Fun Family Devotional and Service Project

There is a passage in Acts that provides not only an interesting devotional topic, but an opportunity for a family service project. In Acts 19, Paul is in Ephesus. Several interesting things happen, but starting in verse eleven (through verse twenty), it really gets intriguing.

Evidently, Ephesus was an area where the people were heavily into magic (not the entertainment kind) and it appears even some of the Jews considered themselves exorcists. When they tried to replicate the miracles Paul had been doing, however, they were unable to do so. Eventually, the people became convicted that what they were doing was wrong and brought out their magic books (scrolls) to be burned.

This story makes a great springboard for discussing with your children the influence books can have on their hearts and minds. What are some books that they believed changed their thinking or attitude about something? Was it a change of which God would approve? Have they ever read a book they believe wasn’t good for them to have read for some reason? Why? What kinds of books might it be smart for them to avoid reading? What types of books should they read more often? This is also a great time to remind them the Bible is a library of 66 books and reading each book is important because they contain things God wants them to know.

Don’t let the conversation veer too far away from self censoring the books they read. This is not the time for a political discussion on censoring others. The discussion could extend, of course, to the content they stream, the music they listen to, etc. Remind them every creator has an agenda. Some are helpful and some not so much. Very little content is as neutral as we want to believe. You may even want to teach them how to evaluate a book for beneficial or harmful content before reading it.

Finally, start collecting good Christian and other books to donate to a ministry that could use them. Urban ministries and faith based tutoring programs rarely have enough books. Ministries that work with children in other countries may have a hard time finding children’s books in their language or bilingual ones in their language and English. Or raise money for children’s Bibles (many languages only have one version – usually in language equivalent to the old KJV and need children’s Bibles to make the Bible more understandable for those who are young) or Christian books for children and teens (remember, not every Christian book contains truth either).

Have fun with it, but make sure your kids have the tools to make wise choices about the books they read.

Fun Bible Survival Activities for Families

One of the challenges for families wanting to have Bible studies together is how to make it more fun when they have time for more than just reading scripture and discussing it. We may have just the solution you need.

On our website, we have hundreds of fun activities directly tied to specific Bible stories which you can use to reinforce the spiritual meaning, application principles, academic subjects or even do family service projects connected to scripture readings.

One fun category is sustenance and survival. Originally devolved for children living in lower income countries, the activities can be fun and different for kids in higher income areas. Not only will they learn some helpful skills if they are ever caught in the wilderness, they can also use them to teach others in the mission field.

The activities are all tied to specific Bible stories. What kid wouldn’t want to learn how to make a battery from food, purify water, make food using the heat from the sun, use the stars as a GPS and more? More importantly, they will have opportunities to better understand the themes behind many of the Bible stories they have heard before and many ones that may be new to them.

Currently, we have over forty activities in this category and are adding more. Best of all the lessons are all free! So the next time you have the space for a longer devotional have some fun with one of our survival activity Bible lessons!

(Here’s the link Just scroll down until you see the survival category on the left and click on it for the list of activities and links.)

Family Fun With Bible Proverbs

Proverbs is a great book of the Bible to explore with children and teens. It has great, godly advice in easy to understand snippets. It has colorful and sometimes funny imagery. It even has thirty one chapters so each day of any month has a chapter to focus upon. Why not make studying Proverbs a fun family project?

Decide whether you want to read the proverbs aloud or independently. Although reading them to your kids is great, because Proverbs is a relatively easy book to understand, it also makes a good one to begin transitioning your kids to independent Bible study. If your kids haven’t been studying the Bible daily, you may want to start with covering only a few verses a day. Older children and strong readers may be able to process a chapter a day. Proverbs is packed with so much good information, that trying to focus on more than one chapter at a time can become overwhelming and undermine the possibility of specific proverbs taking root in the hearts and minds of your kids.

Regardless of how you decide to read the daily passage, choose a time of day when everyone can come together for at least a few minutes to discuss it. Attach the discussion to something you always do – like eating breakfast or a bedtime routine. The anchored habit will serve as a reminder to discuss the scriptures for the day.

When talking about each passage, focus on a few basic questions:

  1. What stood out to you in these verses?
  2. What do you think God wants you to learn from this passage?
  3. What is one thing you are going to change because of these verses?
  4. What is one thing you can share with your friends about these verses?

Notice that the questions are designed to encourage paying attention to the scripture, understanding the meaning of the scripture, putting it into action in their lives and sharing their faith with others.

On days when you have more time, do some fun activities based around the Proverbs. Make scripture art to display around your home. Find all of the fun imagery in Proverbs and explain why God might have used those vivid word pictures. Create a children’s book where each family member writes and illustrates a page or two about different Proverbs. Write and perform a puppet show for neighborhood or church children about Proverbs. Design and create tee shirts of a favorite Proverb. Make bookmarks with a proverb on them and give them away. Focus on living one Proverb each day and talk about what happened when you focused on living out that Proverb.

Have fun with it, but make sure your kids know, understand and live Proverbs. It’s a great way to instill Christian character traits and attitudes in a fun, easy to understand way.

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.