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.

What God’s Word Says About Being a Good Friend

I have written before about how to help our children choose good friends according to the Word of God.  I think that message is very important, but what is just as important and often overlooked, is what the Bible has to say about being a good friend.  Friends are a crucial part of our lives.  Having and being a good friend strengthen our lives and our walk with God.  These are a few ways your children can be good friends and have positive influences on their friends’ lives:

1.    Be there for your friend. We all go through rough patches that only a true friend could make better. The Bible talks about being there for a friend in times of trouble.  Being available, whether by phone or in person, and listening to them when they are distressed can be so comforting to them and lets them know that you can be trusted. It strengthens the bond of that relationship in a time that can tear many apart.

2.    Tell the truth.  We often want to spare our friends’ feelings, but sugarcoating a situation does nothing to help them in the long run.  We should be honest with one another because it is the only way to grow and better ourselves.  Of course, that does not give anyone the right to be mean or harsh.  I once heard someone say “honesty without tact is abuse,” and that is so true.  As a friend, your goal should never be to hurt someone’s feelings, but to help your friend progress in whatever aspect needs improvement. Give constructive comments rather than hurtful criticisms - the message will be received much easier.

3.    Spend time together. Between school, soccer practice, and chess club, our children can be very busy.  Yes, school and extracurricular activities are important, but just as important is spending time with their friends and truly enjoying their friends’ company.  Children have so much energy that they are bound to find activities to do during their time together.

Also, they should never be afraid of silence. Friends sitting in comfortable silence is an indication of the comfort between them. Being in that moment together can feel just as fulfilling as a day’s worth of exciting activities.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
— Proverbs 18:24
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
— Proverbs 17:17

Teaching Biblical Financial Principles to Your Children

The concepts of handling money according to biblical principles are very important ones and parents often do not take the time to teach their children about them.  Proverbs 22:6 talks about training your child in the way he should go so that when he grows up, he will not depart from it.  Training your child also involves teaching these financial principles so that he can be a wise steward.  But, of course, you must know and follow these principles yourselves as parents.

In his online article entitled 10 Financial Principles That Are Biblical, author George Fooshee addresses principles that Christians need to know to properly manage their financial resources. Too many Christians are mired in debt and have become slaves to their out of control spending habits.  Knowing and then obeying God’s Word in regard to money management are critical to financial freedom.

The 10 financial principles are:

1. Understand that God is your source.  Philippians 4:19,  Proverbs 8:20-21, and 2 Cor. 9:8 all refer to God being our source - financial and otherwise.  The Christian walk involves putting our trust in Him to provide for our needs.

2. Tithing should be a regular part of our giving.  As Christians, we all understand that we should tithe.  Proverbs 3:9 instructs us to honor God with our first fruits.  But, do we really do it or do we make excuses and believe that God will understand why we have not tithed regularly?  God’s Word should be alive and something that we adhere to every day not just when we want to.

3. Prepare and plan.   Handling our money wisely involves preparation and planning. 

4. Save.

5. Keep out of debt.

6. Do not co-sign.

7. Keep records and set a budget.  From young, children should be taught how to budget. When giving an allowance to your children, for example, enforce the categories of “save”, “spend”, and “tithe” so they learn and put these concepts into practice.

8. Be content with what you have.  For example, if you know that you cannot afford a new vehicle at this time, do not shop for one.  Be content with what you have until you are truly able to afford a new or different one.

9. Work hard.

10. Seek Godly counsel.

As I have said many times before in my blogs, your children are observing what you do and listening to what you say every day.  Training or raising  successful children first starts with you as parents.   

To read more of this article, click here.

Adding “Thanks” Back into Thanksgiving Day

We will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day this Thursday in America.  It’s a national holiday set aside for us to remember all that we are thankful for.  However, as the child says in this cartoon, God has blessed us immensely so one day a year is certainly not adequate to give thanks!  In this week’s blog, instead of writing about the history of Thanksgiving Day or a similar topic (which you can find in my previous blogs), I have chosen to focus on some Bible scriptures instructing us on giving thanks regularly.  As you enjoy the day with family and friends, I encourage each of you to spend some time reading and practicing these verses as a family:

1 Chronicles 16:24 – “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever”

Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him”

Psalm 95:2 - “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms”

Psalm 100:4 - “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name”

Psalm 107:1, 8-9 - “O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endures forever… Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness”

Phil. 4:6 - “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God

Colossians 4:2 – “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful

There are many other Bible verses, but these are extra special to me.  Don’t let this Thanksgiving Day be one filled with just eating, drinking and watching sports.  Spend time thanking the great I Am for all He has blessed you and your family with and then remember to do it again and again each day thereafter!

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.

How to Choose a Bible for Your Children

Do you have a Bible for your children?  Many parents buy story books for their children with stories out of the Bible because they do not believe that their children will be able to understand the Bible.  I continue to encourage parents to buy an actual Bible for their children so that they can begin to read God’s Word for themselves.

In the online article Choosing a Child’s Bible, writer T. Capps provides some excellent guidance in selecting the right Bible for your children.  Important considerations are:

1. Make sure that you purchase a Bible that is the right reading level for your child.

2. Buy a Bible that is the complete Bible, and not just one part.  That way, your children learn from young about the Old and New Testaments.

3.  If the Bible has pictures, ensure that they are accurate and not cartoon characters or scary.  The Bible is not a cartoon book, and children should not think of it as such.

4. Purchase a Bible that has maps and other information to help your children learn more about the time periods.  Maps, timelines, etc., offer assistance to children and make the Bible more understandable.

5. Make sure that the Bible is durable and further consider a cover for it so that it can last many years.

The author makes many more helpful suggestions.  Spend time considering what Bible to purchase as it will be a prized possession for your children for many years. To read the entire article, click here.

What To Do If You Have a “Shy” Child

God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, and love and a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

I often hear a parent refer to a child as “shy”.  What does that mean? According to psychologists, shyness relates to being uncomfortable in different settings, including social settings.  It is different than being an introvert, because introverts like being by themselves and do not want much social interaction.  A shy child is usually unwilling to take risks in any situation.   Studies show that “shy” children can learn skills to help them overcome the fears that they have and grow up to be well-adapted, confident people.

I would first like to say that as Christian parents, it’s important how we “label” or “brand” our children.  Remember that your child is listening to what you call him or her.  Once a parent labels a child as “shy”, that child will grow up and live up to that label.  Stop calling or labeling your child something that is contrary to the Word of God.

If you have a child who displays some timidity or bashfulness, start first with searching the Bible for stories that will encourage your child and show him/her how ordinary people overcame their fears by having faith and focusing on God.  Find scripture verses addressing fear and help your child to memorize them.  This should be a part of your daily routine.  Play games with these verses and make it fun.  Also, support your child in meeting new people and being in new situations.  What we say about and to our children should always line up with the Word of God.

How Should Christian Parents Respond to Bullying?

Now that our children are back to school and settled in, I would like to discuss a subject that seems to be increasing in frequency – bullying.  As Christian parents, how are we to handle bullying, whether our children are being bullied or are the bullies or are the persons standing by watching or video-taping the bullying?  This is a challenging and complicated subject because as Christians, we immediately think about Jesus telling us to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).

But is that really what the Bible instructs us to do?

The following incident just recently occurred at a high school.  A teenage student walked off the campus and was pursued by another student, who kept verbally taunting him.  The victim hung his head and did not respond to the constant taunts.  The bully caught up to the victim and hit him in the jaw, breaking it.  There were other students who were standing around watching and some were even video-taping the incident with their cell phones.  Adults passed by in vehicles.  No one did anything to intervene and stop the violence.  It was only when one of the videos was posted on the internet, did the community find out about what happened. My heart ached as a mother to hear about this victimization and brutality.

Bullying is too difficult a subject to fully address in a short blog, but there are a number of helpful websites.  I especially encourage parents to visit and read the information on THIS WEBSITE.  One of the leading experts on bullying is Paul Coughlin, the founder of The Protectors, an anti-bullying movement, whose own daughter was bullied.  Mr. Coughlin helps parents learn about bullying and teaches what they can do, in turn, to help their children.  He calls it “bully-proofing” your children.

Bullying can be very devastating to children.  Prepare yourself and your children for it so no one is caught by surprise if and when it does happen.

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

As Halloween approaches, before making plans to participate in its activities, I ask Christian parents to research and read about this so-called “holiday”.  One of my children’s books discusses the true origins of Halloween - It’s Not About You Mr. Pumpkin - A Love Letter About the True Meaning of Halloween.

Many Christians do not know where Halloween started or what it involves.  Some think that it is just harmless fun for children, such as dressing them up in costumes and knocking on doors asking for candy.  I believe that it is very important for parents to understand the pagan origins of Halloween and the rituals that were and still are involved.  Shockingly, next to Christmas, it generates the most amount of money for retailers.

In preparing to write my book, I did a significant amount of research.  The celebration was started by people known as the Celtics who lived in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. Their priests were known as Druids, who used evil spirts to do dastardly deeds.  They believed that on October 31, the lord of the dead Samhain, would call out from the dead for all the evil spirits to go back and visit the homes where they used to live or the homes of their living relatives.  These evil spirits began “haunting” homes.   People living in these homes would put out food to stop these spirits from coming in and also put up scarecrows to scare them away.

Over the years, decorations became scarier and uglier.  The focus centered on death, witches, wizards, ghost and all things evil and scary. Soon, the aim was to get children involved.  Why not make it appear fun and playful – then children would be eager to participate?   Since children love to eat candy, offering the evil spirits food turned into offering children candy.

There are many alternatives in which your children can participate – especially those activities sponsored by churches.  Usually these festivals involve fun activities that do not involve any of the Halloween aspects.

You can read more about my book and order it by CLICKING HERE.

Inspirational Back to School Quotes for Your Children – Instill Courage

The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Deuteronomy 31:8

I’m continuing with back to school inspirational quotes for your children during the month of September and today’s blog post is on instilling courage.  As your children return to school, they are dealing with many different fears – fears of the unknown such as new teachers, new classmates, new activities, etc.  The Bible is filled with stories showing how ordinary people overcame their fears by keeping their focus on God.  Pick out some stories and read them to your children.

One wonderful example is Daniel in the lion’s den.  Discuss the characters in the stories and how they stood out from among the others.  Select verses focusing on courage and help your children memorize them.  Pray with your children for strength and courage during times of transition.  Talk to them about the situations that they are going through.  Help them develop a deep understanding that God is faithful and will always be with them.

Teaching Your Children Good Manners

“In everything, treat others the same way you want them to treat you, for this is [the essence of] the Law and the [writings of the] Prophets.”  Matthew 7:12

    The subject of good manners is not discussed as much as it should be.  As Christians, this Bible verse establishes the basis for good manners.  Essentially, good manners are built on the foundation that you treat others the same way as you would want to be treated and are an expression of love from the heart.  According to Proverbs 22:6, parents have a Biblical duty to teach and train their children: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

    As a parent, what can you do to help your children learn good manners.  First, children need good role models to emulate.  Do you as the parent exhibit good manners?  You can’t demand that your children say “thank you” and “please” if you don’t. 

    Second, in teaching good manners, start with a few basics such as “thank you” and “please” and “excuse me” and “sorry”.  Don’t make it complicated.  Notice when your children are using good manners, and praise them for it.  Once these basics are mastered, move on to other words and actions.  Before you know it, you and your children are on the way to becoming the best mannered people in your neighborhood.

Speaking Bible Blessings Over Your Children

Speaking Bible Blessings Over Your Children

Have you thought about speaking Bible blessings over your children today?  Before Jesus began His ministry, God publicly spoke His approval and love.  So, follow God’s example.

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What Does the Bible Have to Say About Good Manners?

Actually, the Bible has a lot to say about good manners. In fact, at this site you can find 23 Bible verses about manners.  Voted the most popular Bible verse on manners is Luke 6:31, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (ESV)

I live in the U.S. Virgin Islands which is a part of the West Indies.  We West Indians are known for being very polite people.  We always greet another person, whether we know the person or not, with “Good morning” or “Good afternoon”, or whatever the time of day or night. As a matter of fact, if we do not greet a person that way from the beginning of the contact, the person immediately believes that we have no manners and would consider us to be rude.

I believe that good manners are just not being emphasized by parents any more.  We tend to excuse the child saying such things as “He’s just shy” or “She’s just tired today” or “He’s having a bad day”, or “She’s just a child-when she grows up, she’ll know better”, etc., etc.  Importantly, however, good manners should be ingrained in children, so that as your children grow up, good manners are such an integral part of them, that they automatically respond with good manners in every situation.  

Author Soraya Diase Coffelt