Fun Object Lesson to Teach Kids About Greed

Kids often think if they can just have the next new thing, they will be happy. As adults, we’ve hopefully learned that we can’t fill the space in our lives meant for God with things. There is always something new or something better or something more. Rarely, does a greedy person ever believe they have enough money or “stuff”.

There’s a fun family devotional you can do with your kids that involves an object lesson. Before your kids join you, find a tin can that has a safety cut lid with no sharp edges. Put about an inch or two of fingernail polish remover with acetone in the can. (Remover without acetone won’t work.) You will also need a huge pile of styrofoam packing noodles.

Call your kids together. Tell them about King Solomon. Remind them he asked God for wisdom, so God said He would also grant Solomon wealth because he had chosen wisdom. Read them 1 Kings 10:14-29. In today’s money, Solomon’s worth is estimated to be $2 trillion!

But when he was older, Solomon wrote the book Ecclesiastes because he learned a hard lesson about money and things. Ask your kids to make a pile of styrofoam noodles that will fill the can you have chosen. Slowly begin dropping one noodle in at a time. As you drop a noodle, ask your kids what are some of the things they would buy if they had $10. With each noodle, raise the amount of money they can spend. The noodles should be dissolving in the acetone. (Reminder this is a toxic chemical and should be watched carefully around children. Dispose of properly afterwards, so they don’t mistake it for water and drink it.)

Eventually, all of the noodles in their pile should be gone and the can still hasn’t filled with noodles. Similarly, if you made the jumps in money small enough, there should still be things they want to buy. Now start adding the remaining noodles from the original pile. Note that the can never fills with noodles and they never run out of ways to spend the money.

Explain that the acetone represents the greed that can grow in our hearts. We can feed it money and things, but it will devour them and still want more.

Read 1 Corinthians 6:10. Ask your kids what God would prefer us to have in our hearts other than greed.

Fun Family Devotional About Yeast

Cooler weather is a great time to bake bread…and it’s not as hard as you might think. This family devotional is a great way to teach your kids some important biblical principles, spend time together cooking and then have fresh, hot bread to eat or share.

Although there are a lot of Bible stories involving bread, for this devotional, we are focusing on a common ingredient of bread…yeast. The Bible actually talks about yeast in two different ways, but the same principle applies…a tiny bit of yeast can have a big impact.

Before you gather your kids, make sure you have all of the ingredients and baking equipment you will need. You will be making two batches of bread…one with yeast and one without. The recipes are slightly different because yeast breads tend to have extra ingredients. To be authentic and cook actual breads from Bible times would require lots of flours we normally don’t use in baking. These recipes call for white flour, but you could substitute a more rustic flour…the flavor will just be different.

Read Matthew 13:33. Jesus told this parable comparing yeast to the kingdom of heaven. A small amount of leaven added to bread yields more bread. Yeast is an organism. When you sprinkle it on warmed milk or sugar water, if you watch it carefully, you can actually watch it multiply. In fact you may want to do that with the yeast for the bread recipe that includes yeast. Show your kids how it is multiplying. The gases produced by the yeast are what makes bread dough with yeast double in size in just a few hours. In this parable, Jesus is telling the Apostles that the church will begin small, but grow rapidly as if it were bread dough with yeast in it.

Now read Matthew 16:5-12. In this case, Jesus is using the example of yeast as a bad thing. Thankfully, he explains his meaning to the Apostles. The teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees were not what God wanted. Jesus was warning his Apostles that if they paid attention to these teachings, the problems they caused would be like yeast…spreading throughout everything they were trying to do for God.

If your kids are interested, you can discuss other passages about yeast like 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, Exodus 12:39, Deuteronomy 16:1-4, and Luke 13:20-21. As you are reading and discussing the passages, you can begin making the two types of bread. The unleavened bread should go in the oven as soon as the dough is completed. The dough with yeast will have to rise for several hours before baking.

When the yeast dough has doubled in size, call your kids back together. Explain that these Bible stories show how easily something that seems small can actually have a huge impact either good or bad. And sometimes, once that thing has worked it’s way into every area of our lives, it can be almost impossible to remove. That is why we must be so careful about even the small things we allow to influence us.

Show your kids the risen dough. Ask them what they could do to get rid of the impact the yeast has had on the dough. They may suggest pushing it flat again. If they have more than one idea, let them try it out on various pieces of the dough. You can make rolls with their different ideas and place them on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. You can write the method on the parchment paper under the roll, so you can keep them straight after baking.

Regardless of what they tried, the baked rolls will still have more height than the unleavened bread. The impact of the yeast is still there. Remind them that they can be like the good yeast in the first scripture and help spread God’s kingdom or they can allow the bad yeast from others influence them to make bad choices. Ask them to think of real world examples of each type of yeast today.

Your family can enjoy the breads or if they turned out well, you may want to share them with others.

Teaching Your Kids to Hate Well

Hate seems a strange topic for a Christian parenting blog post, doesn’t it? I’ve always found it interesting that although the Bible tells us God IS love, God still has some things He hates. Since your kids are supposed to be learning how to reflect God’s image, it makes sense that God would want them to hate these things, too.

Gather your kids and ask them to name a few of their favorite foods. After they have named several, ask them to name some foods they hope you never serve them for a meal. After they name a few, ask them if it would be fair for you to say they hate those foods.

Your children’s response to that question will probably vary depending upon their age and whether or not they realize this is a family devotional. Since the topic is food, you can grant a little leeway on that particular answer. Then ask them if they think it is acceptable to hate a person or say to someone “I hate you!” when they are angry.

Hopefully, they will realize that hating people is not something God wants us to do. Now ask your kids if they have ever heard anyone say, “God is love.” Regardless of their answer, have them explain what they think that means.

After they have given a few responses, ask them,”Since God is love, can God hate something?” (not someone). Read Proverbs 6:16-19 to them. Help them list and then discuss the things these verses tell us God hates…

  • Haughty eyes
  • Lying tongue
  • Hands that shed innocent blood
  • Heart that devises wicked schemes
  • Feet that are quick to rush into evil
  • False witness who pours out lies
  • Stirring up dissension among brothers

As part of your discussion, help them think of real world examples of these behaviors today. Point out that it is actually the behaviors God hates. He still wants everyone, even people who do these things, to repent and become Christians. God loves everyone and hopes they will choose to worship and obey Him so they can spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

Ask your kids if they have ever done these things or encouraged others to do them? Do they say something when others encourage them to behave in these ways? How can they reflect God accurately in their hatred of these behaviors?

The depth of the discussion you have will depend upon the age and maturity of your kids. These behaviors and underlying attitudes are so common in humans, it’s actually important to have this same discussion regularly. Are they slipping into bad patterns or are they avoiding the things God hates? Regularly revisiting these verses will help them become part of your kids’ long term memories, ready to remind them how God feels about these behaviors and attitudes when they are tempted.

9 Things Your Kids Need to Learn About Evil

Our world is full of evil. That’s not new. It’s been that way since the Fall in the Garden of Eden. A lot of different factors just make it appear more obvious and pervasive than ever. Your kids may already be asking why some of these evil things are happening. If not, you may want to initiate a conversation about evil.

There are some basic ideas you need to teach your kids about evil.

  • God’s original plan for the world was perfect. When Adam and Eve sinned, they introduced evil into the world. The rest of the Bible addresses God’s plan for us to receive forgiveness for our sins and live with Him in Heaven for eternity. The world being full of evil does not mean God is not a good God. He gave us free will – we are not His robots. He wants us to choose Him. Unfortunately, all of us – except Jesus when he was on earth – have sinned. To be part of that new perfection in Heaven, we have to follow God – which includes becoming a Christian and obeying God’s commands. Sin and evil are because of the poor, sinful choices people have made, not because God doesn’t love us.
  • Satan is alive and active in the world today. Satan is not a myth or a character in a fairy tale. Satan is very real. They also need to know Satan is doing what he can to encourage evil in the world.
  • Satan wants your children to reject God. Your kids need to thoroughly understand Satan is an enemy they are fighting. Satan doesn’t want their property. He wants them to reject God and live a selfish life full of sin.
  • Satan has a bag of tricks at his disposal. You might want your older kids to read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. It does a great job of pointing out some of Satan’s favorite tricks. On a basic level for very young children, you can explain Satan tries to convince them to sin and he also tries to convince them not to do the good things God wants us to do.
  • Even though Satan is tricky, your children have 100% control over their actions. One of the biggest problems in society today is personal responsibility is a concept that is no longer embraced. Your children need to absolutely understand, although Satan is tricky, he does not make the final decision about what to do. Each of your children is entirely responsible for the choices they make. The idea of being “born” to sin is wrong. They may be born with a particular weak spot Satan can exploit (like addiction for example), but your child can still choose to protect that weak spot and not sin. Satan cannot force anyone to sin. It can help to teach them Bible verses that talk about our selfish desires (Philippians 2 and James 4) and how they make us more vulnerable to Satan’s temptations.
  • Each child has different weak spots that will be vulnerable to Satan’s tricks. Does one of your children anger easily? The emotion is not a sin, but the actions that happen after the emotion can be sinful. Satan will know that child has a hot temper and will do everything he can to feed your child’s anger in hopes your child will eventually sin. Your (hypothetical) angry child should receive lots of coaching from you about how to be aware of this weak spot and work on it, so he/she is not as vulnerable to Satan’s attack. Each of your kids will have different weak spots and some weak spots all of your children may have. They all need to be addressed and a plan established for how to avoid Satan’s attacks on these areas.
  • They need to ask for God’s help. Teach your children the power of prayer. If they have been baptized, teach them about how the Holy Spirit can help them avoid temptation. Satan can exhaust even the most spiritual person. We can’t successfully battle him for very long without God’s help. Your kids need to know they aren’t fighting the battle against Satan alone.
  • One way to lessen the amount of evil in the world to is teach people about Jesus and God’s plan for their lives. The world doesn’t understand that evil comes from disobeying God’s commands. They have a movable moral compass, which makes it hard to define and rid the world of evil. In theory, as more people become Christians, the amount of evil in the world should begin diminishing. Of course, this means we also need to encourage other Christians to be more godly (and work on being more godly ourselves).
  • Ultimately God wins. Revelation is a tough book to understand. The biggest lesson from it though is ultimately God wins and takes his people to Heaven. Satan will never be able to touch them in Heaven. Sometimes it seems there is so much evil in the world Satan must surely be winning the war of good v. evil. In reality, Satan is only winning a few battles. The winner of the war itself has never been in question. God will win and your kids need to be on the winning side.

Teaching your children to be watchful against Satan and his tricks, will make it easier for them to make godly choices. Satan will still win a battle or two against your children, but if you have trained them to be watchful he won’t win the war for their souls. That is what Christian parenting is ultimately about – preparing your children to win the war against Satan. Parents always say they just want their kids to be happy. Hopefully, Christian parents have an even more important goal – wanting their kids to spend eternity in Heaven.

Fun Way to See God Through Your Children’s Eyes

One of the most difficult aspects of Christian parenting is truly seeing your kids’ heart for God. It’s impossible to know someone’s heart accurately unless they choose to honestly share it with you. As children grow older, they realize that filtering what parts of their heart they show to their parents can save them a lot of time and trouble. Some kids even begin portraying a false image of what is actually on their hearts, to avoid potentially upsetting others.

It’s difficult to help your child grow spiritually when you are parenting to a partial or incorrect image of their heart and what it feels and believes about God, the Bible, Christianity and more. You need to find ways to encourage your kids to reveal more about their hearts in honest ways.

Art can be a useful way to encourage kids to open up about their feelings. There is something about art that encourages those engaged in it to choose colors and images that reflect parts of who they are or what they think and feel. You can take advantage of that and find ways to use art to get your kids to open up about their personal faith.

Grab plain white paper and some art supplies. If you can afford or make some sort of art supply that is new to your children, that can make it more likely the art will be authentic as they focus on experimenting with the new medium. Participating with your kids and creating your own art work can give you more opportunities for a great discussion when you are finished.

Explain that you will give them a title for their piece of art. They can create anything using words or images that will fit the title you have given them. Give your kids a title like, “Who Is God to Me?”. Then give them the time and freedom to create their answer to that question. Have them explain their finished work of art. Ask interested questions. Why did they choose those particular things? What would they absolutely not have included in their work of art? What would someone who knew nothing about God learn from their finished creation? The more they become engaged in talking about their masterpiece, the more of their heart they are likely to reveal.

To make it more interesting, give each child a different title for their piece of artwork. Create a family art museum. Do the project more than once with different questions and different mediums. Find ways to share the finished art with others. It’s a fun way to check in periodically on your kids’ heart for God.