Category Archives: Family Time

A Malignant Melody

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
He’s gonna find out
Who’s naughty or nice (Sinatra sings “naughty AND nice” to increase the vagueness?)
Santa Claus is coming to town

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

This song is always in the mix of Christmas songs that we hear this time of the year. Many of them, even this one, I don’t run to the radio or CD player or whatever media from which it comes and turn it off. I see it as a teachable moment. Guarding my kids (and myself) from such things is not the answer. Nor is the answer letting them figure it out on their own. Assuming this has no effect on us is dangerous.

So, what is so malignant about this melody? You have to admit it’s catchy. Fun. Helpful to parents that cannot otherwise get their children to obey them any other time of the year. Who knows what shopping would be like if the parents could not remind the kids about the premise of this song– “You’re not getting anything if you are naughty.” So, is Christmas about giving a gift or a wage? Are we to earn a gift? No. And that is why this melody is malignant (among other things).

I’m assuming the first three lines of the song are phrases used by Santa Claus (and parents) to remind them to straighten up because Santa Claus is coming. I don’t like the equating of crying and pouting. They are not the same. As a parent, crying is allowed and encouraged. There is nothing wrong with crying. It’s needed and good oftentimes. Pouting is different. Pouting is trying to persuade where crying is a response to pain of some sort. Pouting is fake; crying is not.

I don’t think I have to persuade any readers of this post that Santa Claus is not coming. However, the close similarities of what we Christians often talk about is the fact that Jesus Christ is coming again. If you hold off until He comes to “straighten up” it is too late. It is absurd that Santa or Jesus are okay with kids being “nice” only in the month of December (or at least the day before Christmas for the unruly kids). How much is enough to earn the gift? Is a gift leverage? Are the days leading up to Christmas threats? Nice isn’t it?

This is just a side note: how can Santa see and know if you are awake and asleep and have to “find out if you are naughty or/and nice”? Just saying. It seems he should know that too. While we are here, I also cringe that Santa is given such attributes. Only the Triune God has such attributes and to ascribe them to another is troubling and fatal.

“So be good for goodness sake” is another spin or twist of this Christmas story. I thought we were to be good so we would have presents under the tree. I’m not being “good” for nothing. “If I am going to be good it’s going to cost you mom.” What reason do parents give five seconds after the “gift” is opened and the receiver hates it; it is not gift he asked for and throws it aside as rubbish? Being good for goodness sake will not work here or ever. That would be like saying I go to work everyday just to work; not a paycheck. I intentionally do not say thank you to my boss for my wages. They are not a gift. I earned them. Grace and job must be kept separate on this level and together on other levels. This leads to the issue.

One problem with this whole scenario is the meaning of gift. A gift is undeserved. Of course, you are welcome to celebrate Christmas however you so choose but you might want to change the vocabulary. Start calling the presents wages or earnings. That will help them not confuse things. Gifts are gifts. How one responses to a “gift” is a reflection of your love for the giver or your love of the gift. Is it really loving to give a gift only if the kid has met some undefined, ever-changing standard? No. It’s not.

The fact is no one is good. No one. If we get what we have earned that would be eternal punishment. If we receive the gift of salvation that is mercy. And that mercy comes from Someone. When God chooses to love someone for no reason that is grace. Of course, the grace that saves is the grace that transforms. This is the perfect season to describe this. Many have Christmas trees in their homes. We hang ornaments on the tree. Some even look like fruit. You could even hang a real apple on the tree and you should think it odd if someone thought that a Frazier Fur produced an apple. Everybody knows that it can’t do that. Only a real apple tree can produce an apple.

Only a grace-given, mercy-receiving, justified sinner can produce righteousness…fruit. If it comes for external show, it is not true fruit. Granted, it is hard to tell the difference sometimes. Nevertheless, we should be fruit inspectors.

Dear friend, every breath you take today is a gift. A GIFT! Gifts come from Someone and that Someone deserves thanks. How you celebrate Christmas boils down to who you love. Your perspective is different when you understand who you are and who God is. Your ideas of Christmas change when you understand the meaning of gift and love of the giver. We should be eager to give gifts this Christmas season because we have been loved and love; not for goodness sake.

~Jason

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Quiet Time with Kids-New Update

Several years ago I wrote about scheduling a “quiet time” for our children. At the time they were ages 6, 2, and 15 months. You can click here to read about that, and then an update here.

For now, here’s what works for us. Our two girls share a bedroom, so they take turns with one staying in their room and one going to the living room. Our oldest, 11 years old, reads her Bible, prays, journals, and if time allows, reads some of a missionary biography each day.

Our middle child, 7 years old, reads her Bible, prays, and sings songs from our church’s songbook.

Our youngest, 6 years old, is learning to read, so he sometimes looks in his Bible to find words he knows. Mostly he listens to praise music and looks through his Bible storybooks in his room. Though we may listen to other contemporary Christian music throughout the day (they like it especially when they are cleaning), only certain music is allowed for quiet time. This is a time for singing praises to God versus singing about our walk or various life situations.

Also, our younger ones sometimes color their picture in their Bible coloring book from their devotion with Dad the night before during this time.

I usually give them around 20 minutes. Sometimes more if they ask for more time.

We occasionally ask them how their time is going, what they are doing, and for those that can read, what they are learning. We don’t want this to be something we just do everyday without them knowing the purpose, which is to have a relationship with God.

As a result of this scheduled quiet time, one of our daughters repented and believed in Christ while reading the Word. As she read Ezekiel, the Lord opened her heart to see that the same sentence on Israel for their sin also rested on her. Therefore, she put her trust in Christ alone for salvation.

Looking back from when we first started this, I can see we have come a long way! I am thankful for God’s faithfulness to remind us and give us patience as we are training our children and much fruit already!

~Kimberly


Discipleship: The Forgotten Means

The Gospel According to Matthew has multiple purposes. We should see the Great Commission at the end as giving us one of these purposes (possibly the most important one). That purpose is “go and make disciples.” Making disciples consists of “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that [Jesus] commanded and that he is with them always.”

It is in this Gospel (and the others) which gives us our understanding of baptism. It is here that we see more clearly the doctrine of the Trinity. The teachings of Jesus are abundant. However, not only do we read what Jesus taught but how he taught it. If we are to teach the disciple all that Jesus commanded we need to look back to what preceeded the Commission.

In discipleship, content and method are the essential elements. We see Jesus teaching and then showing the disciples how to do it by way of example. So, teaching the disciple to observe is not merely repeating facts. And this cannot happen if the teacher is not with the disciple. By this I think I mean two things: (1) The teacher with the disciple and (2) The Teacher (through the Holy Spirit) with the teacher and disciple.

Over the next few months, we will walk through the Gospels attempting to see various aspects of discipleship. Now let’s observe the content and methods used by Jesus. I hope to point out the big picture items and the methodology of Jesus beginning in Matthew.

Here are a couple observations from Matthew 1:1-17 (written by one of Christ’s disciples)

  1. This is not the beginning but the revealing of the Promised One. Therefore, we should work hard at teaching fulfillment in Christ.
  2. This is proof enough that disciples should read the whole counsel of God. Reading and hearing the word is vital in discipleship.

Acts 19:9-10 9 But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

This is our hope and desire of discipleship.

~Jason
 


Encouragement from The Horse and His Boy

More encouragement from Narnia! A little while back I shared my favorite quotes from The Silver ChairWe have now finished reading The Horse and His Boy and I’d like to share my favorites from it as well. (In case you are wondering why we read this one after The Silver Chair, we are reading them in originally published order instead of chronological story order. We listened to this when making this decision.)

“I have now lived a hundred and nine winters in this world and have never yet met any such thing as Luck. There is something about all this that I do not understand: but if ever we need to know it, you may be sure that we shall.”

-Just a good reminder of the sovereignty of God!

“I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you would reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight to receive you.”

-This made me think how God is always with us. He gives guidance, comfort, and strength to name a few. And, as in this story, there are countless ways that God is at work that we never see.

“What luck that I hit it!– at least it wasn’t luck at all really, it was Him.”

Again, God is sovereign-no luck!

“‘Your majesty would have a perfect right to strike off his head,’ said Peridan. … ‘It is very true,’ said Edmund. ‘But even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did.’ And he looked very thoughtful.”

-Reminds me of this Bible verse: Titus 3:3-7

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

~Kimberly


Resurrection Resources: Resurrection Tree

Part of decorating our house for Resurrection Sunday includes our Resurrection Tree. This is similar to what we do at Christmas with a tree; we put on ornaments that remind us of the biblical account of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. This year we have a small artificial tree, about 2 feet tall. One year we attached small tree limbs to a board so that it resembled a cross. All our ornaments are homemade. The kids have drawn pictures and then attached yarn to them to hang up. You can write Bible verses on index cards, poke a hole in them with a hole punch and hang them up with yarn or ribbon.  We’ve used popsicle sticks, foam stickers, whatever we have on hand. My point is that you don’t have to go to the store and buy expensive items for this to be a special decoration. Be creative and really make it your own!

~Kimberly


Resurrection Resources: Resurrection Rolls

Here is a recipe and devotion we have done with our children as part of our Resurrection Sunday celebration. I got the recipe and only slighted adapted it from here.

Resurrection Rolls

  • One can crescent rolls
  • 8 marshmallows (one for each roll or 2-3 minis)
  • Melted butter
  • Cinnamon sugar (1 part cinnamon to 3 parts sugar)
  • Bible

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Read John chapter 19.
  2. Unroll the crescent rolls.
  3. Take a marshmallow, symbolizing Jesus: pure and without sin, and roll it in the butter. This represents the embalming oils.
  4. Then roll the buttered marshmallow in the cinnamon sugar, symbolizing the spices used in burial.
  5. Wrap the marshmallow in a crescent roll, securely covering it. This represents verse 40, “they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths.”
  6. Put the rolls in the oven. Bake according to the package directions. This symbolizes Jesus being laid in the tomb.
  7. While the rolls are baking, read John 20:1-18.
  8. When the rolls are finished baking and have cooled enough to handle, break one open to discover what happened to “Jesus”! He is not there!

  

 

He is risen indeed!

~Kimberly


A Seven Year Old’s BIG Answer

During family devotion last night, I intended to ask some hard questions about a familiar story–Daniel and the lions den. My first question was, “Who is the hero of this story?” Answer: “God.” (If any of you are familiar with Desiring God Curriculum for children, you know the emphasis is to regain a God-centered telling of the Bible. I highly recommend this curriculum to you.)

The next question I asked (a 6 & 7 year old) was, “If God was able to shut the lions’ mouths then why didn’t He just keep Daniel from going to the lions’ den?” Answer from my 7 year old: “Because it is impossible for a man to be thrown into a lions’ den and not be eaten and God wanted to reveal Himself to everybody by doing the impossible.” Of course, that answer made a dad very thankful to the Lord.

I then asked, “Why did God save Daniel and not the others thrown into the den?” Answer: “Because Daniel trusted the Lord.” I would encourage you not to withhold hard questions from your children. Certainly, this is not the first day we have had devotion. So that is where to start. Teach your children. Equip them to follow the Lord in this world. Don’t shelter them from everything. And don’t think they will figure out how they ought to do things (you even have to teach them how to PLAY with each other in a God-honoring way…they don’t know). Equip them.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.


Resurrection Resources: Scripture Reading & Candle Lighting

Last year we used this resource from Desiring God as we prepared for Resurrection Sunday. As you will read in the introduction, these can be done weekly beginning at Lent, or daily beginning on the Saturday of Palm Sunday weekend (the weekend before Easter). This article also gives instructions for lighting candles along with the reading if you choose to add that to your devotion time. I highly recommend using the candles because it is a helpful visual aid. As you get closer to Good Friday, there will be less and less candles lit. The last one gets blown out on Friday. None are to be lit on Saturday. Then on Sunday morning, all are relit!

~Kimberly


Resurrection Sunday Resources

For years it seemed as though the holiday of Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, was upon us without taking much time to prepare. Certainly nothing like we did for Christmas. So, a couple of years ago we tried to be more intentional about celebrating this important holiday. I’d like to share over the next few days some different ideas we have enjoyed and hope to continue as traditions in our home.

One resource that has been helpful is the book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions, by Noel Piper. She includes not only activities for Resurrection Sunday, but also other holidays and ways to make any day special.

                 Image

~Kimberly


Teaching My Children Mercy!

Recently I was preaching in our county jail and trying to explain the gospel and its various implications. I told them what Jesus did on the cross was “Substitutionary Atonement.” Of course, they were not familiar with this theological truth, nor did I expect them to understand it. That is why I was there explaining the gospel right?
You might be thinking, “I thought this post was about teaching his kids mercy.” Well, the following is how I taught my daughter mercy and the previous is the context to which I used the teaching of my daughter to explain the gospel. So, I have two agendas here. One, to help you teach your sons and daughters mercy (showing them the gospel) and proclaiming the gospel to others; whether that be through experiences at home or however.
Now, the teaching of mercy. The other day one of my daughters broke one of the rules in our home. The one who received the breaking of the rule came to me in order to inform me of this violation. So, I called the one who broke the rule to come and speak to me about it. She was quick to admit her wrong and I was thankful for that. Nevertheless, she was less reluctant to admit her need for punishment. I began to explain how God cannot look over sin. He is holy and just, therefore he must punish sin. So, I asked her, “If your brother hits you, do you think it is necessary that I punish him for hitting you?” And she replied, “Yes!” Again, I asked, “If your sister takes your toys away from you, should I punish her?” Again she emphatically replied, “Yes!!!” Now I turned the question to her, “Is it fair that I let you get away with no punishment for breaking the rule you have admitted to?” She then (with understanding) replied, “No, I do need to be punished.”
With that having been established, I then proceeded to teach her mercy. I explained to her that mercy is NOT getting what you DESERVE. But, in order to remain just (like God) someone must take the punishment for the crime. So I began drawing conclusions about this foundation. I indicated that she had admitted the breaking of our rules. She agreed that God is holy and just and cannot NOT punish sin. (I know I used a double negative but it was needed.) And she understood her need for punishment.
In light of this, I then moved to the substitute. I told her that I was going to take the punishment for her and that she would be the one who was to deliver the punishment. It broke her heart that I was to receive the punishment for her sin and that she had to do it. Human pride rose to the surface as she discovered my innocence and her guilt. She did not want to do it. She wept with tears as she lightly tapped me with our paddle. I then began to tell how Jesus Christ had done this for her sin and if she placed her trust in him, for her punishment, she would be saved.
As I shared this with the guys at the jail, they sat there with amazement and hopefully a clearer understanding that God had to punish sin and he did on his Son. But, it is not yours unless you repent and believe in Christ. We will see as I twice a month preach to these guys.
So, have you ever shown your children mercy (the gospel)? Do you now understand the gospel better…substitutionary atonement, propitiation? Maybe you yourself need to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. In him you will find mercy. In him you will have your sins forgiven and receive his righteousness. Praise be to God for reconciling himself to us!