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Teaching children patience (1) - WEDNESDAY MARCH 22

‘But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.’ Romans 8:25 NLT

Waiting patiently is what life, God, and success demand. Even when we’ve done the right things, God requires us to wait for the results. ‘You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise’ (Hebrews 10:36 NKJV). How do we help our children develop this vitally important life skill? Writer and mother Tammy Darling says:

1) Set clear boundaries. For instance, say, ‘You may have that when I’ve seen you wait patiently.’ Don’t be moved by their demands!

2) Refocus their attention. Queuing in a shop can be an occasion for impatience. So try a guessing game - like ‘I Spy’ - with younger kids, or get older kids talking about family holiday plans.

3) Teach by example. Do you pass other motorists on the road just to get one car-length ahead? Impulsively buy something on a credit card rather than wait until you have the money to buy it? Whether they’re three or thirteen, your children learn by watching you.

4) Avoid constantly saying, ‘Hurry up!’ Toddlers typically dawdle. They’ve no idea how long getting ready takes. So instead of always telling them to hurry, help them learn the process and pace of getting ready. ‘It’s time to put your toys away…time to get your shoes and socks on…time to put your jacket on.’ Instead of frustrating them with commands to hustle, involve them in actions they understand and can handle. This teaches them how to manage time practically.

Be kind to the unkind - TUESDAY MARCH 21

‘Pray for those who mistreat you.’ Luke 6:28 NIV (2011 Edition)

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught, ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you’ (vv. 27-28 NIV 2011 Edition). Then He added, ‘Your reward will be great’ (v. 35 NIV 2011 Edition). God sees, He records, and He’ll reward you for every kind act you do. It’s easy to be kind to those who are kind to us, but you must grow in grace in order to be kind to the people who mistreat you.

In the comic strip Nancy, the character Sluggo once told Nancy, ‘That new kid in school is nothing but a big fathead!’ Nancy replied, ‘You shouldn’t call people names like that. I never call people names.’ Sluggo replied, ‘Well, I just got mad when he said you were stupid looking.’ Whereupon Nancy demanded, ‘What else did that big fathead say?’ It’s easy to react to acts of kindness with kindness. The real challenge is responding with kindness to those who lack it.

In 2009, tired of the vicious attacks politicians make against each other and the talking heads in media who label people ‘ignorant, stupid, and dumb’ because they don’t espouse their political philosophy, Mark DeMoss launched a movement known as the Civility Project. Its pledge goes like this: ‘I will be civil in my public discourse and behaviour. I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them. I will stand against incivility when I see it.’ It’s a good policy to adopt! Every one of us has a ‘kindness kit’ we carry with us everywhere we go. It’s better known as our tongue. Never underestimate the power of one kind word.

Judgment day will be a great day for you - MONDAY MARCH 20

‘Our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s.’     1 John 4:17 MSG

Will you get into heaven because you are worthy? No, you’ll get there because Jesus, the One in Whom you’ve placed your trust, is worthy! ‘As we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love’ (vv. 17-18 NLT).

On the day of judgment earthly wealth won’t matter. Physical beauty won’t be factored in. Fame will be forgotten. You might stand next to Napoleon or Julius Caesar, but you won’t be asking them about Waterloo or Brutus. All eyes will be on Jesus. Those who ignored Him will hear the words, ‘Depart from me’ (Matthew 25:41 KJV). But for those who accept Him as their Lord and Saviour there need be no fear. ‘We can face him with confidence because we live like Christ here in this world.’ Think about that! God sees you the way He sees Christ - worthy and accepted.

And since you’re ‘in Christ’ you can view judgment day the way He does - with confidence. Does Christ fear judgment? No, a sinless soul needn’t. Does He fear death? No, the giver of life wouldn’t. So should we who are ‘in Christ’ fear judgment or death? Not at all: ‘Our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s.’ So judgment day will be a great day for you!

Battling bitterness - SUNDAY MARCH 19

‘I had great bitterness; but You…delivered my soul.’     Isaiah 38:17 NKJV

At ninety-two, Jenny never missed a chance to recall how her sister refused to buy her a pair of shoes fifty years ago! All those years marinating ‘in the gall of bitterness’ (Acts 8:23 KJV). Anne Peterson says: ‘An offence burrows into our hearts. We replay it…creating ruts that’ll be hard to rebuild later…we enlist support, which pushes us further into resentment. We decipher the offence as intentional, and our offender as full of spite. As we find reasons, real or imagined, to dislike them…we form another layer of bitterness… Then like a beach ball we try to submerge…it pops up…splashing everyone.’ The Bible says, ‘Make sure…bitterness doesn’t take root and grow up to cause trouble that corrupts many’ (Hebrews 12:15 GWT). So remember:

1) Forgiveness isn’t optional. ‘If…possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone’ (Romans 12:18 NIV 2011 Edition). It may not be possible to live in harmony with everyone, but God still requires you to forgive those who’ve hurt you.

2) As you forgive, you’re forgiven. The Bible says when you’re ‘full of bitterness’ you’re ‘captive to sin’ (Acts 8:23 NIV 2011 Edition). Don’t forget that Jesus didn’t just die for you, He died for those who offend you. Do they deserve forgiveness? No. But then again, do you?

3) Pray for your enemies. Ask God to bring to mind the people you need to forgive, and melt the bitterness in your heart towards them. It’s impossible to harbour resentment towards somebody you’re praying for. Yes, sometimes it’s hard to forgive; but you ‘can do all things through Christ’ (Philippians 4:13 KJV).

Good thinking - SATURDAY MARCH 18

‘We have the mind of Christ.’ 1 Corinthians 2:16 KJV

In his book Thinking for a Change, Dr John Maxwell gives us eleven different types of thinking; to each we’ve added a Scripture:

1) Big picture thinking. The ability to think beyond yourself is required in order to process ideas from a ‘faith’ perspective (Ephesians 3:20).

2) Focused thinking. The ability to think with clarity on issues by removing distractions and mental clutter (Philippians 3:13-14).

3) Creative thinking. The ability to break out of the box and explore ideas and options in order to experience a breakthrough (Isaiah 54:2-3).

4) Realistic thinking. The ability to build a solid foundation on facts, to think with certainty (Luke 14:28).

5) Strategic thinking. The ability to implement plans that give direction for today, and increase your potential for tomorrow (Proverbs 19:21).

6) Possibility thinking. The ability to unleash your enthusiasm and hope, to find solutions for even seemingly impossible situations (Matthew 19:26).

7) Reflective thinking. The ability to revisit the past in order to think with understanding (Psalm 1:1-3).

8) Questioning popular thinking. The ability to reject common thinking and accomplish uncommon results (Isaiah 55:8-9).

9) Shared thinking. The ability to include others who can help you think ‘over your head’ and achieve greater results (Psalm 133:1-3).

10) Unselfish thinking. The ability to consider others and their journey, to think with collaboration (Romans 12:10).

11) Bottom-line thinking. The ability to focus on results, in order to reap the full potential of your thinking (Matthew 25:14-30). Let’s add: Spiritual thinking. ‘We have the mind of Christ.’ One God-given thought can change your life!