The Christmas season has arrived, and what a busy season it is! I have personally wrestled over the past several years with a “Bah-Humbug” attitude in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas. If I am not careful, I will focus on the commercialization of the holiday or begrudge the secularization of it. In doing so, I can fail to make Christ the center of this season. I will do this if I allow my time and energy to be spent complaining about all that is wrong rather than glorifying God for all that is right. I could also allow myself to become so busy throughout December, that I have no time left to focus on Christ. What a tragedy it would be to ignore Christ in this season of hope, peace, joy, and love that is found only in Him. But it would be a greater tragedy if I, as a daddy, allow my family to ignore Christ. My purpose in writing today is to encourage all fathers, mothers, and grandparents to use this Christmas season as an opportunity to “bring [your children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
Whose job is it so teach children about Jesus Christ and the salvation offered through Him? Many people think it is primarily the church’s job, the pastor/youth pastor’s job, or the Sunday School teacher’s job. These people are all wrong. Scripture plainly instructs parents to teach their children the things of God, and the church is here to aide you in doing that. Old Testament believers were instructed, “these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). God commanded His people to make their daily home routine revolve around teaching children about the things of God. I know it can be difficult to tell where to start. I realize that there are may be someone reading this with a desire to spend time teaching his children about Christ, but without an idea of how to do it. There are many resources available to help us integrate a meaningful time of worship into our regular home routine. I have given a brief description of just a few of them below, but this is just a sample of the vast resources available to you today. Here’s the list to get you started!
The Gospel Project
We have been using Gospel Project literature in our adult Sunday school classes for a few years at Antioch West. This year, we began using their youth curriculum on Sunday mornings and their children’s curriculum on Wednesday evenings. If you have not encountered this great material yet, I’d love for you to join us on Sunday mornings at 10:00. Since kids, teens, and parents are all studying the same lessons each week, that can lead to some great conversations at home about what you have learned this week. These Christ centered, chronological Bible studies help us discover how everything in scripture points toward the gospel. We also learn what kind of an impact these spiritual truths should make in our daily lives. This year, the Gospel Project Team is offering one Christmas devotional to use with your family. If you have not been in the habit of gathering your family together for family devotions, this resource can serve as an introduction for you. This could be especially useful on Christmas eve or morning. One great tradition you could start is to go through this devotional together before opening gifts.
This is a publisher of children’s curriculum that I have been aware of for some time, but have never used personally. It looks like they offer a great curriculum, I’ve just never had an opportunity to use it. However, they were proactive in contacting me recently about their Advent Family Devotional. They asked that I give this resource to you for free with no strings attached! There are a total of 5 devotionals, one for each Sunday in December. These devotionals focus on the hope, joy, peace, and love that every heart longs for, but can only be gained through faith in Jesus.
This site offers many articles, devotionals, and more to inform, motivate, and even entertain a Christian audience. If you browse around their site for a while, you will find many resources to help your family grow in Christ. There are several articles for Christmas, including their 10 Practical Tips for Family Devotions This Christmas. These ten tips include some book reviews, some encouragement to seek help in the local church, and some ideas to engage your children in worshiping Christ this Christmas. It is worth checking out, but do be warned that these tips are presented in a ‘slideshow’ format. You will be met with that often dreaded ‘next’ button, but it’s really not that much of an inconvenience. If you have ever been baited into clicking through a slideshow style article on less reputable websites, then you will know what I’m talking about. While there are ads on the Crosswalk site, I didn’t encounter any of those pesky pop-ups often associated with those other sites. Crosswalk also offers their own Advent Devotionals as well. They appear to be uploaded daily, and are very short.
Focus on the Family
Founded by Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family has long been the go-to resource for Christians looking for help in living out their faith at home. Their advent calendar for this year is called ‘Knowing Him By Name’. It is available for free, but you will have to provide your email address to receive it. The calendar includes instructions on making your own advent wreath along with daily scripture readings and devotions. There are also instructions for optional activities that will help your kids grasp the idea of the daily devotionals. This is a well thought out resource that can be very beneficial to families with children 6th grade and younger. The daily scripture readings are very short, and the devotionals are not long either. Incorporating the activities will take a bit of pre-planning, but there are generally options for both younger and older children. The Focus on the Family website also offers many articles of interest, including ‘The Very Best Christmas Money Can’t Buy’.
The Gospel According to Luke
You don’t need any web links for this activity, just an open Bible. The book of Luke tells the story of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in a convenient 24 chapter format! If you commit on December 1st to reading one chapter a day with your family, you will complete this book on Christmas Eve. I cannot think of a better way for a family to focus on Jesus through the Christmas season than to daily examine His life together. Encourage every member of your family to take turns reading each night, and engage your kids in discussion along the way. Ask questions about the text you just read, like “What do you think Jesus meant when He said, ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God’ (Luke 6:20)?”. This is an exercise that will bring each of you closer to Christ, and closer to one another as well.
The idea of sitting down with your spouse and children for a devotional time may feel odd to you. It may be something you haven’t considered before, or it may be something you feel guilty over not doing in the past. Either way, I would encourage you commit to pursuing Christ together this Christmas. Take this opportunity to start something new and wonderful in your home. Focus on that which is better, focus on Christ.