Guarding Our Kids’ Hearts

enemiesIt’s amazing the lengths we will go to protect our kids.  We strap them into car seats to protect their bodies, give them bike helmets to protect their heads and slather them up with sunscreen to protect their skin.  We shop for organic food and check ingredient lists. We tell them to look both ways before they cross the street, don’t run with scissors and never ever take candy from strangers.

All good things.

The Bible, however, says that when it comes to protection, our number one concern should be our hearts.  Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (NIV).  Above all else.   

Why above all else?  Because the heart is the wellspring of our lives.  Everything flows out of that.  As the New Living Translation put it, “it determines the course of your life.”  If we want our kids to have lives that honor God and bring them joy, we need to teach them to pay attention to what’s going on inside.

Of course this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect our kids physically, but it does remind us that we should be teaching them to guarding their hearts with at least as much effort as we teach them to wear a helmet or buckle up.

In his book called Enemies of the Heart, Andy Stanley says, “One of the best ways to train our children to guard their hearts is by asking questions.”

According to Stanley our questions not only show our kids that the condition of their heart matters, but it shows them how to examine their own hearts to see if there are issues they need to deal with.

In the book Andy talks about a bedtime routine he established with his kids and some of the questions he used with them to begin training them to think about matters of the heart.  Here are some of the questions he lists:

  • “Is everything okay in your heart?”
  • “Are you mad at anybody?”
  • “Did anybody hurt your feelings today?”
  • “Did anybody break a promise to you today?”
  • “Is there anything you need to tell me?”
  • “Are you worried about anything?”

You can imagine how over time, asking questions like these would spark conversations that can help us get our kids thinking about the condition of their hearts and the work God wants to do there to center their lives on Him.

So give them a shot.  Try one of Andy’s questions or some of your own at bedtime tonight and see where it leads.

 

 

New Year’s Eve Family Activity

2016

Holidays are a great opportunity to start spiritual conversations at home.  Here’s a fun, family tradition that I shared last year on the blog.  I’m rolling it out again because it was such a powerful experience for our family, and we will definitely be making it an annual tradition.  I hope it blesses your family too!

Holiday: New Year’s Eve

Verse to Remember: Lord, I will remember what you did. Yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. – Psalm 77:11 NIrV

Opening Activity:

Make a family timeline. Write the name of each of the twelve months on a piece of paper and challenge your kids to see how much they can remember that happened in your family’s life in 2015 and write them by the month when they occurred. Include big things and small things, good things and bad things.

For example, you might list things like getting a new pet, having a birthday, starting a new school year, going on vacation, catching the flu, welcoming a new baby brother or sister or even losing a loved one.

Read the Devo together:

Do you think you have a good memory?  How much can you remember that happened in 2015?  Have you noticed that people do a lot of remembering this time of year? Everywhere you look on TV, in magazines and on the internet, people are remembering the best and worst things that happened in 2015. They talk about the biggest news stories, the biggest movies and other special things that happened.

But way more important than remembering all of that stuff is remembering what God has done. New Year’s Eve can be a fun time to look back at the last year and remember the cool things God has been up to in our lives.

Look At the Bible:

In the book of Joshua, the Bible talks about how important it is to remember what God has done. For years and years and years, God had been promising to give His special people, the Israelites, their very own country, a place called the promised land. They used to be slaves in Egypt, but God rescued them, and in this story He does a miracle by stopping the water of a river so the people could cross over to their new home.

Wow, what a big day! The Israelites got a brand new home thanks to God’s amazing power, and they didn’t even have to get wet going there.  God did not want His people to forget the awesome things He had done.  He didn’t want them to forget how much He loved them, so here is what He told them to do.

Read Joshua 4:1-7 together. 

What did Joshua have the people do? How do you think they felt every time they saw that pile of stones?

Bring It Home

Let’s look at our family timeline. Look at all of these things that happened to us this last year. Which months do you think God was with us?  One month?  Two?  No, God was with us every single day.  What are some things on our list that we can thank God for? Where did God show up this year? What are some hard things that He helped us through?

Remembering the cool things God has done gives us courage to face the future.  The same God who was with us this past year, promises to be with us in the new year no matter what.

Prayer:

God, thank you for all that you did in our family this past year. Help us to remember how good You are as we go into the new year. Amen.

Extra Activity:

For an extra activity, make your own monument just like the Israelites did.  Get out the art supplies and have kids draw pictures that remind them of some of the good things God did in your family in the past year.  Put those pictures somewhere your family will see them as you go into the new year together.

3 Ways to Help Your Kids Stay Focused on Jesus at Christmas

December is finally here, and that means the Christmas rush is on. It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the busiest, and that can make it challenging to help your family stay focused on Jesus.

Here are a few simple ideas to help you recapture breakfast, dinner and bedtime to keep Jesus front and center over the next few weeks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Breakfast Time: Finding Jesus Game

See this baby Jesus figure?  Well, you won’t see him for long. That’s because every night after my kids go to bed, I hide it somewhere in plain sight. Their job is to see who can be the first to find Jesus the next morning. Simple as that.

The Finding Jesus game creates a fun excuse to keep Jesus in the center of our day. Around our breakfast table, you’ll hear phrases like:

  • Anyone seen Jesus yet today?
  • Better keep an eye out for Him.
  • Wonder where He’s going to turn up next?

Continue reading