This week: The Desires of Our Heart

Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Using colored mini-marshmallows, let children arrange them on a non-stick baking sheet in any way they like, as long as they’re touching. I recommend using parchment or wax paper. They might create pictures of their favorite things, or fun patterns. You are going to bake them in the oven at 300 degrees for 5-10 minutes. They will melt together, and kids will be able to admire (or eat!) their works of art.

As the marshmallows are baking, tell the kids the scripture verse for this week and discuss what it might mean to them:  What does it really mean to delight in the Lord?  What are the desires of your heart? Check on the marshmallows…

Have the kids find Psalm 37:4 in their Bibles and read them aloud. They may be slightly different, but will have the same message. If they are using the NIRV version it should be this: Find your delight in the Lord. Then he will give you everything your heart really wants.

Don’t forget about the marshmallows! Take the marshmallow cookies out of the oven now!

marshmallow pic devo

As the treats are cooling, ask the kids to re-write the verse in their own words, and be prepared to be amazed at their unique understanding of God’s word. Encourage them to dig into God’s Word even more during the coming week.  evan devo

Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

This week: Be Silent!

We think even a foolish person is wise if he keeps silent. We think he understands what is right if he controls his tongue.  -Proverbs 17:28

I like the way Mark Twain (or Abraham Lincoln, the attribution is debatable) is credited for describing Proverbs 17:28 this way: “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

There is so much wisdom in keeping silent. Do you ever re-think a conversation, wishing you could claw back that thoughtless comment. It takes work to control our tongue. It is a serious flaw: The more we speak, our chance of pronouncing damaging remarks greatly increases. The more we speak, the more trouble and drama we’ll heap on ourselves. Fact.

The words of our mouth can trap us – Proverbs 6:2

When we speak too much, sin abounds – Proverbs 10:19 

Harsh words are like swords – Proverbs 12:18

So in conclusion, the more we keep quiet, the smarter we’ll appear!
To help us remember to keep our mouths closed, we’ll play Chubby Bunny. The trick to this game is to see how many marshmallows we can ft in our mouth and still close it enough to properly say “Chubby Bunny”. Obviously, use caution when asking young children to stuff their mouths to overflowing 🙂  Maybe use small marshmallows for young children, but middle school on up to adult can play using large marshmallows.Count on using at least four large marshmallows for each player. The rules are: no swallowing, no spitting, no chewing, no drooling. The toughest part is actually the drool, in my humble opinion. Keep going around and having each player add one more marshmallow and clearly speaking “Chubby Bunny”. When all players but one have been disqualified, you’ll have your Chubby Bunny Champion!
Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this family night work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

Welcome to the easiest family devotional you’ll ever come across- Marshmallow Madness! We can do this!

I challenge you to spend 20 minutes a week being intentional about passing your faith on to your kids
           …and all you need is a bag of marshmallows.

This week: Be Content

” I’m not saying that because I need anything. I have learned to be content no matter what happens to me. I know what it’s like not to have what I need. I also know what it’s like to have more than I need. I have learned the secret of being content no matter what happens. I am content whether I am well fed or hungry. I am content whether I have more then enough or not enough. I can do everything by the power of Christ. He gives me strength.”  -Phil 4:11-13

I’d like to highlight a fantastic ministry: Family Time Training. I was fortunate to get trained from the founder, Kirk Weaver. He’s spent years planning unique and fun family activities that deliver a great message with eternal perspective. He offers free family night adventures at www.famtime.com .Try this one, adapted from the Halloween alternative activity here:

The same way we choose which attitude (or face) we wear, we’re going to put faces on marshmallows. Present each child with one of the following situations and have the children show you how their own face might look as they colour the emotion as a marshmallow face.

• There is a young girl who usually goes to bed at 8:00 pm. She stayed up late and it is now 4 hours past her regular bedtime.

• A boy thought his mom was in the backyard and he was all alone in the house. He went into a dark closet to get a clean shirt, and he heard a voice say, “What are you doing?”

• A girl just scored the winning goal in a soccer game.

• A boy is trying to get the attention of his friends by pretending to fall down and telling funny jokes.

• A girl just found out that her cat got outside and is missing.

One of the earliest Christians was a man named Paul. Paul wrote several of the books in the Bible, and he was persecuted for being a Christian. Do you know what persecuted means? People try to hurt you because of what you believe. Paul also had very hard times as he traveled around to tell others about Jesus. Listen to all the things that happened to Paul. Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-27.Paul was put in jail just for telling others about Jesus. How do you think Paul felt in prison? Talk about what it must have been like to be in prison. Hard! Paul tells us in one of his letters that he was “content” in prison. In fact, Paul tells us that he has learned to be content despite his circumstances. Read Philippians 4:11-13 together. Paul was content (happy and peaceful) when he had food, and when he didn’t have food. Paul teaches us that we can choose our attitude (what face we put on). We don’t have to let circumstances, the things that happen to us, determine our attitude. Just as Paul chose to be content when he was in jail wrongfully, we can choose to be content even during bad times. When we wake up in the morning, we can choose to be grumpy or we can choose to have good attitudes. When someone hurts our feelings, we can choose to let that ruin our day or we can choose to forgive and start over feeling happy.

Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

Welcome to the easiest family devotional you’ll ever come across- Marshmallow Madness!

I challenge you to spend 20 minutes a week being intentional about passing your faith on to your kids
           …and all you need is a bag of marshmallows.

This week: Casting Lots

“Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart.” Proverbs 18:18

Take some large marshmallows and encourage the kids shape them into dice. Once the die is formed, mark it with dots from 1 – 6 with a permanent marker. (These will not be edible)  It will harden in that shape. Practice throwing them to see if they really are equal sided. Probably not, but don’t worry, its all for fun!

Explain what “casting the lot” actually means. It is the fairest way to make a decision when there isn’t a clear answer. It isn’t gambling, because there isn’t a hope for gain and a fear of loss. When each outcome has the same chance there isn’t a win and a loss, it’s one way to choose between two equally right options.  In ancient times they used colored rocks and sticks mainly, now we tend to use dice or flip a coin. Some families use “pick a number between 1 and 10” and the closest to the predetermined secret number decides the outcome, and others use “rock, paper, scissors” or other games of chance.
dice
This story may be helpful in explaining the idea that sometimes in a problem both sides are right, and more than one answer is fair, yet we still have to make a decision:
It’s Not Fair!
Imagine 2 teams playing soccer together. The Big Blue Team is older and has been practicing for 2 extra years. They are better skilled then Young Yellow Team and within a few minutes the Big Blue’s have scored 3 goals on the Young Yellow’s. The Young Yellow Team complains It’s Not Fair! because Big Blue is bigger kids that they could never beat. The parents discuss switching some of the Blue Team players with the Young Yellow’s to make both teams more evenly matched. The Big Blues argue that Its Not Fair! to break up their team just because they been practicing extra hard. They deserve to win.
What should the parents do? Which answer is more fair?
Whatever the children decide, they’re right!
Both solutions are right and both fair, depending on who’s perspective you’re thinking about. If you’re on Young Yellow Team you’d think the match-up wasn’t very fair to begin with. If you’re a part of the Big Blue Team, you might think you’re entitled to beat them fair and square.
Aren’t family members sometimes “strong opponents”? Does it ever feel unfair? Role play a problem kids are coming up with and pretend to roll the dice to decide the outcome. Is this a good method to solve problems? When would it be a good idea to cast the lot? Look up Proverbs 18:18 in your Bibles, and pray for wisdom to know how to settle disputes, especially with strong opponents!
Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

Welcome to the easiest family devotional you’ll ever come across- Marshmallow Madness! We can do this!

I challenge you to spend 20 minutes a week being intentional about passing your faith on to your kids
           …and all you need is a bag of marshmallows.

This week: Peacemakers

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

Hold up one colored mini-marshmallow and say something like “Look at this 1 lonely marshmallow. It can’t do much by itself, but when we put a bunch of them together we can create something beautiful!”

Peacemakers are people that try and bring harmony. They help everybody feel good, even though we are all different.

Create a picture with colored mini-marshmallows. Family members can make their own pictures separately or work together to produce a giant masterpiece. Enjoy this time together and mention how the different colors and patterns make everything better.

marshmallow

Keep a handful of marshmallows handy and let the kids know that for the next few days, whenever you notice somebody in the family going out of their way to be a peacemaker you’ll reward them with a “piece” of marshmallow 🙂

Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he grows old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Train.”  It’s an interesting word… because it can be interpreted so many ways.  To some it can mean discipline.  To others it can mean to educate, but I believe it is meant to mean a good mix of both with a slant towards educating.  Too often we think of training as punishing undesirable behavior. However, training for a sport means we practice good habits until they become natural to us. We research the best methods for success and we re-run those methods over and over to get across that finish line first. When we fail, we analyse what went wrong.  If we can put so much effort into training for things like sports, why aren’t we, as parents, putting in all the work for our children? Training our children the way they should go is more comprehensive then having them sit in a corner for a designated length of time.

We should be applying the same principles to train up our children, so they can succeed at the most valuable race they will ever make: the future that God has planned for them. Three words will get you started on the right path:

Practice, practice, practice.

Practice trouble areas.  Here’s a common example.  How many times have you felt helpless just trying to get the kids out the door in the morning?  Simple disobediences’ can lead to quick tempers and just a bad start to the day.  So… practice it.  (Never in the morning! ) Call a family meeting, pick a time and explain how “disobedience at the door” affects everyone.  Have them practice getting coats on, sitting quietly, or whatever else you want to see in the morning routine.  Make it fun, grab a stop watch and time the family.  By practicing trouble areas, without the “time crunch busy go-go” morning environment, you will start to see… better mornings out the door!  If a certain child displays selfishness, have him or her practice showing love and selflessness by thinking of 3 things they can do to add value to those around him.  Praise character as it increases, and acknowledge even the smallest change of heart as it becomes evident.  This is a smart way to walk out the daily faith commanded in Deuteronomy 6.

Link everything to character. Instead of asking a child to put away their toys, ask them to show diligence to complete their task. Don’t just talk about not being late; instead explain how being punctual demonstrates respect. If you’re going to have a chart and put stickers on it when a certain habit is established, make sure to reward the character not the habit. For example, “You did a great job of making your bed, and brushing your teeth this week!”  This could be better explained by adding “You showed respect for our home by getting your responsibilities done on time!”

Here is a link that lists character traits (and their opposites) along with a Biblical definition and Bible verse for each. Spend time focusing on a different attribute each month, or post it on the fridge and consult it when you see a particular weakness that needs addressing.

Teach your children character now, and it will equip them for success in their own race.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

Got a great idea to teach character? Please comment and pass it on!