Happy New Year!!!

 

image

Rev. 21:5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” 

2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

As always, it is important to explain to your children what we are celebrating:

  • Have each family member draw pictures of things they remember about this last year.  Thank God for those things – the good and the not so good.
  • Emphasize the fact that no matter what happened last year, the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to begin new things like being a better listener, being quick to obey, learning something new, making a new friend, exploring a new place, etc.  
  • Make a list together of things you would like to accomplish in 2018.  Make this your family’s prayer list for the year.  
  • Illustrate these and put them in a prayer box to pull out during prayer time.
  • Use the scriptures above to point out that Jesus gives us hope for new things in the new year.
  • Check out the following links for activities to celebrate New Year’s.

Free Coloring Pages:

http://ministry-to-children.com/new-years-coloring-page-let-your-light-shine/

http://www.childrens-ministry-deals.com/collections/free-stuff/products/new-years-coloring-page

Games:

Free download  http://ministry-to-children.com/new-years-eve-party-activities-and-games/

Free download  http://www.childrens-ministry-deals.com/collections/free-stuff/products/10-new-years-minute-to-win-it-games

 

Here’s a poem that has been my heart cry for over 30 years.  It is a good one to memorize and pray intentionally on a regular basis in the new year:

Lord Jesus, make yourself to me

 a living, bright reality

More present to faith’s vision keen

Than any outward object seen

More dear, more intimately nigh

Than even my sweetest earthly tie

by Charlotte Elliott

Traditional Christmas Symbols and Their Meanings

cid_037e01c83f0d055154806601a8c0dadlaptop

Many of the symbols associated with Christmas are derived from the traditional pagan celebrations. The decorating of Christmas trees, the eating of ham, the hanging of wreaths, holly, mistletoe, etc. are all historically pagan practices associated with Yule or winter solace.

So why have we been using these pagan traditions in our Christian celebration?

An old English historical writing helps us understand how this came about.  It contains a letter from Pope Gregory to Saint Mellitus, who was then on his way to England to conduct missionary work among the pagan Anglo-Saxons.

Pope Gregory suggested that converting heathens would go easier if they were allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional pagan practices and traditions, while reinterpreting those traditions spiritually towards the Christian God instead of to their pagan “devils”: “to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God”.

Enjoy the traditional practices of Christmas.  As Christians let’s not be so different from the world that the world wouldn’t want what we have. Listen to what Pope Gregory said and rather than condemn the pagan traditions, give them Spiritual meaning.  We should try to use these dark traditions to spread the “Light” into the darkness. (John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”)

Search this website www.trainupthechild.org for the history of  various objects associated with Christmas and see how to relate them to the birth of Christ.  Just type in the search bar the tradition you wish to learn more about.

 

Dealing with Santa

photo

 

I realize some Christians avoid the Santa game all together.  Other Christians may choose to participate in the fun.

Our family chose to enjoy pretending about Santa, but always intentionally emphasizing throughout the season the true reason we celebrate, even using the tangible traditions to teach intangible truths.

A very Godly lady told us when our children were very small, “Don’t make your children so different from the world that the world doesn’t want what you have.” We have heeded that advice through the years and applied it in numerous situations, always trying to find things we could participate in with those that might not believe as we do, thus having an opportunity to interact with them.

To give further credence to this thought, an old English historical writing contains a letter from Pope Gregory to Saint Mellitus, who was then on his way to England to conduct missionary work among the pagan Anglo-Saxons. Pope Gregory suggested that converting heathens would go easier if they were allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional pagan practices and traditions, while reinterpreting those traditions spiritually towards the Christian God instead of to their pagan “devils”: “to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God”.

We taught the true story of a man named Nicholas who gave gifts because he loved Jesus with all his heart.  A great children’s book about the history of Santa Claus is Santa, Are You For Real? by Harold Myra.

Check Train Up The Child for ways to relate the real Reason for the Season to traditional seasonal objects.  Just search on the site for ‘Christmas’, ‘Keeping Christ in Christmas’,  or for a traditional object (ex. Santa, trees, wreaths, mistletoe, etc.)

Christmas Joy in the Midst of Grief

25 years ago this morning we were on the way to my Daddy’s funeral. I was always a daddy’s girl and we always enjoyed Christmas together, even one year making together from scratch our own aluminum Christmas tree and color wheel (remember those?)

As we traveled to the funeral I was questioning why he had to die at Christmas time and would I ever be able to enjoy the season again. Then a Christmas song I had never heard came on the radio. As I listened to it, I found great comfort in the words, “Man can live forevermore because of Christmas Day.” I felt like God was assuring me that because of Christmas I will see Daddy again and I needed to continue to experience joy at Christmas and think of Daddy experiencing the ultimate Christmas joy in heaven.

I still cry from missing Daddy, but Jesus gives me His abiding peace and joy. A friend recently said that grief has no time table.  So whether this is your first Christmas without a loved one or this is your fiftieth one, I pray we will all experience the Joy of the Lord this special season in spite of our loss because ‘man can live forevermore because of Christmas Day.’

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord.
Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10

Intentional ‘Thanks’giving

IMG_3487

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 

Lead your children (by example) to be intentional with giving thanks to God and to others, especially at this time of year called ‘Thanks’giving!  

Here are some questions taken from Dee Brestin Ministries to ask around your Thanksgiving table to help promote thankfulness:

  • What can you be thankful for this year that you couldn’t have been last year?
  • Lift up the name of each person and have two to four people share one reason they are thankful for that person.
  • Is there a way that God met you in a challenging time this year? If so, how?
  • Did you receive an unexpected kindness this year?
  • Is there a Scripture passage that became more meaningful to you this year – if so, what is it, and how did it help you?
  • Is there something a little child said that delighted you?
  • Was there wisdom received from a book, a mentor, or a sermon?
  • Was there a time when circumstances lined up so you knew God was behind it?
  • God said He would shake our world so that what was unshakeable would remain – give thanks for one of those unshakeable realities.

Here are some previous posts with ideas to lead your children to be thankful:

Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving – The First Thanksgiving

Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving – A ‘Thank You God’ List

Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving – Psalm 100 

Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving – Songs

Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving – A Thankful Walk

Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving – Express Thanks to Others

Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving – Bible Stories

Thanksgiving Ideas

I want to intentionally say ‘thank you’ to each of you who read this blog.  And thank you for your desire to train your children in God’s Word.

HAPPY ‘THANKS’GIVING!!