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    • Six practical ways to honor your parents BY ERICA APPIAH 6 MARCH 2020   Our parents. They love us and we also love them but sometimes our actions and words (or no words) say the opposite! But actually, one of the ten commandments is to 'honour your father and mother'. Clearly God cares deeply about how we treat our parents. So, here are six ways to show some love to your parents this week. Obey them You can show your mum and dad you love them by doing as they say and what is expected of you. By obeying them, you are obeying God and this pleases him. I will also add in here that whatever you are told to do, you should do it in cheerfulness without moaning even if it means missing out on the movie you planned to watch. Talk Talk to your parents about your feelings - your worries, fears and excitement. Do not stonewall them because parents offer words of wisdom. Just because they are not the same age as us does not mean they can't understand us. Do you love your parents enough to open up to them? Tell the truth Our Father in heaven hates lying. Even if our parents do not know the truth that you hide from your mum and dad, God knows so tell the truth about your friends, school, where you are going and everything else.  By doing this, trust will be built between you and your parents. Be cheerful Watch any family TV show and there's bound to be a moody teenager. Sad, I know. Why don't we change this stereotype and be happy. Laugh with your parents (their jokes are funny… sometimes). Treat them with respect Remember who your parents are – father and mother, and give them respect for all they’ve done for you and for their role in your life. This may seem silly but you can show your parents love by simply thanking them for being your mum and dad. They are not just everyone else, they are different. They are our loving, caring parents! And finally… Tell them you love them. It is comforting and loving to your parents to hear that you love them. Shout it out loud, text it, mime it. However you choose to do it, make sure they know you LOVE them!  
    • To Spank or Not to Spank?   It’s one of the most common parenting questions, especially for young parents. The topic charges emotions and often sparks controversy. The problem is, there’s not an easy answer. Parents need to evaluate their own personality and parenting styles and decide for themselves.  One thing is for sure. If your family chooses to discipline through spanking, it needs to be the most infrequently used tool in a comprehensive discipline toolkit. As a family counselor and Focus’ VP of Parenting and Youth, before entering the spanking debate, I advise parents to step back and reflect on their role and to work at building and maintaining the 7 traits of an effective parent. Parenting is about influence, not control. It’s not about being perfect but about growing together and bringing out the best in our kids, which requires us bringing out the best in ourselves. Ultimately, we want kids to learn how to discipline themselves. When we use our words and actions to guide, teach, encourage and correct, children learn to self-discipline and self correct. That’s a valuable lifelong tool. And, it helps kids tune in to who God designed them to be (Ephesians 2:10).  With those things in mind, let’s begin by looking at some different views on spanking. What do Americans say about spanking? According to national statistics, about three quarters of the United States population uses spanking as a parenting method. In a recent study: 62% of Latino and Caucasian women believe it is sometimes necessary to give a child a “good hard spanking” 81% of African American women believe the same thing Latino (73%), Caucasian (76%) and African American (80%) men are closely matched in their belief that children sometimes need a “good hard spanking” What does the research say about spanking? Research on spanking is varied. Some research makes sweeping claims that frequent and/or severe spanking increases mental health and behavioral issues in kids, ranging from depression and anxiety to alcohol use. What is unclear from the research is whether behavioral issues precipitated the spanking, or vice versa. What the research doesn’t measure: Do the children being spanked already struggle with behavioral issues, perhaps triggering parents’ decision to spank? Are kids with behavioral issues more likely to be spanked? Do the non-spanked children simply have more cooperative and compliant personalities? Research supports the fact that diet, stress, environment, media and social influences all play a role in misbehavior and in temperament (personality), sleep habits, sleep quality and possible mental health issues in the child. Misbehavior can rarely be placed on one single factor, such as spanking. The exception is when there’s been abuse, which often manifests itself in misbehavior. Research also supports the fact that, when used correctly and infrequently and as one of many discipline forms, spanking has been a common factor in kids with well-developed self-motivation, empathy, morality and character.   What does the Bible say about spanking? The word parenting comes from the root word pere, which means “to bring forth, give birth to, produce.”  It means rearing kids using the necessary methods and techniques. Let’s see what the Bible says about our role as parents: We get to help shape our children and not exasperate or provoke them (Ephesians 6:4). We’re to discipline and provide the Lord’s instruction. To teach them about God’s word (Deut. 6:6-9 and Joel 1:3). We’re to guide them according to who God has created them to be (Proverbs 22:6). There’s an entire article on the biblical perspective on spanking here. Spanking can be appropriate, It can also be inappropriate Used correctly and infrequently as part of a comprehensive parenting toolkit, a spank can be that last resort discipline method you use when you need to create attention and a clear understanding why the behavior should never happen again. Used inappropriately, spanking can be dangerous. I’ve found some parents who use spanking as their main discipline tool and, many times, use it when they’re frustrated or angry. I’ve also noticed some parents spank and move on, skipping the important teaching element. That communicates nothing more than, “I’m in power and you need to listen to me.” I’ve seen spanking used effectively. I’ve also seen it backfire; both outcomes are dependent upon the parents’ approach and relationship with the child. Like many other things, effectiveness is dependent on the user of the tool.  As you read through this series on discipline/spanking and consider this foundation for your thoughts: If you incorporate spanking, it should be: The most infrequently used tool in your parenting toolbox Done with love, followed by guidance/teaching and respect, which are some of the 7 Traits of Effective Parenting. Part of a loving, nurturing relationship Used with purpose, caution and most importantly, love If you incorporate spanking, it should NEVER be: The only discipline Aggressive or done out of anger A power play Used during the height of emotion With a closed fist or a strike to the face Some parents should avoid using spanking There are some parents with certain temperaments who should never spank.  If you’re a highly emotional, volatile and reactive person, you’re better off honing every other discipline method and leaving spanking out of your toolkit. If you fall into this category, you may want to consider working on how to manage your emotions so that you can teach well. Take some time to work on the 7 Traits of Effective Parenting. If you are a single parent, you don’t need anyone to tell you how much energy it requires. Since many single parents are running on empty, it’s better to develop the other discipline tools available to you. In either case, invest heavily on your relationship with your child and get some counseling help, if necessary. Children mirror their parent’s behaviors, especially the parent they identify with most closely. As you can see, the answer to the “to spank or not to spank” question is incredibly complex. It’s controversial. And it’s highly personal. However, not controversial is the idea that every parent does well to invest in developing an effective and comprehensive discipline toolkit, which requires intention and adaptability, two of the 7 Traits of Effective Parenting.    
    • Why you shouldn’t worry if you don’t fit in  GRACE MAPLES 24 FEBRUARY 2020   Sometimes it's painfully obvious you'll never be one of the cool kids. You'll never have the right clothes, or be in the right crowd.  But that's okay. I have a feeling that Christians will never really 'fit in'. And here's why... As believers, this world is not our home. We are not of this world. We're not created to fit in. (Philippians 3:20) The enemy has lied to us (especially as teenagers) by telling us that fitting in is so important and we will never be anything if we aren't accepted by anyone. Most teens and adults have bought into this lie. But that doesn't mean we have to. Instead, we need to turn to God's Word to see what He says about fitting in. In Christ, we're accepted Let's face it. We all face peer pressure and longing to be accepted by someone whether it's by parents, friends, the opposite gender, or teachers. But, we'll never find fulfillment there. The only one we should be seeking to find fulfillment in is God. And, as His children, we already have it because of what Christ did on the cross. We don't have to seek acceptance from anything or anyone else. Through Jesus, God has accepted us without us having to impress Him to gain his approval. He freely gave it to us through His grace. Isn't that amazing? In the world, we're outsiders As Christ followers, we are not of this world. Instead of imitating the world, we are called to imitate Christ. And the chances are, the world may not like us – it may even hate us at times. But remember what Jesus said... Jesus states it plain and simple. The world will hate you. But He went through that same thing as well. Every day is a constant battle. Constantly going against the flow. Following Christ, and resisting the flesh. Taking up your cross. But take comfort in these words. We have Christ and His Word to stand on when the going gets tough. Therefore, we must be a light God tells His people in Isaiah to be a "light to the nations"(Isaiah 49:6b). Which means we have to be different – in other words, to NOT fit in. We need to be Jesus to a dark and dying world. Let me ask you, how can you and I shine like a light if we are the same as everyone around us? If you answered 'We can't', then BINGO you're correct! It's simply not possible. One day, you will fit in perfectly Everything the world values – fitting in, being cool, money, clothes – it's all going to pass away. POOF, it's gone. But, shining our light and doing hard things matter. Even the small things, like mowing the lawn for an elderly neighbor, or even just a smile or text for a hurting friend, it can all make a difference for eternity. Which one will you pick? Fitting in and chasing after things that don't matter, or being different and doing things that last for eternity? I pick being different.  I may not fit in right now, but one day I'll fit in perfectly in God's kingdom.  
    • My online presence says I used to spend way too much time on Facebook, Twitter, and Messenger.  I closed most of my accounts and tbh I dont even miss them any more!
    • There were plenty of times when I wasin a situation that put me in conflict with other people.  The two options that were obvious were to butt heads with the other person, or simply turn around and walk away.  I knew butting heads would get me in trouble, both at school and especially with my dad that evening, so I usually tried to walk away and tell myself it wasnt worth the bother, dont get involved, not my problem, etc.  But most of the time that just wasnt gonna happen.  Like if a bunch of students were picking on someone and they needed help, or somebody was getting blamed for something and I knew they didnt do it.  I would consider my options for, maybe 1/10 second, and walking away totally wasnt on the list.  If conflict was the only option remaining, then yeah there was gonna be conflict.  I could never walk away from an unfair situation and say Its not my problem.  I dont work like that, and I would be ashamed of anybody who did.  Did I get in trouble for it?  Yep.  Get detention?  Yep.  Get spanked after dinner?  Yep.  Did it change my response when that situation happened again?  Not a chance.   I dont say that conflict is always bad.  I learned a lot about myself from being in conflict, and being in situations where I had to make difficult choices immediately.  I dont think anyone should go out of their way to find conflict, you dont need to do that, it will find you!   The worst thing would be to go through a conflict scenario, and come out the other side without learning anything from it..
    • I think a lot depends upon how you define conflict.  Without conflict we would never make any advances at all.  It's the conflict that occurs when we don't like our life situation that stimulates us to take action to affect change.   In this context, conflict is a positive.   Even conflict with other people can be a positive.  If their actions (or lack thereof) are causing some form of hardship to us then addressing the issue will result in positive outcomes.   It's the fear of hurting someone else, or being perceived as an aggressor that has some people saying they are 'afraid' of conflict or that they dislike conflict.  It's a faulty perception.
    • I am afraid of conflict because I don't like other people agressiveness . And I am totally unable of dealing with it properly. I become easily agressive and I don't recognize myself when in a conflict. I also know that I can become disrespectful and be in trouble because of that. But truly when it happens I feel like I am not in control of myself... Hard to deal with that.
    • What does your online presence say about you? How to use your social media accounts for God's glory. BY NICKY GANGEMI  5 DECEMBER 2019  In this modern age, one of the easiest ways to find out about someone is by checking out their social media accounts.   You can tell a lot about someone’s life from their Facebook profile.  You can tell what people are thinking about from their Twitter feed.  You can tell what things people value from what they capture on their Instagram account.  You can tell a lot about what people think is worth sharing from what they blog. In other words, you can tell a lot about someone from their social media.  What does your social media presence say about you?What’s filling your Facebook wall and your newsfeed? Who are you following on Twitter? What photos do you post? What do you blog about? The things that fill these different feeds, walls or cyber places, are what we value. They are what we think about and what we spend our time writing about, finding, posting, reposting and sharing. They show where our heart is at.    As a Christian, we are to be focused on Jesus. Jesus commands us in the gospels to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind” (Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27). But does your social media account show that your heart, soul and mind are focused on Jesus?    Sadly, my newsfeed doesn’t often reflect that my Christian friends have Jesus as their top priority. Instead, my feeds are filled with pictures of the latest fashions, articles about the latest New York trend, linked blogs about fancy, fast and very expensive cars, a photo of a beautiful cup of coffee they’ve just had, or even just those funny cat lolz memes.   Don’t hear me wrong – none of the things I’ve just mentioned are bad, evil or even necessarily sinful. But it’s true to say that the things we post most can be a pretty good indication of where our hearts are at.   So how are we as Christians to use social media for the glory of Jesus?    Let us start first by looking at the ways how not to use social media.    Three things to avoid on social mediaBe careful about getting into theological arguments or discussions on social media. There often isn’t enough space for these kinds of discussions, and it is very difficult to portray tone & emotion. Often these discussions descend into anarchy, name calling and sometimes nasty commenting. Don’t just consistently post some random verses out of context with no explanation of why it is there or how it applies to your life (maybe instead explain where the verse is from or why you find it encouraging). Don’t spam people’s walls with Christian article after article or Christian blog after blog. Most people will just get annoyed at you. Ultimately to use social media well, we want the things we post to be coming from our hearts, minds and souls that are focused on Jesus. In Matthew 6:21, Jesus says that what we treasure is where our heart lies. Does Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or your blog show where your heart is?     Four things to remember when using social media   Here are a few principals to keep in mind as you go about using social media. Jesus is Lord – plain and simple, and as a result... We should aim to please Jesus is all we do We should aim to worship God with ALL our lives  We are to act in a way that glorifies God in all we do  We need to remember that everything is God’s – there is not one square millimetre of the world that is not His, this includes cyberspace! “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  (1 Corinthians 10:31)
    • I'm afraid of family conflict like when dad #1 told me he was about to change his life and mine. I wanted to scream at him. I wanted to confront him with my real feelings but I couldn't. He seemed so happy about his new job and I didn't want to make it all about me but keeping it all inside makes it worse.  I also don't like the conflict that comes with having faith. The comments about living in a dreamworld. The comments that God doesn't exist. I feel that conflict in different places and I only smile and move on. 
    • Are you afraid of conflict? Why conflict isn't something you should avoid.  BIOLA UNIVERSITY  3 DECEMBER 2019 Conflict is often seen as a virus that sucks the life out of you and the ones you love. We all have stories of conflict causing pain and separation—parents who don’t talk to each other, families who no longer get together, work environments that are almost intolerable, and close friends who have drifted apart. Most of us have only experienced conflict as negative, and thus do everything possible to avoid it.  It gets such a bad rap that we want to minimize or ignore it, and will pay good money to learn ways to make it go away.    But it does not have to be this way, and in fact avoiding conflict is one of the most successful ways of ruining a relationship.  Are there are ways to flip the script on conflict? Since it is a reality we all live with, what can we do to strengthen a relationship while still dealing with the problems?   First things first   We begin by accepting the fact that conflict is as natural as it is inevitable. It plays a vital role in all relationships by providing an opportunity to address problem areas. In other words, conflict tells you, “Hey! This needs your attention!”    Understanding the purpose   Second, your conflict can help you work on your social intelligence, e.g., understanding how other people work from the inside. It involves our ability to know others, and ourselves, in relationship—and acting wisely in these relationships. One of the key ingredients is being able to listen well. For example, do you know what motivates your roommate or how their different background or perspectives came to be? Can you put yourself in their shoes, or at least be able to really listen and hear their concerns? It doesn’t mean you have to always agree, but that you listen to understand. It is a great skill to develop, and one that will be used in all of your relationships.   In Psalm 139:23-24 the psalmist says “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”   Why am I anxious?   Third, ask yourself, “What are some of my heart issues that are underlying my anxiety over the conflict? Why might this conflict be causing me such angst and stress?” Figure out what hurtful emotions are being brought out in you, and what is it that most worries you. Perhaps the conflict is making you feel misunderstood, or not heard, or not cared for. These deeper heart issues are often the source of our anxiousness, and often hide under the surface—hence the psalmist asking for God to search him.   It takes courage and commitment to flip the script on conflict. But, by using it to dig deeper to get to know yourself and someone else better, you just may find that you not only manage the conflict, but actually grow closer in the process. And that is always healthy.
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