A Cozy Way to Encourage Your Kids to Read the Bible

The Danish have a term “hygge” that is an extremely popular way of creating a warm and inviting environment in a home. While the word doesn’t have a true translation into English, the word cozy is most often used to try and communicate the idea of hygge to English speakers. Think of the most welcoming, comforting environment you have ever experienced. It was probably a home with hygge.

One of the challenges for encouraging children and teens to be daily, independent Bible readers is to get them to sit still and focus long enough for them to read and process a few verses of scripture (or more!). They’re either super busy running from activity to activity or lost in a virtual world on a device. Enticing them to sit and read their Bible for a few minutes each day can seem impossible.

The answer may just be in helping them create their own corner of hygge reserved only for spending time with God. You can call it their Bible corner. Help each of your children find a literal corner of your living space where they can create a permanent Bible study and prayer corner. Some people have even used a closet as a private, quiet place to sit with God.

Allow each child to design their corner so it is comfortable, inviting and has everything they need to read the Bible – including an easy to read version of the Bible like the NIrV or a study Bible, a journal, pens, etc. Many kids will choose to have pillows and a blanket and sit on the floor. Others may find some sort of chair that is inviting. They may even want to keep a bottle of water and some snack foods in their corner. The key is for them to want to sit in that spot when they see it.

The other key to success for a Bible corner is to try and place it where they will walk by it several times a day. Seeing that inviting Bible corner can encourage them to stop and take a few minutes to rest, calm and spend some time with God in scripture and prayer. If your schedules allow, you might even want to create some Bible corner time in your schedule each day, when everyone goes to their respective corners and spends time reading scripture and praying.

Will your house look a little more cluttered? Perhaps, but isn’t it worth it if your children develop the habit of spending time reading their Bibles and praying every day?!

Easy Way to Study the Bible With Your Children and Teens

Parents are often intimidated about studying the Bible with their children. Often they will look for a book designed for family devotionals. There are a lot of choices out there and many of them are a great way to help your family get in the crucial habit of daily Bible study.

The problem is that many of them only last for a few weeks or months or they may be too simple for your older children and teens. Or maybe you just don’t have the money to keep buying new devotional books. Whatever the reason for wanting to study the Bible without a devotional guide, there’s a fairly simple way to study the passage of your choice and have some structure and depth to the conversation about it with your kids. It’s a common method suggested by many groups with a few tweaks I’ve added to make it a bit more specific.

The first task is to choose what book of the Bible you want to study. I usually suggest story heavy books for beginners or books like Proverbs and James with lots of practical advice in them. Most families only have time for a few verses to a chapter each day. If you try to cover more chapters, it can overwhelm your kids and they may not learn anything because you are trying to cover too much in one time period.

Read the chosen passage out loud. The reason we suggest an adult reading the passage is so you can stop at unfamiliar words and concepts as you are reading to make sure your kids are understanding what is being read to them on the most basic level.

After reading the scripture, ask one of your kids to sum it up in his or her own words. This gives you a chance to correct any misunderstandings about what was read. Once you feel fairly certain your kids have understood what you read, ask the following questions for your discussion of the passage.

  1. What stood out to you in these verses?
  2. What can we share with other Christians from these verses that will help/encourage/challenge them? Bonus: Name one Christian you will share this with this week.
  3. What can we share with non-believers that will help/encourage/challenge them? Bonus: Name one non-believer you will share this with this week.
  4. What changes do I need to make based on what we read in these verses? Bonus: What is one thing I am going to do this week because of what we read in this passage?

These four questions take the verses from a lesson to a practical roadmap for living the Christian life. It encourages personal spiritual growth, encouraging other Christians, serving others and sharing their faith. It also trains them in one method they can use when they have personal Bible study time or lead a small group Bible study of their own. It’s a great way to dig deeper into scripture with your older kids and teens.

Resurrection Cookie Family Activity Easter Eve

I am reposting this annual family favorite to give you time to gather the ingredients together before Easter weekend.

Resurrection Cookies are a great way to review the story of Jesus’ death with your children. I got the recipe from one of my neighbors years ago and suspect it is one of those that has been passed around all over the country. I would love to credit the creator, but have no idea who that would be. We did this every year the Saturday night before Easter as one of our family traditions when our daughter was younger.

You will need a Bible, preferably an NIrV version for younger children. Preheat the oven to 300* and make sure it has reached 300* before you start cooking. Your bowl and beaters need to be grease free for this to work well. We have used pasteurized egg whites and they work fine although it is more difficult to keep the yolk out of the whites. It is best to do this right before the children go to bed, but aren’t so sleepy they won’t enjoy it. It can take up to thirty minutes at night and about five or ten minutes the next morning.

For ingredients you will need: 1 cup of whole pecans, 1 teaspoon of vinegar (apple cider vinegar), 2 egg whites, 1 cup sugar and a pinch of salt. I am numbering each step with its scripture to make the recipe easier to follow with your children.

1. Read John 19:1-3. Place the pecans in a large baggie and seal it. As your children beat the pecans with a rolling pin, discuss how Jesus was beaten by the soldiers after his arrest.

2. Read John 19:28-30. Allow the children to smell the vinegar and taste it if they are brave enough! As the vinegar is placed in the bowl explain that when Jesus got thirsty on the cross and asked for something to drink, he was given vinegar.

3. Read John 10:10-11. Add egg whites to the vinegar. Explain to your children that eggs represent life. Discuss how by Jesus giving his life up on the cross, he gave us the hope of eternal life.

4. Read Luke 23:27. Sprinkle a little salt in each child’s hand. Let them taste it. Put a pinch in the bowl. The salt represents the tears of those who loved Jesus when they realized he was dead.

5. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16. Add the sugar. Tell your children that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because he loves us. He wants us to become Christians and spend eternity with him in Heaven.

6. Read John 3:1-3. Beat the mixture on high (stand mixers work best) for 12-15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed (when you turn off the mixer and lift the beaters it leaves stiff little mountain tops). Discuss with your children how the color white stands for purity. Jesus’ blood allows us the chance to be cleansed of our sins and be pure again.

7. Read Matthew 27:57-60. Fold in the pecans. Drop the mixture by teaspoonfuls onto a parchment covered cookie sheet. Explain to your child that each mound represents the tomb where Jesus was laid.

8. Read Matthew 27:65-66. Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Let each child place a piece of tape on the oven door (or roll a large rock in front of it!). Explain how the soldiers sealed the tomb of Jesus.

9. Read John 16:20 and 22.  As you send your children to bed, explain you know they may feel sad about leaving the cookies in the oven over night. Ask them if they can imagine how sad the followers of Jesus must have been when Jesus was sealed in the tomb.

10.  Read Matthew 28:1-9. When your children wake up the next morning, allow them to open the oven and take out the cookies. Have them break open the cookie and see the empty air pocket. Remind them how surprised and excited the followers of Jesus must have been on that first Sunday morning after the cross when they found the empty tomb and realized Jesus was alive.

This is a fun reminder of the resurrection for any time of the year or you can make it an annual tradition. The goal is to create a memorable experience that will place the story of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection firmly in the minds and hearts of your children.

Fun Family Devotional on Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain

You are probably familiar with the third of the Ten Commandments, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…” (Exodus 20:7). You were probably taught and have taught your children that it means not to use the word “God” or “Jesus” as idle or curse words. We had a great sermon at our church yesterday, that explained these verses mean so much more than that. This deeper, fuller, richer understanding of this passage can help your children make better choices when they become Christians.

For a fun family devotional on the topic, pull out your wedding photos or those of other friends and relatives. Have some fun looking at the photos. After a few minutes, explain that historically and often even today, women “take the name” of the man they marry. While they don’t abandon the family in which they were raised, they are now associated with the family of their new last name. For example, anyone who meets me now associates the things I say and do with my current last name – that of my husband’s family and not my maiden name and family of birth.

This is the deeper meaning of the commandment. I won’t go into the original Hebrew word used and its meaning, but basically this passage goes beyond just using the Lord’s name as an expletive. It means don’t dishonor the name you have taken on in baptism – Christian (or in their case as God’s Chosen People). You can dishonor it by using the actual names God and Jesus in a disrespectful fashion, but you can also dishonor the name Christian, by acting in ungodly and sinful ways.

Ask your children to name some ways they might “take the Lord’s name in vain” in their lives. What are some things they might say or do that would cause others to think badly of Christians, God or Jesus and bring dishonor to God in the process? Point out that the commandment is not merely about not using the words as expletives- which is fairly easy – but honoring or glorifying God in all of their choices – speech, actions and attitude.

Your children may point out that this command is in the Old Testament and not the New Testament. Read Matthew 12:36-37, 1Corinthians 10:31, 1Peter 2:12 and Colossians 3:17. Ask them how these New Testament verses (there are others) reinforce the commandment in Exodus by restating the intent of the third commandment in various ways.

Family devotionals should end with a commitment from each participant about something he or she will do to be more like God would want them to be. For this devotional, some members of your family may need to be more careful of their speech – even eliminating OMG from their vocabulary. Other family members may choose another habit they have that reflects badly on God and work to get rid of it. Still others may choose to add something positive to their lives that will reflect God to those around them, like being friendly to everyone they see during the day. Remember to check back periodically to see how everyone is doing with their commitments and offering help to family members who are struggling to “not take the Lord’s name in vain”.

Raising Teachable (Christian) Kids

Ask any educator what makes a successful student and the answer could be summed up in one word – teachable. Have you ever tried to teach something to someone who had no intention of learning from you? It is one of the most frustrating experiences you will ever have. You can be the best, most successful educator that has ever lived, but you cannot force someone to learn what you are trying to teach them.

There are natural consequences built in when a student in school refuses to learn. If bad grades aren’t motivation enough, there may also be disciplinary consequences imposed by school leaders to emphasize the importance of being teachable. For children and teens who are being taught about God and the Bible in church classes, however, there don’t appear to be any immediate consequences. Grades aren’t given. Parents don’t seem to care enough to even do much when their children aren’t being taught anything of value, much less examine whether or not they are learning what is being taught.

Or you and your spouse may have found yourself frustrated when trying to teach your children about God at home. They may seem uninterested in learning what you are trying to teach them or are perhaps openly antagonistic about your attempts to teach. It may feel like a hopeless situation. Your kids can’t become faithful, productive Christians if they don’t know who God is and what He expects from them.

Whether or not your children are teachable has more to do with their character than what is being taught. Focusing on this list of character traits and behaviors will make it easier for you and others to teach your children about God (or about math for that matter.) Teachable children and teens are….

  1. Good listeners. If your children don’t listen carefully when they are being instructed, much of the information will be missed. There are lots of fun activities you can do to help improve your children’s listening skills.
  2. Humble. If your children think they are smarter than the person teaching them, they will rarely learn anything. Regularly reinforce that everyone has something to teach us – even if it is an example of how not to live our lives. They can only learn these sometimes critical lessons if they are humble.
  3. Curious. Learning is fueled by curiosity and master teachers know how to get students curious about a topic. If your kids are encouraged to be naturally curious, however, it won’t matter if their teacher knows how to spark their curiosity. They will already be curious.
  4. Tenderhearted. A tenderhearted child wants to please God. They want to learn how to please God. A child whose heart is hardening doesn’t care how God feels or about learning what He might want from them.
  5. Independent learners. Studies have shown young people need to be engaged spiritually an average of 14 hours a week in order to grow to be faithful, productive Christians as adults. They can’t possibly get it all from Bible classes or even you. They need to be independently engaged in spiritual disciplines like reading scripture, prayer, meditating on scripture, etc.
  6. ”Growth mindset.” For our purposes, this means that they are aware God wants them to continue to grow spiritually. They will never reach perfection, but they should always remain focused on growing as Christians.
  7. Life long learners. Connected to having a growth mindset, a life long learner realizes there is always something new to learn, understand or practice in the Bible – even if they have read it many times.
  8. Motivated to please God. The motivation to learn scripture like one would a subject in school will only help to a point. To really learn and use what God wants them to requires a strong motivation to please God – even when it is counter cultural, causes problems in their lives or goes against what they selfishly desire.

Are you raising teachable children? Working on this list of attributes can make it much more likely your children will learn and use what God wants them to know and live.