Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Christmas, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!" ...or at least it should be.  It's inevitable, when you consider the excitement, sugar, parties, and late nights with friends & family, that are added into our lives during the Holiday Season, at some point when you least expect it your child will lose it Big Time.  My Kids are no exception.

I am a firm believer in the power of knowing your kids and proactively anticipating their needs as a parent versus living on the edge of kid's potential chaos and overly reacting in the midst. Now, I know that this is an ideal that is often too lofty or even unrealistic in every life situation like during the Holidays, but I am confident that a simple shift towards being proactive from being reactive will help you and your kids reduce the number of meltdowns.

I read this quick article today from the Focus on the Family Bulletin, Dec. 2011 edition.  I found this to be a helpful reminder and hope you will as well.
Nap-Time Disruptions
Children have meltdowns at the most inconvenient times—like during a special holiday meal that happens to be scheduled at your child’s regular nap time. The question is, What’s a parent to do? Here are a few tips for managing meltdowns:  
Keep calm. Irritation will only make your child more anxious. Take a deep breath and count to 10.
Meet immediate needs.  Determine what will bring your child comfort, such as food, drink, quiet, rest, a book or a toy.
Have an escape plan.  Sometimes it’s best to remove an exhausted, over-stimulated child from the situation.
Call in reinforcements.  A second pair of hands is helpful. This person can help you gather your gear, fix a plate of food, or just offer a smile and emotional support. —Jean Blackmer ~ Focus on the Family BULLETIN, Dec. 2011.
While every child is unique, there are some common developmental stages that affect the way children react to the world, and being aware of some of these common stages can help to make holiday planning simpler.  Read this article for more details on how you can Maintain Cheer Throughout the Holidays.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Advent Week 4: Promise Delivered

Promise Delivered
Isaiah 9:1-7; John 3:16-21

Opening prayer:
Purify us, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son, Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Devotional thought:
When you love someone, you want to give them the best you can. Have you ever wondered why? It’s because love by its very nature is generous, and God is love! That makes him the most generous giver in the entire universe! In fact, Christmas is about celebrating this very fact - God’s generosity on full display for the whole world to see. God demonstrated his love for the world by sending His son. His love is the most generous act the world has ever seen. This is why Christmas is a time for us to show generosity. We give to others in response to the incredibly generous and loving God who sent His son, Jesus, to save us.

How are you showing generosity as an expression of love this Christmas? What are some ways that you as a family can demonstrate God’s generous love to a needy world? This Christmas, commit to making the holidays more about giving than receiving. Give generously and lovingly so that all those who receive from you might glorify God for Christ's sake.

For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given,

And he will be called
   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The zeal of the LORD Almighty
   will accomplish this.

Family Activity:
Christmas is coming.  Ask God to give you ideas about how or what you can give to someone else.  Think creatively about what you can do for a neighbor, a stranger or even another family member.  Then do something in the name of Jesus without expecting anything in return – that’s true giving.  Do something together so that the busyness of these days doesn’t overwhelm your good intentions.   

Child’s Prayer:
O Wisdom, holy Word of God, Jesus Christ, all things are in your hands, come and show us the way to salvation.

Songs for Worship at Home: 
Joy to the World, by Nat King Cole
O Holy Night, by Chris Tomlin
Silent Night, by Andy Williams

Dec. 25 – Christmas Day – A Story
Luke 2:1-40   Matthew 2:1-12

Family Activity:
Join the family of God at Community Fellowship to Celebrate and Worship the New Born King together at 11:00 AM!

Songs for Worship at Home: 
Various Christmas carols - WOW Christmas 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Advent Week 3: Promise made to a King

Promise Made to a King
2 Samuel 7:8-17; Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11; Philippians 2:1-11

Opening prayer:
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are burdened by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

Devotional thought:
Imagine entering into the grand throne room of the King.  May the words of your mouth reflect the intent of your heart by pleasing Him with this refrain:

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

This week, let’s focus on the promise that God made to David, who was declared by God to be a man after His own heart.   God’s promise to David came from Nathan, the Prophet. David was not allowed to build a house (a temple) for God, but God promised to build a house (a kingly dynasty) through David, and this house will never fall, according to 2 Samuel 7:16.  “Your house will always stand, and your throne will be established forever,” was the definite promise. From that time on, the people of Israel firmly believed the royal line of David had a lasting place in God’s plans for Israel and his monarchy would never collapse.

The Messiah, the anointed one was to be a descendent of King David.  He would restore Israel to a position of prestige once more among the nations. In the light of Christ’s coming, we see that:
· David was to have a son to succeed him and establish his kingdom.
· This son (Solomon) would build the temple instead of David.
· The throne of his kingdom would be established forever.
· The throne would not be taken away from him even though his sins justified punishment.
· David’s house, throne, and kingdom would be established forever.

Let us consider what is wrapped in this promised gift.  God established that through King David a greater King would come and reign forever.  This King became the emphasis of our adoration and worship.  No longer would God’s people need to focus on a place of worship to enter into God’s presence to worship, but through this magnificent, eternal King we are able to worship and adore Him personally.

As you go about your busy week, practice entering into true worship and adoration of the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Lord, our King of Glory.  Carve out some time to do this as a family.

Family Activity:
As you and your family prepare for Christmas, have each member of your family take a blank piece of paper with some crayons or markers and create their own “Vision of the meaning of Christmas”.  This may be the start of a new family tradition so that you can trace the evolution of your family’s artistic expression of what Christmas is all about.

Child’s Prayer:
O Key of David, Jesus Christ, King of all nations, the gates of heaven open at your command, come and show us the way to salvation.

Songs for Worship at Home: 
Here I Am to Worship, by Passion Worship Band
King of Glory, by Chris Tomlin
The First Noel, by Johnny Mathis

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Advent Week 2: Promise Given

Promise Given
Genesis 3:15; Romans 5:12-14, 16:20

Opening Prayer:
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and put an end to our sin, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Devotional thought:
There will come a time this Christmas when you will catch a whiff of something baking and that smell will make you hungry.  There are so many Christmas traditions that revolve around foods.  We pass down family recipes, make special Christmas cookies or holiday treats, or try to figure out what to do with that fruit cake we’re given every year.  What are your family traditions with food? 

In the Beginning of God’s story, we see right away that God created Adam and Eve with a hunger for relationship with Him.  We all have the desire within us for relationship with God, our Creator.  He instructed Adam and Eve in the Garden to not eat from the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.  Unfortunately, Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit, falling for and insatiable lie that it wouldn’t fill them up,  so instead of satisfaction, they immediately felt shame and sadness.  For the first time, there was something wrong with their relationship with God, their Creator and friend.  Sin entered the story and separated them from God.

God had made a promise, and God always keeps his promises.  In Genesis 3:15, He promised a coming Savior who could satisfy that aching hunger.  “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (NIV)  From that day on, God continued to remind His people of His promise to ready the people for the coming of the promised Savior, Jesus Christ.

Just as we prepare our kitchens and the tastes of our Christmas traditions are anticipated, we should prepare our hearts for the celebration of the fulfillment of this Promise given in the garden.  How are you preparing your heart? What are some areas of your life that need to change so that Christ can be more visible? Are there some patterns of behavior and attitudes that need to be cleaned up? This is why Jesus came; to fulfill the Promise, defeat sin and death and to transform you from the inside out. During this week of Advent, release the grip that sin and self has on your heart by receiving the Savior afresh.

Spend some time as a family confessing any sinful thoughts, attitudes and behaviors, and then practice true repentance, which is embracing forgiveness and turning from sin to God.

Family Activity:
Pull out a favorite Christmas cookie or holiday treat recipe and make, bake and eat it together as a family.  Be sure to make enough to share with someone else, too.

Child’s Prayer:
O Promised One of Israel, Jesus Christ, Redeemer for every heart, come and save your people.

Songs for Worship at Home: 
O Little Town of Bethlehem by Steven Curtis Chapman