Staring at Your Hands – What We Can Learn from Babies this Christmas

Hand zeigt StopRecently while driving on a family trip I was telling my wife about my new habit of staring at my hands. She gave me a strange look and seemed a little embarrassed. But this new habit has had amazing benefits in my life.  Here is how it started and why I do it.

First, I have been reading the book ‘Kept For the Master’s Use’ by Frances Ridley Havergal.  Frances is the woman who wrote the hymn Take My Life and Let It Be. The book was written near the end of her life in 1895.  It goes through the different parts of a human being and imagines how these can be given entirely to God. It includes parts such as our will and mind, as well as our hands and feet. The book is not easy to read unless you are used to old churchy language, but it is well worth reading if you are up to the challenge.

In her chapter on hands Frances notes how amazing and miraculous our hands actually are. And it’s true!  We take so much for granted.  What would my life be like if I were often amazed, full of thanksgiving and joy over my hands? I am full of excitement over a new phone I get, but it is nothing compared to the fantastic miracle of the hands that hold it. So, I spent some time staring at and thinking deeply about my hands, trying to wake myself up to how great they are.

Second, I have been thinking deeply and reading about habits. I want to grow in Christ.  But how do I do it?  When I am full of thoughts of God and truth I have no problem doing many of the things Christ teaches.  When I forget and am distracted by other things then I fail and my life spirals down away from God. Habits must be a huge part of the solution to this problem. If what I automatically do leads my heart and mind toward God then it will be so much easier to imitate Him.

So, I thought, what habit could I build around my hands? They are always with meI decided that every time I washed my hands I would hold them up in front of me, flex them and stare at them like a little baby.   I spend about five or ten seconds doing this, remind myself how much I have been given and how well I am loved by God.  I do this EVERY time I wash my hands so that it has become automatic.

The results have been excellent. God is automatically in my mind more often and I am in a better mood every time I wash my hands. 

The one drawback is that my wife thinks I am weird. But as long as I don’t talk about it too much or tell the whole internet what I am doing I think she will be okay.

How to Worship With Little Kids

andrew and joy 2We have four boys, ages 11, 7, 2 and 3 months. Our two year old is loud. In church he dances all over the place and yells things during prayer. Even when he whispers you can hear it four pews away.  Yes, our church has pews. At our church the kids stay in the main service during worship.

So how do you worship when you have little kids?  Here are a few things God has shown me over the years.

Don’t Model Embarrassment

Your kids are going to become like you.  They learn from your actions more than your words. What do you want to model for them in worship?  Are you going to sit in the back because they are so loud and you are embarrassed?  What does that teach them? We need to hide our messiness from the church and from God?  Sit in the front.

What are the little things you do during church teaching your children?

Talk to Them in Worship

You have your mind focused on God.  You are thinking about all the amazing things He has done for you.  You can feel the Holy Spirit.  Does that mean you can’t talk to your kids?  No, it means you have to talk to them from the heart.

Lets suppose you are in worship and your kids start fighting.  Separate them.  Then use your prepared heart to try and draw them in.  I will take one of my fighting children, put an arm around them and talk to them about God.  I usually start by asking them if they understand the song, or what we are doing.  Or I ask about a symbol in the church. What does that dove mean son?  As soon as I find something they are interested in I answer their questions from a place of worship.

Discipline is Part of Worship

Kids need discipline.  Adults need discipline from God. We need it to make us better people. We need it to be happy. Why would this not be part of worship?

Christians claim to be a family of God.  We claim to be a community of deep love.  And in this family of love am I afraid to discipline my child the way I would at home?  Why?  I am not saying you should spank your toddler in front of the whole church. But I have heard the excuse many times that parents can’t make their kids listen in church because they can’t discipline them there.  I do it all the time.

Time out. Take away a toy. For older kids taking away a privilege later. All these are effective means that can be done right in your seat.  What if they still don’t listen.  Then you pull them out of the middle of the service and deal with it thoroughly. Last month I made our two year old take a nap in another room for half the service. He screamed bloody murder. Some people heard it. I missed part of the service, but the last few weeks have been much better.

Use Their Presence to Make Your Worship More Authentic

Our kids aren’t going to be perfect.  We often put up such a perfect image in worship.  We are clean and nicely dressed and happy and singing with our hands lifted up.  Our kids bring a dose of real life into worship. Use it.  Your kids are part of you and you of them. The things they do right or wrong are also in you. Take everything you are, kids included, and place it before God.

Why You Should Never Grab Your Children

ImageWe have three-and-a-half children.  Sometimes we want to run away screaming.  However, we consistently get compliments about their behavior. A dozen times old ladies have given them candy or money because they were so impressed. Being a parent is complicated, but here is one rule that goes a long way.  Don’t Grab Your Children!

I see it constantly. A child is doing something that embarasses her parents. Maybe they are running in church or going after that fragile decoration on a friends coffee table. Mom or dad tells them to stop and is ignored. So they grab her. The parent physically stops the kid from doing whatever it was. This is always a mistake.

Now, I am no bleeding heart.. I am a believer in spanking at the right moment and age. The problem with grabbing your kids is that it doesn’t work. The child is out of control. They need something to control them. But when you grab them the point of control is outside their mind and body.

Imagine you are the child. You know you are doing something wrong. That is the seed of responsibility and self control. As soon as mom grabs you it is taken away.  It is mom’s responsibility to hold you back, not yours.  You learn that you can do whatever you want and someone else will make sure you don’t go too far. That is a super bad lesson to learn.

But you say, what else can I do?  The answer is simple and bears incredible fruit.
Don’t Grab Your Kids!
I like to think of it as a game.  Here are the rules.

1) You must get them to stop if you said no.

If you say no you have to deal with it.  You face it head on every single time, even if it is small.  If little Billy is climbing on a table and you have never told him he can’t then fine, you can let it go on.  But if even once you say ‘No climbing on tables’’ you MUST confront Billy until he stops.

2)  You cannot touch them  

You can’t grab Billy and pretend to hug him so he doesn’t climb up anymore. You must use your words. You can promise consequences as long as you follow through.. This means Billy has to think. The point of control is inside himself.  You are giving water and sunlight to that seed of responsibility. The choice is his.

3) You can punish them in appropriately

Billy is going to ignore you. He must have consistent consequences just like he will later as an adult. Spanking and timeouts can be good, but be creative. Most times there are more important things you can take away. Don’t think of this as doing something against your child.  You are helping them.

That’s it!  Win the ‘Don’t Grab Your Kids Game’  and soon your children will learn responsibility. They will respond when you say something and little old ladies will love them.

Tell me what you think –  Isaac