Friday, 15 November 2013

Women Who Cared for Their Child by Passing on Their Sincere Faith (II Tim 1:5-6, 14-15)

The grandmother Lois and the mother Eunice are mentioned in relation to their child
Timothy. In Lystra Paul's, the great missionary and Timothy's paths crossed (Acts
16:1-2).  Paul was greatly impressed by him. Brothers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him to Paul. He came to know that Timothy was a son of a Jewess who believed in Jesus and his father was a Greek. Timothy became Paul's companion in his missionary journey. Thus began a strong bond between them. Paul saw in Timothy a faithful minister of God and entrusted many responsibilities to him.

Paul calls Timothy his “true child in the faith” (I Tim 1:2). He enjoyed Timothy's company that Paul asked him to come to him (II Tim 4:9).  Paul wrote two letters to Timothy to encourage him as a leader. His name is mentioned in 6 books of the New Testament.
Passing on the Sincere Faith

How did Timothy, a half Greek, who lived in a Roman city become a Christian and later a prominent leader of the church? The answer is in II Tim 3:14-15 which shows the role of his mother and grandmother in his life. From his infancy he knew the Holy Scriptures. Who might have taught him? I believe it is his mother and grandmother. Thus they left a legacy- a legacy of “sincere faith” (II Tim 1:5). Sincere faith was his inheritance.

Even in an unfavorable environment, a devoted Jewish mother and grandmother built a strong
foundation for Timothy’s faith by teaching him Scriptures from his infancy. They were not
influential women, yet simple ordinary women. But their gift for the Kingdom of God was
precious-A great man of God.

Timothy’s mother and grandmother gave him God, scriptures, and sincere faith. Some of us are
mothers and grandmothers. What have we given to our children? What do you like to give them?
We may have properties, treasures, bank balance and many other good gifts for them. These are
temporary. Yet these good things will aid in their wellbeing only if they fear the Lord and serve him.
Giving all the good stuff without God will not enable them to enjoy the gifts. With God
they will can enjoy the blessing of God and these gifts.

We really need to ask the question along with John Westerhoff, the Christian educator -Will the
children in my home, my church have faith? Faith comes from hearing the Word and experiencing
Christ in the faith community. How diligent are we in caring for our children by teaching the Word
of God? We may be busy helping children to be knowledgeable with their school subjects but what
about the Word of God? How diligent are we to take our children to prayer meetings so that they
can be with the faith community? Many of us in India prefer special tuition to worship thus
allowing children to skip Sunday worship.

Now think about children in our churches. Who will teach them Who will pass on
the faith to them? Can we take time to pray and introduce them to the Scripture through Sunday
School? Can we encourage them by a phone call when they are troubled? Can we let them know
that we care for them when they are away for studies or job?

Lord, let me not be engrossed in many limiting life situations. Let me not overlook my role in God's 

plan for children around me. Amen

Friday, 18 October 2013

Blessing the Children Around Us: The Woman Who Blessed The Child by Witnessing about Him

This is the second blog in the series on women who blessed children around them. This woman mentioned in the Gospel according to Luke.

Anna is an unusual aged woman in the Bible. As a widow she might have faced many years of loneliness in her life. Number of years she lived as a widow was much more than the total number of years she had lived with her husband and with her parents. It is not clear whether she had children. If she had children most probably she would have been living with them. Any how, she decided not to dwell in these sorrows and misfortunes. She turned her from a life of misfortune to the life of a prophetess.
They are waiting for us
Another factor is her decision to take up the journey to live in the temple. She traveled a long way from her tribal territory of Asher to come to Jerusalem. We do not know for how long she had been living in the temple without leaving that place. We read that she was a worshiper, a never ending worshiper of God. She worshiped day and night. She had a life of fasting and prayer. This shows she is a adherent worshiper of Yahweh.
Anna's worship and devotion came to a climax as she saw the child of Joseph and Mary who is the fulfillment of all she believed and practiced. She blessed the child by her words and action. When she came to know in her spirit that Messiah had arrived in the temple, she came to him. She not only she came to him but also gathered all those who were waiting for the Messiah. She spoke about the child. She gave thanks to God for sending the Messiah. Thus she praised God and became a channel to lead others to praise. Knowing all the unusual qualities of this aged widow, I can guess that people noticed and listened to her words about the baby. She became the third woman to believe that Jesus is the messiah next to Mary and Elizabeth. Yet she became the first woman who publicly announced the truth that Jesus is the Messiah. And she did so in the temple.
What a source of blessing she became to Joseph and Mary and also for the child! Many had a questions regarding the father of this child. Neighbours of Mary and Joseph might have had a lot of unanswered questions before he was born and after he was born. Yet Anna brought joy to the life of this family by affirming that this boy is the Messiah. She indeed blessed the baby.
Can you imagine living a life of misfortune as Anna lived? How many of us are willing to lift up our eyes from our sorrow to God to wait upon Him in prayer? How can we turn our misfortunes to be a life of blessing to children who may not be accepted by others? There are many women among us who live in their past sorrow. Unlike many, Anna decided to enjoy her life by being a worshiper who sought the coming of the Messiah. Thus she not only saw the child but also blessed the child.

Jesus took children in his arms and blessed them whom his disciples thought were not worthy to be touched by Jesus. How many of us notice children as they walk through the doors of our churches? Or are we immersed in our own sorrows and joys? Or in our own private spirituality? How many of us recognize the need of affirmation in the life of the children we see? Or are we busy with our own credentials as a prophet or worshiper of God? Take time to bless a child.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Blessing the Children Around Us: Women Who Saved the Lives of Infants

For next couple of blogs I would like to look at a few women who have blessed the lives of children around them. Many of us might haven't heard much about them. They are not in the limelight of many of our sermons. Yet what they did for children were so unique that their names are mentioned in the Bible. This blog is about two women who blessed many children by saving their lives.

Imagine living in a country where the king has decided to eradicate your race. With the help of his advisers he found that you are the key person to accomplish his plan. You were invited to his court. He shared his plan to recruit you to a cruel plan of killing innocent boy infants as soon as they are born, on the birth stool itself even, before the mother sees the baby. Your heart began to beat fast. The king did not expect your consent, once said it is a command.

I can imagine Shiphrah and Puah, (Exodus 1:15-21) the Hebrew midwives walking out of the court discussing what to do. They believed that they have an option which is to disobey the king and let the boys live. The simple reason was that they feared God. Their fearless acts saved the life of many boys who lived to see the deliverance of God during Exodus. These women indeed lived up to their names. Puah means "splendid" and Shiphrah means "brightness" in Hebrew. Together these splendid women brought brightness into the lives of the children and their families in the midst of danger. Thus they became part of God's plan for the nation of Israel.

What did their actions say about them?
They are waiting for you
  • When the king decided to kill these innocent boys, these women decided to let them live. 
  • When the king's deceleration meant death of the boys, these women's decision was life. 
  • When the king decided to bring sorrow to the family, these women decided to be a channel of happiness. 
  • When the king expected these women to fear him, they chose to fear the king of kings, their God who is the giver and sustainer of life. 
  • The king expected them to be a curse to infant boys, but they decided to be a blessing. 
  • When the king wanted them to be part of his scheme to eradicate God's people, they wanted to be part of God's scheme to make the people numerous. 
  • These women rejected the kindness of the earthly king and became a vessel who received kindness from the eternal king. He established a family for them. 
Wherever you are, whatever you do, God wants us to be a channel of blessing to children who are destined to die. They may be living in poverty with regards to money, education, love, security, and care. If you look around there are hundreds of girls and boys who suffer injustice from the hands of those who should be protecting them: parents, teachers, family, neighbors, and community. Many see them as nuisance and a burden. But you and me are the ones who are there to change the destiny of these children.
Let us step out of our comfort zone. God only expects our readiness. He will do the rest. Be like these fearless women who blessed many children who were not even their own.

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Saturday, 31 August 2013

A Habit Worth Investing Your Time

It was in 2001 that I first learned about The Four-R's in reading the Bible. The method grabbed my heart even though I regularly read the Bible. My husband and I decided not only to use this method for our daily devotion but also to teach this to our children. More than the method, our goal was to develop a habit of daily devotion in our children.

Mornings were busy as usual with getting children ready for school and both of us leaving around 7:15 am to the seminary where we teach. However we adapted our routine. Four of us read the Bible at the same time around our dining table along with our morning tea. We would wait for our children to wake up to read the Bible. Our son who was 8 years began with Genesis 1 and our daughter who was 6 years began with Psalm 1. We asked them read a chapter a day and to write a verse from the chapter in their dairy. As they grow older we were able to witness how they respond to God through their devotion. Through the years we enjoyed the fellowship of reading the Bible at the same time. 

Now 12 years have passed. Even though we do not read around the dining table anymore, devotion has become part of our day. Both of our children have read the complete Bible at least once. Hopefully my son, who is now separated by continents, daily reads his Bible. Every morning I see my daughter engaging in this practice. Our children and us together have made reading the Bible and responding to God our family's genetic code.

I got the opportunity to teach the Four-R's to many others. Why do I do this? The simple answer is that I just want to pass onto others a practice that blessed my family. This has helped us to grow in our relationship not only with God but also with each other and others.
Briefly, the Four-R's are as follows:
Ready: Prepare your mind to hear from God. Find a quiet place and time.
Read and Reflect: Read slowly and reflect on what God is talking about you and about him.
Respond: Based on what God has spoken to you, respond appropriately.
Record: Record your response in a book noting the date and the reference.
Recently I am learning to end my devotion by Resting for few minutes in God's love. 

I encourage you to develop the habit of daily devotion. If there are others whom you care for like your siblings, spouse, children, friends, encourage them as well in this practice. The Four-R's does not have any magic in it. The key is to daily set apart a time to read and quieting yourself to listen and respond. In 15 to 30 minutes you may practice six spiritual disciplines: Prayer, reading, silence, listening, meditation, and journaling.

I am often reminded of what Isaiah wrote, “He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed” Isa 50:4. 

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Thursday, 11 July 2013

Raising Resilient Children

Recently I came across stories of two children-one from North and other from South India. In the South, the only son of a doctors' family was expected to be a doctor. When his class 12th result was published, he called his mother to let her know that he has failed for one of the subjects. In the North, the scientist father expected his son to be a scientist. The son heard a lot of discouraging words from his father because he got only 83% in Class 12. Both sons chose suicide as their solution.
My Child, You're Safe Here

I have heard stories about parents who avoid talking to their children when they get less than 90% marks. What has gone wrong with such parents? Has our education helped us to really understand our children's talents, gifts, and hopes? Or have we become more ambitious after all? Do we really know what causes pain, grief, shame, or discouragement in children? Or are we busy making them to fit into our unfulfilled dream or to make them like our heroine or hero?

Resilience is the ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. Resilience develops when children perceive success and failure as part of life. Ups and downs have been part of life ever since life began. Even though this also has been repeatedly our story, we, parent,s tend to expect only success for our children. Rather we are to create a space in our homes where they can share their fears and hopes, success, and failures without a thought of rejection. Only then they will trust us with their feelings. The first step towards this is to be transparent and share our sorrows and happiness according to the maturity of children.

Parents think over-protection is the way to develop resilient children. We tend to protect our young ones so much so that there are no possibilities for them to fail. Later, during teenage years when their independence blooms they tend to move away from overprotecting parents. Then when disappointments meet them they may not find those around them good enough to get them out of the pit of sorrow. This is because they won't see such parents as someone in whom they can confide in their feelings. It does not mean that parents should not be involved in their kids' lives. Yet, we can enable them to solve their problems and to make decisions according to their age. This indeed build confidence in their ability to handle life issues.

Besides, when we, parents only glorify success, it communicates to children that they are valuable as long as they earn awards and trophies. This conveys conditional love which in turn creates fear of losing their relationships. This is not to say that they are not expected to excel in their talents. But as we encourage them to excel, let them also know and feel that they are valued just because they are our children. Let them see that home is always a safe place for losers and winners alike. Last but not the least, help them to taste and know that their almighty God will never leave them nor forsake them.

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