Fun Way to Teach Your Kids How to Fact Check Religious Statements

When it comes to God, Jesus, Christianity and the Bible there is a lot of information your children can access that is not only inaccurate, but may even be purposely designed to undermine their growing faith. With a generation who can find the “answers” to any question in seconds, the internet can be a spiritual mine field.

Part of the answer is to teach your children how to fact check anything they read or hear by what is written in the Bible. While just telling them that multiple times might be simpler, having a fun interactive family devotional may make a better impact. Begin by looking at familiar Bible story from a different angle.

In Genesis 27, we find the familiar story of Jacob deceiving Isaac in order to receive Jacob’s blessing. Instead of telling the story from the perspective of Jacob and Esau, ask your children what Isaac believed was true when Jacob came to him dressed as Esau. How do they think he felt when he realized he had been tricked? Ask them to think of a time when they thought something was true, only to find out later it was not. What problems did it cause them when they believed the lie?

Explain that sometimes when we believe a lie, we are merely embarrassed when we discover the truth. Other times, the lie can cause major negative consequences in our lives when we believe it. Tell them this is especially true when we believe lies about God, Jesus, Christianity and the Bible. Those lies are dangerous because Satan can use them to weaken our faith if we are not careful.

Explain that sometimes the ”deceptions”aren’t on purpose. The person may have remembered the details wrong or misunderstood something. Even though the person did not mean to deceive us, it can still cause problems.

Other times though, people purposefully tell us lies because they want us to stop believing in God and obeying Him. Their motives may vary, but Satan will use their lies to try and convince God is not worth worshipping and obeying. If we believe those lies, we can suffer catastrophic negative consequences.

The easiest example to find is often in illustrations of Noah’s Ark. Point out the description of the Ark and the number of animals in it. Ask them to look at the illustration and find the errors in it. (Usually illustrations have too many windows and show only one pair of every type of animal.) While this is an example of people not remembering to fact check before creating their art, there are other examples around us everywhere – some of which are more sinister.

How you continue the activity depends upon the age of your children. Little ones can look at other illustrations of Bible stories or watch Bible story videos for children. Have them point out not only the mistakes, but the places where the artist added information that is not in the Bible. (Sometimes that doesn’t change the meaning of the story, but other times it can change one’s understanding of it.)

With older children and teens, you might explore Google searches for religious questions and discover how many answers are totally different from what the Bible teaches. Have them watch normal content and listen for statements characters make about God, Jesus, Christianity and the Bible that are wrong. Point out that often these errors are stated by characters that are supposedly Christian to make them more believable.

End the devotional by reminding them to check out everything anyone says to them about faith matters by comparing it to scripture. You can also have follow up times when you teach them how to find the information they need in the Bible quickly. Teaching your kids to fact check every religious statement they hear or read can prevent them from believing one of Satan’s lies.

Fun Resurrection Family Devotional

I am reposting this annual family favorite to give you time to gather the ingredients together before this weekend. Although designed for Easter, this devotional can be done any time of the year.

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.

Fun Passover Family Devotional

As Christians, we often neglect to teach our children about the Jewish holidays found in the Old Testament. Although, we are no longer required to celebrate them as Christians, they do have lessons our children can learn from their purposes and how they pointed the Israelites to the coming Messiah, Jesus.

Passover is perhaps the most obvious Jewish holiday with connections to Christianity. Originally meant to help the Israelites remember each year how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt, the communion service echoes the original Passover feast (the modern Passover meal is more complicated than the one the Israelites ate right before they fled from Egypt). (Make sure you have all of the ingredients you will need before starting the devotional.)

Read or tell your children the story of the first Passover found in Exodus 12. If your children are older, you may also want to read them the story of the Last Supper found in Luke 22:7-38. Ask them the similarities they see between the food in the first Passover and the food Jesus used to institute our communion. Point out that both involved unleavened bread.

Take your children into the kitchen. Mix together 2 cups flour (whole wheat is most authentic, but you can use white flour if you prefer), 3/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Divide the dough. Have your children knead it and then make flat, unleavened bread ”loaves”. Bake at 450* (260* C) for ten minutes.

Want to add another interesting element to your bread making? Somewhere along the line, rabbis determined there had to be a time limit on the making of unleavened bread. This is because plain flour and water can begin to have a minor leavening effect without yeast after eighteen minutes. Although this was never commanded by God, today observant Jews time from the moment the ingredients are first mixed until the finished bread is removed from the oven. The entire process must take less than eighteen minutes or it is no longer considered unleavened bread. (For older children and teens, this can be the basis of a discussion about the added burdens the Pharisees placed on the people by the time of Jesus and how we must be careful to not do the same.)

For younger children, you may want to explore why the Israelites needed to make unleavened bread instead of ”regular” bread as they were rushing to leave Egypt. Start a recipe of leavened bread at the same time you start your unleavened bread. Choose a recipe that requires the dough to rise twice before baking. Point out that God knew the Egyptians would chase them, so they needed to be ready to leave – and leave quickly- when it was time. Had they waited for bread to rise, it would have slowed them down too much, or they would have left hungry.

As you enjoy your freshly baked bread, discuss what God wants us to remember during communion and compare it to what the Israelites were supposed to remember each year at Passover.

Fun Family Devotional: Stop Playing the Blame Game

“He made me do it!” “It’s not my fault!” “I didn’t have a choice!” Blaming others when bad things happen – especially things that can get one in trouble – is a game that is often learned in childhood. Mind you, it’s not a game that’s taught, like Monopoly, but is learned either by observing others or by accident. If not addressed early, it can become a habit, that when bad enough can cause a separation from God.

The problem with playing the blame game is that it encourages lying and can eventually help the blame shifter develop a victim mindset. It can also lead to blame shifters refusing to repent – because in their minds, no sin is ever their fault. Even if the issue in question is fully the fault of another person, choosing to focus on blaming instead of working to correct the issue can cause the blame shifter to get stuck – never forgiving or moving on. Over time, a victim mindset can leave people stuck in an incident from years past, angry, bitter and any spiritual, emotional or other types of growth hampered because of the amount of time and effort spent ruminating on the past.

So how can you help your children learn to accept responsibility for whatever their part was in a negative situation, while also forgiving those who may have shared the blame (or even been truly totally to blame)? There is a family devotional you can do to launch periodic discussions about blaming others.

Gather your children and tell them the story of King Saul playing the blame game, found in 1 Samuel 13. King Saul wanted to celebrate his army’s victory over the enemy. As part of the celebration, he actually wanted to do something good – thank God with a sacrifice. The Law, however, stated that only a priest like Samuel could actually perform the sacrifice. So Saul waited for Samuel to appear.

Days went by with no sign of Samuel. Finally, King Saul got tired of waiting and did the sacrifice himself. Literally, just as he finished the sacrifice, Samuel finally arrived. Samuel was furious that King Saul had so blatantly broken God’s Law about sacrificing. When he confronted Saul, what did the king do? Blamed everyone else of course!

Now King Saul was not the first, nor the last person to try and blame others for their poor choices or sins. Adam and Eve were the first and people will probably still be trying to blame others for their poor choices until Jesus returns. Notice though how severe the punishment was for Saul’s disobedience. The Kingdom would not be ruled by his family in the future, but by another family. The Bible doesn’t tell us, but one cannot help but wonder if things would have ended differently if King Saul had at least accepted full blame for his sin and repented.

Point out to your children the probable lie in King Saul’s blame game attempt. Saul was king – a king who had successfully led them to victory. Why wouldn’t they wait for Samuel if Saul asked (or told) them to do so? Also note that although it might look like Saul took some responsibility for what happened, notice how it is phrased – “I felt compelled to do so”. Point out that what Saul said is very similar to when we say somebody “made us” do something. Explain that in any situation, we have a choice. We might not like the possible consequences of either option, but there is always a godly option. Even, if like many first century Christians, we find that making the choice to obey God ends up in a bad consequence (prison or death in their case), God still wants us to choose to obey Him.

Explain to your children that the problem with playing the blame game is that we can become so good at it that we don’t even realize we are playing it after awhile. Blaming others for everything bad that happens can become a really bad habit. It can become so bad that we don’t believe we need to be a Christian or repent of our sins, because we are never responsible for making sinful choices.

The first step in breaking the blame game habit is the ability to recognize how easily and often we blame others instead of taking responsibility or working to find solutions. Give each of your children a piece of paper or a little notebook. Explain that for the next week every time they catch someone or themselves trying to blame others instead of taking responsibility for their part of the problem or focusing on blaming someone instead of working to find a solution, they should pay close attention. For each incident, they should record enough information so they can discuss what happened at the end of the week. They can use examples from streaming content, books, newspapers and of course real life. (As the parent, try to capture every example of them or you and your spouse blaming others for something.)

You may want to kick off the exercise by watching a kid’s movie or show that depicts people trying to play the blame game. Help your children identify the incidents as they happen while you watch it together. After it’s finished, discuss any consequences that happened because of characters trying to shift blame (Be sure to point out any unrealistic scenarios that may have also occurred.) This is especially important for younger children who may have a difficult time understanding the concepts you are teaching.

At the end of the week, discuss what everyone observed. Did the exercise make you more aware of how often the blame game is played in our world? Did it make you start to notice how playing the game hurts the blame shifter in the long run? What could people have done differently in some of those situations? How does the blame game relate to God’s commands for us to repent of our sins? Have fun with it, but help them see how blaming others will only hurt them in the long run. (Note: Rare children may overthink this and begin doing the opposite – blaming themselves for things that were not their fault. Work with them to understand the godly balance needed. Taking the blame unnecessarily for others is often not in the other person’s best interest either – as they may need to learn to accept responsibility for their actions, too.)

Fun Family Devotional About Stewardship of Our Lives

When Christians talk about the term stewardship, it is usually in regards to money. Historically, a steward was hired by someone wealthy to help them manage their entire household. The person would be charged with improving the financial holdings through savings and income, but would also be responsible for making sure everything owned was well cared for. For example, if the wealthy man had a vineyard, a manor house and servants, the steward might be in charge of caring for all of those things.

It is crucial your children understand not just the financial aspect of stewardship God expects from His people, but also how to be good stewards over their entire lives. There is a fun ongoing devotional you can do as a family to get everyone in the habit of thinking about being good stewards over everything God has given you to steward.

Call your children together and tell or read them the parable of the minas found in Luke 19:11-27. It is a variation of the more familiar parable of the talents. It’s a little bit edgier, because it also covers those who reject Jesus entirely and their fate. I suggested this particular parable, as it is one most children never hear, but you can also do the other one if you prefer.

Explain to your children the concept of a steward. Tell them that although we may no longer refer to people as stewards, wealthy people and companies have people they hire to manage their assets. These people, just like in the parable, are held accountable for how well they do their job.

Read 1 Corinthians 4:2. Ask your children to list some of the things God has given them stewardship over. Younger children will struggle and may not be able to name anything. Some children will mention money after hearing the parable – especially if they get an allowance or earn money in some way. Rephrase the question a couple of times to see if they can think more deeply about the idea and generate a few more ideas. (What do you think God wants you to take good care of? If God came back today, what might He ask you about, like the master in the parable asked his servants?)

Help them understand stewardship goes beyond just money. God wants them to be good stewards of their health, their time, their influence, their possessions, nature, etc. As you think of new areas, write them on a sheet of paper that you can keep posted on the refrigerator or another place where everyone will see it regularly.

Ask your children to pick one area from the list you made or write each category on a slip of paper. Fold the papers and place them in a bowl, then have either someone choose a paper for the entire group or each person choose a different category.

Regardless of how you choose categories, the challenge is the same. Over the course of the next week you are to figure out what it might mean to be a good steward of that area and make efforts to improve stewardship. For younger children, you may want to discuss what it means to be a good steward in that area and together plan specific things you each want to work on that week to become better stewards in that area. Each person may have different goals depending upon the topic. For example, if the area chosen was being a better steward of my health – one person might decide to exercise more minutes a day while another decides to cut out sugary snacks.

Older children and teens might want a bit less guidance up front and more ability to explore the topic before discussing it as a family. Encourage them to do some research and think about how each of you can become better stewards in that area. Because this may mean breaking bad habits or starting new ones, this may also be a great time to talk about goals and habits.

Have fun with it, but regularly rotate areas to explore what it means to be a good steward in that aspect of life. Look at Luke 12:48 together. What does it mean ”to whom much is given, much will be required”? This topic especially needs to be explored in areas where your family or your children are particularly blessed. It can be easy to coast and give the bare minimum when there is plenty to give. A million dollar gift from a wealthy person may be less than 1% of their wealth, while a million dollar gift from someone poor would be more than they might earn in an entire lifetime. How might this also apply if your children are gifted intellectually or with various talents?

Christians are stewards of more than just money. Teach your children how to be good stewards of their lives and they may just help turn the world upside down in a good way!