Category Archives: Christianity
I recently shared with my family that my biggest regret as a mom was not helping our children learn to read and study the Bible. As a rather young mom and new Christian, it took me awhile before I realized the importance of daily Bible reading in my own life. This happened several years after receiving Jesus as my Savior.
Do you know that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday?
This week I asked my grandchildren what they wanted for Christmas. Before they had time to answer, Max, our 4-year-old grandson, looked up at me and said, “Do you know that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday?” Touching my heart deeply, I responded, “Yes.” Then I asked Max what kind of gift(s) he would like to give Jesus. He instantly replied, “A heart box.” I said, “Oh that sounds very nice; I think Jesus will like that.” Pausing for a moment, Max continued, “How do we get our gifts to Jesus?” “And does Jesus have a cell phone?”
I believe Max’s question requires some introspection.
As we busy ourselves with gift-buying and endless holiday gatherings, let’s remember to intentionally celebrate the birth of our dear Savior, Jesus.
Max’s Heart Box for Jesus
Help children make a Heart Box. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, fill the box with special “gifts” for Jesus. Place the box under the tree and open on Christmas morning. Family members take turns reading or sharing the gifts given to Jesus.
Suggested prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for coming to our world. These gifts are for You, in honor of Your Birthday. For You taught us, whatever we do for those in need, we do for You.
For similar ideas, see the “Sparkle Box” story at: http://www.thesparklebox.com/
Gift Ideas for Jesus:
Showing love to others.
Obeying parents. (Picking up toys, not fighting with siblings, etc.)
Helping others in need. (Purchase a gift for a needy child.)
Give canned goods to a local homeless shelter. / Serve at a homeless shelter.
Donate new or gently used toys to the Salvation Army, etc. / Volunteer ringing bells for S.A.
Pray for the special needs of others.
Visit a nursing home or shut-ins, taking homemade cookies.
Tangible items (Younger children: rocks, colored pictures, birthday cards, etc.)
Make a card for Sunday school/school teachers, etc.
Be creative! And let your child come up with his/her own gift ideas.
Store the heart box in a handy place, so that you can get it out every Thanksgiving.
HEART BOX FOR JESUS
Wood box with latch (Michael’s or Hobby Lobby), or make own.
Paint (Various colors, including red for heart.)
Picture of child
Shellac or Mod Podge
Typed label or handwritten (FOR JESUS) under the heart.
– Paint the wooden hearts and the wood boxes. Let dry.
– May choose to decorate boxes with markers, etc.
– Glue picture of child on hearts.
– Shellac (Mod Podge) pictures / and if desired, the entire box. Let dry.
May the Psalms draw you near to God.
“LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants…” (Psalm 8:1-2 NIV).
Faith @ Home Moment:
Our precious three-year old granddaughter spent the night with us Friday evening. During breakfast, she randomly posed this question. “Why did Jesus have to die?” I’m not sure what prompted her to ask this question since we hadn’t been talking about Jesus at this time. My heart welled up, realizing once again, God has placed eternity in the hearts of all people, including Julia Ann. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
The Ten Commandments – – Exodus 20:1-17 (NIV)
20 And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
It dawned on me after becoming a grandmother for the first time, that I had not taught my children the Ten Commandments. As a young parent, and a young Christian, I suppose I assumed our three children would learn them at church. And as I recall, they did.
I was personally convicted to memorize the Ten Commandments, and soon after, displayed a Ten Commandments tapestry in our home. Looking closely at the Ten Commandments during this time in my life, I admitted to God, with a sorrowful spirit, that I had broken most of His laws. Within the next several years, I was led by the Holy Spirit to teach the children at our church the Ten Commandments, which included our first granddaughter.
Teaching the Ten Commandments is one thing, living them out in obedience to God in our daily lives is really where the ‘rubber meets the road’. Idiom Definitions for ‘Where the rubber meets the road’
Where the rubber meets the road is the most important point for something, the moment of truth. An athlete can train all day, but the race is where the rubber meets the road and they’ll know how good they really are.
Back to my original question: Are we training our children to keep or break the Ten Commandments?
I was tempted to make a list of questions to serve as a personal check list, but instead, I’d like to challenge every parent to read/study God’s commandments and then take their own personal inventory.
Okay, I can’t do it! Here are just a few questions that come to mind.
– Am I putting my personal pleasures/preferences/activities ahead of God? Do I encourage my kids to do the same? Does God get left-overs?
– Do my kids see me faithfully worshipping God with my time, talents, and treasures?
– Do I treat the Sabbath casually, like any other day? Do I allow my kids to miss our Sabbath worship observances to participate in sports or perform in their dance recitals?
– How’s my relationship with my parents and in-laws? Do my children see me treating them with love and respect, in word and deed?
I pray that the Holy Spirit will give parents/grandparents clear understanding of God’s commandments, and give them the desire and power to teach them diligently to their children/grandchildren; and with the power of the Holy Spirit, live them out in obedience in their daily lives.
The law cannot save us. The law cannot grant us salvation. The law does define sin and can condemn us, since we all are lawbreakers. (For all have sinned…Romans 3:23) God knew that no one could keep the law. God’s law does point us to Christ. The law cannot give us salvation, but it can help us see our need for salvation, and realize that righteousness must be a gift, not something we earn. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8).
Scripture also tells us that when we do sin, we have a loving and gracious Father who will forgive us.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Memory Cards: Write the Ten Commandments on index cards and laminate. Punch holes into the corners of each card and attach the cards to a key ring.
Ten Commandments Plaque: Purchase or make an unfinished wood plaque. Have child paint or stain the plaque (I used a light gray paint). Print each of the Ten Commandments on the plaque and then use Mod Podge clear sealer. You can also use Krylon Metallic Textured spray paint that will give it a stone-textured look.
Favorite Quote: The following quote from Dr. Woodie J. Stevens (Global Director for Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries International, Church of the Nazarene) “Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Don’t murder. Be true to your mate. It’s the only way to a civilized society.”
I Have No Greater Joy Website:
Bible Story Printables Website: http://www.biblestoryprintables.com/BiblePrintablesTenCommandments.html#.VElVpWd0yUk
Ten Commandments Jewelry: http://www.thefind.com/jewelry/info-ten-commandments-bracelet
God always shows up on time. I noticed a fellow blogger’s email in my inbox a few days ago. I try to limit who I follow, to those who have a genuine heart after God, and who share this passion through their unique writing styles. On occasion, for the sake of time or lack of interest in a blog title, I’ll either delete it or simply skip over it until I have time to read it. Oh, am I glad that I took the time to read this one! Not so much for the content of the blogger’s entry (although very insightful of a father child relationship), but rather, the reference to a video of Dr. Ravi Zacharias, author and Christian apologist.
After watching, please take time to evaluate the life you are spending while here on Earth. Then pray and seek God’s wisdom in helping you to live a life that will make an eternal difference for generations to come.
PLEASE TAKE TIME (ABOUT AN HOUR AND A HALF) TO WATCH/LISTEN TO THIS POWERFUL AND TIMELY MESSAGE. (Note: Skip over the introductory part of the video to 5:27)
Dr. Zacharias speaks on “Life’s Toughest Questions” at Highlands Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Recorded live 2011)
(Watch the video HERE, scrub to 5:27)
Take a moment to reflect upon this phrase: If it’s the Lord’s will…
Now ask yourself, when was the last time you included God in your decision-making, or plans?
Are we, as parents and grandparents, setting the example of praying for and discerning God’s will in our daily lives? If not, why not?
Teaching our children to diligently seek God’s will in their lives will take more than casually adding the phrase, “if it’s the Lord’s will” to our prayers.
Many of us (me included) can run around aimlessly if we are not intentional in seeking God’s will. Instead of saying: we are going to do this, or buy that, or go there, etc., we need to be sure that we are prayerfully asking God for His wisdom, His leadership, and His direction in our lives. This doesn’t come naturally, especially for those of us who are extremely independent and like to do things our own way, and in our timing.
Eight months ago we listed our house for sale by owner. Now, in my finite way of thinking, I certainly can’t understand why our house hasn’t sold, yet. After all, I prayed for it to sell. And it makes perfect sense to me for this to happen (yesterday!). And in my prayers, I did include “if it’s your will, Lord…,” but did I really mean it?
I know in my heart that God truly knows what’s best for us and I also know that His timing is often not the same as ours. God is all-knowing and all-loving.
When praying for God’s will to be done, we need to remind ourselves and our children that the outcome of our personal desires and prayers is always for His glory and for our good, no matter what the outcome.
Amazingly, I read the following Scripture this morning during my devotional time.
“In him we were made heirs, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory”(Ephesians 1:11-13).
We rarely know God’s will ahead of time, nor fully understand it later. However, I’m so thankful that God does give us some absolute principles in His Word, which express His perfect will. Here are just a few (to share with your kids/grandkids).
God’s will is…
…for none to perish, but for all who believe in His one and only Son, to receive eternal life (John 3:16)
…to be set apart for His glory, by living a life that pleases Him
Living to Please God
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
…to confess and repent
“ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
…to forgive as we have been forgiven
“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation’”(Luke 11:4).
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
This is just a starting point for knowing God’s will for our lives. Dig into Scripture with your kids/grandkids—to know and live out God’s will. This summer set a goal as a family, to read through the entire New Testament. Take time to discuss the many ways Jesus and His disciples sought after and lived out God’s will in their lives. The Bible mini series is also available to watch through Netflix.
Living an intentional life that pleases God is what we desire. Jeff and I offer a faith-at-home ministry called Covenant Heirs to churches and their families. The ministry’s goal is to encourage and help equip parents and grandparents to intentionally pass down their faith in Christ to their children and grandchildren.
For the past few weeks I’ve been cleaning my house. Not just a superficial cleaning, but a deep cleaning, similar to what my grandmother referred to as “fall cleaning.” Since we are preparing to sell our house, I want it to look it’s best for potential buyers.
In addition to cleaning carpets, washing windows, and touching up a few spots with fresh paint, I’ve been decluttering. Although I’m not really a pack rat, I do tend to store things that I may someday use or need. Thus, I came across several of these items (size 6 clothing, unopened bath beads, an original Cabbage Patch doll….but definitely not my husband’s 80s turntable!) So…out they went. My most recent accomplishment was completed Labor Day weekend, as I cleaned under, behind, and around my washer and dryer. Now that my house is “really” clean, I’m not too sure I want to sell it. There’s something so refreshing about having a clean house.
While having my personal devotions and enjoying my morning coffee, I began to ponder this thought. Having a “really” clean house is somewhat like having a “really” clean heart. I love my friend’s description of a clean heart: “Squeaky clean for Jesus.” (Beth Coppedge, Come To The Fire speaker — See below for conference link.)
In keeping with my life’s passion, to intentionally pass down my faith in Christ to my family, I know I must do my very best to set an example of having a clean heart. It’s interesting that my daughters both keep a very clean house. I’m not sure how much credit I can take for this however, since their dad is really the “neat freak” in the family. All joking aside, I believe that our kids truly want us to set good examples for them to follow. With the most important example: living a life that pleases the Lord.
Tips for Fall House and Heart Cleaning
Cobwebs (Webster): tangles of the silken threads of a spiderweb usually covered with accumulated dirt and dust. They intentionally go unnoticed, until I deep clean. Cobwebs could easily represent those things in my life that I hope no one ever notices–fear, unresolved conflict, insecurity, un-Christlike thoughts and attitudes. Of course, just when I think no one is noticing, the Holy Spirit brings them into the light. Now I have a choice to make, to ignore those disgusting (dirty) webs, or to knock them down, often one by one. The longer I ignore them, it seems as though they multiply.
Washing Windows: It’s very important to use the right cleaning product, so not to leave behind streaks. Just like there are a wide variety of glass cleaners on the market, there are a lot of great Christian books, authored by fully devoted Christ followers available. Many of which I enjoy reading, especially when they pertain to living a life that pleases God. However, I thankfully discovered fairly early in my Christian walk, that the only product that truly keeps my life from becoming streaked with sin, leaving behind a film of dirt, is the Bible. Daily use is advised. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Oven Cleaning: Remember the day when everyone used “Easy Off” oven cleaner? Well, there was never anything easy about cleaning my oven. Spilled-over sweet potato juice and splattered baked beans were the worst. Then they came out with self-cleaning ovens. What a marvelous invention! A self-cleaning oven is an oven which uses high temperature (approximately 900 degrees Fahrenheit or 500 degrees Celsius) to burn off leftovers from baking, without the use of any chemical agents. Turn up the heat, lock the oven door, and three hours later, wallah! a clean oven. Oh, if it were only that easy to have a clean heart, one that is “squeaky clean for Jesus.”
Similar to the self-cleaning oven, it takes God’s consuming fire to burn away the “dross” in our lives. Dross (Webster): the scum that forms on the surface of molten metal, waste or foreign matter : impurity. This definition sounds a lot like sin doesn’t it? Just shut the oven door and no one will see the mess. That is until I let it go too long. Now the residue of the spilled-over sweet potato begins to fill my kitchen with smoke, leaving behind a stinky burnt smell. This happens in our lives when we allow sin to build up in our hearts. Unconfessed sins such as gossip, jealousy, lies, impure thoughts, sexual immorality, selfishness, pride, hatred, and so on begin to leave a foul odor to those around us, and especially to God.
Our God is a loving God, as well as a righteous God, not wanting anyone to perish or be separated from His love. But to receive and keep a clean heart, all of our idols (anything that we put ahead of God), must be openly revealed, so that He may purify us. The Bible says “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Moses, realizing the consequence of not honoring God earlier in his pilgrimage to the promise land, gave this exhortation to those Israelites preparing to enter Canaan. “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24). And from the author of Hebrews 12:28-29, the Scripture says: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For God is a consuming fire.”
God’s holy fire may bring judgement to the wicked, but His refining fire builds humility, faith and purity in those who seek a deeper relationship with Jesus. David, after attempting to cover up his sin of adultery and murder, cried out with godly sorrow and sincere repentance, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Church of Corinth, admonishes all Christians to flee from anything that might keep them from being reconciled to God: “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
Prayer for a Clean Heart: Dear God, please be a consuming fire in me. Burn off all that doesn’t look like your son Jesus. And as I surrender myself to you daily, create in me a pure heart. Forgive me, Father, for any sins (name them) that are in my life. Nothing is hidden from you; so I open my life up to you, to cleanse me from all impurities that separate me from you, God. I truly want to be an example to my family–of your love, grace, purity, and holiness.
Concluding thoughts: While you are doing your fall house cleaning, let this journal entry be a reminder to declutter your life from anything that keeps you from loving and serving Jesus with a clean heart. And remember, from time to time, it will be necessary for God to turn up the heat….in order to do some deep cleaning. As important as it is for me to have a clean house for potential new buyers, it is so much more important for me to have a clean heart, where my Jesus resides. There’s something so refreshing about having a clean heart!
Come To The Fire Conference: A conference for women seeking to have a “squeaky clean heart for Jesus.” This year’s theme is “Celebrate Your Freedom.” Dates: Oct. 17-19, 2013, Holland, MI. For more information and registration: http://cometothefire.org/conference-registration/
Grandparents’ Day of Prayer, September 8, 2013: For more information on how you can stand in the GAP for your grandchildren, go to: http://www.christiangrandparenting.net