Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions: Good Idea or Bad Idea

Q.  I'm am so excited about the New Year and the thought of having a new start in my life.  But I was wondering, as a believer, is it a good idea to make a New Year's Resolution? 
A. We’ve all heard friends and family, even ourselves say “I’m going to get in shape,” or “I’m going to quit a bad habit.” We usually hear these announcements at the end of December, in the form of New Year’s Resolutions. Webster’s Online Dictionary defines a resolution as making a firm decision about something; “the act of answering, solving.”  When we resolve to complete a task, we are stating that we will follow through and complete a specific goal.

A majority of individuals, however, do not follow through with these well-intentioned resolutions. Proof of this is the fact that self help books and gym membership sales skyrocket in December and January, yet drop off tremendously in February. These types of decisions are sometimes emotional or “knee-jerk” reactions, and are short-lived much of the time. On the other hand, well planned, proactive decisions have a much better success rate. In other words, our ability to see a resolution completed is directly related to our type and level of motivation. If we are motivated by worldly standards or desires, even if we meet our goal, we fail.

On the other hand, if we are truly seeking to become more like Christ and are genuinely working in and through God’s will, we will be successful, regardless of how the world sees us. So, should we make resolutions for the New Year, or does the exact date matter? Romans 14:5 states, “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.”2 This passage reminds us that we need to choose for ourselves what we believe and how we act, based on the most solid information possible; the best place to start is the Bible.

The New Testament repeatedly encourages believers to put off vices and put on virtues. Any day is a great day to reconcile sins of the past and set new goals in any and all areas of life, including January 1st. So, go ahead and make those New Year’s resolutions, making sure you’re resolving to improve an area of your life that will honor Christ and bring glory to Him!

*This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.
If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How to Teach Your Child the True Meaning of Christmas

Update: A great new activity to do with your little one would be instead of making a ginger bread house, make a nativity scene.  Click here for instructions and check out this cute picture.  How fun would this be to make with your children while telling them the story of Jesus' birth.

Q. I have been talking with other moms and we all seemed to be stuck on how to teach our kids the true meaning of Christmas. We struggle with the candy canes, Santa Claus and presents to teach our kids it is all about Jesus' coming. Do you have any suggestions? (Originally ran December 2010)

A. This is very common question. Just Google "teaching kids true meaning of Christmas" and you will come up with many ideas and suggestions. I believe the answer starts with us as adults. We sometimes struggle to keep the perspective of this time of year on the true meaning of Christmas. How much more difficult then is it for children entangled by gifts, Santa, and parties to learn the true meaning of Christmas.

First, let's define the true meaning of Christmas. It is not about presents to buy or receive, or about fancy parties or events. These things are not bad in and of themselves, but rather need to be in the proper perspective. So what is a proper perspective? December or Advent is about being thankful for God's grace in our lives so much so that he sent his ONE and ONLY son to die on a cross for our sins. (John 3:16) That is wonderful grace! He didn't have to do it, but he sent his son as a baby only to save mankind, by dying on a cross. This time of year is to celebrate the Messiah's arrival on Earth and to thank our Lord for doing so.

The best gift is not an iPad, iPod, new cell phone, game, or toys, but it is knowing and desiring Jesus as their Lord and Savior.The hope for parents is that your children will know the greatest gift they can receive any time of year is eternal life in Heaven with Jesus.

So how do you do this? Here are some wonderful suggestions from other parents out there who are working hard to teach their kids the meaning of Christmas:
  • Read the Birth of Christ of the Book of Luke several times
  • Give to Others
    You can sponsor a child in your own town and take kids shopping with you to buy the presents the sponsored child wants. Spend time talking to your child about how some kids do not have anything for Christmas. Also, pray with your child about the sponsored child you are buying gifts for. You can even do this with an international agency to send money to kids overseas. Have your kids do things around the house to make money to send. This is making them a part of the giving process.
  • Attend a Christmas Eve Service as a family
  • Have a Birthday Party for Jesus
    Make a cake for Jesus and have your kids sing "Happy Birthday" to him. Spend your 'party' time talking about this is the time of year that Jesus was born. Jesus was born so that he could grow up and live a perfect life. He then gave his life for us, that we might live forever.
  • Buy a nativity scene for children to play with" Click here for Little People Nativity
    A year ago, a friend of mine did this with her son. He had learned the story of Christ's birth and knew something bad was going to happen to Jesus. He then decided that he would put Spiderman and Superman in the nativity scene to protect baby Jesus. This is a great example of a child who obviously felt a connection with the story of Jesus. So much so, he wanted to protect him. Having a nativity he can play with gave him that since of connection.
  • For older children, take them to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter to let them see what poverty really looks like
  • Ultimately, make sure your perspective is in the right place. Most likely, your kids will follow your lead.
Jesus' birth brought the greatest joy any of us can experience. I want to challenge all families to look at Christmas in a new light this year. Let us know how it works for you or if you have other traditions or ideas. Just post a comment for all to see and share your experience.

*This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.
If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.