Fun Mealtime Family Devotional

Have you ever thought about how many Bible stories involve food? Whether it’s Abigail preparing food to take to David in an attempt to avoid disaster or the Last Supper, food plays a role in numerous Bible stories and scriptures outside of the context of a story.

The dining traditions and even many of the foods in these scriptures may be unknown to your kids. As a result, when they hear or read about those things in the Bible they have little understanding of what is being said. This can confuse them or even convince them the Bible is too hard to read. The good news is you can have fun, teach them some important food related customs and words and improve their Bible reading comprehension at the same time.

The set up for your “Bible” meal can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. If you have older kids or teens, you can have them do some research to help. The basics would involve creating a table space on the floor with fabric or a tabletop flat on the floor (card tables and banquet tables with the legs folded work great for this). Throw pillows on the floor next to the table for you and your kids to lounge against as you eat. People generally ate with their hands from communal serving dishes, but individual plates and bowls did exist and I’m sure were used depending upon the situation.

The menu can be as simple as rustic bread, dates, figs, grapes, olives, fish (some suggest sardines), lamb, quail (ask your butcher), etc. If you want your kids more involved in preparing the foods, try a lentil soup recipe (spoons did exist then!) or making unleavened bread. You can find lists of every food mentioned in the Bible and authentic recipes with a quick search online.

Want to really teach your kids some important lessons? Have a basin of warm water and wash their feet before they sit at your table. Share with them some of the stories from the Bible involving food. Talk about the things that were discussed at the Last Supper. Marvel at the miracles of Jesus feeding the 5000 and then the 4000. (Fun fact. It is believed the 12 baskets of leftovers at the feeding of the 5000 represented the 12 tribes of Israel. The 7 baskets of leftovers at the feeding of the 4000 is thought to have represented all of the Gentiles who were referred to as the 7 nations at the time.)

Have fun with it. There are so many Bible stories involving food, you can do this more than once, changing the menu to match the story. It’s a fun way to teach your kids some important lessons from the Bible while helping them better understand what they are reading in it.

Defining “Christian” for Your Kids

Occasionally, I will watch popular shows to get a gauge for the current culture in entertainment – especially content created for kids and teens. I’ve noticed recently a disturbing trend in content that can have an extremely negative impact on young people being raised in Christian homes.

While it’s not new for popular content to subtly or openly mock Christians and their beliefs, this new trend may be more insidious. It seems to be more common on reality type shows, but can be found everywhere. A character or a member of the cast openly and often proudly claims to be a Christian and to value his or her faith. In fact, the person may say his or her faith is one of the most important things in his or her life.

Almost immediately, however, the person engages in what I would term a sin that is obvious to almost anyone with even a passing knowledge of Christian beliefs….like taking all of their clothes off in public, having sex with someone to whom they aren’t married, etc. Or the person will state a belief they have because they are Christians and then do that very thing, but in perhaps less obvious ways – for example, that they don’t believe in lying – but then proceed to detail all of the ways they will lie….but don’t “count” because they aren’t “real” lies.

When your kids are exposed to content like this – or even similar people and ideas in real life – their understanding of who a Christian is and how a Christian lives life becomes skewed. I don’t believe these people are lying when they say they love God, they just don’t know who they are supposed to be as a Christian. So they have become a secular person, living a largely ungodly life, but one who believes in God.

That is not even close to the Christian life God wants for you or your kids. He wants Christians to stand apart from their culture – not partake of it in the same ways as unbelievers. Your kids need you to define for them who a Christian is in real and concrete terms with lots of practical examples. They need to understand, not just the commands of God, but the underlying principles as well. They need to know what God wants them to do as much as they know what God doesn’t want them to do. They need to thoroughly understand they will be different from most people, because that is how they will stand out from the crowd so others know to whom they should go to learn about God and the life He wants for them, too.

Don’t assume because your kids attend Church and Bible classes, that they know any more about who God wants them to be than any other young person in the world. You need to be “quality control” and make sure their understanding of what it means to live a Christian life is thorough and correct. Otherwise, they may end up not living their faith at all.

Raising Agenda Savvy Kids

Paul and the other New Testament writers mention people who are calling themselves Christians, but have agendas that aren’t godly. They also mention at times the various agendas of people who aren’t Christians. In fact, they even admit to having their own agenda – teaching people the Gospel message and helping them get to Heaven.

The writers of the Bible aren’t the only creators of content who have an agenda. In fact every author of an article or book, every screen writer, anyone who creates content has an agenda. Sometimes, the agenda is merely to provide entertainment for others to enjoy. Often, however, those who create content for you and your kids to consume have additional agendas. We don’t always notice them, but they still impact us anyway. Children are especially susceptible to being influenced by these hidden agendas.

Your kids probably understand the Bible and their textbooks are trying to teach them things someone wants them to learn. What they probably don’t realize is that their favorite video game, show, movie or book may also be created by someone who is trying to convince them to believe what the author believes. They also need to understand that whether or not they are aware of these messages, if they hear them often enough, they will start to believe they are true – regardless of whether or not they are. Your kids also need to be aware that often these ideas are not only questionable, but are in direct opposition to what God wants them to believe.

Your kids will need your help recognizing these hidden agendas and messages. They will need to learn how to compare them to the Bible and see if they are ideas they should accept or reject. As your kids consume content, discuss what messages they believe the authors hid in the content. Help them find scriptures that help them know whether they should accept or reject those messages. Teach them how to read between the lines of reviews and summaries to see if they can detect hidden agendas and avoid engaging with content that may increase the likelihood they will become desensitized to sin. Show them sites like pluggedin.com that were created to help Christians understand hidden agendas and messages in creative content so they can make wise decisions about what to consume.

Your kids may need to have several discussions about how false messages can desensitize them to sin and eventually convince them something God has said is sinful is not only okay, but praiseworthy. They will want to engage with the same content their peers are and will need to become strong to make better choices for their faith to stay strong. It won’t be easy, but your kids need you to help them be agenda savvy. It can protect them from having their Christian beliefs constantly undermined by people who have rejected God and His commands.

Fun Ways to Use Cooking to Teach Your Kids About God

Cooking is a life skill your kids will be glad they have as they enter their young adult years. What if you could teach them about God at the same time you are teaching them to cook? What if you could also serve others and share your faith at the same time?

You may not have really paid much attention before, but food is mentioned a lot in the Bible. Sometimes it is part of a story. At other times it is used to describe a promise of God or for other purposes. There are so many mentions of different types of food, you could easily teach your kids kitchen skills, how to make certain recipes and cover quite a bit of scripture at the same time. You can even share the finished products with someone to serve them and your kids can share their faith as they explain why they cooked those specific foods.

Here are some foods, at least one scripture where each is mentioned and the cooking lesson you could pair with it.

  • Almonds are mentioned in the story of Joseph in Genesis 43:11 and an interesting story about Aaron’s rod in Numbers 17:8. Assuming your kids aren’t allergic to nuts, you could teach them the different varieties of nuts and teach them how to shell each type. Or you could focus on the almonds and make a Jewish recipe for almond bread. Although the recipe probably doesn’t go back as far as the Bible, it is considered a historical Jewish recipe.
  • Figs are mentioned in the story of Abigail and David in 1 Samuel 25:18 and in the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree that wasn’t producing figs in Mark 11:13. This ancient recipe is considered a Roman recipe (amongst others), but since
    this recipe is popular in many countries in the area, it is probably similar to that for the fig cakes Abigail gave David and his men.
  • Salt, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, etc. Spices are mentioned in the Bible, too. Matthew 5:13, Matthew 23:23, Numbers 11:5 and other verses mention various spices. Spices served to not only add flavor during Bible times, but in some cases helped preserve foods or slowed the growth of germs that cause food poisoning. Have your kids taste the various spices and try cooking this chicken recipe with coriander and cumin that is popular today during Passover.
  • Lamb is associated with Passover and the last supper as well as numerous other stories about sheep. Try a new lamb recipe.
  • Quail is from one of the more humorous stories in the Old Testament (To us, probably not so much to the Israelites!) in Exodus 16. You probably won’t see quail in the meat area of your grocery store, but the butchers in ours either keep some in the back or will order it for you.
  • Locust and honey made up the diet of John the Baptist. You can find edible locusts/crickets/grasshoppers (basically the same insect) at wilderness and hiking stores or online.
  • Fish were caught for a living by Peter, Andrew, James and John. Scholars think the fish was probably tilapia which, once again, your butcher can get if they don’t carry it.
  • Bread was a staple and was probably either unleavened, rustic whole grain or a bread similar to pita bread today. Bread is mentioned in numerous Bible stories and a quick Google search can help you find one new to your kids. You can find lots of possible recipes online depending upon which type of bread you want to make. Remember for any Passover story, the bread would have been unleavened. Otherwise it was probably the rustic bread or the pita type bread.

There are quite a few other foods in the Bible that you can use to continue your cooking and Bible lessons, but these should give you a great start. Have fun with it. Your kids will remember the Bible stories you share while cooking even better than the ones you normally just tell them.

Fun Activities to Teach Your Kids About Communication

Communication is a wonderful thing…when it works well. Unfortunately, in families – particularly amongst siblings – there can be communication issues that can damage and eventually sever relationships. There are some fun activities connected to Bible stories that can help you start teaching your kids about communication.

For both activities, you will need materials your kids can use to build something. For older kids you want to make the “building supplies” as unique as possible. Think uncooked pasta, straws, marshmallows, etc. For younger children, blocks or Legos work well.

For the first activity, tell your kids the story of the Tower of Babel found in Genesis 11:1-9. Give your kids the building supplies. Tell them they must build the tallest tower possible without talking. The older your kids are, the more difficult you can make the task…like they need to use all of the supplies or it has to hold a certain amount of weight. Giving older kids a time limit can also up the pressure. Be extremely strict about the no talking rule. No noises, etc.

When time is up, ask your kids the problems they faced because they couldn’t talk. Would it have been easier if they could speak? What if they could speak, but spoke different languages? Why is it difficult to communicate without words? Why do our words sometimes make communicating more complicated?

For the second activity, tell your kids the story of Nehemiah found in the Bible book of the same name. This time, your kids need to build a wall using the materials you provided, but this time they can talk. As soon as they start, starting yelling at them and try to distract them like the people did in the book of Nehemiah. If needed, call their names, ask them questions…anything you can verbally do to distract them from their building before time expires.

Afterwards, discuss how distractions can make communication more complicated. How did it feel when one of their siblings was trying to tell them something, but you kept interrupting the conversation and/or distracting them? How much more difficult did it make their communication? What things distract them when others are trying to communicate with them? Why is it important to minimize possible distractions when having a conversation? With older kids, this is a great time to talk about how devices impact communication.

Have fun with it. Future activities can encourage them to communicate well and handle communicating in godly ways with someone when they are in conflict. For now, just get them thinking about the importance of clear, undistracted communication.