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Reflections on Suffering

REFLECTIONS ON SUFFERING

by Carla Link

Pt Jan 05 (18)-2

Joey and I were in a horrific car accident several years ago. A man fell asleep at the wheel of his car and pushed us over a guard rail when he hit us. Our van overturned three times, and although I was wearing a seat-belt, I was thrown from the vehicle. I suffered massive injuries, including a broken neck and crushed spine. I had 23 hemorrhages in my brain, and my family was told I would be a vegetable the rest of my life. During my 3 months in the hospital, I woke up one morning and knew who I was. Tests showed my brain was completely healed! I now know what a miracle truly is.

However, I must wear three braces to walk and use a walker, as I cannot stand without holding on to something. I sleep in the living room as there is not a place to put an elevator or lift in our home and I can’t go upstairs. I suffer constant pain from a nerve injury that will never heal on its own. God chose to heal my brain, but He did not choose to heal much of the brokenness in my body. I now understand when He says, “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good…” (Romans 8:28), God means for our eternal good, not our earthly good. Having limited mobility and devastating pain is for my eternal good and I accept that.

When Christians ask my why God allowed this to happen to us, I tell them that He didn’t allow it, He planned it. We were on that specific highway while driving home from teaching at a family camp at that specific time because it was part of God’s plan for us. Then I ask them, “Why not us?” The Bible clearly states Christians will go through tests and suffering (James 1:2-4), and that when we do we are to count it as joy. Why do Christians think we should be immune to it? And why do Christians think God is cursing them when we are told to count it as joy?

When people ask me how I can be so positive when I face the difficulties I live with every day, I ask them if I should lie in bed and moan and groan all day, or would it be better if I get up, put a smile on my face and do what God is asking of me that day? There is nothing in our lives we cannot do with excellence of character. In all things we are to reflect the glory of God, including sweeping the kitchen floor while sitting in a wheelchair. When people ask me if it is hard not to be able to do the things I could do before the accident, I tell them that I choose to focus on what I have and what I can do, not on what I no longer have and on what I can’t do.

When people ask me if it bothers me I have gained weight since the accident, I tell them that I would be a whole lot more bothered if I stopped taking the medications that are causing the weight gain. When Christian ask me what un-confessed sin I have in my life which God is punishing me for, I let them know I am so relieved their lives are in a constant state of confessed sin or they should be afraid to get in their cars and drive home. I tell them God looks at the heart and my heart is not disabled.

People do not understand what it is like to live life differently than most, and I remind myself of this all the time. They have needs and I have needs. Our needs look different, but they are still needs. People have pain and I have pain. Our pain feels different, but it is still pain.

No matter what your pain is, the ONLY way to deal with it is to get on your knees and let God know you cannot live one minute of a day without Him. All God wants of us is to recognize our often desperate need of Him. To God be the Glory.

 

 

Who is the Rooster in Your Home?

rooster

Who is the Rooster in Your Home?

by Joey and Carla Link

My (Carla’s) grandparents had a chicken coop on their property in Arkansas. I loved to watch the chickens and collect eggs for my grandmother on our visits there. There was one rooster, and he was in control. How did I know this? After all, he wasn’t wearing a sign saying, “I’m the boss!” I noticed all the hens did whatever he wanted. They were at his beck and call. The hens were the nurturers of their chicks. There was no chaos in that coop.

There are many who think kids can’t behave like little chicks do. In Ephesians 6:1, it says, “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” According to this verse, God expects children to obey. He doesn’t hope they will, want them to or keep His fingers crossed. He expects it, no ifs or buts about it. Not only does He expect children to obey, He goes on to say, just in case anyone thinks this is unfair, that this is right.

How do children learn to obey? This verse says God gave every child parents to teach him/her what authority looks like.

What does authority look like?

1. Authority is not equality. People in positions of authority are not your peers. This is why they have titles such as boss, policeman, teacher, coach, and parent. To be an effective parent means you are not your child’s equal, or friend. You are certainly friendly, but your kids are not on a peer level with you, and you need to stop treating them like they are.

2. Authority requires obedience. The person with ultimate authority in the home (this should be the husband if you are married) is the rooster. The hen (the wife) submits to him and the chickens (the kids) obey both the rooster and the hen. What is the difference? Children obey because they have to (their fear of consequences). Wives submit because they want to (because it is the right thing to do). (Ephesians 5:22)

3. Authority needs to be balanced. Balanced authority does not exasperate those under him. (Ephesians 6:2) This means parents do not ask their children to do something they can’t do. Your child can do his homework. Telling him to do it when he is too tired or stressed to think or has other commitments is exasperating him. If he doesn’t have time to do his schoolwork, work with him to prioritize his time and scale back on his other commitments.

 4. Authority teaches. Teachers share what they know, they help their students understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the topic at hand (age-appropriate). A toddler won’t understand why he has to say ‘please’ when he wants something because he doesn’t know what being polite means, but he can still be taught to say (or sign) it. An older child will comprehend why you need to be polite and saying ‘please’ is how you can be polite.

5. Authority trains. When you train you teach, but you also guide and direct those under you, using discipline when necessary. Discipline motivates a child to use the teaching you have given him wisely.

6. Authority loves. Loving authority is not demanding or legalistic. While it will require disciplining those under them, this authority is respected and loved in return. The chickens trust their rooster when he is a balanced teacher who trains in love.

 

Who is the rooster in your home? If it is one or more of your kids, are you ready to take your coop back?

 

© copyright September 2013

Show Your Devotion to God

Right now is the best time to work with your kids on developing a consistent quiet time. There are many good resources out there to accomplish this. How can you encourage your kids to have consistent devotions?

Set reasonable expectations – Most devotion books allow kids to have their quiet time in 10-15 minutes. Be satisfied with this.

Write it down – Encourage them to write their prayer requests in a spiral notebook or journal, and to use this same notebook to answer the questions that are asked at the end of the day’s lesson.

Sharing keeps kids accountable – One night a week, Dad invites the kids to bring their notebooks and share 2-3 things in their devotions that spoke to their hearts. Have them share 1-2 answers to their prayer requests so kids can see God does answer prayer. Encourage them to write the answers to their prayer requests in the journal.

Lead them to Jesus – Your kids will love hearing what God is teaching you as well. During this weekly share time, Mom and Dad need to be prepared to share 2-3 things they learned in their quiet times that week as well.

Doing It

“Doing It”

by Joey and Carla Link

doit

Parents do a lot of talking. Your kids need to see less talking and more “doing.” It is time to put into practice the frequent words of advice you give your kids.

 

Please be kind to each other,” Mom begged her kids. Ephesians 4:32 tell us to “be kind and tenderhearted to each other.” For kids, these are just words. Show your kids what kindness looks like.

  • Ask your church for the names of elderly widows who don’t have family in the area, then adopt a couple of them. Ask them over for dinner.
  • Have a theme of “Be happy.” During dinner, Dad starts a game of, “I’m happy when…” and calls out a person’s name to go next. Once that person answers, he gets to call out a name and so forth.

 

I told you to pick up your room! Why is it still a mess?” Mom yelled. “When are you going to learn to keep your room clean?” Instead, going with the “Be happy” theme, gather your kids and tell them that you are having a positive reinforcement day (Proverbs 31:31). Whenever they cheerfully do what they have been instructed to do with no reminders or warnings, they get a reinforcement or reward. Have a basket ready with pieces of candy, gum and cards with one of their names on each one. When one of your children pulls a card, he reads inside how special he is to you. Over the dinner table, Dad asks the kids if they enjoyed getting smiles and hugs all day from Mom rather than consequences. Mom tells which child got the most rewards and Dad tells that kid he is taking him and only him out for ice cream that night.

 

Mom-m, sissy won’t share her toy with me,” your 5 year old whined. Mom goes to her daughter and asks her why she won’t share and reminds her it is “more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) Show your children the blessing of giving. Staying with the “Be happy” theme, work with your kids to show them the blessings of sharing what they have. Declare a ‘sharing’ day. Have each of your kids choose 2 outfits they don’t wear anymore and 2 toys.

 

Take them for a drive to a homeless shelter. Tell them why people become homeless, especially women and children. Ask them if they would like to give their clothes and toys to these children, who have little to play with. That night when you tuck them into bed, let them know how proud you are of them.

 

We hope you can see how “doing it” will show your children how to model the character of God. There is little else you can do that will have more value than this!

 

 

 

 

 

What Are Your Kids Thinking About

Parents often look at their kids and wonder what they are thinking about. Which of us haven’t wished for the gift of mind-reading when it comes to our kids?! You have given your kids consequences for misbehavior, yet they repeat the offense again and again. You wonder if they think you are going to overlook it this time, or if they like pain, or if the consequence wasn’t tough enough and so on. In your mind, they do what they are supposed to do and make wise choices and they get the blessing of earned freedoms and rewards…they don’t, and they get the pain of consequences and your disapproval. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

SO, JUST WHAT ARE YOUR KIDS THINKING ABOUT?

 

Let’s look at what they SHOULD be thinking about. Many times we think of the teachings in the Bible for us as adults, but it is in the “Instruction Book for Life” on how we are to raise our kids! Philippians 4:8 is a terrific verse we should be drilling down deep and planting in the hearts of our kids.

 

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,

whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable –

if anything is excellent or praiseworthy

 – think about such things.”

 

There are eight key words in this verse that should be what your kids are thinking about!

True…Noble…Right…Pure…Lovely

Admirable…Excellent…Praiseworthy

 

Can your kids even define these terms? Sounds like this would make a great Family Night project! Then ask them (and you) to pick 1 and write down one way they can work on it that week. Decide on a night to talk about the progress each of you has made during dinner the next week. On the other hand, you and your spouse should pick one each child struggles with, and make a plan on how you are going to train them in that.

For a biblical principle to stick with your child, you have to plant it in his heart so when he has to make a decision that would use this principle, his mind can reach down and grab it so he makes a wise choice.  Too often we talk to our kids, but we do not teach or train our kids.

You can throw watermelon seeds on the ground and hope and pray some of them grow and mature. Or you can take the time to plant them. It takes little effort to open a package and toss seeds wherever they land. To plant them means getting tools out, finding the best spot, digging up the ground, making mounds for the seeds to sit in with a water trench around the mound, fertilizing them and watering them consistently so they will bear ripe fruit. That’s the difference between talking and teaching.

Training your kids has 3 parts.

  1. Teach them by giving them information and telling them WHY they need to apply it.
  2. Work with them to show them HOW to use this information and model it for them.
  3. Hold them ACCOUNTABLE for doing it, which means giving them consequences when they don’t.

This is how you plant the Word of God down deep in your kids’ hearts. By showing them how to put a biblical principle into practice, when it comes time for them to make a decision, they will know what to do. They will know HOW to keep their thoughts on the right track. Keeping your kids thoughts pure and holy is not something you do just once, but throughout the entire time they live in your home. When they leave home they will know what to do, because you helped them think through what is  true, and noble, right, pure, lovely admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy”

Helping your kids develop and cultivate right thinking will definitely change their focus and attitude about things. Have you ever noticed when they make unwise choices they are thinking about themselves? The eight things to think on from Philippians 4:8 are others-focused. This fits in perfectly with Jesus’ teaching, “Love others just as much as your love yourselves.”

When our kids made a decision that focused on themselves, we would ask them, “Who are you thinking of right now?” They had no other answer but to say, “Me.” If they had a teachable heart, when we followed this up with the question, “Who should you be thinking of right now?” we got the response of “my sister” or whoever or whatever they should have been focused on. If they weren’t teachable, you have uncovered ground you need to get the gardening tools out for and begin cultivating your child’s heart to begin thinking rightly.

This is how we trained our kids to keep their thought processes on “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”