Volume 1 No. 45 December 29, 2011
Happy New Year - 2012If the Journal is not displayed properly, please click on the link below (or copy and paste) to read from web
Table of Contents
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Christmas is a season to be merry. We go around
singing Christmas Carols such as "Joy to the World." The retailers
are also happy because they sell more in Christmas Season than the
rest of the year. The whole month of December is filled with
Christmas Parties. It is hard to get any "real work" done during the
Christmas Season in the west.
If you had been following our church's lectionary gospel readings, you know that during the advent season, we cover all the important events that leads to the birth of Jesus in 7-8 weeks. If you look at the lectionary readings on the week following the Christmas Day, you will notice that the joy and happiness suddenly turns to sorrow. Innocent kids get slaughtered. Joseph, Mary and infant Jesus had to run away to Egypt to prevent baby Jesus from getting murdered by a jealous mad man called Herod.
The star of the gospel reading this week is Joseph. If you analyze bible, you will find that not a single word uttered by Joseph is reported in the bible. Joseph was an obedient man. He followed instructions without questioning. He was the type of person David described in Psalm 51 as one possessing a 'contrite heart.' He knew that what pleases God is not sacrifice; but mercy. He showed mercy to Mary by the way he handled the situation when Mary got pregnant.
If you read St. Matthew's gospel, you will find that Matthew's purpose was to present Jesus as a King. He also wanted to point out that Jesus fulfilled all the prophesies of Old Testament regarding the arrival of Messiah. Matthew uses stories and imagery to make his point. For example, we cannot escape the similarities shown between Jesus and Moses in today's reading (Matthew 2:13-23).
Another interesting parallel we discover in today's scripture is how St. Matthew compares Joseph with the Old Testament Joseph (son of Jacob in Genesis.) Joseph in the Christmas story is portrayed as a dreamer. Joseph of the Old Testament was a big dreamer too. He got into trouble from dreaming and got saved by dreaming too.
There are several other lessons in this passage. For example, my friend Joykutty, Detroit, in his Christmas Message points out the importance of controlling the tongue. Joykutty points out that if the 'wise men' had not opened their mouth and declared that a king was born to Herod, those innocent babes would have been saved. He rightfully says that what comes out of our mouth can do lot of damage.
When the son of God incarnated as a human child, he needed protection and guidance from a loving human father and mother. God picked Mary and Joseph very carefully for his only begotten son. This shows the importance of family and the role played by parents in a child's upbringing. Mary was very vulnerable when she was pregnant; Joseph was there to protect her. Baby Jesus was very vulnerable when he was young. Both Joseph and Mary provided the necessary protection during this time.
I will conclude with a quote from Fr. Andrew on the importance of the Family in the development of children:
All of us in Malankara World wish you all a Happy and Prosperous (spiritually) New Year 2012. Thank you for your continued support.
This Sunday in Church
First Sunday after Christmas (The Holy Family flee to Egypt )
New Year (January 1) Circumcision of our Lord, Feast of St. Basil and St. Gregory.
We have greatly expanded our Sermon Resources. The sermon collection now includes general and classical sermons. This will give a broader appeal to the Gospel Reading for the week. We also added bible commentaries for the bible reading to facilitate study and meditation. Please check it out.
This Week's Features
|Inspiration for Today|
In This Season of Lights, Let My Light Shine on You!
You are my children of light, you are my children of light, you are my children of light, and in this season of lights, let MY Light shine through you, for MY SEASON NEVER ENDS!
Truly this is a season of lights, but we are to be lights for Christ Jesus in an open season and heaven for him!
Isaiah 60: The Gentiles Bless Zion
1 Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the
LORD is risen upon you.
Source: The Joshua Chronicles by Jedediah
by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
We're still in Bethlehem--Mary and I and little Jesus.
There were lots of things I couldn't talk to you about last summer. You wouldn't have believed me then, but maybe I can tell you now. I hope you can understand.
You know, Mom, I've always loved Mary. You and dad used to tease me about her when she was still a girl. She and her brothers used to play on our street. Our families got together for supper. But the hardest day of my life came scarcely a year ago when I was twenty and she only fifteen. You remember that day, don't you?
The trouble started after we were betrothed and signed the marriage agreement at our engagement. That same spring Mary had left abruptly to visit her old cousin Elizabeth in Judea. She was gone three whole months. After she got back, people started wondering out loud if she were pregnant.
It was cloudy the day when I finally confronted her with the gossip. "Mary," I asked at last, "are you going to have a baby?"
Her clear brown eyes met mine. She nodded.
I didn't know what to say. "Who?" I finally stammered.
Mom, Mary and I had never acted improperly--even after we were betrothed.
Mary looked down. "Joseph," she said. "There's no way I can explain. You couldn't understand. But I want you to know I've never cared for anyone but you." She got up, gently took my hands in hers, kissed each of them as if it were the last time she would ever do that again, and then turned towards home. She must have been dying inside. I know I was.
The rest of the day I stumbled through my chores. It's a wonder I didn't hurt myself in the woodshop. At first I was angry and pounded out my frustrations on the doorframe I was making. My thoughts whirled so fast I could hardly keep my mind on my work. At last I decided just to end the marriage contract with a quiet divorce. I loved her too much to make a public scene.
I couldn't talk to you. Or anyone, for that matter. I went to bed early and tried to sleep. Her words came to me over and over. "I've never cared for anyone but you.... I've never cared for anyone but you...." How I wished I could believe her!
I don't know when I finally fell asleep. Mom, I had a dream from God. An angel of the Lord came to me. His words pulsated through my mind so intensely I can remember them as if it were yesterday.
"Joseph, son of David," he thundered, "do not fear to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit."
I couldn't believe my ears, Mom. This was the answer! The angel continued, "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
The angel gripped my shoulders with his huge hands. For a long moment his gaze pierced deep within me. Just as he turned to go, I think I saw a smile on his shining face.
I sat bolt upright in bed. No sleep after that! I tossed about for a while, going over the words in my mind. Then I got up and dressed quietly so I wouldn't wake you.
I must have walked for miles beneath the moonless sky. Stars pricked the blackness like a thousand tiny pinpoints. A warm breeze blew on my face.
I sang to the Lord, Mom. Yes, me, singing, if you can imagine that. I couldn't contain my joy. I told Him that I would take Mary and care for her. I told Him I would watch over her--and the child--no matter what anyone said.
I got back just as the sun kissed the hilltops. I don't know if you still recall morning, Mom. I can see it in my mind's eye as if it were yesterday. You were feeding the chickens, surprised to see me out. Remember?
"Sit down," I said to you. "I've got to tell you something." I took your arm and helped you find a seat on the big rock out back. "Mom," I said, "I'm going to bring Mary home as my wife. Can you help make a place for her things?"
You were silent a long time. "You do know what they're saying, don't you, son?" you said at last, your eyes glistening.
"Yes, Mom, I know."
Your voice started to rise. "If your father were still alive, he'd have some words, I'll tell you. Going about like that before you are married. Disgracing the family and all. You... you and Mary ought to be ashamed of yourselves!"
You'd never have believed me if I'd tried to explain, so I didn't. Unless the angel had spoken to you, you'd have laughed me to scorn.
"Mom, this is the right thing to do," I said.
And then I started talking to you as if I were the head of the house. "When she comes I don't want one word to her about it," I sputtered. "She's your daughter-in-law, you'll respect her. She'll need your help if she's to bear the neighbors' wagging tongues!"
I'm sorry, Mom. You didn't deserve that. You started to get up in a huff.
"Mom," I murmured, "I need you." You took my hand and got to your feet, but the fire was gone from your eyes.
"You can count on me, Joseph," you told me with a long hug. And you meant it. I never heard another word. No bride could hope for a better mother-in-law than you those next few months.
Mom, after I left you, I went up the road to Mary's house and knocked. Her mother glared at me as she opened the door. Loudly, harshly she called into the house, "It's Joseph!" almost spitting out my name as she said it.
My little Mary came out cringing, as if she expected me give her the back of my hand, I suppose. Her eyes were red and puffy. I can just imagine what her parents had said.
We walked a few steps from the house. She looked so young and afraid. "Pack your things, Mary," I told her gently. "I'm taking you home to be my wife."
"Joseph!" She hugged me as tight as she could. Mom, I didn't realize she was so strong.
I told her what I'd been planning. "We'll go to Rabbi Ben- Ezer's house this week and have him perform the ceremony."
I know it was awfully sudden, Mom, but I figured the sooner we got married the better it would be for her, and me, and the baby.
"Mary, even if our friends don't come, at least you and I can pledge our love before God." I paused. "I think my Mom will be there. And maybe your friend Rebecca would come if her dad will let her. How about your parents?"
I could feel Mary's tiny frame shuddering as she sobbed quietly.
"Mary," I said. I could feel myself speaking more boldly. "No matter what anyone says about you, I'm proud you're going to be my wife. I'm going to take good care of you. I've promised God that."
She looked up.
I lowered my voice. "I had a dream last night, Mary. I saw an angel. I know."
The anguish which had gripped her face vanished. She was radiant as we turned away from the house and began to walk up the hill together.
Just then her mother ran out into the yard. "Wait," she called. She must have been listening from behind the door. Tears were streaming down her cheeks.
"I'll get your father," she called, almost giddy with emotion. "We," she cried as she gathered up her skirts. "We," she shouted as she began to run to find her husband. "We ... are going to have a wedding!"
That's how it was, Mom. Thanks for being there for us. I'll write again soon.
Lesson 19: Power for Praying and Working
|[Editor's Note: Here is this week's lesson from the book, 'With Christ in the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray. This book is a very important reference book on intercessional prayer, something Orthodox Church believes in greatly. Murray skillfully describes the role of the Holy Spirit within the church and exhorts Christians to use the blessings God has given us. This book is a guide to living a life as a temple of the Holy Spirit. If you have missed the earlier lessons, please read them in Malankara World.]|
As the Saviour opened His public ministry with His disciples by the Sermon on the Mount, so He closes it by the Parting Address preserved to us by John. In both He speaks more than once of prayer. But with a difference. In the Sermon on the Mount it is as to disciples who have only just entered His school, who scarcely know that God is their Father, and whose prayer chiefly has reference to their personal needs. In His closing address He speaks to disciples whose training time is now come to an end, and who are ready as His messengers to take His place and His work. In the former the chief lesson is: Be childlike, pray believingly, and trust the Father that He will give you all good gifts. Here He points to something higher: They are now His friends to whom He has made known all that He has heard of the Father; His messengers, who have entered into His plans, and into whose hands the care of His work and kingdom on earth is to be entrusted. They are now to go out and do His works, and in the power of His approaching exaltation, even greater works: prayer is now to be the channel through which that power is to be received for their work. With Christ's ascension to the Father a new epoch commences for their working and praying both.
See how clearly this connection comes out in our text. As His body here on earth, as those who are one with Him in heaven, they are now to do greater works than He had done; their success and their victories are to be greater than His. He mentions two reasons for this. The one, because He was to go to the Father, to receive all power; the other, because they might now ask and expect all in His Name. 'Because I go to the Father, and—notice this and—and, whatsoever ye shall ask, I will do.'
His going to the Father would thus bring the double blessing: they would ask and receive all in His Name, and as a consequence, would do the greater works. This first mention of prayer in our Saviour's parting words thus teaches us two most important lessons. He that would do the works of Jesus must pray in His Name. He that would pray in His Name must work in His Name.
He who would work must pray: it is in prayer that the power for work is obtained. He that in faith would do the works that Jesus did, must pray in His Name. As long as Jesus was here on earth, He Himself did the greatest works: devils the disciples could not cast out, fled at His word. When He went to the Father, He was no longer here in the body to work directly. The disciples were now His body: all His work from the throne in heaven here on earth must and could be done through them. One might have thought that now He was leaving the scene Himself, and could only work through commissioners, the works might be fewer and weaker. He assures us of the contrary: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also, and he shall do greater works.' His approaching death was to be such a real breaking down and making an end of the power of sin; with the resurrection the powers of the Eternal Life were so truly to take possession of the human body and to obtain supremacy over human life; with His ascension He was to receive the power to communicate the Holy Spirit so fully to His own; the union, the oneness between Himself on the throne and them on earth, was to be so intensely and divinely perfect, that He meant it as the literal truth: 'Greater works than these shall he do, because I go to the Father.' And the issue proved how true it was. While Jesus, during three years of personal labour on earth, gathered little more than five hundred disciples, and the most of them so feeble that they were but little credit to His cause, it was given to men like Peter and Paul manifestly to do greater things than He had done. From the throne He could do through them what He Himself in His humiliation could not yet do.
But there is one condition: 'He that believeth on me, he shall do greater works, because I go to the Father; and whatsover ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do.' His going to the Father would give Him a new power to hear prayer. For the doing of the greater works, two things were needed: His going to the Father to receive all power, our prayer in His Name to receive all power from Him again. As He asks the Father, He receives and bestows on us the power of the new dispensation for the greater works; as we believe, and ask in His Name, the power comes and takes possession of us to do the greater works. Read the rest of the lesson in Malankara World.http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Prayers/Murray/Murray_19-praying-and-working.htmhttp://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Prayers/Murray/Default.htm
by Dr. Joe McKeever
They were not "kings" from the east and there weren't three of them. And when they arrived in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary and Baby Jesus were not still in the stable, but in a house, contrary to half the Christmas cards that will be arriving at your house.
And there's no indication there were cattle in that stable or anywhere nearby. In fact, the only thing that leads us to believe Jesus was born in a stable is that Luke 2:7 tells us Mary laid the Baby in a manger, a feeding trough.
But you knew all this.
And you knew that all of this was predicted through the centuries by God's prophets. We particularly treasure the promises of Isaiah 7:14 ("Behold a virgin shall conceive....") and 9:6-7 ("For unto us a child is born...."), as well as Micah 5:2 ("Bethlehem...out of you shall come forth One to be Ruler over Israel...").
And you knew that, contrary to the Christmas hymn "The First Noel," the shepherds in Bethlehem's fields did not "looked up and saw a star shining in the East beyond them far" (modern hymnals have revised that line to read "For all to see there was a star....").
But, allow me to point out some aspects of this wonderful story it's possible you might have missed. There is no particular order intended.
1. Joseph has no speaking lines.
This man who was to become the earthly father of our Lord Jesus was a man of action. He heard and he obeyed.
I recall hearing of a mother calling the school to inform the teacher that her son had a bad cold and would be unable to play Joseph in the Nativity play later that morning. It was too late to replace him, so they did the play without Joseph.
No one missed him.
2. Mary is a deep thinker.
Twice we read that she "pondered" these things. Once when Gabriel made the original announcement to her (Luke 1:29) and then when the shepherds entered the birth chamber (whatever it was, stable, etc.) to tell of the visitation of the angels (Luke 2:19).
The contrast between Mary and Joseph is fairly strong. He seems never to question a word from the Lord, but goes immediately to obey. Mary thinks it through, and even deigns to ask the angel of God how such a thing could be.
3. After the angels made their announcement to the shepherds, they did not command them to do anything.
Since the shepherds dropped everything and ran into Bethlehem to "see this thing which has come to pass," we might have expected the angels to have instructed them to go. Instead, the angel of God did something far superior: He informed them how to recognize the Christ-child once they found Him. "This shall be a sign to you: you will find the Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths."
God knew those He had chosen as the welcoming committee for His Son. He knew, that even though they were lowly shepherds--a category we would call unskilled labor--they were wise enough to come to Him as soon as they knew how.
4. There is great intrigue in this story.
A great cosmic drama is taking place here. On the one hand, we see Heaven opened and angels heralding the arrival of God's Son on earth. And on the other, hell's forces marshal to oppose Him and if possible, to kill Him and put an early end to this redemptive mission from Heaven.
Angels in the outdoors and Herod's soldiers entering homes to crush the skulls of infants.
The battle was joined and has raged ever since.
Readers wishing to explore this further should read "How God Fooled Satan at Christmas," my article on this subject.
5. Head knowledge is not sufficient.
In Matthew 2:3, all Jerusalem was abuzz with talk about the foreign visitors who had arrived in town, naively inquiring at every service station and convenience store, "Well? Where is He? Where is the One born King of the Jews?"
They figured that this wonderful news would be the talk of the city. Instead, no one else seemed to know anything about it.
Then, when Herod called the religious leaders to ask where the Messiah was to be born (Matthew 2:4), these doctors of theology informed him that the Old Testament prophet Micah had said Bethlehem was the place.
What we wonder is why they didn't go to Bethlehem. It's not like it was in the next hemisphere. Bethlehem lies some 5 miles south of Jerusalem, an easy walk for a healthy person.
The clear conclusion is that these religious leaders had the Bible knowledge but no real interest in God or the promise of Scripture.
6. The prosperity gospel stumbles at this story.
Mary and Joseph are poor. There is not a word in the text to indicate otherwise.
When they presented their Baby in the temple for the prescribed dedication of the first-born, unable to afford a lamb for an offering, the young parents gave a couple of birds (Luke 2:24; based on Leviticus 12:2,8).
7. The gold from the Magi had a very practical purpose.
Immediately after Matthew tells of the visit of the visitors from the East and their wonderful gifts, he tells how the Lord's angel spoke to Joseph in a dream, informing him that Herod was on a killing jag and he should take the family to Egypt.
Doubtless, the gold was provided by the Lord to finance this unexpected trip.
8. Notice the crossing of human lines and barriers in this story.
We have the young and the old (Mary, Joseph, the Baby, and Simeon and Anna in the temple. Luke 2).
We have the rich and the poor (the Magi and the young family. Matthew 2).
We have the Jews and the Gentiles (the Magi were the non-Jews).
We have the highest (angels) and the lowest (shepherds).
This wonderful story is clearly for "whosoever" and "all the world," as John 3:16 informs us.
9. Telling the story is a privilege.
It would appear that Mary and Joseph's account of the angels' appearances were so personal--and so unbelievable--that they either told no one at first or very few people.
The shepherds heard the message from the angels, left those miserable sheep to fend for themselves and raced into Bethlehem to see the Christ-child, then went out and told everyone what they had heard and seen.
Poor Zacharias. After questioning the angel inside the Temple (Luke 1), he was not allowed to tell what he had heard and seen until his son John was born.
Telling others of Jesus is a privilege many of us take for granted.
I think of the leper in Mark 1 whom Jesus healed. Then, the Lord instructed him to show himself to the priest and do what Moses commanded, but to otherwise keep the news to himself. However, he was just not able to do that. He went out and began to "blaze abroad" the matter.
Jesus tells you and me to tell everyone and we go home and sit down. Something is way wrong here.
10. Jesus did no miracles in His boyhood.
By all reports from Luke 2, Jesus had a normal childhood in Nazareth. In fact, John 2 informs us that the turning of water to wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee was His first miracle.
Lest we are tempted to temper that by saying, "It was the first miracle of His ministry, but not the first one He had done," I submit the following.
Had the boy Jesus been doing miracles in Nazareth like an early "Superboy of Smallville," the world would have taken note of Him and beaten a path to His door. Satan would have noticed also and come running, ready to abort God's plans for His Son.
That did not happen because Jesus was not doing miracles, was not teaching, and was not distinguishing Himself in any way during his youth. That's why, when He did start to preach and heal and work wonders, His neighbors were astonished. Where did this man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? Are not his sisters here with us? (Mark 5:2-3).
[Editor's Note: Dr. Joe McKeever is a Preacher and the Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Used with permission. ]
by Mark Earley
In 2006, pastors Rick McKinley, Chris Seay and Greg Holder had a vision to revitalize the celebration of Christmas in their churches. They found two other like-minded pastors, and, together with their congregations, conspired to restore the meaning of Christmas.
As Rick, Chris, and Greg explain in their book 'Advent Conspiracy', they all recognized and detested the rampant consumerism that turns the remembrance of Jesus' birth into a cult of materialism. "Our story is consumption and consumerism. ... We worship less. We spend more. We give less. We struggle more." That was their perspective.
To address the problem, they challenged their congregations to spend less on themselves that Christmas so that they could spend more on others. As a result, this coalition of churches was able to raise around half a million dollars — enough to fund the digging of a high-capacity well in Nicaragua, and 13 deep wells in Liberia.
But these "Advent Conspirators" don't simply tell us what they've accomplished. They challenge us to go and do likewise.
At RethinkingChristmas.com, people who have joined the Advent Conspiracy share some practical suggestions on how to spend less money, yet give more love. One mother commented that she planned to make personalized cookbooks for her kids this Christmas. She scanned family recipes written in her handwriting and that of her mother's, and placed them in a binder.
That's a gift that her children will treasure for years, and hopefully pass on to their children. While this may not have cost much, it involved a wealth of time — something far more meaningful.
But our giving should not be limited to family and friends. This is the challenge of the Advent Conspiracy: "As poor people who have met with the righteous wealth of God, it is now our turn to model his generosity by sharing our wealth with those in need."
So far, many participants in the Advent Conspiracy movement have opted to give the money they raise each year to Living Water International, a Christian ministry dedicated to providing access to clean water to people around the world.
But whoever we give to, the point is to get beyond ourselves and love the unloved in the name of Christ. Rick, Greg, and Chris remind us of the blessings that result. As they write, "When we show up and love in the name of God, God shows up. That's part of the mystery of partnering with Jesus in the work he is still doing."
During this past year of recession, it may be encouraging to remember that God doesn't expect us to give what we don't have. Those who have lost jobs may not be able to do much more than the poor widow in Luke 21. Though she only put in two small copper coins, Jesus commended her. While others gave out of their wealth, she gave out of her poverty and from her heart.
So this year, as you remember how, long ago, God's people longed for the coming of the Messiah, and as you look forward to Christ's coming again, make a change in how you spend. Perhaps this Christmas can be the advent of a deeper faith for you and your family.
Source: Breakpoint Commentary
[Editor's Note: Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people.]
By: Msgr. Charles Pope
Please accept a light-hearted post wherein we ponder a Christmas Cookie Recipe in the fine and polished style of the Revised Translation of the Mass.
Please also understand, as most of you know, I am a big fan of the new translation we are using. I like it! But this little recipe that came my way was too much fun not to share.
Please remember this is light-hearted. Smile and enjoy, it’s delicious and sometimes subtle.
Christmas Cookie Recipe
Serves: You and many.
Having procured one chalice butter, 2/3 chalice sugar, cream these ingredients, that by their commingling, you may begin to make the dough.
In a similar way, the butter is having been made commingled, with the sugar, beat in one egg.
Gather these dry ingredients to yourself, which you have received, so that, having combined them, you may add them to the dough which you have already begun to make: 2 1/2 chalices sifted all-purpose flour. 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Make the precious dough with your venerable hands.
Into the refrigerator graciously place the dough, so that it, having been chilled for the duration of 3 or 4 hours, before the rolling and the the cutting of the cookies.
When, in the fullness of time, you are a ready to bake these spotless cookies, these delicious cookies, these Christmas cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Rolling out the dough and taking up the cookie cutter or stencil of your own choosing, fashion the cookies into forms that are pleasing.
Sprinkle colorful adornments of the cookies like the dewfall.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies have jut begun to attain to the brownness that is graciously granted them by the oven’s heat.
May these cookies be found acceptable in your sight, and be borne to a place of refreshment at your table whereon they may be served with milk, hot chocolate, or with your spirits.
A Merry and Blessed Christmas to all. And may our revised and improved translation be accepted with good humor and gratitude, inspiring our everyday thoughts and discourse.
"Called to Divine Nature" is the theme of an open and free mini-retreat in Madison, January 21, 2012 hosted by Holy Transfiguration Mission, Madison, Wisconsin. Pre-registration by email or voicemail by January 8 is encouraged.
For more information or to preregister, please contact Rev. Fr. John-Brian Paprock via phone at (608) 242-4244 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Jim Jackson
What would your child do if you left him or her alone in a room with a fluffy, tempting white marshmallow (or other preferred “sweet”)?
The answer may be a convincing predictor of lifelong outcomes for your child.
In a Stanford University study, a group of four-year-olds were each given a marshmallow. They were promised a second one IF they could wait for several minutes without eating the first one.
Fourteen years later, as high school seniors, those who had quickly eaten the first marshmallow had lower self-esteem, and were more prone to frustration, envy and conflict. Those who had waited were more socially competent, coped better with stress and frustration, and got better grades. The “waiters” even scored about 210 points higher on their SATs!
Instant gratification has become a hallmark of our culture. Two-thirds of parents believe they have not succeeded in teaching their kids self-control and self-discipline – that is, the ability to wait, to think before acting and to understand potential consequences of their actions. Dr. David Walsh, national expert on media and cultural influences, has coined a term for what he believes is a widespread problem among young people today: DDD – Discipline Deficit Disorder, resulting from our culture of “more, easy, fast, and fun.”
Silver Bullet Questions: Reflecting on our choices as parents is the starting place for counteracting these cultural influences. We can ask ourselves these important questions: What am I doing to help my children learn to wait? What example am I setting? What are my thoughts and feelings when my children make impatient demands? Do I affirm them whenever they wait respectfully – or do I just punish or scold them when they don’t? Am I talking with them – even when I’m practicing patience or delaying pleasurable choices – about my thinking?
Asking these questions, and then taking some time to thoughtfully answer them, can help parents begin to more purposefully teach and train their children the value of waiting.
A good practical place to start working on this is to simply notice times when my children wait well, and then compliment them. For example, when I talk on the phone, get dinner ready or wait in the line at the store, there are many times my child waits just fine. Instead of waiting for them to get antsy, I can slip in some encouragement or affirmation, just before the frustration and demanding start. I can even set them up for success by saying, “This is a chance to practice good waiting! How do you think you’ll do?!” Kids almost always predict success, which greatly increases the likelihood they’ll succeed!
TIPS FOR TOTS: With younger children you can create simple opportunities to work toward a special purchase or activity. A fun way to do this is to draw a picture of an object or activity they want, cut the picture into pieces like a puzzle, and give them one piece each time they complete a special responsibility. Help them feel proud about their hard work and good waiting!
TIPS FOR TEENS: With older children you can share your own successes and failures in learning to delay gratification and work toward important things. (Our children have many times heard the woes of our impulsive time share purchase!) Teens are greatly encouraged when parents are open about their own mistakes. Also, make an effort to look for, and compliment your teen’s small-scale successes, like doing homework before being with friends, or coming home from shopping empty handed – even though they had the money to buy things.
Source: Live It Devotional
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