Many children are learning the story of Mary during this Christmas season. Continue the teaching by telling them that God chose Mary to carry Jesus in her tummy. She changed the world by carrying Him, even though it wasn’t always easy. Jesus wants US to carry Him in our hands and mouths so that we can deliver His love to others. He wants us to do things with our hands that help and love others. He wants us to use our mouths to tell others how much He loves them, believes in and is for them. When my kids were little, I would park the van and turn around before unbuckling them and remind them, “Okay, guys, we get to see people today. How does Jesus want us to love the people inside this store?” We would create an intentional plan, such as getting the empty cart from someone putting groceries in their car, or holding open a door, or smiling at everyone we saw. It was so much fun. How will you carry Jesus today?
- Activities/Teachings, Christmas
When my children were younger and formulating what Christmas was all about, it was important to me that they got a grasp on the true meaning and not just the presents, food, tree, Santa, etc. I took a Cabbage Patch baby doll, wrapped him in a blue blanket, bought a wooden box and straw from Michael’s, and put together ‘Baby Jesus.’ After we decked the house and trimmed the tree, I sat them down and explained the true meaning of what we are celebrating. I brought out ‘Baby Jesus’ and told the kids that we treat Him with the utmost respect. He is indeed a gift that should be received with thanks, gratitude, appreciation, honor, and respect. They would ask to hold Him, take turns caring for Him, and would often leave their toys and notes by His manger. One year, I even heard one of them go to ‘Baby Jesus’ and ask for forgiveness for being mean. I had no idea that years later this would be their most memorable part. He is still under our tree today!
I encourage you to teach it as I have done with my children but by adding, subtracting, and editing according to your own creativity and family. Before I start, I have to remind you that you have 18 years with your children to influence them to hear their Father’s voice. Please do not (in your utter excitement) teach it to them and then get frustrated if they do not rattle off a million things they heard the Lord say. If your child’s ears aren’t immediately hearing perfectly, you have two choices – keep going or quit. You have to resolve that equipping them to hear His voice is a core value for your family, and you will keep at it until it is a family lifestyle for all.
I had the advantage of being a home-school teacher and teaching my kids about our body – the hands, eyes, and nose – and the goodies inside us – brain, tonsils, and spleen. My kids never argued or doubted that we have lungs just because they had never seen one. They simply believed. I would suggest starting by pointing this out to your child. God gave us hands to touch and legs to walk. We have lungs to breathe and a brain to think. But inside our brains, God gave us each a chalkboard (or whiteboard). You can even get a real chalkboard to help give them a visual of what God put inside us. He put this board inside of us for HIS use. Be creative with this. Children love visuals and hands-on learning. The more you make the teaching FUN, the more they will want to be a part of it. Host a family meeting and get everyone involved via role-playing, laughing, and connecting. Tell your kids who are into games that their chalkboard is like God’s PlayStation, or for those who like superheroes, explain that the chalkboard is the command center. For the child who enjoys reading, explain that it is our reading manual. It doesn’t matter how you teach it, but kids need to know that they have a part of their bodies created for God’s voice.
Come up with a list of all the ways God speaks to us (nature, colors, signs, people, etc.). When children are taught that God speaks to them through nature, they spot it often. The heart-shaped leaf, the wildlife He plants in their path to enjoy, or the fun cloud shapes – God loves communicating with those who have a child-like faith! Have them close their eyes and ask if they can picture their bed. What about what they had for dinner last night? How about Grandma, can they picture her? Have them open their eyes and explain that they weren’t in their room or with Grandma, but they could ‘see’ her on their chalkboard. That is where and how God speaks to us.
Again, using these spiritual muscles takes practice, so keeping it lighthearted and fun while they are learning is key. Children love drawing, so this is a great non-threatening way to help them practice using their spiritual muscles. Complete the teaching above and have them close their eyes and ask, “Jesus, will You please show me a picture of how You feel about my family?” and then have them draw it out.
God is looking for families who will take Him at His word. He says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Who are the people willing to march forth with this command?! If God commands us to do something, all of heaven backs us up. I challenge you today to equip your children and together take back ground in your home, community, city, and nation over the spirit of fear. We say NO to the fear that binds, robs, steals, kills, destroys, and the lie that says God is not in control or able. How do we do that? First, ask, “Jesus, will You please highlight any area where I have allowed fear to speak, rule, or influence me?” Deal with it by breaking up with it and declaring His truth. Second, release His power and love everywhere you go. Have you ever experienced walking by someone who just exhaled their cigarette, and the smoke goes into the atmosphere? That is what fear is in the spiritual realm. Someone partnered with it and released it. When others walk by, they are affected by the spirit. That is why so many people report feeling uneasy at the store, watching the news, or on social media. Way too many people are exhaling fear. I am not a victim to fear or someone else’s choices. I am a child of God with a calling on my life to release His Kingdom everywhere I go (and if you are a born-again believer, this is your calling too). When I pass someone who I sense is bound up emotionally or spiritually, I utter a prayer under my breath for them to encounter the love of the Father. When I sense fear, I say, “Fear, I see you, and you are exposed. I release you to go and invite peace to come in Jesus’ name.” When I walk into an atmosphere of anxiety, I say, “Peace come now.” When the kids get swirly out of nowhere, I ask them, “What are you feeling in your tummy right now?” They can call it out quickly when I ask that question. Oftentimes it is a feeling of not being safe. So we then release protection in Jesus’ name. When we witness someone having an angry outburst, we pray under our breath that they feel seen, secure, and loved.
Jesus says GO! Go forth in confidence that He has called you to be the change to the world around you. Say NO to fear and YES to exhaling His power and love everywhere you go. Who are the people willing to take God at His word?
Do you feel depressed? Years ago, I plopped down on the chair and began to tell my mentor that I was depressed. I felt heavy. My mind was like a thick fog, and my heart felt like it was carrying around a bag of rocks. Little brought me joy and being motivated to do basic daily chores was hard. We began to ask Jesus about what was going on in my heart, and within a few minutes, I said, “Oh, the depression is gone.” She replied, “That is because you weren’t depressed.” Confused by her reply, I asked for understanding. She began to tell me that depression is rooted in our body and has to do with a chemical imbalance. Depression is real and affects many. But she went on to say that OPPRESSION is the pressure the enemy puts on us that feels, looks, and sounds like depression but is rooted in the spiritual realm. Oppression feels like a python snake squeezing you. True chemical imbalance depression is cured by medication to regulate the hormones in the brain. But oppression is cured by taking authority in the spiritual realm, aligning our thoughts with His, and declaring truth. When we do those things, the oppression flees. If you are feeling a heavy weight of ‘depression,’ try moving into a place of intentional worship, declaring out loud, commanding it to leave in Jesus’ name, and worshiping! If you feel a shift, it was oppression. This goes for adults and children!
The Word says if you have EVERYTHING (money, fame, status, awards, a big house, a perfect-looking family, IG followers, Pinterest-worthy snacks, A+ students, fancy cars, leadership titles, etc.), but have no love, you have NOTHING! Love matters because God designed our heart, mind, and soul to need it. I have seen the messiest of situations, exasperated parents, and the most challenging children MELT with the ointment of love.
When my kids come home with stories about how someone was unkind, rude, or disrespectful, we walk through forgiveness and then release the opposite back to them in the spiritual realm. You can’t be a victim when you are partnering with the Creator of the universe.
Homework – Call a family meeting and ask your children what would happen if you walked into the middle of a busy street and held up your hand. Nothing would probably happen. Next, ask what would happen if a police officer walked in the middle of a busy street and put up his hand. Because of his badge, he has authority. Not only that, but all of the courts back him up. We get to be police officers in the spiritual realm because of the badge of Jesus, and all of heaven backs us up. We get to tie up the bad and then unleash all the good stuff.
The thing about fear is that we can strongly dislike something so much that we actually open the door to a spirit of fear. Think about that for a moment – we don’t want something to happen, but in the process, we are welcoming it in. When we allow the spirit of fear in, it will wreak havoc on our thoughts and emotions, making us partner with it more. A silly cycle that ends up producing the very thing we didn’t want. 2 Timothy 1:7 is our weapon. “For GOD did NOT give me a spirit of fear (plug in what you fear), but of POWER, LOVE, and SOUND MIND (meaning your heart and mind are both in unity and at peace).” If God didn’t give you that fear/worry, then who did? Is that who you want to partner with?
Pray: “Fear, I see you and no longer partner with you. I declare that my GOD has equipped me with power, love, and a sound mind, and I will no longer bite the bait to open the door. In Jesus’ name.”
Every child should be equipped and armed with the reality that God is always with us.
I was asked to put on an Easter event at our church long before I had my own children. We wrote out a little booklet telling the Easter story and had the kids find a colored egg that went with the page of the story. They had to open the egg and see how the object inside correlated with the story. We hosted over 1,000 families that day, which was a huge hit. I have since hosted many Easter parties telling children of the GOOD NEWS.
May your family enjoy this interactive story of our RISEN KING! Gather the following items, put them in a designated colored egg, and hide them around the house (I have added some additional suggestions that you may have on hand). The child has to find that colored egg, bring it to you to read the Scripture relating to that part of the Easter story.
EASTER STORY PIECES:
Light green – Palm branch (small leaf, pine tree branch).
Dark Pink – Communion cup (insert note inside that says ‘see table’ and put grape juice on the table).
Dark orange – Nickel.
Light Blue – Crown (twig, rose thorn).
Light purple – Dice.
Dark blue – Nail.
Light yellow – something black (felt, construction paper, or drawing with a black marker).
Dark green – Gauze (cotton ball, cloth).
Light Orange – Stone (rock).
Dark Yellow – Empty.
Light pink – Keys (car/house key).
Dark purple – Cross.
Parenting is a verb that unfolds over time. We do not sit our children down when they are two and tell them everything there is to know about life. We grow and roll with them as they develop and mature. The same is true for safety. Children under five are mainly going to be with mom and dad, so their world is different than the child who is at the age of going to school, sleepovers, playing with neighbors alone, etc. Giving them the language and tools to be safe will open wider and wider over the years, eventually having them walk out your door prepared with tools to be successful, healthy, functioning adults. When new situations arise (playing alone outside, going to school, sleepovers), you first have to ask yourself, “What have I, as the parent, done to teach them about this in the time of peace?” When a child is begging to go play with the neighbors, that is not the time to teach. Your YES should be dependent upon: #1. Have you equipped them with how to handle that situation in the time of peace? #2. Do they have the skills and responsibility to be successful? Sending them out the door, to the neighbors, or even at school without first preparing and arming them with tools gambles with their success.