31 Days of Questions: Day 21

21

Can a blind man lead a blind man?  Will they not both fall into a pit?         Luke 6:39

In honor of my son, who read Day 20 and said, “Mom, you left out the part about how you made us do that thing”, here is my second strategy in quelling arguments between kids.

1) Take two contentious children in the midst of a tussle.

2) Have each of them stand on opposite ends of a living room or other large space.

3) Make them say Ephesians 4:32 in unison while looking at each other.  (“We will be kind and compassionate to each other, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave us.”)  Note: expect some rolling of the eyes and resistance.  Hang tough.

4) Instruct them to take one large step toward each other and say it again.

5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the two squabblers are nose to nose.

6) Force them to end in a hug.

There is power in the spoken Word of God to dispel conflict.  It’s also very hard for two children to stand nose to nose and not break into giggles.  Do this enough times, and someday this could happen: “We better quit arguing or mom will make us do that thing.”

There may be a lesson here for adults as well.  Two people in a heated debate are often blind to the other’s point of view.  Before falling into the pit of strife and hostility, maybe someone should step in and make them look at each other in light of God’s forgiveness.

No guarantees, but it’s worth a try.

 31 Questions

31 Days of Questions: Day 20

20

“What are you arguing with them about?” Mark 9:16

PB and I didn’t let our kids fight.

We made them like each other.

We were such mean parents.

I know it sounds too good to be true, and it was probably mostly luck to get kids with fairly compliant natures, at least in their early years.  We simply insisted that they were each others’ best friends and they bought it.

I remember one day in particular.  One sibling was egging on another sibling.  I took all the kids and lined them up in front of the big picture window.  I said, “Look out there.”  Four sets of big blue innocent eyes looked out the window probably expecting a new swing set or a pony.  “Out there,” I said, “I can’t control what other people do to you.  Somebody might be mean to you out there.  Someone may say something that hurts your feelings.  But in here, we are for each other.  In this house, you are safe from mean words and hurtful actions.  I can’t promise that out there, but we will be kind to each other in this house.”  Something like that.  Although I had to go through the whole routine many more times, I kept preaching it.

Then I wrapped up the little pep talk at the window by making them say Ephesians 4:32 to each other, like this: “We will be kind and compassionate to each other, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave me.”

Ephesians 4:32 is emblazoned onto my children’s souls.  Because we needed to forgive A LOT and be reminded to be kind A LOT.  So we said that verse to each other A LOT.

I can’t promise this will work for everybody.  Maybe it was meant just for us.  But nothing wore me down more as a parent than my children’s bickering, so it was a good idea to find a game plan and stick with it.

Twice in one chapter, Jesus asked his disciples what they were arguing about.  The first time, they were going at it with the teachers of the law (Mark 9:14).  The second time, they were quarreling with each other (Mark 9:33).  He must have wondered if they would ever grow up and get along.  Jesus kept on preaching forgiveness and pouring love into the Twelve.  It seemed to work.

I only had the Four.  And Ephesians 4:32.

31 Questions

31 Days of Questions: Day 19

mark 8

What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? (The Message)

Do you gain anything if you win the whole world but lose your life? Of course not! (Good News)

What good can it do a man to gain the whole world at the price of his own soul? What can a man offer to buy back his soul once he has lost it? (J. B. Phillips)

And how does a man benefit if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process? (Living Bible)

It is worth nothing for you to have the whole world if you yourself are lost. (ERV)

31 Questions

Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.   (Francis Chan)

31 Days of Questions: Day 18

18

“Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”       Matthew 7:16

One summer a farmer friend brought over a load of manure to put on our new garden.  We worked that “organic material” into the soil and then planted the seeds.  By mid-July, the garden looked incredible — especially the tomato plants.  Those Beefsteaks and Big Boys grew as tall as me with huge stems and lush green leaves.  By mid-August, our well fertilized plot looked like the Amazon jungle.

There was only one problem: not one tomato.  All that tending, staking, and weeding with nothing to show.  No BLTs, no salsa, no spaghetti sauce.  How disappointing.

Jesus said to watch out for people who resemble my tomato plants — pretty impressive at first glance, but on closer inspection, no fruit on the vine.  We are to recognize the true character of people by looking at what kinds of qualities they produce.

Which is why you can’t pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles, no matter how much manure you spread around.

31 Questions

31 Days of Questions: Day 17

17

“Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” Luke 17:17

Ten men

stood at a distance

and called out in a loud voice.

They went and were cleansed.

One man

fell at Jesus’ feet

and praised God in a loud voice.

He came back and was healed.

All ten had faith, only one had gratitude.

May my call for help from a distance

draw me to Your feet with praise.

May the intensity of my thanks

match the fervency of my requests.

“Thank You” by Hillsong Live

31 Questions

31 Days of Questions: Day 16

16

“Do you understand what I have done for you?”  John 13:12

There they sat — the Twelve — with their sparkly clean feet.

Jesus had just gone around the table with a basin and a towel, washing off the muck and the crud with His own hands.

Even the feet of Judas, the betrayer — perhaps the first to be dipped in the water, making it dark and cloudy.

Even the feet of Peter, the resistant — perhaps the last to slough off his grime in the muddy basin.

Even the other ten — perhaps exchanging uneasy glances, but offering no words of opposition or appreciation.

They didn’t understand.

But by the time John wrote about that night in his gospel account, he fully grasped its significance.

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” (v. 1)

Lord, help me to comprehend how far Your love extends — how long, how wide, how deep, how high.  And to experience this love for myself, though it is so great that I will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it.  

31 Questions

31 Days of Questions: Day 15

15

“Are you not in error because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God?”  Mark 12:24

Here is The Message version.

“Jesus said, ‘You’re way off base, and here’s why:

One, you don’t know your Bibles;

two, you don’t know how God works.'”

 Note to self:

Know my Bible.

Know how God works.

That should keep me from getting off base.

31 Questions