Activities for the Whole Family to Celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus

The day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is this Sunday.  I don’t like to refer to it as “Easter” because that word is of pagan origins.  Besides attending a morning service at church, do you have anything planned as part of the celebration?  Here are a few ideas to make the festivities more fun and informative for the entire family.

1.    Decorations. Before the event, make streamers or tabletop centerpieces on the theme of the holiday. Dove or cross streamers are a lovely touch to an indoor or outdoor space. The same goes for signs with bible verses on them. You can find several other decoration ideas online or come up with them yourself!

2.    Crafts Table. Whether you plan to invite friends over or choose to keep it as a family celebration, a crafts table is always a good idea. There could be coloring pages based on the biblical story, stencils to make doves and crosses, even paint and markers to illustrate a favorite story or memory.  These creative ideas will keep children occupied while the adults greet guests, prepare the spread, or just relax. Do not let the kids have all the fun though, as adults can join in on the crafts table too!

3.    The Feast. Speaking of a spread, you can spice things up this year by making a meal reminiscent of the Last Supper. Though the Bible is clear that unleavened bread and wine were served at the Last Supper, the other foods Jesus and his disciples ate are not stated.  What is known is that foods such as date charoset and cholent were popular at the time and you can now find these recipes online. Your children can help you. Older kids can prep much of the food or assist with the cooking process itself. Younger children can be put in charge of the food display and be little taste testers too. While everyone is partaking in the meal, discuss the significance of the Last Supper in reference to the resurrection of Christ. What a great way to get the whole family involved!

4.    Resurrection. Now that you have shared the significance of the meal relative to His resurrection, discuss the resurrection itself. To make it a little more interactive, prepare certain discussion points with your children ahead of time. If there are guests over, consider playing a game at the end of the story using questions about details from it. Whoever answers the most questions correctly then wins the game and will get a prize!

These are a few suggestions that you and your family can consider in celebrating this most eventful time in Christian history, always remembering the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for us.

You can also check out my children’s book It’s Not About You, Mr. Easter Bunny- A Love Letter About the True Meaning of Easter, along with its coloring pages by CLICKING HERE.

The Importance of Having Family Devotional Time

Parents play such a vital role in their children’s lives and forming their character – this is a theme that permeates my blog posts.  Being a parent who actually wants to impact their children requires you to spend time with them, including devotional and prayer time. 

First and foremost, we must start with you as a parent.  Do you have time set aside each day for your own devotions and prayer life?  Children are very observant and will likely follow your example rather than your words.  Explain to your children why you have a devotional time and how it benefits you.  Spending time reading the Bible, meditating on a scripture verse, being quiet and alone with God, praying – these can all be ways to spend devotional time.

Now, to get your family involved requires planning.  Are your children toddlers or teenagers or both?   Activities should be directed at your children’s different ages. For example, do not expect your 4 year-old to sit still for long periods of time.  Plan having an activity such as coloring available that focuses on the theme for that day’s or week’s devotional.  Read a Bible story.  Talk with your children and ask them questions.  Let them ask you questions too.

There are many children and youth-friendly books for devotional time.   And, the internet has many websites as to what families can do together.  Start off with a length of time that is short so that when it is well planned, the time will fly by.  Make it a happy family time rather than a burden.  Children especially do not want to participate in an activity that is mundane. 

As your children get older, they should be encouraged to have their own devotional time as well.  Family devotional time can become the foundation for their own private devotions. 

For some recommendations of books to include, CLICK HERE.

Helping Children Enjoy Church

"Our kids can learn to enjoy church when they watch how much we enjoy worshiping the Lord and caring about the body of Christ."
Christy Fitzwater

For adults, attending church is an experience like no other.  We assemble together, a group of people of different ages and from varying backgrounds,  to learn more about God, to sing praises to Him, and to fellowship with others.  As fulfilling as these services may be for adults, children oftentimes view attending church as a once a week obligation that they would rather avoid.  It can be hard for them to sit or stand and listen for an extended period of time, and that can make church extremely boring for them. Their outlook on church does not have to be this way, however, and parents should do all that they can to assist their children in having enjoyable church experiences.

Start with your attitude about going to church.  Do you and your spouse enjoy attending church or is it just another duty that you both reluctantly do?  Do you allow any excuse to prevent you and your family from attending? As a parent, your attitude toward church will rub off on your children. 

Spend time at home reading the Bible as a family together and praying together.  Also, incorporate singing and worshiping God into your everyday life. There are many Christian children’s songs.  Purchase some cds or download songs on your computer or smart phone.  When your children arrive at church, all that is done at church will already be a part of their experiences at home. 

It is important is to find out if your church has a children’s ministry that is geared for your children’s ages.  Children’s ministries are developed to teach them the Word of God in fun-filled ways.  I served as a lay children’s minister for many years and can tell you that a children’s ministry is not all games and laughter, though it may appear that way.  In fact, I attended several children’s ministry training conferences just to learn more about making our children’s ministry better.  Ministers and volunteers spend a lot of time planning out what will keep the children’s attention and at the same time help them learn the Word and develop a deep love for Christ.  From lessons to songs to puppet skits to games – everything is centered on God. 

If your church does not have a children’s ministry, there are many things that you can do to help your children have enjoyable experiences, especially because of their short attention spans.  First, put together what is called a “worship bag”, which is a backpack with coloring sheets, crayons, cute stickers and many other items that will keep your children busy while the adult sermon is being preached.  Contact your church’s office beforehand to find out what subject or scripture verse will be in Sunday’s message and gather items that are on that specific topic.  Include a few simple snacks too as little ones have appetites.

Second, encourage your children to participate during the service.  Allow them to hold the hymn book and put money into the offering basket.  This will make them feel included.  

Third, talk with your children after church to find out what they learned.  Ask questions.  This will generate their thought processes and help them develop their knowledge about the Bible more.  And, since children love sharing what they learned, these discussions will motivate them to pay close attention so they can do so.

The Bible instructs us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.  (Hebrews 10:25)  Adults and children attending church is important to God. By being engaged with your children in every step of their church experience, you will help them grow to enjoy church services and fellowship with other believers.

It Is Essential to Forgive Others as the Lord Has Forgiven You

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
— Colossians 3:13

What is a simple seven letter word that is very hard to do?  Forgive.  No matter how many times we are told that forgiveness is an act that benefits the forgiver more than the person being forgiven, we still often view it as a tough task, usually because of our pride.  Not only can refusing to forgive be detrimental to us physically, but also spiritually.

Forgiveness is not an option in living a Christian lifestyle, but rather a requirement.  Colossians 3:13, our scripture text, actually commands us to forgive as God has first forgiven us.  It does not say that we are allowed to forgive sometimes, depending on what that person has done to us.  We are to always forgive – period.

One of the most poignant stories of forgiveness for me in modern times was when Pope John Paul II forgave the man who tried to assassinate him in 1981.  The shooter fired many shots, four of which hit the Pope.   He lost a great deal of blood but survived.  The shooter was caught and sentenced to life in prison.  Two years later, the Pope visited the would-be assassin in prison and forgave him.  The two emerged from the visit as friends.  But, the Pope even went further.  He requested that the shooter be pardoned, and he eventually was, and became a Christian. 

Now that is forgiveness in action!

Sharing Jesus With Your Children

As a lay children’s minister for many years, I loved teaching children about Jesus in my church’s children’s ministry.  We used a variety of techniques, from puppet shows to funny skits, to dressing up in clown costumes to fun parties.  Everything was centered on the Word of God. Of course, I was trained to do what I did and relied upon the creativity that God gave me as well.

Many parents find it hard or uncomfortable to talk about Jesus with their children.  But, it shouldn’t be that way as parents are the first teachers of and role models for their children.

When talking with children about Jesus, I recommend to focus first on how much He loves them and wanted to be around children.  Describe some of the instances in the New Testament about Jesus and children.  When the disciples tried to keep the children away from Him, Jesus stopped them and made sure the children were allowed to come to Him.  He said that the kingdom of God belonged to them too.  Matthew 19:13-14; Mark 10:13-16.  One day, He took a child in His arms and told the people that if anyone receives a child in His Name receives Jesus and God, the Father.  Mark 9:36-37.  To illustrate the importance of children, He also told the people that children are not to be despised as their angels in heaven continually see the face of God.  Matthew 18:10.  And, He loved children so very much that He said it was not the will of God that any child should perish.  Matthew 18:14.

I further recommend that parents not limit talking about Jesus and spiritual issues to just Sundays.  All during the week, look for instances to talk about the goodness and love of God such as the beauties of nature; food to eat; a good home to live in; nice clothes to wear; and fun toys and games to play with.  Talk to them about how forgiving God is. The subjects are endless.  What is important is that your children see and hear about God every day. 

When you need assistance, surf the internet to find out what you can do.  There is quite a bit of information available to help parents.          

Are You and Your Children Regularly Attending Church on Sundays?

The title for this week’s blog may surprise you.  Why would I ask if you and your children attend church regularly on Sundays?  Based on recent studies, there are declining numbers in church attendance, and many point to busy family schedules, including children’s sports on Sunday mornings, as the main reason.   Many people would like to take Sunday as a day off, due to their very busy schedule during the week days and even on Saturdays.  Sleeping in, relaxing, watching television, playing computer games – all these sound very appealing for a Sunday.

There are many benefits to regularly attending church as a family.  In her online article entitled 5 Benefits for Attending Church, writer Megan Gladwell gives a good listing:

  1. Church anchors us.  All day long we face bombardment from the outside world, so much so that we can lose our spiritual perspective: advertisements, social media, demands on our time, and other external forces.  By attending church, especially as a family, we develop closer bonds with each other and God and learn morals and standards by which to live. 
  2. We receive spiritual strength.  Nothing can substitute for what happens in church.  There is singing and praising God, a sermon to listen to, and many other activities that bring you closer to God.  It sets the tone for you spiritually for the rest of the week.
  3. Church provides much needed fellowship.  Often, churches have various groups that meet during the week.  There are functions to attend.  When you need a helping hand, a church member is usually there to assist.
  4. Church presents opportunities to serve.  Our communities have so many needs, and churches help fill those needs.  Families volunteer to provide assistance to others, exhibiting the love that Jesus wants us to show to our fellow man.  Children learn to serve others and be givers rather than just receivers.
  5. We get to know God on a personal level.  This should actually be the number 1 reason to attend church regularly. 

You can read her entire article by clicking here.

I have always been a regular church attender.  As a young mother, I remember a funny incident involving my oldest son who was about 7 years old at the time and wanted to stay home from church one Sunday morning.  He wriggled on the floor over to my side of the bed, moaning and groaning, and told me that he was having such a severe stomach ache that he couldn’t attend church.  I could instinctively tell that this was not true.   I firmly told him that God expected us to be in church every Sunday and would not accept that excuse.  Of course, he complained for a short while.  I made him breakfast, which he ate, and within minutes, he was up and about playing with his toys and then getting dressed to go to church.  He never made an excuse again.   I often wonder what would have happened if I had accepted his excuse.  What would have been the excuse he made up for the next Sunday and the Sunday after that?

This coming Sunday, make a vow to attend church regularly as a family.  The benefits will never end.