Fun Way to Teach Your Kids About Gifts

Children love presents. It’s fun to get the things you want without having to work for them. Christianity is about the tremendous gift Jesus gave us, but it’s also about us giving generously.

How can you help your children begin to understand about God’s gifts to them and how they can share those gifts with others? There is a fun family devotional you can do to help even very young children begin to understand. You will need a Bible, plain white paper, various colored papers, scissors, markers and glue sticks.

Tell your kids the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors found in Genesis 37. Point out that the coat was a very special gift Jacob gave Joseph to show him how much he loved him.

Give your kids the paper and markers. Have them draw themselves large enough to cover the sheet of paper. Give them the colored bits of paper. Have them think of gifts God has given them that they can use to help others and show God’s love to them. Encourage them to think of talents they can use to serve others as well as material things.

They can write each gift on a strip of colored paper and used the strips to create their own coat of many colors to represent the gifts God has given them. Have them share their finished artwork. If possible, encourage them to share at least one of their gifts to serve someone within a specified time period. Then review the story and what they did when the deadline is reached.

Encourage your kids to use their gifts from God to serve others and share their faith whenever they can. It’s a great habit for everyone in your family to have!

The Chore – Allowance Dilemma

Did you have chores you were expected to do when you were growing up? Was your allowance tied to whether or not you completed them? Are your kids barely home enough to eat, sleep and do a little homework? Are you worried adding chores to their to-do list will be overwhelming or unfair?

Chores can be a controversial topic in parenting. There are so many possible combinations of how to give your kids responsibilities around your home and money for the things they want or need. It seems like whatever their stance, the “experts” on chores and money are convinced their method is the best for your kids, too.

As a Christian parent, you are perhaps even more concerned that you handle these topics well. If your kids grow up to become faithful, productive Christians, they will have responsibilities to minister to others. They will expected to be good stewards of their resources and share them generously with those in need or in support of ministries.

What really is the best way to teach your kids to take on responsibilities – especially unpleasant ones – and do them well and reliably? What is the best way to teach them to handle their money in godly ways and have grateful and generous hearts?

The good news is that the methods aren’t necessarily as important as the teaching and training that goes with them. You can teach your kids to be responsible with regularly assigned chores or by expecting them to pitch in and help with whatever needs to be done at the moment. The key is talking about why being responsible is important – in general – and especially to God. What sorts of responsibilities might God give them in the future? Talk about the consequences of being responsible and irresponsible. Expect responsibilities to be handled well, with consequences when they are ignored or done poorly.

Teaching your children to be grateful, competent stewards of God’s blessings works the same way. You can teach your kids to handle money well and be generous with an allowance that is or isn’t tied to chores. You can teach them by giving them little odd jobs to earn money. The key is the teaching you do as they handle their money. Are you actively teaching them about budgeting and saving? Do they understand the financial responsibilities that they may face as adults and how to make sure God is always the first priority in how their money is used?

An interesting secular study found that even the highly praised four bank method of teaching kids wasn’t teaching the vast majority of them how to save money. Why? Because the parents weren’t actively teaching them to save and didn’t have a method for monitoring and giving feedback to how their children actually used the cash in the banks.

Choose the methods and lessons you think will work best for your family. Plan time to actively teach the principles and skills you want your kids to learn and practice with household responsibilities and money. Model healthy, godly behaviors in those areas yourself. Monitor whether or not they seem to be learning the lessons. Be willing to adapt or change methods if your kids don’t seem to be growing in those areas. Don’t let them continue to struggle for years. At that point, they may be too old to learn those lessons easily.

Taking the time to teach your kids about responsibility and stewardship is crucial. Just don’t worry too much about the methods. With adequate intentional teaching from you and guided practice, they should learn the lessons well.

Words of Hope and Comfort for Women

God never promised us that life as a Christian would be perfect. In fact, looking at the people in the New Testament being a Christian can even cause additional hardships like persecution. Yet, we are told a fruit of the Spirit is joy. How can we reconcile the troubles of living in a fallen world and joy?

Carolyn Larsen has released two new books that may help you – especially if you are currently struggling. Words of Hope for Women and Words of Comfort for Women are about the size of a smaller devotional book. Both have ninety entries that are slightly over one page long.

Words of Hope for Women begins each entry with a verse of scripture. The entries themselves are often little reminders of why our hope lies in God or suggestions of things the reader can do to be reminded of their hope. The theology in some of the entries – particularly about salvation – is a little suspect. In general though, it is just reminding readers of general principles that most Christians would agree are true.

Words of Comfort for Women has entries that are structured the same way. The content of each entry is similar to what a Christian friend might say to you if you were upset. There isn’t as much theology in this volume. Most of the entries are more practical suggestions of ways to find comfort in God.

While both volumes could prove helpful, I would suggest the Words of Comfort volume – especially for new Christians or seekers. Sometimes being able to read encouraging words when you need them can give people the extra help they need when their friends aren’t easily accessible. The best part is these books point them to God, where they can find true hope and comfort.

These books were given to me for free in exchange for my honest review.

Fun Family Devotional

In Judaism, there is a holiday God established in the Old Testament. It was called the Feast of Tabernacles, the Festival of Ingathering, or more commonly today, Sukkot (Leviticus 23:34-43). The celebration included building a temporary shelter made from branches and leaves.

For seven days they lived in those shelters. God wanted the experience to remind them of everything that had happened when God brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. The days when every Israelite lived in a temporary shelter in the wilderness. Each evening, those who celebrate are told the stories of Moses and the Israelites.

We may not be Jewish, but the way the holiday is celebrated is also a great idea for a memorable family devotional. What better way to remember lessons from the Bible than building a temporary shelter out of items from God’s creation? Look up to the night sky – point out the moon and the stars – as you tell your children important stories from the Bible.

You may choose to follow the original holiday and tell the stories of Moses. Or you may choose to tell the stories of another person in the Bible. If you do this for several nights in a row, you can cover many of the stories from the life of someone like David or even from the life of Jesus.

Fall is when Sukkot is celebrated, but you can do this type of devotional any time of the year. It’s a great way to take your kids into God’s creation in your own backyard and give them a memorable experience of hearing some of the Bible stories God wants your children to know. Who knows? It may become a family tradition!

Top Performance Christian Parenting

We live in a world that not only tolerates mediocrity, it celebrates it. The stakes are too high in Christianity to approach it with lest than our best efforts. What does that even mean though? We can’t be perfect, so what will make us effective?

Oddly enough, a republished book by Zig Ziglar may have some of the answers. For those who are too young to have heard of him, Ziglar was the John Maxwell of his day. He was considered the expert on leadership, personal growth and success in general. He wrote and spoke from a Christian perspective – although his books weren’t really considered Christian books.

Top Performance is one of his best sellers. It has been edited and three chapters added to address modern issues not a factor when Ziglar was alive (He died in 2012). The book covers everything from building a foundation for excellence, to leadership qualities and much more.

This book is a classic for a reason. You could know nothing about excellence or leadership and after reading this book, would be prepared for almost any challenge. While it isn’t a Christian book per se, Ziglar weaves his faith throughout applying godly principles to much of what he suggests.

Christian parents are leaders. While this isn’t a parenting book, it is easy enough to apply Ziglar’s suggestions to how you parent your children. While you still may not be a perfect parent, you will probably be a more effective one.

This book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review.