You Missed It! (Encouraging the Doubters)

by Sally Matheny
It Was Awesome and You Missed It!
         “You missed it!”
     Don’t you hate hearing those words? Perhaps you went to get a hotdog, and missed the best play ever made at home plate—by your child—the one who hasn’t scored a run in three years. Everyone kept exclaiming how awesome it was. 

you missed it!

     Or maybe you had plans to meet some friends at a restaurant. At the last minute, you decided not to go. You had your reasons. But they didn’t seem so great when you heard about your friends' spectacular evening.

    A celebrity ate at the table beside them. An exciting conversation took place, the celebrity treated them to desserts, and they each received free tickets and backstage passes to his upcoming concert. Each of your buddies called to tell you their version of the incredible evening. And...
you missed it!
     We’ve all had sinking moments like this. Don’t feel bad. Even one of Jesus’ disciples, Thomas (a.k.a Didymus) missed the most amazing miracle of all time.
     Three days after Jesus died on a cross, all of his disciples, except for Thomas, sat in a room together. The doors were locked for fear of persecution. Bewildered by recent events—the death of Jesus, finding his tomb empty, and news that a few had actually seen Jesus alive—the disciples were overwhelmed.
     Suddenly, Jesus appeared among them comforting them with words of peace! Awestruck by Jesus’ pierced hands and feet, they first thought he was a ghost, until they saw him eat food. Everyone knows ghosts can't eat food. Jesus also spoke to them and opened their minds so they could understand. And they believed.
     All except Thomas.
     Where in the world was Thomas? Was it his turn to retrieve water from the well that day? Did he send a message to the rest of the guys that he needed a day off? Perhaps he awoke that morning with a headache from all the stress. 

Whatever the reason, Thomas missed it.    
     Assuredly, Thomas had to listen to each, of his ten friends, share their personal experience of what happened. While Thomas’s heart was still grieving and his confused mind reeling, he must have endured quite a bit. 

Who knows? It's possible Thomas had to put up with  Luke’s constant, beaming grin, Matthew's singing at all hours, or John’s spontaneous praise dancing! 
     Did Thomas think all ten men hallucinated at once? Was he angry? Did he put on an attitude of bitterness? All we know for sure, is Thomas said he would not believe until he saw Jesus’ scars and touched the spear-penetrated side himself.

     Ever since then, and for the rest of time, he’ll be remembered as “Doubting Thomas.” Poor Thomas. 

Do you doubt the power of Christ?
     Perhaps, there is something else to consider. Even though Thomas had his doubts, he did not turn from God. He did not flee from the disciples. The enthusiastic sincerity of his friends compelled him to hang around. 

     Perhaps the other disciples showed empathy to Thomas, encouraging him to remember the words Jesus’ spoke during his ministry on earth. Recollecting their own qualms, they showed Thomas kindness and loved him with grace. Maybe they continued to remind Thomas of all Jesus’ miracles they had witnessed.
    What if, every night, while the others slept in peace, Thomas cried out to the Lord to help him remember, to help him believe?  
     A whole week passed—10,080 minutes.    
     Between listening to the accounts of the miraculous event, over and over again, and lying awake at night trying to make sense of it all, I bet most of those 10,080 minutes Thomas struggled.
     Although skeptical, Thomas still stayed close to the disciples. All he knew was when he left his friends they were fearful and confused, and the next time he saw them they were drastically changed--full of joy and anticipation. Whatever wonderful thing happened to them, Thomas wanted it, too. He was on the brink of believing.
     Then, it happened. One week later Jesus appeared to the disciples again and this time, Thomas was there.
Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.
(John 20:26-27, NIV)

     By then, Thomas did not need to touch Jesus’ scars. As Christ came across the room, Thomas allowed Him to come into his heart. He believed and cried out, “My Lord, and my God!” 

Don't give up sharing your faith.
     Is there someone you know who is struggling like Thomas? Perhaps he expresses his doubts yet, he still hangs around, intrigued by the way you live your life; fascinated by your sincere belief that Jesus is alive and rules in your heart.
     You’ve repeatedly shared your Christian beliefs. No matter how wonderfully you present the gospel, you cannot make him believe. Keep praying and allow the Holy Spirit to work. Don’t give up.

     Perhaps your friend realizes he’s missing something exciting and miraculous. He is on the brink of believing.

     Share with us. Have you had an experience with a “doubting Thomas”?


Blessed Easter

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live, even though he dies,
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?"

     Celebrating our risen Savior, Jesus Christ!
 I pray you all have a blessed and joyful Easter.
See you back on April 28 as we talk about
missing out on something special.
Has that ever happened to you?
Dont' miss next week's post!


The Lord’s Supper—When Should Children Go to the Table?

by Sally Matheny

The Lord's Supper--When Should Children
Go to the Table?
     Observance of the Lord’s Supper varies in churches from style to frequency. 

    However, there is one common concern among many Christian parents:

“How do we prepare our children for this special part of the worship service?”


     Why do we have the Lord’s Supper?
     How do we explain the bread as the body and the wine (or grape juice) as          the blood?
     How old should children be before allowing them to participate?
     A good place to start is by reading the following:
Exodus 12:24-27
Matthew 26:26-28
Mark 14:22-24
Luke 22:19-20
Acts 2:42-47
I Corinthians 11:23-31

     The first Lord’s Supper occurred as a Passover meal that Jesus hosted the night before his betrayal. The traditional foods were ready to serve but Jesus gave them a fresh meaning that night.
     Traditionally, the host reminded the people of the history of the Passover. The bread represented the affliction of the Israelites. Jesus conveyed to his guests that the bread now represented the afflictions he would take upon himself—his body would be broken for us. He would die for our sins.
     Then, Jesus said the wine symbolized his blood that he would shed in order to save us. Jesus died willingly on the cross. He was innocent of all sin, which made him the only sacrifice acceptable to cover the cost of our sin, which is death.
     In the past, people sacrificed animals. But they were only representatives of the perfect sacrifice to come. The animals did not have the power to take away sins. They merely pointed the way to the one who would come, and is able to cleanse us from all sin.
     Jesus asked those at his table to observe a new covenant in remembrance of Him.
     According to Vine’s Dictionary of Bible Words, the original word used for “remembrance” in this text does not refer” to ‘in memory of’ but in an affectionate calling of the Person Himself to mind.”
     The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament, something sacred and set apart. It is an outward testimony of a change that has taken place on the inside. We live our lives based on what we believe to be true.
     Children may become confused when they hear the words, Take, eat. This is my body and drink, this is my blood. 
     Show them a photo of one of their friends. Is the photo itself the friend? No, it is only a representation of the friend. Likewise, draw them a picture of a red heart. When they see the heart, what does it make them think of? The heart itself is not love. It symbolizes love. 
     The bread is not the actual body of Christ. The juice is not his actual blood. These are used as symbols of what Christ did for us. He loved us so much he died for our sins, so that we may live forever in heaven when our bodies cease to exist on this earth.
     The Bible doesn’t mention an appropriate age for participating in the Lord’s Supper. The best policy is to talk with your child before he asks, “When can I have the snack and drink from the little cup?”
     Receiving the Lord’s Supper is not to be taken lightly. The apostle Paul says,
Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.
I Corinthians 11:28-29 (NIV)    
    Most of all, parents need to demonstrate their love for Christ by how they live their lives outside the church. Be consistent in showing your child how to love God and to love others.  

     Parents can explain to children what it means to be a Christian. We are all sinners. Give examples of sin (lying, stealing, greed). Talk about our need for Jesus Christ and why he was the only one who could pay the price for our sins (Acts 4:11-12). No one is worthy of taking the Lord’s Supper, but as Christians we come remembering our need and our joy. 

     We can explain and teach, but we must let God do His calling in His time.

     Children are eager to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Parents know when their child is ready—as an act of their own faith. Don’t rush them. Patiently wait on the Lord to work in their hearts.   
     While waiting in anticipation for the day their child accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior, and then for the day when he takes the Lord’s Supper, parents can pray for wisdom as they provide salt and light in their homes.

 What suggestions do you have for parents on teaching their children about the Lord's Supper?


Celebrating National Sibling Day

by Sally Matheny

Siblings with an imagination!
     National Sibling Day is April 10.
How will you celebrate? No gifts necessary.
     May I suggest gathering around a fire pit, or calling on the phone, to swap childhood memories with one another?

     What do you think of when you think of your siblings?
     I have one sibling. She is my elder by ten months. We enjoy telling people we’re twins during a two-month span each year.  

     Growing up it was nice having a sister close to my age. We played everything together. Our favorite summer pastime was sitting in our dirt driveway making mud pies and ant hospitals.  I’ll let you use your imagination on that one. But, let me mention, we were kind to our half-smushed patients and served them sugar water as we tried to make them stay on their tiny, toilet paper beds.
     We enjoyed playing together. We loved board games and using our imaginations. Barbie doll episodes sometimes lasted for days, as we made houses out of books, and clothes out of scrap pieces of cloth. We also spent hours writing and illustrating stories, usually about talking dogs. Each of us had a suitcase filled with paper, pencils, and crayons. Her suitcase was black and mine was blue. After we finished a story, we would staple it into a booklet and let each other read it. Good times.

     Living with siblings isn’t always entertaining. Sometimes we fussed. She was a pincher and I was a biter. I should’ve given more thought to my choice of weapons. The evidence stacked against me, I received more discipline because teeth marks last longer than pinch marks.
     Sometimes siblings torture one another. My sister knew I hated to feel the texture of velvet.  Whenever a devilish mood struck, she’d chase me around the house, threatening to throw a velvet blanket on top of me. Occasionally, she captured me in it, and then my yelling drowned out her giggles. I still hate to touch velvet.
     Of course, I tormented my sister as well, but mine was not intentional. Apparently, my eyes stayed open when I walked in my sleep and that freaked her out quite a bit. So much so, she kept a big, red plastic ball bat beside her bed.  I learned quickly to deal with my own nightmares and not enter her room in the middle of the night. Even when I assured her I was fully awake, and just wanted to sleep with her because I had a bad dream, she would grab that bat and start yelling for me to get out.  I stopped trying to convince her the night she swapped out the plastic bat for a metal baton.

We defintely make life
interesting for our mom.
     Ah…the memories. We grew up and developed different interests. For a time we were separated by distance during our college years and early years of marriage.
     Thankfully, we live close to one another now. We minister to each other through prayer, conversation, and sharing an occasional meal together. Even our most serious conversations eventually end up with sisterly giggles. We joke about who is going to take care of who as we age, because we each are a handful already.  We daydream of one day living in a cottage together, our husbands out puttering in the garden, and we’ll be inside laughing and writing our stories, together again.  

     You never know about sharing a house with a sibling. I think it would work—if we kept one rule.
     No velvet blankets.


Sister Writers, Pam Martin and Sally Matheny

(Happy Sibling Day, Sister. I love you very much and I’m continually blessed by your precious life.)

Hey, readers, it’s your turn! Share with us a favorite memory about your siblings!