Monday, May 24, 2010

Dinner Time Reading

Do you have a time of devotions with your family? I am so grateful that my husband leads us in this way at dinner time. Now for us, dinner time is not every evening (because of work conflicts), so we sometimes have lunch time devotions or even breakfast devotions. When I was working full time, and racing home to spend 20 minutes with Josh at dinner before he raced out to work, we still tried to have a few evenings where we ate together and read and prayed. Sometimes we would simply read Scripture, but lately we've worked through reading books together. Here is what we have read, and I hope these are helpful suggestions to you:

1. Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware.
I wrote about this book when it first came out, and since then have had a child, and was blessed to have Dr. Ware sign and give a copy to Susie (see photo -- this is an older picture of Susie at the book signing). I thought we'd probably keep it on the shelf for a few more years, but Josh suggested we use it for our family devotion time, and I'm so glad he did! We've really enjoyed these short chapters -- it certainly isn't just for children! I know a family that used this book in their family devotion time, and their youngest child is in 7th grade, the oldest are in college. Dr. Ware has written it in a simple and pleasing style that a child can follow, with some really great examples to make "big truths" make sense to "young hearts", but this systematic theology is encouraging and instructive to parents as well.

2. Knowing God by J.I. Packer
We went through this book in our small group at church, and it just made sense to read it together in small segments. The book is broken down into reasonably small sections making a longer book like this work well for dinner time reading. The listeners were all adults (Susie did not listen much), but I think you could read this to a family with older children, as well. Certainly you might not expect them to understand everything, but it's good for them to see Mom and Dad listening and understanding. Or if you are empty-nesters or married without children, you might enjoy reading this book as a couple.

3. Setting Their Hope in God by Andrew Case
I don't think you'll find a better resource for praying for your children. Here is the beautiful prayer I read today (reworded for my own daughter):
"Heavenly Father,
As for me, my prayer is to You.
At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in Your saving faithfulness. And my prayer is this:
Deliver my daughter from sinking in the mire of sin;
Let her be delivered from the deep waters of vanity.
Let not the flood sweep over her, or the deep swallow her up, or the pit of despair close its mouth over her.
Answer me, Oh LORD, or Your steadfast love is good;
According to Your abundant mercy turn to her.
Draw near to her soul, redeem her;
Ransom her because of her frailty."

Wow. I paused after each statement and considered the weight of what I was praying. There is nothing more important than this sort of prayer for our children. I am giving away this book -- go here to enter my drawing if you have not yet.

I wanted to finish with some tips for dinner time reading. This will look to your family unique to your children and their personalities, but this is how it goes down with the Neislers. We have chosen to have this time with Susie at the table with us. Obviously, she does not understand what we are reading, and cannot be counted on to stay quiet. :) But I want her to grow up never being able to remember the time "before" she started joining us for our devotions, so we have her there, loudness and all. We do not have dinner time reading every single day, but usually several times a week at least. Often, we serve ourselves food, and then Josh reads as I feed Susie. Sometimes he reads while Susie and I both eat. Sometimes I read so he can shovel down his food and run out the door and I feed Susie with the other hand (this is not too hard). There have been a few times when he has read after we are finished eating, and I just give Susie Cheerios and a cup of water to keep herself happy -- and fairly quiet. There is something incredibly special about being together as a family like this, and I encourage your family to try to have these times whenever your busy schedule allows!

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