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Raising Kids To Be Thankful


thankful

thankful (Photo credit: bondidwhat)

Our kids grew up in a developing country where they knew they were privileged and daily experienced the economic contrast between their lives and our friends. They learned qualities of generosity and gratitude from the example of their friends and neighbors who, despite their poverty, shared their possessions willingly and appreciated small gestures of friendship.

I never remember our kids demanding things that their wealthy friends had, though they may have wished for them. We often encouraged them to look at the neighbors living in the shacks around us, and to compare their lives with them rather than the ex-pat kids from the oil companies.

Living in the United States presents different problems, however. I wonder how we would have managed to raise thankful children in this age and culture?
While everyone has their own opinions, here are some ideas from an article I just read from Slate Magazine.
Advice for parents
Nov. 26 2013 11:45 PM

How to Raise Thankful Kids

It’s gonna take a lot of work.

Happy girl at Thanksgiving Dinner table
How do you teach your child gratitude?

Photo by Thinkstock

A few nights ago, after cleaning up from the play date I had organized for my 2½-year-old, changing his diaper, and refilling his water, I was about to start cooking him dinner before giving him a bath when the subject of Thanksgiving came up. He didn’t know what it was, so I tried to explain it to him. But somewhere between It’s a special day when we all think about how grateful we are for what we have and So, basically, it’s all about giving thanks, my son took off to terrorize our dog, and I was left stirring pasta that, five minutes later, I had to remind my son to thank me for. Continued:

Gay Marriage Revisited


Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd”

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride.

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m sorry for the hateful rhetoric that comes out of people’s mouths about same-sex relationships. I realize that some of this garbage originates out of misguided Christian beliefs, and I would defend a Gay person to my death against a hateful bigoted Christian.

I also want my Gay friends to know that I am struggling over what the Scriptures teach.

I often talk about this with Christians who say,  “We know same-sex relationships are wrong: we love the person but we hate the sin.”

“God says it, I believe it, That settles it!”

But, somehow, I feel that just isn’t enough for our complex society.

I mention that Jesus hadn’t spoken about it…”Well, No.”

What does it mean that Jesus didn’t speak about same-sex relationships but Paul did?

I am one follower of Christ, who doesn’t separate  the Scriptures into “Red Letters” as my Social Activist heroes, Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo tend to do. This means they are primarily followers of those words of Christ and leave to (?) the rest

But, since I began to follow Christ as a very young person, the Bible has been my guidebook. How else could I know God? Did He have a plan for me? We are guided by circumstance, by counsel, but the Bible is the best instruction manual I know on how to live and I’ve followed it my entire adult life and found it very practical and foolproof.

But, God’s ways aren’t always the easiest to figure out. (HA!)

I’ve found God’s love to be great and covering over a multitude of my wrongs and even, societal wrongs which I would like to wipe off the map.

I know God doesn’t condone injustice and ill-treatment of people who are helpless, and that He tells us to not judge others. We are supposed to leave that to Him. But, we are supposed to be discerning and make wise decisions about life.

So, I struggle with what the Bible teaches sometimes, and there are some Scriptures I just wish weren’t in there! I used to think people chose to be in same-sex relationships, because I didn’t think God would make “mistakes” about sexuality, but, I’ve changed in that.

I really don’t understand it, but I think our world isn’t perfect and few sexual relationships are either. So…I abandoned that theory.  But, why on earth would God allow things to become sooo hard?

Did He want people to remain celibate? That is, not have sex unless they were married? Then is Gay Marriage a part of His plan? Sounds good, right?

But, how can I say this boldly enough??? I CAN’T JUST IGNORE WHAT IS CLEARLY FORBIDDEN IN SCRIPTURE…SUCH AS ADULTERY, GLUTTONY, AND LYING WITH THE SAME SEX.

Maybe people like me died in prison in the past, because their religious beliefs didn’t coincide with what was politically correct. They could not change what they believed to be true.

I would hope that our society would be open to Christians and non-Christians who believe different things. But, you know, there is unprecedented pressure on us Christians to accept Gay rights, without regard to our own beliefs.  It’s like we have to go into the closet while Gay people come out.

Is that what is expected?

Hmm?

http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2013/03/15/gay-marriage-revisited/

The Hazards of Speaking Up for Palestine


Security Barrier between Israel and West Bank/...

Security Barrier between Israel and West Bank/Palestine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve told my story before, how I grew up unreservedly Christian in the United States and accepted the importance of Israel in our (Christian) lineage and prophecy.

When I met a Nazi prison camp survivor during my college years, I was overcome with emotion. He was sitting across from me at a “dish-to-pass” we held each week at the Messianic congregation I attended in Philadelphia.

These were the years when the JDL (Jewish Defense League) was threatening to attack Messianic congregations in Philadelphia. Each Sunday, as we worshiped in our little storefront building on Chestnut Street, danger was palpable.  Heads would cautiously turn towards the front door each time it opened during the sermon, wondering what to expect.

I counted it a privilege and honor to be a part of my Jewish friends’ suffering for their rights to worship as they wished.

For years, I never questioned my high view of Israel. Meeting a Jewish person was, for me, like meeting a celebrity, because they were “God’s Chosen”.

The first time I realized others in the world didn’t support Israel in the same way that Americans did was in Indonesia. A good friend asked us why America always sided politically with Israel against the Arab world.

I hadn’t realized there were sides.

This was the first step in my education which continued as we traveled across the world and then returned home to host international students who held very different opinions from traditional American views.

This was especially clear as we discussed international issues with our Arab students, especially the one from Palestine.

We selected Ahmed because he listed his home as the “West Bank“, and we wanted to learn about him.

His stories were wildly different from the beatific scenes we associated with Israel. Were they possibly true? We began to read up on this area and ask questions. One book was unforgettable, “Blood Brothers”, by Brother Elias Chacour.   http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Brothers-Dramatic-Palestinian-Christian/dp/0800793218

Blogs were written about life in Israel contrasting it with the very poor conditions behind a wall separating it from the West Bank/Palestine.

I wanted to see for myself, so Jon and I took several trips to visit our Palestinian students, and then met Palestinian Christians who told the same stories about Israeli abuses.

When one is meeting a diverse (Christian, Muslim, educated, working class) group of people and all writers from that area are telling similar stories you cannot afford to dismiss their story lines as fantasy.

So, I resolved to return home as an advocate for the Palestinians to tell their stories. I am not

Bantustans, Palestine 2006

Bantustans, Palestine 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

anti-Israeli, but I will not cover up what they do.

It hasn’t been popular to speak up for Palestinians, but I’ve had it easy.

Others, like Steven Sizer, who has a prominent place in the UK, has his way of life threatened.

Read on:

Stephen Sizer: Craig Murray Responds to anti-Semitism Allegations.

Why the Trinity?


StJohnsAshfield StainedGlass Baptism

StJohnsAshfield StainedGlass Baptism (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several days ago, I was reading the story of Jesus being baptized by John Baptist in the book of Matthew, chapter 3.  He writes in vss 16, 17: “At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

My first thoughts after reading went to our Muslim friends who always ask us if we think Jesus is God’s Son. It’s a painful subject and often a conversation stopper or an argument starter because they believe very strongly that Christians worship THREE Gods! WE DON’T, but trying to explain why we believe in ONE God who is Triune is very difficult and inconvenient.

I love and respect our Muslim friends and I understand their passion for the One True God…Allah and His purity, so I want to explain why we also worship ONE God.  But, I’ve never been successful in explaining our beliefs in the Trinity to their satisfaction.

As I understand it, a good many Muslims think we worship God the creator who had sex with Mary thus producing a son, Jesus.  Some believe we worship God, Mary and Jesus. Not True.

Others don’t believe this, but all believe that Jesus is NOT God’s Son.

And who can blame them? If we’re honest, it’s difficult for us Christians to understand much less explain.

That’s why I’m posting this article from Christianity Today about the Trinity, “Three is the Loveliest Number”. It may not persuade any Muslims, but it provided me with an “epiphany” about Christians (and perhaps why so many in our country expect more of the USA as a once/so-called Christian nation).

Christians are called to be culturally different from other cultures that do not believe in the Trinity.

We are called to a lifestyle of relationship, with God and with others:   Love, forgiveness, gratitude, joy, peace, patience and other qualities that always existed in God’s relationship with His Son are to be in evidence in our daily lives.

What a great challenge to begin the New Year!

I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did.

Three Is the Loveliest Number | Christianity Today.

Brick by Brick: Our (Own) Worst Enemies: Why Evangelicals Have to be Able to Criticize Each Other


A bible from 1859.

A bible from 1859. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It takes courage and wisdom to know when to change our long-held beliefs doesn’t it? There are some that we will never change because we are persuaded from our source text, The Bible, that they are right. Others, like slavery, were once thought to be Biblical, and are now considered false beliefs. But, how do sincere Christians really know how and when to make that leap from one strong belief to the opposite belief?  When should we allow peers and culture to influence us?

These questions are best asked in a community of people who think somewhat differently, while valuing and respecting the principles upon which each person bases his/her life.

Questions need to be asked and that is why I think I related to the dilemma posted by David Williams of Inter-Varsity in North Carolina, on his blog “Brick by Brick”. (Read below)

I’ve had people ask me if I didn’t “like” the Church when I’ve spoken up about some of the weaknesses I see in the Body of Christ.

Some of my Christian friends have been hurt when I’ve made negative comments about people who claim to be Christians and then speak out politically in ways that deny the words of Christ.

I try to look for the inconsistency in my life before I criticize other people, but it’s easy to over look things because of stubbornness and pride. That’s why I usually learn from other people’s criticism even when I might not seem to listen at first.

Hopefully.

 Our (Own) Worst Enemies: Why Evangelicals Have to be Able to Criticize Each Other Brick by Brick

Do You Know a Child With Autism?


English: this is my own version of what bullyi...

English: this is my own version of what bullying looks like (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t assume this child will be a future killer.

The child may be socially awkward, but his/her parents need encouragement, and kindness may communicate more than we know.

There is something each of us can do.

We can teach our own children personal responsibility to be inclusive and thoughtful to children who are different from themselves. Teach them to speak up against bullying.

Exclusion and bullying are two elements common to many of the young men who have committed these atrocities.

Think a moment about those families on the fringe of your community. We can’t know their burdens.

Try reaching out to them, including them in your holiday dinners. Expect it to be awkward at first. You’ll be surprised how quickly this evolves into friendship.

It’s possible that they will resent the intrusion, but, then again, this may be just the refreshment they need.

The only thing you have to lose is a bit of your comfort level.

Another important thing we all can do is learn more about Autism. Here’s one website: http://www.autismspeaks.org/

The following article was the inspiration for this blog post.

Don’t Blame Autism for Newtown – NYTimes.com.

 

Newtown tragedy could put mental health in spotlight


Newtown tragedy could put mental health in spotlight.