Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Choosing a Family Devotional

Someone recently asked me if I could suggest some Devotional books for a friend's family. While I'm glad to make suggestions, I think choosing a Devotional book for your family is a very personal one. What is appropriate for my family may not meet the needs of another. While I am by no means an expert in this area, here are a few suggestions I came up with for anyone seeking some spiritual reading for their family...

1. I think one of the most important things you can do first is to come up with a "family mission statement". This statement will help guide you in all decisions you make concerning your family. The Simple Mom blog has some great suggestions to get you started.

The Teaching Home newsletter offers some great reasons why it is so important to create a Family Mission Statement...

As Christian home-school parents, you already have a sense of purpose and direction for your family. You can enhance this for yourselves and extend it to your whole family by formulating a family mission statement together. A mission statement is a written declaration of your family's purpose in life. It is a clear, simple, and succinct sentence or paragraph which a child can understand.

Your mission statement will then be applied to each area of your life and implemented by your goals.

Your family's mission statement:
* Proclaims your family's ultimate goal, reason for being, and vision for the future.
* Is the big picture of what is most important to you.
* Will reflect your values, what you want to be, and what you want to do.
* Will determine the use of your time, energy, and money.
* Is used to initiate, evaluate, and refine all of your life's activities.
* Is a declaration of what each member of your family will live by.
* Should include your spiritual values, the fundamental truths and foundational principles upon which you will build your lives.
* Will define your family's common purpose, specify your direction, and provide a compass to guide and measure your progress.
* Will help your family to appreciate its unique identity.
* Will enable each member see himself as part of a team cooperating to achieve a God-given task

2. Decide what it is you want your family to gain by doing devotionals together. Is it Bible knowledge, character development, service awareness, spiritual growth or is there a particular behavioral trait you feel your family needs to develop?

3. Read reviews on-line from trustworthy sources.

4. Spend some quiet time alone in the devotional section of your favorite bookstore. I highly recommend doing this alone so you won't have distractions from your children and you can think with a clear mind.

5. Keeping your Family Mission Statement in mind, as well as the information you want to gain from doing devotionals together, look for books that help meet these 2 requirements. Skim over several of the devotionals and decide if it is a good fit for your family or not. Is the language understandable? Will it keep the attention of your children? Does it have real-life, practical examples of how to live a Christian life? Does it include topics relevant to your family?

Again, what works for my family may not meet the needs of your family, but here are some devotionals that we are either currently reading or have read in the past...

* We are currently reading the Day By Day Kid's Bible. Product Description: Popular children's author Karyn Henley, who wrote The Beginners Bible, has created a unique tool to help children establish Bible reading habits for a lifetime--with an investment of just seven minutes per day. In this revised version of God's Story, daily Bible readings lead children through the Scriptures in chronological order in just one year. The Day-by-Day Kids Bible bridges the gap between a Bible storybook and a full-text Bible since the scriptures are simplified for young readers. Inside, you'll find dated Bible readings for every day of the year, two-color interior illustrations and full color pictorial time line of events. Also includes a Presentation Page. This book measures 6.5" x 8.75" x 1.75", and has 900 pages. Recommended for ages 6 to 10.

* Since I have 2 "girly girlz", we enjoy the Faith Girlz series of devotionals, as well. Product Description: This ninety-day devotional will "totally" help teen girls connect with God, as well as learn his will for their lives. Here are 90 more great devotions in the style of Girlz Rock, No Boys Allowed, and Chick Chat. The daily reading features Scripture and a devotion to help her apply God's Word to her everyday life. It features "More to Explore" and "Did You Know" sections that point to other related passages. "Girl Talk" poses simple yet thought-provoking questions to think about on her own or to talk about with friends. "God Talk" is a short prayer that gets her started offering thanks and concerns to God. Also, scattered throughout are bonus health and beauty tips and fun factoids that help make these devotions so unique. Recommended for ages 8 to 12.

* Leading Little Ones to God is an oldie but goodie. Product Description: Written in clear language, this classic Bible storybook gives you short devotions you can share with children. Each lesson includes a story, a Scripture verse to memorize, a prayer, and a song. It's a wonderful way for children to learn about who God is, why Jesus came to Earth, and how we should act today. 184 pages, softcover. Recommended for ages 4 to 10.

* Another one of our favorite devotionals is the God and Me Devotions for Girls series. Product Description: Hey, girls, did you know that God wants to be your best friend? And this book can help you learn more about Him! Use God and Me! to get to know your heavenly Father better. As you read each devotion you will find out more about God and how to be a Christian. After you read, there is a fun activity to help you understand the Bible. (They also have a series for boys, as well, called Gotta Have God.)

Our 10 year-old, "M", has been reading the series of books for kids by Lee Strobel which includes The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator, and Get Off My Case. She loves them and they have answered a lot of questions she has about God and her faith. Product description: Lee Strobel's eye-opening bestsellers have been revised by noted children's author Rob Suggs for young people ages eight to twelve--the age when kids begin asking the complicated questions adults themselves sometimes struggle to answer. The Case for Christ for Kids brings Jesus to vivid life, addressing the miracles, ministry, family, and way of life of Jesus of Nazareth. These Case for... books are just right for kids who want to stand up for their faith in an unbelieving world. Written in humorous, light-hearted prose perfect for kids this age, these books analyze the evidence and build compelling cases, using historical facts, up-to-date scientific research, and true stories. Recommended for ages 8 to 12.

These are just a few of my thoughts on choosing a devotional book for your family. I would love to hear your comments and thoughts on the subject and feel free to discuss your favorite devotional books, too!

No comments: