Sunday, July 23, 2017

Gentleness Matters

Gentleness is a virtue to be valued in males and females alike!  Free Summer Devotionals for Kids.  Faith | Bible Study | Children | Parenting |GenderDevotional 6 focuses on gentleness.  This devotional, like the others, is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  Parents your notes are in italics.  Happy studying!









Gentleness Matters



To Do:


Read Colossians 3:1-4.  Say the verses aloud once or twice. If you and the kids aren't getting close to being able to say the verses, try saying them twice a day, just before bed, or every time you get in the car.  Then read Colossians 3:12-14.

Questions to Ask: 

Is gentleness just for little girls?  Who needs to be gentle and when?  Whether you have boys or girls doing devotionals with you this is a very important time to make it clear that gentleness is not a feminine characteristic but a robustly human characteristic.  Gentleness (in the sense of physically being delicate, exacting, and precise) is needed in many professions: welders, golfers, surgeons, pediatricians, scientists, computer engineers, clock makers, archaeologists, chefs, florists, carpenters, veterinarians  and mechanics. This is a good time if the kids know what they want to be when they grow up to ask them and how gentleness might play a part.

Was Jesus gentle?  Who else is told to be gentle?  Of course Jesus was gentle when he called the little children to come to Him but don't forget that He is also described as gentle (Matthew 11:29, 2 Corinthians 10:1). Who else? 

         Timothy (1 Timothy 6:11)
         God's approved workman ( 2 Timothy 2:25)   
         Women  (1 Peter 3:4 )
         All believers (Titus 3:1-2) 
         Elders/Overseers/Bishops (1 Timothy 3:2-3)

You won't need an exhaustive list but take a moment and make it plain to the kids that the wise (James  3:13) and pleasing disciple is a gentle person.  

Who in your life is gentle with you?  Who are you gentle with?  When are you tempted to be rough and not gentle?  Is it wrong to "roughhouse?"  Kids need to know the difference between the joyful, harmless rough and ready play that they need and enjoy and the kind of "play" that is careless, rough, thoughtless and causes harm.  One way to help them sort it out is with role play.  Have them imagine good and bad scenarios where they could be "rough." For instance the difference in running a little kid over during tag and a full-contact football game.

Insights: 

We live in a confused world.  Our society can not make up its mind about gender.  Scientists define gender with DNA.  Feminists insist that gender is a societal construct (in other words something imaginary that our society imposes on us from the outside).  And from exposure to our society's sexual sin, many have gained the impression that gender is fluid.  
Free Summer Devotional Series.  Why does gentleness matter to the followers of Christ?
When you put these things in a bag and shake them, what comes out is true disorientation.  Boys especially are pushed more and more into rigid boxes of masculinity that don't include virtues that are powerfully godly.  Anger is allowed but sorrow is not.  Excess is allowed but chivalry is not.  Stoicism is allowed but gentleness is not. 

It is important as you discuss things with your kids, male and female, that you present them with a throughly Christian worldview of gender.  For instance, Jesus and David are both pictured as shepherds-rough outdoor work.  Yet both of them wept.  Strength is not always stoic.  They are pictured as both caring for the little lambs and strong and brave to fight off the lions.  They are flourishing, thriving men.  Abigail, Lydia, Mary and Martha, and the Proverbs 31 woman provide a picture of the complexities of being female.  They are hard-workers, skilled in many crafts and business; they work inside and outside their homes, are married and single, and specifically in Mary and Martha's case are honored disciples!

God created gender.  It is in our DNA and we have God-given roles to fulfill.  But we must not let anyone in or out of the church simplify gender to a shadow of what God ordained.    








Sunday, July 16, 2017

Humility Matters

Devotional 5 focuses on a topic that is hard for adults to comprehend: humility.  This devotional, like the others, is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  Parents, your notes are in italics.  Happy studying! 

Humility Matters 

To Do: Read Colossians 3:1-4.  Say the verses aloud once or twice. If you've been doing these steadily, you should be getting close to being able to say the verses with some prompting. Then read Colossians 3:12-14.

Questions to Ask: 

*What does it mean to be humble? Be sure and read the dictionary definition aloud after the kids have a chance to brainstorm. Rick Warren and C.S. Lewis both have thoughts on the topic worth exploring.  

* If humility  is the opposite of pride, how was Jesus humble? Direct the kids to first think of the reasons Jesus could have had pride.  This will lead them to see how He went in an opposite direction.  Answers could include: He could have had pride in being God or in how much He knew, or in having God's favor, but instead he was born in a stable, submitted to His parents, and resisted the devil's urges to be prideful (Luke 1-4).  Be sure and take a moment to look up any stories that they don't remember the details of. 

*What do you have that you might be prideful about?  Recognize here that our real gifts are also real temptations to pride.  Answers will be individual to the child but might include being good at a sport, being smart, being pretty/handsome, having lots of friends, nice things/toys.

*What does it mean to be humble when we are victorious?  How is that like/not like being a good sport? Is it wrong to want to win?

*How can an adult be humble?  How can a child?    Take this time to talk to your kids about how you show humility in your daily life.  Be sure and give them room to think about how they can. Be sure and encourage them to think about themselves rather than simply criticizing others.  

Insights:


Humility vs. pride is one of the many places where English fails us.  There is everything good about being responsible for excellence, i.e. "taking pride in a job”. It's good when parents feel joy in their children's growth and maturity, it.e. they are "proud of their kids." And pleasure in completing a challenging job?  That harmless joy is often called, "being proud of myself." These phrases and others uses the word "pride" or "proud" when in fact nothing sinful is meant. 


This truth though should not hide from our eyes the fact that pride is a real and present danger to our souls.  We cannot think we are better than any other saint or sinner.  We cannot imagine that in ourselves we are worthy of respect or honor.  We mustn't insist on the best or think ourselves above some simple job.  Our Savior shows the way here. 

Who, although He existed in the form of God, 
did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 
but emptied Himself,
taking the form of a bond-servant, 
and being made in the likeness of men. 
Being found in appearance as a man, 
He humbled Himself 
by becoming obedient to the point of death, 
even death on a cross. 


Philippians 2:6-8



Sunday, July 9, 2017

Kindness Matters

FREE Summer Kid's Devotional Series: Devotional 4 is all about kindness, what it means and how to develop it!  Devotional 4 focuses on one of the most difficult commands to fully apply in the Bible: Be Kind.  This devotional, like the others, is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  Parents your notes are in italics.  Happy studying!



Kindness Matters 

To Do:

Read Colossians 3:1-4.  Say the verses aloud once or twice. If you've been doing these steadily, you should be getting close to being able to say the verses with some prompting. Then read Colossians 3:12-14.

Questions to Ask: 

*What does it mean to be kind? The answer that will come to a kid's minds is to be nice.  Try to help them dig a little deeper and see that we can be kind even when we are not "nice."  For instance a parent can privately and gently correct a behavior; this is kind although no child finds it "nice."

*Why do you think Paul asked us to "put on a heart of kindness?" Doesn't kindness come naturally? Here my children and I thought of people who seemed to be naturally kind.  Then we talked about the fact that the Spirit of God produces kindness in our lives (Galatians 2:22-24). Even if it is not our "personality" or our "nature", if we are walking in the Spirit we wille learn to be kind!

*Think of a time when someone was kind to you.  What did they do?  Is kindness the same in every situation? One way to work through this question is to explore how kindness is expressed across age groups.  (We are kind to babies when we play instead of ignore them; we are kind to busy young parents when we sit with them and help them at church; we are kind to older people when we visit them and ask about their lives.)

*How does the golden rule help us know how to be kind? (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31)  Be sure and begin by reading the golden rule from both passages. Work together to understand way we usual say it vs. how Jesus worded it.  Allow the kids to brainstorm how considering someone else's perspective or desires allows us to be kind to them.  Think up some silly examples of people trying to be kind but failing: for example a 70 year old who gives his 10 year old grandson Icy Hot for Christmas. Then transition into the fact that we ALL want people to be kind to us.  Fulfilling the golden rule requires us to be kind all the time.  

Insights: 

When I was doing this devotional with my kids and got to question 3, they could immediately think of several people who were naturally kind: friends who are generous, sensitive, and thoughtful, who never snap or snarl.  Do you know that kind of person too?  

Ephesians 4:32 Join us for our FREE Summer kid's devotional series to learn more about kindness!I realize that our view of those people from the outside (even family members we know intimately) may not match their "insides."  In other words, they probably have their unkind moments.  Yet for me, kindness is an on-purpose kind of virtue.  In order to be kind, I need to carefully think through what would be helpful, gentle and sweet and then do it.  

And that's ok!  

If our motive, or our children's motive is to love others, to treat them well, and to please God, it is perfectly acceptable for it not to be "natural."  We know that virtues like patience or perseverance require practice and discipline to develop.   But kindness can be learned too!

So how do we teach kindness to our children?  

1. We should point out kindnesses they can do right now: ending cards, doing chores unasked, visiting a sick friend, sharing their toys with a visitor, telling someone they did a good job, not bragging, or giving way to a tired or cranky sibling. 

2. We can help them reason through what they would want to happen in a given situation.  For instance, "If you broke your arm, what would you wish your friends would do?"  

3. We can enable their kindness.  A dollar or two will buy cards and stamps.  Half an hour will let them visit a sick friend.  Many simple kindnesses are beyond the resources of small children!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Compassion Matters


Devotional 3 highlights a powerful aspect of the character of God: compassion.  This devotional, like the others, is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  Parents your notes are in italics.  Happy studying!



Compassion Matters 

To Do:

Read Colossians 3:1-4.  Say the verses aloud once or twice and see if anyone can recite the first or second verse on their own.  Then read Colossians 3:12-14.

Questions to Ask: 

*What is compassion? To be compassionate means that you are moved to help when you see someone who hurting because their pain/fear/sorrow makes you feel bad too.  Notice that compassion is more than a feeling.  In the New Testament Jesus’ compassion drives him to help. 

*Can you think of a time that Jesus was compassionate? The woman at the well (John 4), the woman caught in adultery (John 8: 1-11), feeding the 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21) are all exanples.  If the kids think of a story but don’t know the details don’t hesitate to look it up and read it aloud! 

*When was someone compassionate to you? When were you compassionate to someone? For these questions be sure that you have an example to share and take the appropriate moment to praise anytime you have seen siblings be compassionate recently!

*Why is compassion hard? Although as adults our focus may be very wide, envisioning compassion as helping refugees from Syria or helping victims of a natural disaster, children are more likely to understand compassion as what is done for and with the other children close to them.  Accept any answer that is on topic and help them see that when we are busy, absorbed in a book or play, or have our own problems, it can be hard to think about how other people feel. 

Insights: 

Compassion. Sympathy.  Humility.  Traits we and our children need!  1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)
As my oldest daughter began to mature, suddenly she was able to see the adults around her as people who might need compassion.  Before a certain age children see adults as aliens who are impossible to relate to; they struggle see how their words or actions impact the adults around them.  (Think about a child screaming “I hate you” and slamming the door.  A certain amount of immaturity and self-absorption is required not to see or care about his/her mother’s tears)  As we welcomed two extra members into our family for a few weeks, of course the number  of chores that needed done immediately increased.  Seeing my work load, my teen had compassion on me; without being asked she  pitched in at every opportunity to make things easier.  

This devotional may be a good time to let kids know that  adults sometimes forget what it is like to be small.  We should try to ‘walk a mile in their shoes’ and have compassion. Children also need to stretch their imaginations and try to think about things from an adult's perspective.  That's what compassion is all about. 



Sunday, June 25, 2017

Identity Matters


Devotional 2 brings us face to face with a powerful motivator: Identity.  This devotional, like the others, is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  Parents your notes are in italics.  Happy studying!




Identity matters:

To Do: 

Read Colossians 3:1-4.  Say them aloud once or twice and see if anyone can recite the first verse on their own.  Then read Colossians 3:12-14.

Questions to ask:

*Why should we be good?  Expect kids to say things like, “so we can go to heaven,” “so we don’t go to Hell,” “Because God said so,” and “So we don’t get in trouble.”  Even though these aren’t the answers in the text, don’t hesitate to praise kids for any answer on topic. 

*Why does Paul say we should do all these behaviors?  If the kids don’t come up with “because we are chosen” and “because we are holy and dearly loved” read the passage to them again and ask what Paul said exactly.  

*How were we chosen by God? (Ephesians 1:3-6)

*What does it mean to be holy? Don’t worry if the kids don’t know a good definition.  Emphasize that the idea is that God is without mistake, without sin, without an ugly thought or an ill intention.  He is perfect and complete.  We are, in our unredeemed state, as unholy as can be.  Yet when we were raised up with Christ we were declared holy.  Now, in these verses, Paul calls us to live up to the family standard. 

*Can you point to a Bible verse that says we are beloved?  (John 3:16 and many more)

Insights: Notice what Paul does not say, he doesn’t say, "Be kind or go to hell!" or "Be compassionate or God will get you!" The powerful truth that our sin separates us from God and can cause us horrifying consequences is not the only truth.  It is also true that we are cleansed, raised, beloved and holy. We are driven by that identity to become more like our Father and to imitate our elder Brother.  

Kids can understand this point in two important ways.  First in a family we have certain standards.  For instance in our family obedience and kindness are powerfully important.  Other people may talk back or snap and snarl at one another but in our family that is unacceptable. When we become Christians we join God’s family which has its own standards of behavior.  Paul is saying since we are beloved children in the family of God we have to act like it!

Second, kids can understand that they are grounded in the love of God.   Lots of times we are less than kind, less than compassionate because we feel threatened.  Someone’s action leave us questioning our worth and value so we attack back.  Yet when we really understand that the Creator of the entire Universe chose us and calls us His dearly loved ones, nothing anyone else has to say about our identity matters. 


Monday, June 19, 2017

The "Why" Matters!

I hope you receive as much blessing from Paul's words in Colossians as my children and I did.  Each devotional is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  I left notes for the parents in italics.  Happy studying!



Why matters: 

To do: 

Read Colossians 3:1-4.  Say the first verse aloud a couple of times as a group to start working on the memorization.

Questions to ask: 

*What does it mean to be “raised up with Christ”? See Colossians 2:9-15.

*What are the things above?  My kids had great ideas here.  My little one imagined that Paul meant to think about the stars and the angels! 

*What are the things on the earth we aren’t supposed to be focusing on?  Does that mean its wrong to read a novel, play video games or other free time activities? This is a great place to identify something that distracts you from thinking about God and admit it to your kids!  Devotionals will be more productive if you respect your kids enough to be honest with them!

Insights: 

As we studied through this section, it struck me that the "why" matters.  We do all the things we are going to be studying about because we are “raised up.” 

I love the double entendre here.  Our baptism is a kind of death and resurrection in the likeness of Jesus (Colossians 2:9-15 and Romans 6). Also our humbled state as sinners in front of our holy God has been transformed. Now our status has been raised to beloved sons or daughters, pure and righteous.  Jesus has been exalted to Heaven, to the best place, God’s right hand.  That’s where we are headed.  That’s where our minds need to be focused!   




Sunday, June 11, 2017

Summer Kid's Devotional Series


This summer began for us with the advent of two young guests.  They’ll stay a couple of weeks and then head off to their grandma’s.  I warned their dad before they arrived that they should be ready for morning devos!  

Morning devotionals are a summertime tradition at my house.  For my homeschooler, during the school year, Bible is an academic subject.  My public school teen and I talk about how to apply God’s principles to her school life all the time.  But when the rigors of school are over, when summer slows everything down, we take a few minutes everyday after breakfast and read the Bible together.  We memorize God’s Word and think His thoughts after Him.