Celebrating Our Freedom

In the midst of all the fun, fireworks, and food, let’s all take time as families to pray for our country.

While we may not agree with everything happening in our country right now, we still need to celebrate with our children the fact God has allowed us to live in a free country and that many brave soldiers have fought physical and spiritual battles to ensure we have freedom.

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Making Glad Dads

On Father’s Day and every day we need to teach our children to be grateful for their fathers, listen to their instruction, and make ‘Glad Dads’.   If your child does not have an earthly father, emphasize his relationship with his Heavenly Father.

…children take pride in their fathers
Proverbs 17:6

My son, hear the instruction of your father…
Proverbs 1:8

A person who loves wisdom makes his father happy…
Proverbs 29:3

Bible:

Proverbs 29:3 Are you doing those things that please your Dad?  The Bible says the best way to make your dad happy is to be wise – to do and say those things that please God – to choose to do the right thing.  We can ask God to help us make our  ‘dad glad’.

John 8:26-28 Jesus said, “I do always those things that please the Father:  His Father is God.  Jesus always pleased God.  Jesus said that He only talked about the things He had heard His Father talk about.  He said He did nothing but what His Father had taught Him to do.  God is our Father too and we should always please Him.  But God, who is our Heavenly Father, has given us an earthly Father.  We please God when we listen to our dads just as Jesus listened to his Dad.

Luke 15:11-22 There was a young man who didn’t listen to his dad.  He decided he wanted to leave his dad so he asked for all the money that belonged to him and he left.  When the son got far away, he began to do bad things in bad places with bad people.  Soon he had spent all his money and had nothing to eat and no where to go but back home to his father. He went home and told his dad that he was sorry for all the bad things he had done.  His dad was glad he came home; he forgave him for everything.

Ephesians 6:1-2 God tells children to obey their parents and to honor their father and mother.  This will please God and it will please your dad.  Obeying your parents means doing what they say to do.  Honoring your parents means to have respect for them – like when your dad is talking, be quiet until he has finished – or when your dad says something, don’t argue with him.  Obeying and honoring your parents will please your dad and it will please God.

Philippians 2:13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him. Jesus did always those things that pleased His Father.  How can we always do those things that please God and our dad?  The Bible says that God will work in us to do those things that please Him.  Sometimes when you find it hard to do the things that please God or your dad, remember that God promises to help you do the right things if you ask Him.

Prayer: God, thank you for my dad.  Help me to listen to him and obey.
Thank you that my dad takes care of me.  God, please take care of my dad and help him with all the things he has to do.

Suggested Activities:

  1. Make a poster for the fridge with one of the Bible verse and a picture of dad and pictures of some things he does.
  2. Play ‘Follow the Leader’ with dad being the leader.
  3. Play ‘Dad Says’ like ‘Simon Says’.
  4. Show things that belong to dad. Cover the items, sneak one item away, and let child guess what is missing.
  5. Make hand prints on a plaque for dad.
  6. Greet Dad with hugs and kisses at the door when he comes home from work.
  7. Make a thank you card for dad.  List, draw, or find pictures of things dad does and thank him for doing them.
  8. Color one of these pages from Ministry-to-Children.com
  9. Bake cookies for Dad in shapes of things he uses such as a car, tie, hat, ball, tools, etc.
  10. Talk about ways to make a ‘Glad Dad’:
    1. come when he calls
    2. listen when he talks
    3. hear and obey his instructions

     

Songs:

God Made My Daddy (listen)
(lyrics) God made my daddy; he helps me do so many things.
I love my daddy; he takes care of me
or
God is my Father; He helps me do so many things.
I love my Father; He takes care of me.”

Glad for Dad (listen)
(lyrics)I’m glad today; I’m glad today.
For my Dad, I’m glad today.
God, please help me make my Dad glad

Books
We’re Very Good Friends, My Father and I
The Prodigal Son (Arch Books)
Just Me and My Dad (Little Critter)

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Remember on Memorial Day

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 Let’s not forget what this long weekend is about.  Many have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.  God made a decree many years ago that we set up memorials to help our children know about the things that happened in the past:

Joshua 4:6-7
We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future, your children will ask, “What do these stones mean to you?”  Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s covenant went across.” These stones will stand as a permanent memorial among the people of Israel.”

Memorial Day originally began in 1868 as a day to decorate the graves of soldiers who died in the Civil War. In more recent years our government passed a resolution that Memorial Day be observed on the last Monday of May as an occasion to remember and honor the men and women who died in all wars.

During this Memorial Day weekend be sure to talk to your children about the reason for the holiday.  Here are some suggestions:

As children, our boys loved to pretend to be soldiers, dressing in full camouflage.  When they got older they made this short film to illustrate one of their father’s sermons:

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Who is Valentine?

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As always, we want our children to know the reason for any celebration and see how it might relate to Christ.  Here’s what my research found:

Historical Information

Valentine was a priest near Rome in about 270 AD.  At that time the Roman Emperor Claudius felt that married men made poor soldiers so he abolished marriage.  Valentine  invited young lovers to come to him in secret where he joined them in marriage.  When the emperor heard of this ‘friend of lovers’, he was impressed with his conviction and attempted to convert him to the Roman gods while Valentine attempted to convert the emperor to Christianity.  When Valentine would not renounce Christianity, he was imprisoned.

While in prison, he witnessed to the guards.  One of the guards had adopted a blind girl and asked Valentine if his God could help the daughter see again.  Valentine prayed and the girl was given her sight.  The guard and his whole family believed in Jesus and were baptized.  Valentine fell in love with the girl.  When the emperor heard about Valentine making converts in prison, he was furious and had Valentine beheaded.

Before Valentine died on February 14th, he signed a farewell message to his love and signed it ‘from your Valentine’, a phrase that has lived long after its author died.  Thus began the sending of  Valentines.

Because of Valentine’s dedication to the Lord, he was made a saint by the Catholic church.   The church was seeking to usurp the popularity of the Roman god Lupercus.  At the Lupercusian festival each year around the middle of February, a young man was assigned a woman companion for his ‘pleasure’ until the next year at the festival when he would get a different woman.  The Catholic church was determined to put an end to this 800 year old immoral practice and Valentine seemed to be the ideal candidate to become a ‘lovers’ saint.

How to Share This with Children:

The ruler of Rome, Emperor Claudius, thought there were many gods, but a man named Valentine loved God with all his heart and told people that Jesus is the one true God.  This made the Emperor Claudius very angry so he had Valentine put in jail.  But even in jail, Valentine kept telling people about Jesus.  The guard in the prison had a blind daughter and he asked Valentine if God could heal her.  Valentine prayed for her and God caused her to see again.  The guard and his whole family believed in Jesus after that and loved God with all their hearts.

The emperor was so upset when he heard that Valentine was still telling people about Jesus, that he had him killed.  Before Valentine died he sent a message to the jailer’s daughter whom he had fallen in love with.  He signed the message ‘from your Valentine’ and this is where the sending of ‘Valentines’ began.

Because Valentine loved Jesus so much, the Catholic church named him a ‘saint’ which is what someone is called that loves Jesus and cares about others.  Each year we think about those we love and send them Valentines.  Let’s remember that the first Valentine was sent by a man who loved God with all his heart.

On Valentine’s Day we may get flowers, cards, candy, or other things from friends who love us,  but the very best gift that was sent to show love to us was sent a very long time ago.  It was Jesus who was born to one day die on the cross for the wrong things we have done.  The Bible says “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

Activities:

  • Emphasize God’s love for them, their love for God, and love for others as you help your children make Valentines for their friends, include any of the following verses on the cards:
    1 John 4:9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into this wicked world to bring to us eternal  life through his death.
    1 John 4:16b:  God is love.
    1 John 4:19:  We love because he [God] first loved us
    1 John 5:3:  This is love for GOD:  to obey his commands.
    John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
    1 John 4:11  Dear friends, since God loved us as much as that, we surely ought to love each other too.
  • Make a giant heart out of red poster board.  Write Luke 10:27 or Matthew 22:37 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” on the heart.   Cut it into age-appropriate puzzle pieces.  As you put each piece together say, “that’s not all my heart” until the puzzle is finished.  Then read the verse and encourage the child to say, “God, I love you with all my heart”.  If you have several children you can make two heart puzzles and race to see who can give God all their heart first.

 

 

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Happy New Year!!!

 

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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

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