“The goal is to die with memories, not dreams.” “A breath of fresh air is a great thing to take and an even better thing to be.” If you have spent two seconds on social media, you have probably seen motivational memes. The idea of surrounding yourself with motivational messages isn’t new. Our world has just provided more and easier ways for your kids to surround themselves with motivational messages.
Some of these messages actually mirror wisdom God has shared with us. Others promote a secular or even at times, ungodly way of interacting with the world. Have you thought about encouraging your kids to surround themselves with scripture as their motivational messages?
With secular memes and motivational messages, it can be difficult to differentiate between those which contain godly wisdom and those which sound good, but encourage things that are perhaps not so godly. The good news is that scriptures memes and images are easy to find and often free.
The Bible app allows you to take a scripture and create a meme with it using one of probably dozens of different choices for translations, backgrounds, fonts and the like. A quick Google or Pinterest search provides many more free options. Your kids can even create their own scripture art to display, using their computers or regular art supplies. Join the fun and create your own scripture memes or images and place them where not only you, but your kids will also see them.
Surrounding your family with scripture is not only great for motivating yourselves to live more godly lives, but it also helps place those verses in the long term memory, where you and your kids will have easy access to them whenever and wherever your family need God’s wisdom in the moment.
It’s that time of year. Each year, readers love to make these special cookies with their kids. If you are like me though, the recipe is hidden somewhere and you only have a few days to grab the ingredients. We are posting again today to give you some time to run to the store and grab what you need before Saturday. Enjoy!
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 inventor, 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.
It’s fairly accepted in ministry now that doubts and questions about faith don’t cause faith to crumble on their own. It’s the act of not helping young people find the answers they are seeking, and allowing Satan to provide his false answers that will pull them away from God.
Even though most in ministry are aware of these studies, it is the rare church that provides regular opportunities for kids and teens to ask questions and express their doubts. Which means, parents have to take a more intentional role in uncovering and answering their kids’ questions and doubts about God, scripture, the church, etc.
Before we go any farther, it’s important to emphasize that you personally don’t have to know all of the answers. Sometimes, you will, especially with younger children. Sometimes, there isn’t an answer, other than that God hasn’t explained it to us thoroughly yet and we will understand better when we are in Heaven. Many times though, you will need to research the answer yourself and that’s actually great. Why? Because you can teach your kids how to find and use reliable resources to answer any questions they may have when they are older. If you don’t know any reliable resources, ask your minister for a few. (Apologetics books often cover a lot of very common questions.)
It’s critical that you don’t just make up answers to avoid looking ignorant. An inaccurate answer, an answer with faulty logic or other weak responses can also be used by Satan later to undermine anything that was true in the answer. If you need a little extra time for research, say so. Or you can ask your kids to give you their questions a few days in advance so you can make sure you are giving solid answers.
Give each child a special notebook or journal. If your kids have a phone, encourage them to set up a special section in the Notes app. Explain that you want them to jot down any questions that they think of….things they don’t understand (which is how kids often express doubts) about God, the Bible, Christianity, etc. Encourage them to take their notebooks to church and jot down questions that come to mind during the sermon or class. Ask them to jot down questions that might come up during the school day or during free time, too.
Then have regularly scheduled question times, where you sit down as a family and discuss everyone’s most recent questions. How often this is will vary depending upon your kids. It needs to be consistent enough though, that your kids believe you really will address their questions, so they will continue to jot them down.
Obviously, this all takes time and intentionality, but you and your kids will benefit from discussing their questions and doubts rather than having others answer them later in ways that will pull your kids away from God.
Your kids are probably learning a lot of different Bible stories at church and at home. What they may not realize is that each of those stories is a piece of a puzzle that when put together reveals God’s plan. There’s a fun ongoing activity you can do with your kids to help them begin to understand how things in scripture fit together.
Give each child a large piece of plain paper. You may want to invest in one of those paper rolls if you can afford it. You’ll also want to give them crayons, markers, colored pencils or paint. Have them title their paper “God’s Plan Is A Work of Art” or something similar.
Every time your kids hear or read a Bible story at church, home, or for some school, have them pull out their paper. What symbols or simple drawing best represents the Bible story? Where does it belong in relation to other Bible stories already in the drawing? For example, let’s say they just heard the story of Ruth. They might want to draw grain or a sandal or some other object from the story. Later when they hear a story about David, they may want to place the symbols for that story near the symbols from the story of Ruth, since she was David’s great grandmother. Or if they already have stories near Ruth, they can use arrows or other symbols to illustrate stories that are connected in some way to other Bible stories.
Over time, their artwork should grow larger and larger. Periodically, examine the entire piece together, reminding each other of the stories the symbols represent and the connections to other stories. If you want to spend a little extra, have your kids transfer the completed piece of art to a blank jigsaw puzzle. Then break it apart and see how well they can put it back together.
This activity takes time, but it’s a great way to help your kids better understand how everything in the Bible connects. In so doing, they will also get a better understanding of God’s overarching plan.
You have probably taught your kids how to take care of their health in various ways. Maybe you have taught them how to brush their teeth, eat nutritious foods or get plenty of exercise. How much have you taught them about how to be spiritually healthy? More importantly, have you taught them how to take personal responsibility for their own spiritual growth and health in age appropriate ways?
If you haven’t, you are teaching your kids to be merely receptacles…waiting for some Christian to decide to teach them something God wants them to know or help them grow spiritually in some way. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always provide as much help as your kids need or the type of help they may need at the moment. Recently, we encouraged Christian volunteers working with kids and teens to teach them how to self advocate for their own spiritual health and growth. The principles we shared with them, will work at home with a few modifications.
Discuss spiritual health and maturing with your kids regularly. Talk about what it means to advocate for your personal spiritual growth. Discuss some of the things a person trying to grow spiritually does. Don’t talk about it as something only adults can do, but how your kids at their ages can begin advocating for their personal spiritual growth.
Encourage asking spiritual questions and expressing doubts. Your kids should feel safe and encouraged to ask their questions and even express their doubts. If they don’t feel they can express their questions and concerns, they may not get the appropriate help they need. You don’t have to have all of the answers. As you research the appropriate, biblical answer, teach them how you are doing it, so they can do it themselves when they are old enough.
Teach them how to find answers in scripture. Note, “how” to find answers. Knowing where to find the answers they already have been taught is helpful, but to self advocate for spiritual growth, they need to know how to find the answers to their new questions in the Bible.
Encourage practicing spiritual disciplinesindependently. Your kids should be encouraged to self advocate by making time to do the things that will help them grow spiritually like Bible study, prayer and reflection. Over time, they should take personal responsibility for doing these things rather than waiting for an adult to remind them.
Teach them how to find reliable sources to help them understand scripture. There are some things in scripture that are difficult to understand. Teach your kids where to find reliable sources to answer their questions. The internet is too full of unreliable sources of information to neglect teaching your kids where to find reliable, biblical answers.
Encourage them to find and use a variety of Christian mentors. Sure, you want them to come to you, but it might not always be practical. You want them to have multiple strong Christians in their lives whom they respect and will help guide them. One mentor may not be able to help your kids grow spiritually in every way they may need help. They may need a mentor to help them develop and use their similar gift to serve God and another one to answer their questions about a topic like science and God. Encourage Christian adults you know and respect to make themselves available as mentors and encourage young people to reach out and ask for the help they need. Teach your kids to keep trying to find an appropriate mentor if the first person they approached cannot help.
Allow them to respectfully contribute to your family’s and hopefully congregation’s spiritual conversations. Your kids should be encouraged when they have an idea for a service project, Bible class, sermon topic or other idea that shows interest, initiative and engagement with scripture and their church family. If it isn’t possible to make it happen on a congregational level, help them find ways to use that same idea in other ways. Give them guided practice in leading in spiritual endeavors by using those ideas and teaching them how to implement them.
Teach them how to respectfully advocate for the spiritual health of themselves and their peers when they see things that are deterring that growth. They may or may not be correct, but they need to be heard. Often we make unnecessary mistakes because we refuse to listen to the truth from young people. They can see and hear things we may miss. Without this knowledge, our decisions may make things worse rather than better. We need to teach them how to give constructive criticism and we need to become much better as parents, Christians and servant leaders at receiving and acting on important constructive criticism.
Teaching your kids to self advocate for their spiritual growth is teaching them to be active rather than passive Christians. It is encouraging them how to be intentional, productive and take personal responsibility in their attempts to grow spiritually. It is teaching them how to have a voice in things that can impact their spiritual growth and the spiritual growth of others. It will take time and intentionality on your part, but it is something we simply must find time to do.