Archive for August, 2012

As I train my body to compete, I begin to think about the other aspects of my life. What is the spiritual equivalent to a triathlon? My initial thought is Read, Pray, Give. However, everyone I talk to has a different perspective. Ideas include Forgive, Memorize, Sing, Dance, and Study. After thinking about it for a while, I have decided to go with my original three skills of Read, Pray, Give.

Read

The Bible is not like a novel that you pick up and read through in a few days or even weeks. It is more like a textbook that requires study. The goal is not to just read through all of the books, but to read for understanding. There are many different ways to study the Bible, and it is a good idea to use a variety of techniques. When training to run or bike, it is not good enough to stay on paved paths and level ground. Hills and rough roads train different muscles and require different techniques than flat, level ground. Likewise, using different resources and techniques to study the same books gives us different insights.

1 Peter 2:2 states “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” This creates the image of longing for the knowledge of God in a way that would leave us empty if we did not get it. The first and last desire of our day should be to know and study God’s word and his wishes.

Psalm 119:11 states “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” If we know what God says, we can live in the way that He loves. Matthew 12:34 says “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” If you know the word, it is easier to live the word. A football fan does not have to consult the rule book to tell if the team got a first down, a touchdown, or a field goal. They generally do not have to look up the rules when a penalty flag is thrown. As Christians, we should know our rulebook with the same intensity and knowledge of the avid sports fan. It is not necessary to be able to quote word-for-word, but it is necessary to know the mind of Christ enough that we don’t have to think about what to say or do in most daily situations. This means memorizing and reading repeatedly.

In order to strengthen our reading skills, we must practice regularly, not only reading, but studying and memorizing.

Pray

We are often exhorted to pray according to the model Jesus gave us in Matthew chapter six, often called “The Lord’s Prayer.” This prayer includes praising, requesting, confessing, and forgiving. One-sided prayers are not beneficial to us. We must think of God, of others, and of ourselves.

When we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, it is natural to also think of those that have harmed us. I don’t believe that it is necessary for others to ask forgiveness of us before we forgive them. If I have been hurt by someone, I can forgive them and begin the healing process in my own life before they show remorse and ask me for forgiveness. The Bible doesn’t tell us only to forgive those who have asked for forgiveness. Matthew 6:14 says “For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Forgiveness is an act that can stand independent of confession.

To strengthen our praying skills, we must practice regularly. Again, it is necessary to have variety. It is not always possible to praise. It is not always possible to confess. Sometimes we are too heartbroken for those prayers, and can only beg for peace. Reading through the Psalms gives us many examples of when David was despairing and only able to ask “Why?” Practice the hard prayers that require us to examine our lives. Practice forgiveness for the small slights that we feel. Practice praising God. Often our attitude and outlook will change, just by spending some time praising the Creator of all things.

It is also necessary to rest after a hard practice. We cannot spend all the time examining the corners of our hearts. That results in too much introspection that leaves a person unable to help others.

Give

Luke 6:27 states “But to those who are listening, I say ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” This is an indication of how we should live and what our attitude should be. When someone cuts you off in traffic, smile. When you start to feel cheated, let it go and do something extraordinary for the other person. James 2:14 says “And what good is it if people claim to have faith but have no deeds?” We are known by what we do.

It is easy to see how to practice giving. We can see it financially. We can see it in where we spend our time. We can see it where we focus our energy. And we can see it in our attitude. Giving cannot be constant, as we all need time to reflect and re-energize, but it is possible to constantly have a giving attitude – and that takes a lifetime of practice!

As my children enter the teenage years, I need to develop my parenting to meet their developing needs. So what are the developing needs of the teenager (and pre-teenager)?

The primary need of the teenager is to develop independence. It is in this stage of life that the child begins to think more abstractly and rationally. They become increasingly aware of how others see them. They develop their own moral code and begin to assert themselves as individuals. This can result in drama, emotional outbursts (and not only from the teen!) and outright rebellion.

So what can I do as a parent to encourage my teen to independence, while still molding the development of her morals?

Joe White in Sticking With Your Teen states that you need to walk alongside your teen to help them develop. Find out what your child loves to do and do it with them. By joining her in her training, I have more time to spend with her. She tells me different things when we are cooling down after a bike ride than when we are at the table with the family. When I am physically tired, I am more willing to sit down and listen to her. Other times, I find myself thinking about all the things that I could be doing. Or else I am doing things and not willing to stop and listen.

Washington State Early Outreach Partnership also encourages modeling and encouraging physical activity. Training for triathlon with my girl definately fits the bill! “Exercise will help teens burn excess energy, strengthen developing muscles, and sleep better at night. It may also help teens become more comfortable in their changing bodies.” [Adolescent Growth and Development, Novella Ruffin, Extension Specialist, Virginia State University Cooperative Extension, Publication 350-850, 2009] Perhaps I have been a little slow on the uptake here, because she has been the one trying to get me off the couch more. She has realized that she needs the physical activity and that she feels better after. I have finally figured it out, and I don’t think that it is too late.

Being with my daughter and open to discuss what she wants to will help us to maintain a good relationship which is the basis for her development. I have noticed that having to wait for me has made her more considerate of others. We are starting to notice a little compassion in her dealings with her younger sister.

However, this creates another dilemma for me! I have 3 children. By training 3 times each week with my 12 year old, I have less time for the others. My 10 year old daughter comes training with us as well, which makes for girl bonding time. I will have to consciously make time for my son as he becomes more independent. Being aware of what needs to be done is half the battle, however, and I am not in this alone.

I am excited to watch my children develop and grow.