By Denise George
Special to The Alabama Baptist
It’s the time of year where Christian families are overwhelmed with advertisements for the latest and greatest toys and gadgets, stuck in traffic jams between honking cars with frustrated drivers, made to wait in long department store checkout lines, bombarded with costumed department store-hired Santa Clauses shouting “Happy Holidays” and swept up into a whirlwind of senseless holiday happenings that have little or nothing to do with the Christian celebration of Christmas — the coming of Christ. How, in the midst of loud, frantic and meaningless activity, can Christian parents wisely use this season to teach their children about Christ and biblical truths? Here are some practical suggestions:
1. Teach children about the joy of giving by making or purchasing small useful gifts for sick people in hospitals, church members confined to their homes, nursing home residents, etc.
Plan special outings to visit hospitals, nursing homes and homebound church members. Do be sure to call ahead and make an appointment though.
2. As a family talk about giving and receiving fewer, less expensive Christmas gifts.
Plan together how to give the saved money to those who desperately need it.
3. As a family consider sponsoring a third-world child through an organization like Compassion International.
This enables your children to send and receive letters from the sponsored child throughout the year. Study together the child’s heritage, the country where he lives, his faith and his family and friends. Send the child a special Christmas gift (www.compassion.com).
4. Donate money and time and involve your children in hands-on work at local programs that feed hungry people in your community, church and state.
5. Explain to your children the differences in how Christians celebrate Christmas and how secular society celebrates the holidays.
Plan some new Christmas traditions for your family that teach and encourage a biblical celebration of the birth of the Savior.
6. Read together Matthew 28:18–20 and teach your children about the Great Commission.
Contribute to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions through your church. Help support local missionaries through the North American Mission Board as they evangelize, disciple and tell people about the Lord Jesus Christ.
7. Decline purposeless holiday party invitations and choose instead to spend time together as a family.
Read spiritually informative books. Take brief walks through your neighborhood, pausing to pray for the families who live in each house. Attach a world map to the wall, pinpointing countries, people and missionaries who need special prayer. Pray sentence prayers around the family table before mealtime, allowing each member to voice a brief prayer. Take turns reading Scriptures in various translations. Using construction paper and popsicle sticks, make puppets of biblical characters included in the nativity and let your children entertain the family with Christmas story puppet plays. Sing favorite traditional Christmas carols and make up praise songs to sing to God. Invite special family members and friends to join you in some of your family devotions, including their names in your family prayer times. Watch morally/spiritually edifying Christmas movies together, complete with popcorn and hot chocolate. Write down prayers that express your family’s thanksgiving and gratitude to God for His Son, Jesus, who came into the world to reconcile us to Himself.
8. Have family members reaffirm their unconditional love for each other by writing a letter to each person.
List the person’s qualities you like and appreciate. Describe special times spent together and the good memories each brought. Write a prayer to God for the person, listing your loved one’s special needs and asking for God’s blessings on his/her life. You may download, print and personalize a free, specially designed PDF Christmas card for your children by emailing email@example.com. Put “Children’s Christmas card download” in the subject line.
Find more practical tips to prepare your family’s hearts for celebrating Christ’s birth in the Dec. 1 issue of The Alabama Baptist.
Editor’s Note — Denise George (www.denisegeorge.org) is author of 30 books including “Johnny Cornflakes: A Story About Loving the Unloved,” a heartwarming, true Christmas story for the entire family, published by Christian Focus. Denise is married to Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham.
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