This summer our family took a vacation to territory new to us. One of the states we drove through was North Dakota. It was a typical state where farming is the primary industry. Mile after mile of fields were dotted occasionally with a house or very small village. There was one thing about almost all of those farms that just amazed me though. On almost every acre there sat a huge pile of rocks. Not tiny rocks mind you, but rocks that would take one or more very large, strong men to struggle to move. It became very obvious this rich farm land had once been incredibly rocky. The early settlers must have performed backbreaking labor for days just to ready the fields for plowing and planting. They must have had to work quickly and as a team as the growing season that far north is very short. (In the winter the cold is bitter and the fields covered in snow.)
I am sure many settlers buckled under the work, gave up and moved to easier places to farm. I imagine all of them were tempted to give up more than once. It appears though that the work of those who toughed it out and remained was worth it. Even today, generations later, the fields yield beautiful and abundant crops.
I have grown to love the Jewish holidays over the last few years. My husband and I were teaching a class of boys in Sunday School who were famous for being “a handful”. I was trying to find material that was challenging, but would keep them active and fed. Learning about the Jewish holidays turned out to be the perfect topic.
As I studied the holidays to prepare my lessons, I became enthralled. I had no idea the Jewish holidays were often looking for the Messiah as part of their celebration. Many of the holidays aligned with events in the New Testament in ways I found amazing. The more I studied, the more I appreciated how intricate and detailed God’s plan was from the very beginning.
Learning about God and understanding His words sometimes means trying to understand some abstract topics. I think one of the reasons parents shy away from teaching their children more Bible at home is the fear of trying to explain concepts like eternity when we don’t totally understand them ourselves.
While I believe it is probably impossible for the human mind to totally grasp some of these concepts, there are ways to help your child begin to understand them in a simple fashion. Young children tend to think only in concrete terms. This means they can understand things better when they can use their senses to examine them. That is why for a small child “love” might mean hugs and kisses. It is also why young children often say “I hate you” when they really mean they are very angry with you. To them anger and hate look alike.
I grew up in a musical family. We all played several instruments and would try to play anything that might create music. Our stereos were all cranked to almost top volume and you could hear us singing along enthusiastically. All of us that is, except my father. He always claimed he played the checkbook and sang the “also” part.
In church though, my dad always sang. Our fellowship has a history of a cappella music. In most congregations, it means quite a few people have developed a good ear for music, taken voice lessons and love to sing four part harmonies. My favorite part of singing at church is that the tone deaf people will sing just as loudly and enthusiastically as the more musically inclined. I personally think God loves to hear from them just as much, if not more, than those He gifted with beautiful singing voices.
Have you ever seen one of those sitcoms when the character is trying to make a moral decision? Often he will suddenly have two figures appear on his shoulders. One is angelic in appearance, with white clothing and often wings and a halo. The other looks like we are supposed to think the devil looks, with red clothing (and a cape for some strange reason), a long red forked tail, red pointed ears and a pitchfork with prongs.
Over the years I have given in to more temptations than I would care to admit. Unfortunately, I don’t recall ever seeing this man dressed in red when faced with my choice. Maybe if I had seen him, I would have made a wiser decision. Usually Satan has disguised himself in much more creative and appealing ways.