April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Psalms 127:3 declares, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” God places a high value on children. They are a gift from God. They are precious. Jesus informs us that we must have a child-like faith if we want to enter the Kingdom of God. He welcomed children and became outraged when His disciples were rebuking children for coming to Jesus (Mark 10:13-15).
Even though children are a precious gift, parenting is not easy. As parents, we tend to want our children to be mini-adults. There are concepts, behavior, and attitudes that we just expect them to get because they are our children. The frustration of a toddler’s defiance, a child’s disobedience or a teen’s attitude can stir up feelings of anger within parents. Add to that work stress, relationship tensions, and feeling stretched to your limit, and you have an environment that is primed for a less than loving response to your child.
We can help end child abuse by committing to love our children as our heavenly Father loves us. God is mindful of the fragility of our humanity. He knows that we are dust (Psalm 103:13-14). We must see our children, not as mini-adults, but as fragile vessels from God, entrusted to us to care for, love, protect, and prepare for service to God. How we treat our children will heavily influence how they see God.
Additionally, experienced Christian parents can be a resource and mentors for young parents. Build relationships with younger parents and be a source of encouragement to them. Do for young parents what others did for you or do what you wish someone would have done for you when you were a new parent. Just knowing that someone cares and is there to walk with a young parent can make an enormous impact on the life of a young family.
Call 1-800-4 A CHILD to report child abuse.
Life often catches us off guard. When crises hits, they tend to take us by surprise. However, there are times when we know what’s coming. Whether it is a conversation that we have to have tomorrow, a follow up doctor appointment next week, or the inevitable death of an aged loved one, we sometimes get advanced notice of the tests that are coming. Such was the case when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to His arrest.
Matthew 26:36-46 occurs after the institution of the Lord’s Supper and before Jesus is betrayed by Judas. There we learn a powerful lesson on prayer: we should pray before the test.
The text effectively highlights the emotions of the moment. Jesus is grieved and distressed. He does not suppress or deny his emotions; Jesus acknowledges, owns, and communicates His feelings. When we face challenging moments, we often try to act as if they don’t bother us. It is better to communicate our emotions than to try to hide them.
In acknowledging our feelings, we do so while exhibiting self-control. Jesus did not use his feelings to justify bad behavior. Instead, He focused His feelings through prayer. Prayer was His response to feelings of distress and grief. Although He asked His disciples to keep watch with Him, Jesus prayed for Himself. His example shows us that even though we can ask others to pray for us, we should always pray for ourselves too.
Sometimes friends will have the best intentions, but will be unable to give you the attention that you need. They may be wrestling with their own emotions, caught up in their own drama, and unaware of their own weaknesses.
Jesus prayed 3 times. Why would He pray 3 times? In part to teach us a lesson: if at first you don’t succeed, pray, pray again. Our problem is that when we are experiencing life’s emotions and feeling some type of way about a situation, we don’t P.U.S.H. Don’t give up. Pray Until Something Happens!
Each time you pray, your spirit becomes more willing, your resolve is strengthened, and your courage is renewed. After the third prayer, Jesus was strengthened. It is as if He was saying to His disciples, “Get up! Let’s go! Let’s do this! I’ve got a cross to carry. I have some pain to endure. I’ve got a world to save!” The victory of Calvary was won that night in the garden of Gethsemane.
Knowing that the test was coming, Jesus prayed. For those temptations of life we can see approaching from the distance, the victory should be won before the temptation really reaches us. When you see a crisis coming, that’s the time to start praying because the victory often comes before the crisis shows up.
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.