Monday, July 18, 2011

Helping a Child Find Christian Friends

This is a subject thats been close to my heart lately as I have 4 growing boys who are venturing out into the world. I would just as soon keep them close and be all the companionship they need but we know it doesn't work that way. So how do I help my children find Christian friends? Good solid young people who are a positive influence on their impressionable lives? I have some ideas, thanks to some wise moms and friends that I am blessed to know.

1. Your home church - It is wonderful for children to have a supportive home church that they attend regularly. What better place to build solid, lasting friendships with children and families who share the same values and beliefs? It is also a place to find support from adult mentors. Take the opportunity to plug into Sunday school, youth groups, bible studies, social outings, Cadets or Gems Groups, summer Vacation Bible Camps, etc.

2. Area Churches - If your church is small or short on kid's clubs that your child can get involved in, don't be shy to visit neighborhood churches. In most cases you don't need to belong to a church to be welcome at their programs. In fact usually they are happy to welcome new people, Christian or not, and make them feel at home.

3. Christian College Programs - Many Christian Colleges offer summer camps or other programs for kids. Check your local school's website or give them a call for their summer or fall lineup. My kids are enjoying a sports camp put on by our local Christian College this week... with lots of kids their age, plenty of activity, sunshine, and fun. And the price is right too! How can I go wrong?

4. Public School Christian Clubs - If your children attend public school, there may be opportunities there as well. Many public schools have different types of clubs... including Christian clubs, prayer groups, etc. If your child is shy, you may need to look into it and encourage them to join, but it would be well worth it to find like-hearted souls in the same school your child is attending.

5. Start a group - If all else fails, or even if you just have the desire, start a group! Put an ad in your local classifieds or on-line, or on library or church bulletin boards. Ask local churches to run an ad for your new group in their weekly bulletin. You could start a playgroup, a girl's or boy's club, a date at the local YMCA or gym or pool, or whatever you'd like. I have a friend who ran a week-long cooking class for her daughter. The world is yours! Pray about it and allow God to bring friends into the lives of your precious young ones!

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Fantastic Christmas Experience!

We all want to make Christmas special... meaningful. And sometimes we wonder how to help our children catch the true meaning of Christ's birth amid the excitement of presents, visiting, and general bustle of the season. Our family has discovered an event that really draws our children into Jesus each and every year... an outdoor nativity pageant!

About the end of November/early December, a nearby town puts on an outdoor nativity pageant, bringing people on a journey to Bethlehem to meet the newborn Christ. It's truly amazing. Put on collaboratively by area churches in a big country park, it is truly a testament to the season.

We, and our children started off in a big decorated barn, where we enjoyed a choir singing Christmas Carols while we waited to start the journey. When our turn came, we were grouped with others and put into a "family" that would go on a journey to Bethlehem to be counted for taxes. Our guide led us through the park to different sites along the way that mark the Christmas story. We saw Mary being greeted by the angel Gabriel, Joseph's dream, Herod's court, the wise men, met Roman Soldiers, the shepherds (and their sheep!) and finally entered the stable where baby Jesus lay and the little drummer boy played for him.

There were so many other stops along the way as well... basically the entire Christmas story was acted out, and because you are in a park at night, it brings "reality" to the experience. The kids got "passports" that had to be stamped by the Roman soldiers, there were real camels, goats and sheep that they could pet, and at the end, we were treated with hot chocolate, cookies and colouring books. Finally we enjoyed a beautifully lit wagon ride back to our vehicles.

The whole adventure was truly wonderful. I enjoyed seeing my 8 year old run to catch up with the guide to hear everything she had to say. The little ones were mesmerized by the play and the lights. And everyone enjoyed petting the animals. But the very best thing was hearing all of the children's questions about their Saviour.

There are so many different nativity pageants put on by churches at this time of year. If you are looking for a way to make the season truly special, I highly recommend checking one out. Even if you have to travel a bit, it is so worth it. This has become a family tradition for us, one I hope we can continue until we are old and grey.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, July 23, 2010

How a Child Learns Faith

Ever get discouraged and feel like you are trying to teach your children to follow God but you still see them basically, well, not? They fight with their siblings, they're selfish, they lie... and then they fold their hands to pray and say amen and you wonder, what am I doing wrong? Be encouraged! A child is not like an adult who has an epiphany and suddenly "gets it", rather they are like sponges, slowly soaking up the Word, their role models and their daily experiences, which will ultimately shape their character. Recall this verse: These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NIVThe Lord knew that our children would need constant repetition. It's in the repetition that we know we are "doing it right" not in our children's responses, which WILL come later! Persevere my friends! God is on our side. Isaiah 40:11 says He gently leads those that have young. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Teaching Children Selflessness

My kids like to fight... a lot. And it is always over some toy that everyone wants to play with RIGHT NOW or they just might keel over. And they like to whine, quite a bit for the same reason. Part of this is just age-appropriate behavior, even though it is seldom appropriate. Whining and fighting is to be expected, and it is the perfect opportunity to teach children selflessness.

LIMIT TOYS: I find that the more toys my children get, the more their appetite for more "stuff". It is a great idea to put limits on the number of things a child receives every month. You have to figure out what works for you, but I think no more than one small thing each month is enough. Larger toys can wait for birthdays and Christmas.

LIMIT SNACKS: For the same reason as above. Not only is it good for their health to limit junk food, but it helps to lessen the "gimmies".

DONATE: Set a limit on the number of toys your child has at any one time. If new things come into the home, let your child choose an older toy to donate to needy children. And bring your son or daughter along with you so that they can be the ones doing the donating. They will be excited to help others.

ROTATE: Too many toys out at once are overwhelming and encourage a child to expect that such abundance is their "right". We keep some toys in our cellar and rotate them every couple of months. The kids like it better with fewer toys out anyway, and it is cleaner.

EXPECT SHARING: This is a hard and fast rule... not an option.

NO TOLERANCE FOR THE GIMMIES: The bible says to "Be happy with what you have." Hebrew 13:5. My kids have memorized this verse. They are far from perfect at carrying it out but at least they can be reminded of God's loving standard.

Kids will be kids... look at selfishness as an opportunity to teach selflessness, and greed as an opportunity to teach generosity. The Lord allows us to teach them young! Be firm and loving, and let God do the rest.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Halloween Idea

A great idea from a friend of mine.... we couldn't decide what to do about halloween. As Christians we on one hand didn't want to take part, but on the other hand want to enjoy the holiday and be a light in the community. So what alternatives to the traditional are there? Here's one.

My boys LOVE superheroes. For the months of September and October we will teach them about the superheroes of the bible like Sampson, David, Gideon etc, and why they are so super. Then they can dress up as one of them for the halloween holiday. Whenever someone asks who they are, they will have a shining answer ready. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15

We will probably trick or treat only to people we know for safety's sake. We may buy bible stickers to put on the candy we give out to the kids who come by. Now, for a holiday I was confused about, I am looking forward to with joy.

See also A Godly Twist on Halloween...

Do you have any alternatives or views on Halloween? I'd love to hear them,


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Teaching a Child to Fear the Lord

How do you teach a child the fear of the Lord without making him scared of God? What exactly is the fear of the Lord? The bible says that

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7 NIV


"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10 NIV

So the fear of the Lord is intertwined with wisdom, knowledge and discipline. How do you teach a child to be wise and to fear the Lord?

1) Discipline him - "All children are foolish, but firm correction will make them change." Proverbs 22:15 (CEV) The bible is pretty clear here. The opposite of wisdom is foolishness. The way to lead a child to wisdom is to steer his heart by way of loving discipline. Discipline him according to the wisdom and guidance found in the Word of God.

2) Teach him about God - Proverbs 9:10 states that "knowledge of the Holy One is understanding". Everything you know about God, teach it to your child. How can a person fear the One he knows little or nothing about? It is God's greatness that commands our awe of Him, and demands our loyalty and affection. So teach... everything from the wonders of creation to the awesome character of our loving Father.

Two simple steps that are not so easy to carry out. But there is a reward for those who persevere. I love Proverbs 23:15, which states, "My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad" and Isaiah 40:11, "He gently leads those that have young."

With prayers,

A Godly Twist on Halloween...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

How should we teach our children to pray?

One thing I hear Christians complain about consistently is the quality (and quantity) of their prayer life... or specifically, the lack thereof. Having a deep and consistent prayer life is essential to remaining in the vine. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, and unless we remain in Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

So it is no surprise that we need to teach our children how to pray. I think the Lord's prayer is a wonderful model. You can teach children to memorize it, which has certain benefits, but it is also important to teach the principles behind the prayer. Matthew 6:9-13:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Acknowledge God, who He is, and praise Him for His greatness and holiness.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
So often I pray my list of needs, as if everything is about me, and forget to pray that God's will be done. He works everything for our good, and for His glory, so of course I want His will to be done. I want my children to desire His will also.

Give us this day our daily bread.
Ask God for our needs. He desires to give them to us. Be specific. The bible says that we do not have because we do not ask (James 4:2).

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Confess and ask God to forgive us our sins. At the same time, forgive others who have hurt us, so that we can be forgiven. That's the deal. And it's a pretty good one if you ask me.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
Before Peter denied the Lord three times, Jesus warned him that this would happen. He also told him to pray so that he wouldn't fall into temptation (Matthew 26:41). There are specific sins that we are all prone to, depending on our circumstances and personalities. Again, pray specifically for protection from these sins.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
Again, praise Him! He is worthy of all praise and honor and glory! Our awesome God!

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