day. When we think of Him, who He is, what He did for us, and what He offers us, we have to say, how can we do anything less than worship Him?
(This is not my story, but the story told by Bailey's grandfather.)

What can I add to such a story? I only wish our children would see the Lord the way little Bailey did!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

73) Teach children lessons using stories - A debt too big to repay

"My mother was a saintly woman. I owe everything to her." Lyndon B. Johnson

Recently, one of the Dailies reproduced the story of a young man and his mother. Here is an adapted version of the story, as told by the son.

My mom who had only one eye, cooked for students and teachers to support the family. I hated her because she was such an embarrassment to me when my classmates laughed at her one eye. One day, I was so angry that I shouted at her: "If you are going to make me a laughing stock, why don't you just die?" My mom did not say a word. I was oblivious of her feelings. I just wanted her out of my life. When I got old enough I left home for Singapore. Later, I married, bought my own home and had kids. I was happy with my life.

One morning, without notice, my mother appeared at my door. Until then she had kept away, although she had not seen me for many years and had not met her grandchildren. As she stood at the door, my children laughed at her and I yelled at her for coming to my home, uninvited. She left quietly.

Sometime later, I attended the School Reunion at my home town. After that, out of curiosity, I went to the old shack, which used to be my childhood home. The neighbors told me that my mother died a few days ago. I did not shed a tear until they gave me a letter, addressed to me, that she had left with them. The letter read:

"My dearest son,
I think of you all the time. I'm sorry I came to Singapore and scared your children. I was so glad when I heard that you were coming for the School Reunion. But I may not be able to get off my bed to meet you.
I'm sorry that I was a constant embarrassment to you when you were growing up. You see, when you were very little, you got into an accident and lost an eye. As a mother, I couldn't stand watching you having to grow up with one eye. So, I gave you mine. I was so proud of my son who was seeing a whole new world for me, with that eye.
With much love, Your Mother.

Once we have told our children this story and made sure that they have understood what it really meant, we could ask them a few questions, to get their thoughts on the story.
1) Did the mother do right by donating her eye to her son?
2) Should she have told her son about her sacrifice?
3) Even when her son scolded her, she did not speak up. Was that right?
4) Do they know of any children who treat their parents badly?
5) What do they think of such children?
6) With this story, would they find the courage to speak to children who disrespect
their parents?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

72 ) Teach children lessons using stories - Reaching Out

"Taught by time, my heart has learned to glow,
For others' good and weep at others' woe." Homer.

In a letter to the Editor, The Straits Times, Singapore, an Australian doctor recounts his experience.
"Flying from New Delhi to Singapore, a fellow passenger relieved me of all my money and my iPod, in the confusion of disembarkation. This letter is to thank those people who helped a complete stranger that day.
1) The young employee of Singapore Airlines who drew money from his personal account so that I could catch a taxi to the Australian High Commission.
2) The couple renewing their passports in the Consular Office, who gave me what little cash they had.
3) Finally, the family who took me home, gave me lunch and dinner, took me sight-seeing, allowed me to shower, and never asked for anything in return.
Dr Shawn Jessep."

The letter tugs at our heart strings. In a world enveloped in dark selfishness, a few lights of selflessness still burn. It only goes to prove that there is goodness in people.

The story begs a question: What would we have done if Dr Shawn Jessep told us of his dire predicament? Would we have politely nodded and walked away, or acted the way some of his benefactors did? The question is not easily answered. The answer would depend on our attitude to strangers. Are we wary of strangers? Or, are we willing to concede that all strangers are not con men? How do we tell the difference between the genuine and false? Very difficult. But a thought is worth considering: Suppose we were in the position of the doctor, would we expect people to help us?

It is the same dilemma for our children. We warn them to be watchful of adult strangers. Sadly, they extend the warning to cover children they do not know. Instead of being silk, they are sandpaper with children who are not in their circle; coarse and sometimes rude. Our unfriendly behavior with neighbors and acquaintances, from whom we do not expect to gain, is copied by our children. Don't we worry that our children will stand isolated one day?