Let’s talk about LOVE…

lovestudy

By the middle of February some people are sick of hearing about romance, Valentine’s Day, gifts, cards, and even love. But can love be over-emphasized?  As believers in Christ we are to walk in love (Ephesians 5:2), be rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17), follow after love (I Timothy 6:11), and put on love (Colossians 3:12-14).   Can we talk about it too much?  Love is a consistent theme throughout the entire Word of God. The greatest command in all of scripture is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and mind.  The second command is to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Jesus said that, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets,” Matthew 22:40To put it differently, the entire Bible can be summed up with love.

Love is a wonderful topic for study and February is a great time to gather your family up for such a study. A good place to start is with the writings of the Apostle John. Love envelops his epistles. In 1 John alone we see 46 different forms of the word love. Let me share just a few truths about love that adorn these inspired epistles.

  • God is love. (1 John 4:8)

  • We cannot truly love until we know God. (1John 4:7-8a)

  • We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

  • There is no fear in love. (1 John 4:18)

  • There are certain things that God does not want us to love. (1 John 2:15)

  • Love and truth go hand in hand. (1 John 3:18, 2 John 1:1-3, 3 John 1:1)

  • If you love God you will love God’s children. (1 John 3:11, 3:14, 3:23, 4:7, 4:21, 5:2)

  • God demonstrates His love through His actions. (1 John 4:9-10)

  • We demonstrate our love for God through our actions. (1 John 2:5, 1 John 5:3, 2 John 1:6)

  • We demonstrate our love for others through our actions. (1 John 3:16-17)

If you would like an additional resource for personal use or to use with your family consider getting a copy of Love: A verse by verse study through the Epistles of John. It is a study that dives into the deep truths of God and His great love.

5 Gifts to Give our Children

gifts
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! So, tis the season for malls, shopping, wrapping paper, gifts, bows, and ribbons! Maybe you prefer online shopping in your bathrobe with the internet, eBay and UPS. Or perhaps you prefer handmade gifts, baked goodies and homemade cards. But no matter how you look at it, this is the season for gift giving. Why? Most people probably give out of tradition. You are supposed to buy gifts at Christmas. Right? It is what has always been done. However, our family likes to look at gift giving a little differently. While it is a tradition at our home, it is one with a purpose. We give gifts as a reminder of the greatest gift ever given to mankind. I must admit that I love giving gifts to my children. But guess what? So does our heavenly Father!

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Matthew 7:11.

But toys and trinkets get broken, clothes get worn out and outgrown, electronics lose batteries and stop working, and the latest fad becomes next year’s obsolete. So I ask myself what can I give my children that will last? What type of gifts can I give that have true value? Listed below are 5 gifts that we can give our children that will never become broken or outdated.

TIME

In a world of busyness one of the most wonderful gifts we can give our children is time with them. December is probably the busiest month of the year for us. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas we go nonstop. There are people to visit, parties and programs to attend, Christmas cantata’s to practice for, gifts to make, shopping to do, etc. But life is short.

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14.

This truth is especially evident when it comes to children. They do not stay young forever. They grow up fast. As parents we only have a short time to invest in our children. We need to slow down and give our children something that will matter – time. Time with us, time to play games, time to talk, time to come apart from the world, time to meditate upon God, time to read together, and time to be a family. I have heard it said that the quantity of time does not matter as long as you give your children quality time. This is not true! Research has said that parents spend on average 3.5 minutes a day in meaningful conversation with their children. How sad! However, the average child watches 1,500 hours a year of TV. I guess if we want Hollywood to raise our children then this statistic would not bother us. But it bothers me. Turn off the TV and spend time with your children. Read to them at night, pray with them, and sing songs. When they grow up and look back at their life these are the things they will remember.

A PEACEFUL HOME

Another gift we can give our children is a home filled with peace. The world is hectic and noisy, but our homes should be a gentle haven of rest for our children. Our children should not have homes filled with screaming and shouting but with soft answers and love. The fruits of the Spirit should be manifested in our homes – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. A home filled with peace not only blesses our children but consider what a true witness it is to the world around us. Voddie Bauchman in Family Driven Faith states,

Our homes must be rife with the aroma of love. Those who visit us should notice immediately that they have left the world of self-serving egocentric narcissism and have entered a safe harbor where people value and esteem others above themselves. Outsiders should enter our homes and never want to leave. Our neighbors should find excuses to visit us just to get another whiff of the fragrant aroma of love. The brokenhearted should long to be near us. The down trodden and abused should seek us out. Families on the brink of disaster should point to us and say, ‘Why can’t our home be like that?’

This describes a home filled with peace. What a superb gift to give our children.

PARENTS WHO LOVE EACH OTHER

Another gift that is so overlooked in our modern culture is love in the home. It is given that we should love our children, but one of the best ways to love our children is to love God first and our spouse second. This speaks volumes to our children. Theodore Hesburgh is credited for saying, “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” The focus of the family should be on the marriage. When parents are united the children are blessed. In addition, a strong marriage will strengthen our children’s faith as it is a testimony to the world for God’s glory.

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth,” 1 John 3:18.

CHARACTER TRAITS

While giving gifts let’s not forget the gift of hard work & diligence. Society will tell a child that you should do as little as possible to get as much as possible. It is this fallacy of thinking that has leads to a lazy and entitlement mentality. But, give your children the gift of learning how to work hard and they will always be able to thrive. In addition, it is pleasing to the Lord.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” Colossians 3:23.

Another character trait this is desperately needed in today’s society is inner beauty, especially when it comes to our daughters. Godly women are not born, but raised. Many mothers concern themselves over whether their daughters have fashionable clothes and the latest styles. Many would be alarmed if their daughters wore dirty clothes. But how many mothers care if their daughter has a filthy heart? To teach and train our daughters about inner beauty that is acceptable to God is a divine gift we can give.

“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised,” Proverbs 31:30.

(There are many character traits that we can help to instill in our children. So by no means is this list inclusive. But hard work, diligence and inner beauty are a great place to start.)

BIBLICAL STANDARDS TO LIVE BY

There are many gifts we can give our children. But one that is of utmost importance is to give your children biblical standards to live by. As Christian parents we should not want for our children what every other parent wants. We shouldn’t hold them to the world’s standards but to God’s standards. Do you want your children to make the team? What about them making it into the Lambs book of life? Do you want them to get a good education? What about them being educated in the Word of God? Do you want them to be true and loyal to their friends? What about your children being faithful to the Lord and His Church? Do you want your children to be popular? What about them being peculiar? God’s ways are always higher.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed,” Romans 12:2a.

Christian parent, there are many worthwhile pursuits in this world, but few rise to the level of training our children to follow the Lord, to love Him with all we are, to treasure His Word, and to keep His commandments. When we do this we have given our children gifts that never tear up, get worn, or get taken away.

So, this holiday season I’ll be looking for presents for my children and wrapping packages like many others. But the most precious gifts I’ll strive to give them will not be the ones that come in a box. Instead, the gifts I will strive to give will be of eternal value.

Merry Christmas!

Thanks-Living

thanksliving

To write it down for the world to see,
To speak of Your wondrous love.
How can I thank you for blessing me?
For sending a Savior from above?
Thank you God for having a plan,
A sacrifice, a cross, a grave.
Thank you Lord for redeeming man.
Without Christ who can be saved?
But because He rose victorious,
Abundant life I now will live.
Grace and love abounds glorious,
Which daily Lord you freely give.
To give thanks only one day a year,
Seems contrary to say the least.
For You my God are very near,
Not just during Thanksgiving feast.
Instead I’ll live a life of thanks-living,
All year acknowledging how you bless.
And just one day set aside,
For complaints and unthankfulness.

Mother, You Are Loved

childBuying a present for my mother is almost impossible. She has everything she needs. She never wants anything new. And unless I get it 90% off, I feel like I’ve let her down. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a bit. But the truth is that I have hit the Outlets and the Landing this week looking for something to give my Mother for Mother’s Day and nothing seems right. I am empty handed and with Mother’s Day on Sunday, that is not a good thing.

She deserves much; I offer her little….a small part of myself…

My words…

My declaration…

My appreciation…

My love…

My thanks…

I do not tell her enough how much she means to me and everyone around her. I do not tell her enough that she is a good mother and that she makes a difference in this world. I do not tell her enough that by her example she has taught me many, valuable things.

Things like….

• a love for music
• the worth of family
• the importance of truth
• how to show forgiveness
• how to cook for my family
• how to clean and take care of a house
• how to be gracious and hospitable
• the value of hard work
• sacrificing for others
• caring for the lonely and elderly
• always being there for your children
• how to love your husband
• faithfulness to Christ and His church

I can only pray that I will be the same type of example to my own precious children.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! You are loved!

“Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her,” Proverbs 31:28.

* Update – My husband took me out to eat Chinese tonight and walking past a store I thought I would givce it one more try. And wouldn’t you know it, I just found the perfect gift! Feeling pretty good (and it was on sale)!

Why Our Church Doesn’t Celebrate Easter

easterWith the Easter holiday just a few days away there is a lot of talk about the subject. But this Sunday we will not be celebrating “Easter” but rather the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Below are a few reasons as to why:

  •  Ignorance is NOT bliss. Read I Peter 1:14-21. As a Christian every word, action, and deed should be done for the glory of God. To celebrate is to observe, show happiness, or mark an occasion. At the least, do a study on the origins of “Easter” before deciding to observe it.
  • Words mean things. After a careful study, why would you even want to use the word “Easter”? What purpose does it serve to call your celebration by that word? Isn’t Resurrection Sunday a better, more accurate description of what we are celebrating? Which one points more people to God?
  • The Easter symbols of bunnies and eggs are distracting at best. Really, what does it have to do with Christ’s resurrection? I haven’t figured that out yet. However, these symbols have plenty to do with fertility and pagan ideas.
  • “It’s just for fun” is counterproductive. The world and Satan will always win when it comes to providing fun. The church is to be the “pillar and ground of the truth” not entertainment centers. An attempt to compete with the world in this area cheapens the Bride of Christ.
  • It is confusing to children. When we play around with the world’s ideas our children become unstable and unsure of what to believe in. The same thing happens when we tell children that Christmas is about the birth of Christ while playing the Santa game. Or when they get older we allow them to be indoctrinated with evolutionary teaching and then give them an hour a week in Sunday school to learn about the Genesis account of creation. Our children are confused and no wonder. We allow these things to affect them and then question why 80% leave the church by the end of high school.
  • What you draw people with is what you draw them to. A church can use an egg hunt to draw people in (or any worldly event for that matter), but when we draw them in with activities, promotions, and such we are drawing them to those things. When we use the pure, unadulterated Word of God to draw people in, it is Christ alone that they are drawn to. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth,” Colossians 3:2.
  • We are called to be holy. We are to be set apart and peculiar. I’m afraid many have forgotten this. It is hard to be set apart while being the same. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;” 1 Peter 2:9-11.

We do as a church celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. The resurrection is, in fact, the hinge-pin of all of Christianity. Without it there is no hope. Without it our faith is in vain. Without it our loved ones would be gone for good. Without it we would still be in our sins. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable,” 1 Corinthians 15:19. But thank God we are not most miserable. Because of the resurrection of our Lord there is hope! The grave has been conquered! Sin not longer reigns! And death has no sting! This Sunday we will celebrate Resurrection Sunday with the living Christ being glorified, and his death and resurrection being preached!

 

*note:   My 16 year old son’s comment to this article was, “Mom, That was great. I agree with everything you said, but I think you will make people mad with your words.” So in reply to “making people mad” let me just say that is certainly not my intent. I hold no judgment over anyone. How you choose to celebrate is between your conscience and God alone.

I write because there are so many misconceptions and fallacies regarding the church. Dear Christian, never forget that the world is watching us. They want to know if what we say we believe is real enough to make a difference in the way we live.

Too many have a form of godliness, but deny the power (2 Timothy 3:5). They are denying the power of the Word of God to work in their life (1 Thessalonians 2:13). They are denying the power of Christ to crucify the old man (Romans 6:6). They are denying the power of God to keep them from practicing a lifestyle of sin (1 John 3:9). They are denying the power of the Holy Ghost to teach them spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:10-13).

Williams 2012 Christmas Letter

‘Twas a few weeks before Christmas, all through our home

The children were texting friends on their phone.

Decorations hung throughout the house with such care,

Our church would soon gather for a Christmas party there;

Annie nestled all snug in her new doggie bed,

While visions of bacon danced in her head.

Otis barking, content to drive everyone crazy,

“Take me for a walk, there’s no time to be lazy.”

Our house filled with noise and much clatter,

I questioned myself, “What was the matter?”

Then it dawned that life was passing in a flash

So over the keyboard my fingers quickly dashed.

In a quest to write and remember this time,

When children were happy, and life sublime.

Aaron now 16 and quite a young man,

Praises God on his guitar in a band.

Abigail’s a lovely lady and is 13 now,

She’s growing so fast, I ask myself how.

Andrew is ten, courageous and strong,

He’ll become a man soon, it won’t be long.

The children are all doing well in school.

Ask them how it’s going, they’ll say, “It’s cool!”

Dad teaches Aaron higher math and American Gov,

Mom’s thankful for this; these are things she doesn’t love.

Andrew and Abby do their studies each day,

On occasion we’ll meet friends at the park to play.

This year Mom finished book number four,

She’s praying to see if there should be more.

The year is almost gone, it has certainly flew.

We’ve had a good one, been much blessed, too!

Into our family, the Lord has added another,

Eric, our associate pastor, friend, and brother.

We all enjoy having him around,

Into our life, he came with a bound.

We are thankful God has us at Cornerstone,

Such a wonderful church where love is shown.

God is at work, teaching us day by day.

Molding, shaping to conform to His way.

Dad loves to teach and preach each week,

Telling others of Christ, lowly and meek.

Who came to earth as a babe so mild,

The Son of God didn’t remain a child.

But grew up sinless and died on the cross,

For my sins and yours and all the lost.

Christmas isn’t about Santa, that jolly old elf,

I laugh when I think of this, in spite of myself.

Not reindeer or snowmen, it’s so much more.

Not parties, or presents, or holiday décor.

It’s about God’s love and the gift He gave to all.

Eternal life through His Son if upon Him you call.

Repent of your sins, He’s faithful and true,

He’ll give you peace and a heart that is new.

If He is your Lord, praise Him this holiday season,

Never forget that Jesus Christ is the reason.

Keep these things in mind, please do not lose sight.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite times of the year.  It evokes images such as the pilgrim’s first feast, children playing games, churches singing praises, and families gathered up together to pray.  While the first Thanksgiving feast was held in 1621 by the Plymouth colonists, it was over 200 years later in 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.   Since that time, the premise behind the holiday has been pure – acknowledge God for all He has done and give Him great thanks.  One of the reasons I love this holiday so much is because traditionally it has not been cheapened by commercialism like the Christmas and Easter seasons.

However, the black cloud known as Black Friday has descended and it hovers over Thanksgiving Day.  I remember a few years ago setting the alarm for 3 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving so that I could get the best deals of the year.  Then stores opted to open at midnight.  You could stay up late and shop til you drop and I was among the thousands last year that did just that.  But this year stores are announcing that they will begin their Black Friday sales even earlier.  Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, Sears, and Kmart will open their doors at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.  Why?  So people can go from gobbling up their turkey to gobbling up savings.

We’ve come a long way.  Thanksgiving was once a spiritual time of thanking God for His bountiful blessings, but the focus has shifted to the physical and commercial aspects.  The thanksgiving attitude of contentment has seemingly been replaced with a discontented attitude of wanting more and more stuff.  Instead of spending time with our family, we spend money they don’t have for things we don’t need. 

An even sadder annotation is the people who don’t choose to spend their Thanksgiving holiday in the stores.  Rather they are the ones who want to be at home with their family, but are forced to work the stores in order to keep a job.

Is it really all about the money, retail sales, and commercialism?  Or perhaps there is an unseen force that has always attempted to stomp out gratefulness in the hearts of people who would give the Almighty the thanks He deserves.  My prayer this year is that in the midst of all that activities, parades, cooking, football games, traveling, family gatherings, and Black Friday deals that God’s children will stop, slow down, and acknowledge Him with a thankful heart.   And my prayer is that it will start with me.

“Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms,” Psalm 95:2.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him,” Colossians 3:17.

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,” I Thessalonians 5:18.

Perfect Love

It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air….or so they say. But just who is this “they” we are always talking about? According to 2012 statistics , they are the millions of people that will purchase Valentine cards this year. They are the people who will spend on average $126.03 per person this holiday (up 8.5% from last year). They are the ones that will collectively spend $4.1 billion on jewelry and $3.5 billion towards a romantic evening on the town. They are the 220,000 that is expected to give a wedding proposal today. They are the ones who will buy over 8 billion Sweethearts Conversation Hearts this year. And let’s not forget the ones who will spend $367 million on Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets this year. And the 15% of the estimated portion of women who will send themselves flowers. So I guess we could say that “love” is in the air, but probably a more accurate depiction would be that there is a shadow of love in the air.

Would you like the truth? What most people think of as love is not really love. Love has nothing to do with flowers, cards, or candy. Love is not about romantic nights out on the town. It’s not about jewelry or (I hate to say) chocolate. In fact, society, as a whole, does not even comprehend true love. They see a glimpse of it here and there but they do not know it and cannot show it to others. That is unless they know the author of love.

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love,” 1 John 4:7-8. Not only is love of God but God is love. You cannot know love unless you know God. Love is not only a general theme within the book of I John but also throughout the entire Bible. The greatest commandment of all is centered on love. (And let me be transparent for a moment; this commandment alone is enough to keep this child ever striving.) “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment,” Matthew 22:37-38.

We are to love God (Matthew 22:37).

We are to love our neighbors (Matthew 22:39).

Wives are to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:4).

Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).

We are to even love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

As believers in Christ we are to walk in love (Ephesians 5:2), be rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17), follow after love (I Timothy 6:11), and put on love (Colossians 3:12-14).

But in general the term love is abused and misused. Have you ever heard someone say that they “fell in love”? A person cannot “fall in love.” It was Voddie Baucham, author of Family Driven Faith, who clarified this in my mind. He explains that anything we fall into we can climb out of. (Think about that statement in light of the modern attack on biblical marriage and the disintegration of the family.) True love is not a feeling. True love is not an emotion. To borrow Dr. Baucham’s definition, “Love is an act of the will which is accompanied by emotion that leads to action on behalf of its object.” This is a fabulous definition of love. Love is an act of the will. It is in our will that we choose to love. This would explain why we say that love comes from the heart. We will it. We choose it. But not only is love an act of the will but it is accompanied by emotion. True love is not void of or detached from emotion. When love is willed in our hearts emotion follows. This emotion leads to action towards its object. If it does not lead to action, it is not love. Just ask someone who is told that they are loved but never showed. This is why children of God are commanded in I John 3:18, “let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

The perfect example of true love (love that is willed, accompanied by emotion, and leads to action) is found in what God did for us by sending His Son to die on the cross for the sins of mankind.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13.

We now know what love is because God revealed Himself to us. We love Him because He first loved us and only after perfect love is manifested to us can we show true love to others. You will never know love until you know God’s love. If you do not know Him, cry out, repent of your sins, and trust Him to save you. He’s waiting. If you do know God and His love make it a point to read the chapter on love today (I Corinthians 13). And live it out, because now you can.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

REF: 

Samantha Grossman, Valentine’s Day 2012, Time Newsfeed article, 2-13-2012,

Voddie Baucham, Family Driven Faith, pg 57, Crossway Books, IL 2007

Williams Christmas Letter 2011

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

December 19, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Blessings and Greetings from our family to yours.  Over two thousand years ago, Elohim, the Creator of all, gave a gift to the world He created.  This gift came as a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.  Born in Bethlehem, as the prophet Micah predicted, He came with a purpose that is still being fulfilled today – to save his people from their sins.  Isaiah prophesied, 750 years before Christ was born, that a virgin would conceive and bare a son.  His name would be called Immanuel meaning God with us.  The promised Messiah would bring peace to all who would call upon His name.  As the Christmas season approaches our family’s prayer is that you have experienced this peace.  It is a peace that passes all understanding and can only come from the Prince of Peace.

God has certainly filled our hearts with peace this year and has blessed our lives beyond measure.  It would take a book to share with you all that the Lord has done in our lives.  The most significant being our move back to Northwest Arkansas in July.  We left this area 8 years ago when Dana surrendered into the ministry and started back to school.  God saw fit to not only bring us back to our family, but He has blessed us with a dear church family.  We are so honored to be a part of Cornerstone in Bentonville where Dana is joyfully serving as Pastor.

The children are doing very well.  They adjusted to the move quickly.  Of course, being only 30 minutes from their grandparents helped immensely.  They have been reacquainted with old friends and have made many new friends in the short time we’ve been back.  Aaron turned 15 in September.  He is studying for his driver’s license and quickly turning into a godly young man.  Abigail turned 12 in March.  She is a beautiful young lady with a sweet spirit that brings joy to our home.  Andrew turned 9 in October.  He is living up to his name with a sword or gun almost always in his hand.  We are so thankful for the opportunity to still homeschool.  This year marks over 10 years of educating the children at home.  They are in 9th, 7th, and 3rd grade.

I was able to finish my 3rd book this year and have been blessed with several speaking opportunities.  My favorite was a three day retreat in Gulf Shores, Alabama in June.  We haven’t traveled too much this year but we have taken a few short trips. Before our move back in May we met my parents in Memphis for a Homeschooling Convention.  Dana and I went to the seminars and the children enjoyed their grandparents taking them to the zoo.  After our move we took a few days and took the children to Branson then Dana and I enjoyed a week in Branson all alone in October.  We are so thankful for our church who sent us to the Pastor’s Oasis for a refreshing time of renewal.  With our family close by, for the first time in many years, we have no plans to travel during Christmas.

Our plans this December is to focus on the theme of all of Scripture – Relationships – first our relationship with God and then our relationship with those around us.  May the Lord of Glory bless you this holiday season!  “Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love,” 2 John 1:3. 

Love – The Williams

Teaching Children to Give During the Holidays

  Last night my family did something we don’t usually do.  We sat down after dinner and watched a TV program together.  America’s Funniest Home Videos was on and we do love to laugh.  You know the show – someone falls off a roof, gets hit by a ball, or has a skiing accident.  Of course, my 9 year old asked a valid question last night.  He wanted to know, “Why do we laugh at people getting hurt?”  Good point, son, and one that should be addressed sometime.  But what really caught my attention were the videos that showed children getting their Christmas presents.  One was of a boy who got clothes for a present and stomped up to his room in anger.  Another one was of a teenage girl who thought she didn’t get the phone she wanted and her pouty reaction.  Parents gave one girl a fish tank for Christmas.  Apparently, the fish didn’t live and the girl reacted by shouting, “This is the worse Christmas ever!”  The videos are meant to be funny but my thoughts were that these children are unthankful, selfish, and rude to their parents.

If we are not careful we will play right into the natural inclination of children’s selfishness, especially at Christmas.  While I desire to give my children good things, at the same time I do not want them becoming self centered in the process.  One way we try to do this is by steering them away from creating a “Christmas wish list” and instead we have them create a list of what they would like to give to others.  My parents have been good at teaching their grandchildren that “it is more blessed to give than receive.”  Each year at Thanksgiving they give the children a gift of money for them to give away.   The children will take the money and buy presents to give away to someone in need or they will buy gifts for people in a nursing home.  This helps to create in their heart an attitude of giving.

This attitude should be taught all year long.  However, we should be ever diligent in teaching it during Christmas.  For the Christian, gift giving represents the greatest gift ever given – God giving the world His only begotten Son.  It is so easy to get caught up in the holiday bustle and forget the real reason for the season.  I remember talking to a young mother last year.  She stated that she was sick of Christmas.  All her children did was whine and complain about what they wanted that year.  And this was two weeks before Christmas!  I walked away from the conversation very sad.  This was a young girl in our church who professed Christ.

Philippians 2:4 tells us, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”  Christ gave His life for others and we are to follow in His example.  The reality is that we will never teach our children to give unless they see this portrayed in our own lives.  Like the saying goes, more is caught by children than taught.  If we are selfish and self centered during Christmas, our children will be as well.  But, if we live our lives in love as we are told in Romans 12:10, and “in honour preferring one another” our children will learn to do this as well.

Look around and pray as a family about opportunities to give this year.   Many people let their children pick a child from the Angel Tree or they will do Operation Shoe Box.  These are fun ways for the children to give.  On two different occasions we found out the ages of children in our local Baptist Children’s Home and bought them gifts.  You can also look for opportunities within your church.  Perhaps you could adopt a Missionary family and send them gifts.  Often times there are people in your own congregation who have no family and who would love to spend the holidays with your family.  Giving doesn’t always involve spending money.  Sometimes a homemade gift, card, or just your time mean more to people than anything else.  Consider the elderly this year.  There are many lonely and depressed people during the holidays that could use some love and encouragement.  What a great way to share the love of Christ.

We can buy our children toys that will be broke in a few weeks.  We can get them the latest fashions that will soon be outdated.  Or we can buy them gadgets and electronics, but in a few months there will be newer and better versions out there.  I’m not against giving gifts to my children (in fact, we already have them all bought), but why not give them something that will last.  Give them an opportunity to develop an attitude of giving, thankfulness, selflessness, and love for others.

“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  (Act 20:35)