Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Memories

Holidays, particularly religious ones (the word holidays is derived from the words holy days), carry with them a lot of memories that invoke various emotional responses.

Easter reminds me of decorating Easter eggs with my mother using the PAAZ egg dye kit.  I remember seeing my grandparents every Easter, usually at their house.  We enjoyed egg hunts and Easter baskets.  I have very fond church memories from various Easters.  I received my first real Bible from my parents one Easter - a bright yellow "Good News" one, which still sits on my shelf today.  I was baptized by my pastor on Easter Sunday, 1982.  I remember big Easter musicals the weekend of Palm Sunday, singing hymns like Christ the Lord is Risen Today, and always having a new Sunday-best outfit to wear.  (I especially liked a green sports coat I was given when I was in about the 6th grade!  Hamricks was usually the place to shop!)  Our church had a cross outside each year, and on Easter Sunday we would all bring fresh flowers to fill it up with color!  And I recall every year ABC playing Charlton Heston's The Ten Commandments from 7pm-11pm.

My own family now has some of our holiday practices, many of them similar to those of my boyhood.  We have never done the Easter Bunny with our children.  We weren't terribly opposed to it, but church jobs always required one of us to be out of the house early Sunday morning before children awoke, so we made it our habit to give our children Easter baskets from us on the Saturday before Easter.  (We chuckled then and still do now thinking about when our then 5-year old came home from church one Easter and said, The children in Sunday School were talking about some bunny coming to their house this morning!  What are they talking about?)

Easter offers wonderful opportunities, whatever your practices, to talk with your children about the essence of the Christian message - that God loved a sinful world so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could have a forever-relationship with Him.

Don't underestimate what children can absorb.  (One of the church-misnomers of our time is how we send middle and high school students to school where they learn algebra, chemistry, history, and foreign languages, yet we bring them to church and think that all we should do is play games with them thinking that they can't yet absorb the great truths of the Bible.)

And don't miss opportunities with your own family members and other people in the community to share biblical truths about the gospel message. 

Perhaps my most vivid memory of an Easter season was when I was in the third grade.  Our church did a musical called Hosanna the weekend of Palm Sunday.  I still have the cassette tape from that performance.  My grandparents came to attend with us, and I sat directly next to my grandfather.  I will never forget that when they came to the scene where Jesus was dying on the cross, my grandfather began quietly sobbing.  Tears were streaming down his face.  At that moment, in my little nine-year old thinking and feeling, I was deeply struck with the fact that this stuff is deeply real to him.  This matters to him.  His life has been changed by the cross.  He loves and respects God.   I remember that moment like it happened last week.  And I doubt I will ever forget it. 

Don't underestimate how your faith and your love for Jesus, shown in your own unique way, can deeply impact the life of another person - even a child.  Thirty years from now they may be remembering you from this Easter.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Teach Your Children Easter Hymns

I hope you are considering how to lead your family in some devotions the next two weeks related to the cross and the resurrection.  The following is a resource worth your attention  by Bobbie Wolgemuth and Joni Tada called Passion Hymns for a Kid's Heart.  We have used this series in the past and will most likely use this resource some in the next two weeks in our home.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Family Fun Night: Dishonesty

Here is a great idea we used last night from the Proverbs: Family Night Tool Chest.

In order to show a good lesson and have a good family discussion on the consequences of lying, have each family member put a small pebble in their shoe.  Then have them go outside and walk around.  Then, give each person a spoon with a hard egg.  Mark start and finish lines and have family members race with their eggs.  (You will probably hear some groans as they race!)

Then go inside and read the following Scriptures together: Exodus 20:16, Proverbs 6:16-19; 11:1; 12:13.

Talk with family members about how a web of lies can become like the pebble in the shoe.  We can't outrun our lies, they cause pain for ourselves and eventually other people.  And they will eventually cause other people to stop trusting us.

We tied our discussion to the actions of Gehazi, Elisha's helper, in 2 Kings 5, and talked about the negative consequences of greed, deception, and dishonesty.

The Wilderness March

The following is an excellent poem by L. B. Cowman, author of Streams in the Desert daily devotional.

He was better to me than all my hopes;
   He was better than all my fears;
He made a bridge of my broken works,
   And a rainbow of my tears.
The stormy waves that marked my ocean path,
   Did carry my Lord on their crest;
When I dwell on the days of my wilderness march
   I can lean on His love for the rest.
He emptied my hands of my treasured store,
   And His covenant love revealed,
There was not a wound in my aching heart,
   The balm of His breath has not healed.
Oh, tender and true was His discipline sore,
   In wisdom, that taught and tried,
Till the soul that He sought was trusting in Him,
   And nothing on earth beside.
He guided my paths that I could not see,
   By ways that I have not known;
The crooked was straight, and the rough was plain
   As I followed the Lord alone.
I praise Him still for the pleasant palms,
   And the desert streams by the way,
For the glowing pillar of flame by night,
   And the sheltering cloud by day.
Never a time on the dreariest day,
   But some promise of love endears;
I read from the past, that my future will be
   Far better than all my fears.
Like the golden jar of the wilderness bread,
   Stored up with the blossoming rod,
All safe in the ark, with the law of the Lord,
   Is the covenant care of my God.
                                  L.B Cowman

Sunday, March 3, 2013

When Families Pray

God has given us the real responsibility of discipling our children in prayer.  Home is the perfect place for children to learn to talk with and listen to God and to see such conversation modeled as a natural, daily habit.  - Cheri Fuller

Life Lesson:  Praying families release the life and blessings of the Lord.

George Barna said, "85 % of parents with children under thirteen believe they have primary responsibility for teaching their children about religious beliefs and spiritual matters.  However, a majority of parents don't spend any time during a typical week discussing religious matters or studying religious materials with their children.  Parents generally rely upon their church to do all of the religious training their children will receive."

Ten Tips for Praying as a Family

1.  Make praying on the go natural.  A great time to do this is when you drive your children to   school or other events.

2.  Pray over children as they sleep.  Kneel by their beds.  Lay your hand on their foreheads.  Pray for an outpouring of the Spirit on your children.

3.  Use table blessings to teach prayers.  Take turns in the family praying.  Sing songs or hymns as blessings.

4.  Use meal times for discipleship times.  Mealtimes may be the best time for engaging and teaching truth.

5.  Pray briefly before going to bed.  Keep it simple but consistent.

6.  Make a family prayer plan.  Monday - pray for a missionary, Tuesday - two friends, Wednesday - a people group, Thursday - thanksgiving, Friday - family members

7.  Teach them to pray Scripture.  Read a Bible verse and then pray it together.

8.  Use Christmas cards as prayer reminders.  Keep them in a basket and pick ones out during the year.

9.  Use a Christmas prayer garland during December.  Make a 24-link garland out of red and green construction paper.  Write on each one a different family, person, or ministry.  Tear off one a day and pray!

10.  Keep a prayer journal for your family.  Keep an ongoing, written record of God's activity in your life and family.  Write down specific things, character qualities, and Bible verses you are praying for your children and family.