Testing

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I spoke to the students of Smoky Mountain High School’s chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes last Friday. I was so blessed to see these young people and their willingness to get up early and come to school on Friday morning at 7:30 am!

They did not know I was going to talk to them about testing.

“How many of you have a test today?” I started by asking.

I went on to share the following message because I know God is dealing with me about this issue and I know some of you are facing life challenges as well.

Ok, to be honest, if we are alive, we are facing challenges, some good, some not so good, and some outright devastating.

What is the purpose of a test?

Good tests have a very important purpose – that is to show you as a student what you have learned – what you know – and what you still need to study or work on.

Tests are not effective when used as a “gotcha” strategy, to catch the students who did not read the assigned passage, or when used as a punishment. They are not effective when they are too easy and everyone gets an “A”, or when they are too hard and no one passes.

A test that covers what a class has recently learned gives both the students AND the teacher a good picture of what has already been learned and what still needs more instruction or practice.

I am participating in the Community Woman’s Bible study and we are studying I and II Thessalonians. When the following verses came up, I began thinking about testing from a teachers point of view, like I just mentioned.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (NIV)

2 You know, brothers and sisters that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.

I asked myself – why does God test us? If He knows everything like the Bible says He does – He knows our very thoughts and the intents of our hearts –

He already knows what I know. God does not need to test me to see how I will do. I believe God tests us so that WE realize where we are in our journey with Him.

If we go through a hard time – do we whine and fuss and think God has turned His back on us? Do we give in to fear?

When we do, we fail the test. The failure shows us what we need to work on.

So do we give up when we fail a test?

NO!

We need to ask forgiveness and examine ourselves. I need to read God’s Word and see what He has to say about what I am facing. I need to get with my friends who are Christians and we need to pray for each other in this area.

James 1:2-4

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

The test for me right now is trusting God to show me what He wants me to do with my time. I’ve retired from teaching – but there is no retirement from being a Christian. All of us have a purpose to fulfill in the Body of Christ.

So – we need to thank God for each test,  and just as James says, allow each trial to finish its work.

 

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Proportion

100_0171” “You have blown this all out of proportion!”

How many times have you heard this, or said this yourself? We use it to refer to a situation where we feel someone is making too big a deal out of a situation.

This often occurs because a spouse, child, or in-law thinks something is more important than it is….

or to be fair – than WE think it is.

In art, proportion is defined as the relationship between objects with respect to size, number, etc. including the relation between parts of a whole.

Artists sense that things are in proportion by comparing the elements within the piece of art. We don’t just look at one flower in a still life and judge if it is in proportion. It must be looked at in comparison to the whole picture.

As parents we need to view the situations our family members face in proportion to the wellbeing of the whole family.

It may not be a big deal to me if my child’s soccer socks match his or her shorts, but it may mean THE SUCCESS OF THE WHOLE SEASON to my child. Refusing to wear other socks could also affect siblings getting to their game on time.

How do we help our child keep things in proportion?

  • be an example of proper proportion ourselves  – don’t blow up about every little thing, save the blow ups for BIG things 😉
  • uncombed hair is not the end of the world, unless it is picture day. Then that picture will be the one you laugh at together when they are seniors in high school!
  • if your child tends to be a drama queen, intervene BEFORE the drama starts. Example – “Dear, I told you yesterday that Nana was going to take you to see MINIONS today. She just called and she can’t come because Pop is sick. Let’s make a get well card for Pop.” This shifts the child’s perspective from himself to another person and hopefully avoids an outburst.
  • in life we will constantly face change, so helping our child see situations through others’ viewpoints is an important life lesson.

When we are on a mountain top, we see all the surrounding area and it puts things in proper proportion. We realize how small we are and we often see things we have never seen before, or we see them in a new way.

Just as we want to help our children to have a healthy outlook on their situations, God wants us, His children, to have the correct view of our lives. We need to see the situations we face in light of God’s desire to help us grow as Christians.

In The New Testament, James is writing to Christians and encouraging them to face difficult situations in life.

James 1:2-4 says –

Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.

Finding joy in our trials will certainly help us keep things in proportion, won’t it?

May we learn to trust that God is at work in our lives through joys as well as trials and may we teach this trust to our children and grandchildren as well.

 

 

 

Emphasis

Daniel is 5!

Daniel is 5!

“Happy Birthday to YOU!”

This is something to celebrate!

Children, and all those who are young at heart enjoy birthdays. It is not just about getting older, it is reaching that milestone of another year. It is a day when we emphasize a person and what they mean to us. For our children, it is a day to make them feel significant as a part of our family.

In art, emphasis is described as “special attention or importance given to one part of a work of art”. This often causes the piece of art to communicate meaning because of what is emphasised. An example is the Last Supper by Leonardo DaVinci. One’s eye automatically goes to the middle of the painting  – to Jesus – because of the placement of the figures on each side, the perspective of the walls, and the lightness of Jesus’ robe. All these qualities emphasis the importance of Jesus, the focal point of the painting.

When we celebrate members of our families, we emphasize their importance which results in their feeling loved and appreciated. Each family celebrates in unique ways. It does not require a lot of money to make a child feel special. In fact, spending more may result in less personal attention.

Some thoughts to consider when planning children’s’ birthday celebrations:

  • limit the number of friends to the age of the child (this does not include cousins, who are entitled to come)
  • ask the child what they would like to do for their party (one of our children wanted friends to come and play baseball – how fun and easy was that!) One grandchild had a camp out in the backyard with a movie projected on a sheet hung from the deck.
  • if the child wants to go to Paris, France – discuss the realities of life, and then plan accordingly
  • during warm weather – one grandchild had a water party with water games like water balloons and watergun battles
  • decorations can be simple – don’t fall in the trap of copying a Pinterest layout that stresses you out for a two-year old – the child won’t notice
  • as children get older, the parties do NOT have to get bigger and bigger. A special outing as a family may be a chance to celebrate that child and his/her interests.
  • make sure the celebration is about that child  – not the photo ops.
  • most importantly – let your child know how thankful you are that God added him or her to your family

In Psalm 127, Solomon is rejoicing in God’s blessing of giving children. In verse 3 he says –

3 Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.

Are we responding to our children in such a way that they know they are a blessing to us? Or do they feel like they are in the way….a bother?

We must let our children know daily – not just on their birthdays –  that we are so thankful that God joined them to our family.

May we place emphasis on each child’s value to ourselves and to God.