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Christian Family Tips & Advice

1. Family Time with God
I believe having family devotions is the most important thing you can do to strengthen your family. An old-time preacher once said, "A child can go to hell over the wall of family altar, but it is awfully hard for him to." This time together helps iron out all the hurts, anger, frustrations, and misunderstandings the day has brought to each family member. Itīs a time to draw close to God and each other. Itīs a bond your children will continue to draw strength from, even when they are adults. "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6
2. Plan It On Purpose
Family Altar doesnīt come naturally. You have to plan it on purpose. The cares of life will suck that precious time right away from you if you donīt guard it carefully. Some days you will have more time than others, but the very least should be to read or quote some scripture and have a prayer together. This can be done in five minutes or less. MAKE the time! "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15
3. How Children Learn
Children donīt get it all at once, and neither do we. The Bible isnīt just to be read during family devotions, then forgotten for another 23 hours. We make its precepts relevant in our lives when we practice them throughout the day. Life situations are ideal teaching tools to convey biblical concepts to our children, as most lessons that stick are better "caught" than just "taught." A father teaches honesty when he returns the extra $10 the cashier gave him by mistake. He can reinforce the lesson by discussing it with the child, then reading a Bible verse that teaches honesty. "But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little…" Isaiah 28:13
4. Family Altar - When, Where?
God commands us to teach our children the right paths, to teach them in the morning, in the evening, and at night, while we are lying down, sitting up, eating, and busy about our day. Impossible? Not really. We simply donīt recognize many of our daily situations as ready-made opportunities. Teach Godīs provision when you eat; his faithfulness when you see a rainbow; that he answers prayer when you pay a bill you didnīt think would get paid. "And thou shalt teach them (Godīs words) diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Deut. 6:7
5. Pattern For Family Altar
Your family devotions will be unique. Decide on a general pattern to follow and adjust as your children grow and your family changes. Some suggestions: 1.Read a portion of scripture; 2.Discuss what you have read; 3.Show children from the Bible the reasons for decisions made; 4.Have family members quote a memorized verse (if old enough); 5.Let each name something he is thankful for. By the time we finally felt we were doing a fairly good job at this, our children had grown up and were going out to raise their own families, but the "family altar" was a foundation they will always remember. "Childrenīs children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers." Proverbs 17:6
6. Twice-Blessed Christmas Cards
What are you going to do with all those Christmas cards you received? No, you can`t just read and then toss them out! Here are some alternatives:

1) Open one with the family at mealtime and pray for the senders;
2) After Christmas, put them in a box and pull one or two a week and pray for the senders;
3) Take turns writing the senders a note to let them know you are thinking of them (especially those who are invalids, widowed, or live alone);
4) Give them to a children`s leader who can use them for a group project;
5) Cut apart those that have blank inside fronts and recycle as post cards.
7. Spiritual Child Abuse
A child has a right to grow up in a home where he is loved, God is honored, and the Bible taught. He has a right to be assured that Jesus loves him, that his sins can be forgiven, that he can go to heaven when he dies. The spiritual dimension is necessary to balance emotional, mental, and physical needs. While physical abuse affects a child for his earthly lifetime, spiritual abuse carries eternal consequences.

"And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea." Mark 9:42
8. Love Me, Love Me Not?
What is true love? According to I Corinthians 13, Love isnīt just sweet words and eloquent speech; nor great insight, knowledge, or faith. Itīs not simply benevolence or even martyrdom. Love is long suffering and kind. It is not jealous nor egotistical. It doesnīt pout. Love doesnīt behave inappropriately nor out of lust. It isnīt quick to take offence nor imagine evil. Love doesnīt rejoice in nor try to do wrong, but is happy to find and live in truth. Love bears whatever it needs to, endures what it must, and doesnīt lose faith. Love never fails!
9. The Love Chapter
I Corinthians 13 is the "Love Chapter" of the Bible. Read it with your mate and children often. Heeding its advice will take care of most any problem in your home.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.... (from I Cor. 13)
10. Love and Behavior
I learned a great lesson when my son was a teenager -- the difference between unconditional love and unconditional approval of behavior. Our children need to know our disapproval of certain behavior and our love for them are two different things, and that we love them unconditionally, no matter what! "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Ephes. 6:4
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