Thursday, April 30, 2009

Teaching Children about Giving

Giving tithes and offerings is an honor and a reflection of our hearts as Christ-followers; so how do we instill this into our children’s hearts?

~We need to emulate cheerful giving in front of our children: They need to see our words put into action by giving graciously (whether it is to church, charity organization, someone in need, etc.).

~We need to study scripture with our children on tithing: For younger children, stories about the widow’s mite from Mark 12:41-44 would be good. For older children, I would suggest a more in depth study using the Sermon on the Mount from Matt. 6:19-21 as well as reading Exodus 36:3-7 to describe how the Israelites gave more than enough needed and the blessing in that.

~ We need to train their hearts to be givers: We should start by cautioning them against being like the Pharisees; who gave everything according to the law, but their hearts were not it in (Matt. 23:23). Then, we should impress upon them how we are to give; that Jesus says it was better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), and we also know from 2 Corinthians 9:5-15 that we are to give cheerfully. That cheerful giving not only supplies ministry needs & shows obedience, but the text tells us it brings about thanksgiving and glory to God.

If you have a child that is reluctant to give, pray with them that God will change their heart. Teach them that Jesus gave His life for them, and that everything we have is God’s in the first place; we are just entrusted with His gifts to be shown faithful stewards and advance the Kingdom. For older children, you may read them 1 John 3:17-18 and James 2:15-16 to further instill the purpose of giving.

This is how it looks in our home: we pay our children “contract labor” for optional duties above and beyond household chores. Erich will sit down with them on “paydays” to help them divvy up their allotted tithe portion, savings portion, and earnings portion. Any “gift money” that they receive falls under the same instruction. The children then get the privilege of giving God’s money back to Him by supporting the church, and they will personally put their tithe portion in the offering box on Sundays. We also encourage them to give when they feel led to other ministry needs to help instill that it’s not just about “Sunday”.

*Remember to pray with your children thanking God for entrusting us with money, giving us opportunities to advance His kingdom with our tithes and offerings, and asking Him to work in our hearts that we may be cheerful and gracious givers.

Be Blessed by your family's giving to God!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Fav Devotionals

Somehow, I can't get the picture any larger, but these devotionals are my latest and greatest find... truly my favorite kids devotionals that I have found! They come in Old and New Testament flavors (and you can view excerpts from them from the below link).

I first saw Faith Factor devotionals at Sally Clarkson's Whole Heart Mom Conference; but by the time I went to purchase them, they were already sold out (that stuff always happens to us procrastinators).

So, instead, these became "Resurrection Day" gifts to the girls. :)

Can I just tell you the HUGE excitement upon opening their gifts... it was precious! I praise God that He has given them a desire and a value for His Word and for the study of it!

Ava was especially thrilled when she saw that the book's recommended age was for 9-12 year olds. I told her that since she can read like a 9-12 year old, then she gets the honor of reading books written for 9-12 year olds (that's a testimony to Charlotte Mason's curriculum).

And, boy... did she feel honored! She opened it up that very minute and started her devotional. Caroline was running to grab her bible so she could start hers too.

And the verdict is...

They both said, "This is the best devotional I've ever read!"

"Why?" I asked.

Caroline answered first, "Because it actually teaches you what the bible says instead of just giving you stories about life and trying to apply a bible verse to it."

Ava echoed, "I learned so much and they have more to say in this book."

They hit the nail on the head. That's exactly why I picked these.

It is VERY hard (and trust me, I spent an hour sitting on the floor of Mardel's one day looking through ALL of their kids' devotionals) to find a devotional that actually TEACHES God's word and what to learn from it. Most of the others simply give you a practical story (some of which would never apply to your child) and then add a bible verse to it (most of the time out of context).

I was thrilled that the girls were so ecstatic about their new books.

I overheard Ava tell Caroline, "I can't wait until the morning... because I get to read another chapter from Matthew out of my devotional!"

I then saw Ava writing down some things... when I asked her what it was, she said, "My devotional told me to write down things I want to ask/tell God. So, I wrote 'How can I be more like You?' and 'Thank you for the resurrection'."

Wow! Now, those are the blessings that I pray for my children! Thank you God for the work that You do in their hearts through reading Your Word. It is truly divine transformation!

Every day since, the girls have been excited to tell me what they've learned from their morning's quiet time... these are truly great devotionals teaching God's truth, using the only Truth: His Holy Word!

Have a blessed day instilling God's word in the hearts of those He has entrusted to us... our children!

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Glorious Resurrection!

He is risen... He is risen indeed!

Over the weekend, we have listened to the story of Jesus' death & resurrection from Adventures in Odyssey, we made Resurrection Cookies, went through the Resurrection Eggs, & read our favorite Easter story re-telling in The Very First Easter.

Most importantly, we have had some precious time in God's Word, the true and exact account of Jesus's ministry, sacrifice and resurrection.

Today is a magnanimous day! Today is the day we celebrate Jesus' power over death! He is risen... He is risen indeed!

Easter is also a blessed day because it marks the anniversary of Ava's salvation. Two years ago, she received Christ as her Lord and Savior. I remember her praying to God thanking Him for Jesus' death on the cross that paid for all her sins; past present & future. I remember seeing tears stream down her face and Ava asking me, "Mommy, where are these tears coming from?... I can't stop crying for some reason." Her little heart was touched greatly by God's redeeming spirit and it was truly a joyous day we will always thank God for.

Jesus said in John 11:25-26: "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die."

What an amazing gift of grace! Because Jesus conquered death, and was raised again to reign ALIVE in Heaven on the throne... we are promised that same eternal life when we place our faith in Christ alone.

Thank you God for your indescribable gift of Salvation! We serve a risen and glorious Savior!

Have a blessed Easter!

*Before watching "On Christ Alone", remember to scroll down and pause my "Music Playlist" (red box found on the right-hand side of the page)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Happy Pesach!

Today is an amazing day... the celebration of Passover (Pesach)!

In Exodus, God saved the Israelites from their bondage of Egyptian slavery with one thing: the blood of a lamb. (Exodus 11-12)

God had previously used 9 plagues upon Egypt to glory over Pharaoh and prepare the freedom of His chosen people, Israel. The plagues not only showed God's power and sovereignty, but proved Egypt's false gods to be a mockery.

The 10th and final plague was to take the life of the firstborn sons in Egypt. God spoke through Moses and told the Israelites that in order for their firstborn to be saved from this plague, they had to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and cover their door frames with the blood of the lamb.
That's all: just the blood. When the angel of death saw the Israelite's house covered with the spotless lamb's blood, he would "passover" that house knowing it was set-apart for God's salvation. Thus, they were saved by their faith in the blood covering the door frames of their homes.

Over 1,400 years later, God sent His fulfillment of Gen. 3:15 to be the Passover Lamb for all who put their faith in Him. In John 1:29, John the Baptist acknowledges Jesus as that Passover Lamb when he declares, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

Just like the Israelites were saved when they covered the door frames of their homes, we are saved when our faith declares that Jesus' blood covers our sin and gives us right standing before God in Heaven.
You see, the Israelites could have thought, "I'm sure the blood of the lamb isn't going to work... so, let's do something else" OR "I'm sure the blood of the lamb isn't enough, let's add something to it." But, that's not how God arranged it. The ONLY thing they had to do to be saved was to cover their door frames with the blood. That's all!

Jesus, (the spotless Lamb) being the perfect and sinless Son of God (Rom. 1:4), died on the cross for the sins of the world, rose again (Mark 16:19) and now sits ALIVE at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven (Heb. 12:2). The ONLY thing that saves us is faith that His blood covers our sins and gives us salvation. (John 3:16)

Some will say, "I'm sure faith in Christ alone isn't going to work, I'll just do something else like try real hard to be good" OR "I'm sure Jesus' sacrifice isn't enough, I'll add something to it to assure my salvation".

But we have to remember who we are: We are "dead in our trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1) "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23)

What was the same for Israel's Passover then, is the same as it is for us now: Christ's blood (like the spotless lamb) is the ONLY atonement for our sin. Our faith in Him is the ONLY security for salvation.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says: “God made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

And Ephesians 2:4-9 says: But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

So, as we think about Passover and the mighty miracle God bestowed upon the Israelites who put their faith and obedience in the blood of the lamb, I have to ask:

Have you put your faith in the mighty miracle that God bestowed upon the World?: Jesus' sacrifice... his blood... will cover all your sins and your faith in that alone covering you will be your salvation.

Sunday we will celebrate His glorious resurrection... He is risen indeed!

Praise God for His perfect plan of salvation... Thank you Jesus for your death on the cross that paid the penalty for my sins. You are truly Mighty to Save!

Be Blessed by putting your faith in Him! Happy Passover!

*Scroll down and pause my "Playlist" music on the right toolbar before watching this video of Hillsong's Hosanna*

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Managing Her Home

Caroline has proved herself over and over again by maturing in her faith, her academics, and her domestic abilities. This week, something wonderful happened: I got sick.

That's not necessarily the wonderful part; but through the sickness, Caroline rose to the occasion and completely and entirely ran the household.

She woke up and started her laundry as usual; and I have to mention that she does it cheerfully and excellently, without any reminders.

When she realized I was sick, she made breakfast for the family and did all the dishes on her own accord. After that, she brought me some Airborne & orange juice in bed and said that she was going to start school and teach Ava.

WOW! Can I just tell you what a HUGE blessing that is to wake up sick and have your 11 year old daughter tell you that not only is she going to do school on her own, but she's going to teach her younger sister's lessons too! Praise God for giving her such self-initiation and diligence!

She and Ava had a very productive school day including Caroline teaching Ava a new math concept and finishing Ava's geography book, Paddle to the Sea. Caroline crawled up into bed and read her geography lesson to Ava and me... how sweet! (We're studying Saudi Arabia from Explore His Holy Land)

She, of course, continued her running of the household by making lunch for everyone and keeping herself and Ava occupied while I took a nap to try to sleep off the illness.

Dinner was spectacular, too: Caroline ended up making a wonderful chicken dish & roasted red potatoes all by herself, while following a new recipe. After the fantastic meal, Erich smiled proudly and said, "Caroline can truly run a household all by herself."

It is so encouraging to know that little Caroline, at 11 years old, possesses the skills of cleaning, cooking, organizing, teaching, diligence, focus and most importantly, she " at everything with all her heart as working for the Lord, not for men" (Col. 3:23).

She was happy to serve the family that day... and I was happy to be sick so that I could see her gifts and talents SHINE forth excellently!

God has truly blessed us with Caroline! May she be used to further His Kingdom!