Rousing Recipes for Fun Family Devotions
About the Guest
Building a strong spiritual heritage can start with simple recipe cards! Kurt and Olivia Bruner (parents of four) tell parents how to whip up fun family devotions with FamilyLife's Just Add Family resource. Grab a card and go for new ideas to make family times fun, appealing, and fruitful.
Kurt and Olivia BrunerKurt and his wife, Olivia, have been married since 1985 and have four great kids. He serves as Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Lake Pointe Church and on adjunct faculty with Dallas Theological Seminary. A graduate of Talbot Seminary and former Vice President with Focus on the Family, Kurt led the teams creating films, magazines, books and the popular Adventures in Odyssey program. As President of HomePointe Inc. Kurt also helps local church leaders create a culture of intentional families. He h...more
Building a strong spiritual heritage can start with simple recipe cards!
Rousing Recipes for Fun Family Devotions
Bob: Have you ever tried to have a family night or a family devotion in your house, and things just did not go well at all? Olivia Bruner says, “Don't worry. You're still communicating powerfully with your children.”
Olivia: Basically, you're creating that environment for them to grow and for them to see, "Hey, Mom and Dad are modeling it; and Mom and Dad grow at the same time." That's the neat thing—we have grown through it—I have learned. I mean, as a parent, you learn from your children. They come up with these great statements and sayings during family nights, that I say, "That is a good point." We've developed this atmosphere in our home where faith and spiritual growth is talked about amongst each other.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, December 27th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. As parents, our mission is to disciple our children—to grow them up in the faith. Today, we'll offer some creative ways you can do that. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. Do you like that music that the team—
Dennis: I was kind of wondering, “Where did you get that music?”
Bob: A little bossa nova that they found and they thought they would throw it in here.
Dennis: Yes, we’re moving in on the new year—so it’s good to spice things up a bit.
Bob: Speaking of the new year, we have just a few days left in 2012. I’ve noticed you’ve been praying a little more regularly than I’ve seen you pray in recent days. [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, you know what? You’re laughing about that—
Bob: I’m serious!
Dennis: I have been praying a lot—and have been praying a lot for the past couple of months because we have faced some pretty significant financial challenges over the last 60 days. Fortunately, we have some friends—some families—who have put together a matching fund that is substantial. Bob, it’s time for listeners who appreciate what we do, here at FamilyLife—and on FamilyLife Today—at our Weekends to Remember®—with Hope for Orphans®—our tools and resources we create, like The Art of Marriage® and the new Stepping Up™ video series—all of these initiatives take money.
We need you to step up right now and stand with us and say, “You know what, Dennis? I believe in your ministry. I believe in what you and Bob are doing and in what Barbara is doing on FamilyLife Today. I want to make sure this ministry continues.” Here’s the thing—I want you to think about all of the trashy radio that is out there that is destroying the family and that mocks Christianity. Don’t you think it’s time for us to make sure that radio broadcasts like FamilyLife Today continue and continue to be strong, moving on into the new year? I do.
I, personally, think this is the best investment of my life. Barbara and I are donors. We love to give. We want to be a part of this, and we want to make sure it goes forth in the future; but we need a little bit from a lot of folks to end the year. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Check out the thermometer. You’ll see how short we are. You can make a difference. You can help move the needle, even if it’s just a little bit! Help us move the needle and take full advantage of the matching gift that has been put together by these families.
Bob: Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can make an online donation. Just click the button that says, “I CARE”, to make an online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone. We’ve got folks who would love to talk to you today at 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”. We just want to say, “Thanks,” in advance, for whatever you’re able to do. We appreciate your partnership with us.
Dennis: We do!
Bob: Today, we want to talk about how families can begin the new year, being a little more intentional in the area of spiritual equipping, training, and discipleship.
Dennis: Bob, do you know the thing that this couple who joins us on today's broadcast remind me most about? In fact, every time I see their faces, the image of this occurring—I just break out in a big grin.
Bob: I have no idea what you're talking about. What do you—
Dennis: Well, they wrote a book called PlayStation Nation.
Dennis: It’s about computer games and how we have a generation of young people who are addicted. The story—
Dennis: Remember the story they told of the kids who wouldn't obey their parents; and the mom caught them, in the middle of the night?
Olivia: Yes, that's right.
Dennis: Do you remember, Olivia?
Olivia: Yes, right.
Dennis: What did the mother do?
Olivia: She took the system, and she wrapped it all up, and she went up to their top story, and she threw it off the deck of her house.
Dennis: And it crashed onto the—
Olivia: —and it crashed onto the rocks below.
Kurt: To what she described as the beautiful sound of electronics smashing on the ground.
Olivia: Yes, yes.
Bob: You can't get that out of your mind?
Dennis: I think that's great—
Olivia: It is a great story.
Dennis: It's a great image because the boys who were playing the game were somewhere on one of the other floors, peering out the window.
Kurt: “Mom's lost her mind! Mom's going crazy!”
Olivia: Oh, yes, they tried to wake up Dad, "Dad, stop Mom! Stop her! She's going crazy!"
Bob: Does that stick with you because you've always wanted to go up on the top of the house and throw something off and just see what happens?
Dennis: Perhaps. [Laughter] You know, I think every parent wants to get the upper hand and feel like, for just a moment, they've had it.
Kurt: We should have clarified—make sure the child's hands are off of the remote controls while you're throwing the system over.
Dennis: That is true. That is true. You don't want to wrap the child up with it when you toss it over the edge. Well, anyway, Kurt and Olivia Bruner join us on FamilyLife Today. Kurt and Olivia, welcome back.
Olivia: Thank you.
Kurt: Thanks for having us.
Dennis: I do appreciate that story. And I appreciate this new resource you have created called Just Add Family. Now, Olivia, you were a former schoolteacher—so, you know how to teach—
Dennis: —not only your four children, but other children, as well.
Olivia: Yes, and that was part of it—was to make it fun. Yes.
Dennis: And, Kurt, you worked at Focus on the Family for—
Kurt: Twenty years.
Dennis: Twenty years—I was going to guess 15.
Olivia: Because you look so young.
Dennis: That's it.
Kurt: Those years are flying by.
Dennis: They are. He is now a pastor of Lakepoint Church in Dallas, Texas, and heads up spiritual formation there. I just want to know what caused you to create this—well, it's called Just Add Family. You're not actually making a family—
Bob: It looks like a recipe tin that's in there; doesn't it?
Dennis: It does.
Kurt: Well, people would have to get a picture of what this is. So, you have a tin can there, which really kind of reflects a recipe box or a pre-packaged cake mix; right? The idea being all you have to do is add your family; and it has all you need—easy recipes for faith-filled fun.
We thought this would be a great way for families, who want to be intentional—whether it's at bedtime, or at mealtime, or drive time, or with family night activities, whatever it might be—to be able to just grab a recipe card rather than read a book and say, "Hey, I can take this idea; and I can do that in the next five minutes."
Bob: And you talk about families who want to be intentional. As you think about that, I'm thinking, "I don't know that I—as a dad, as a husband—was ever schooled in the need to be intentional." I think I got married, and had kids, and thought, “Well, you know, you just kind of roll with the punches.”
Kurt: Where you're in a reactive mode, right?
Bob: Probably—and don't you think most parents—most Christians—are?
Dennis: You know, if I hadn't taken a class from Dr. Howard Hendricks at Dallas Theological Seminary, I don't think this concept of being intentional—about making fun family memories, and passing on biblical truth, and giving them core convictions at the same time—would ever have occurred to me.
In fact, I attempted it on my own and had some really dumb games that we played. You know, we gave the kids an old fishing rod and reel that they couldn't hurt—and they didn't have a hook on the end—but we kind of made one, I think, out of a paper clip. I hid behind the couch while they'd throw the line over. As I recall, we made little paper fish that had character qualities on them.
Olivia: Oh, that's great.
Dennis: And so they'd catch a fish, and we'd talk about doing what's right.
Olivia: I love it.
Dennis: Or we'd talk about honesty.
Bob: See, it wasn't dumb. You called it dumb.
Olivia: It wasn't dumb.
Dennis: Well, it didn't certainly have the appeal this has.
Kurt: Well, let me just say that—
Dennis: This is pretty cool.
Kurt: —that idea is not in the Just Add Family kit. [Laughter]
Bob: But it will be in Just Add Family 2, the sequel.
Kurt: Yes, that's right. But I'll say, Dennis, at least you tried something—engaging instead of sitting there and boring your kids. I grew up in a Christian family with great Christian parents. They brought us to church. About once a year, the pastor would preach on having family devotions or family altar, or whatever they would call it. My dad would feel guilty because he wasn't doing anything like that. My mom would nudge him, and then he'd try. So, the seven children—we'd sit on the couch—and he would open his Bible. He's supposed to be inspiring us with the faith or something. We would—you know—we'd sabotage it within a few days because we'd rather go to the dentist than go through something called family devotions.
Well, we didn't want our kids to have their emotional association with our faith to be the most boring, dry time of the week.
Dennis: No doubt.
Kurt: We wanted it to be the thing they look forward to—the time we're going to talk about what we believe is going to be engaging, and fun, and just creating great memories.
Bob: And did you start with that kind of intentionality from day one of the Kurt and Olivia Bruner marriage?
Olivia: No, actually—and that's the encouraging part because we weren't doing anything. I came from a background where I wasn't in a Christian home. So, I didn't have any example to follow. I remember when we first started talking about this—Kurt was vice president of Focus on the Family. He had written books, he was in seminary—
Kurt: Elder at my church.
Olivia: Elder at the church, doing all this stuff for everybody else, but we weren't really doing anything in our own home.
Kurt: In fact, our oldest was five, and our second was three. I went on a business trip—actually, with a guy who worked with IBM—whom you have met and had on the show—Jim Wideman—but at the time, he was working for IBM. He started talking about all these things he's doing with his kids that he called "Family Nights". Boy, I sat there and thought, "I have more education and more—you know, I'm an elder in the church, for heaven’s sake—this is just a layman." So, I started stealing his ideas. We started meeting together for lunch once a month to say, "Hey, here's an idea I tried," or, "Here's one that flopped; but you know, if you twist it this way, it might change."
We just, as a group of guys, started brainstorming, “How can we be intentional with our kids about engaging object-lesson-based activities?” Then we partnered with John Trent, a good friend of mine, who wrote a book called The Blessing. You've probably talked to him about that. “Well, how can we do bedtime blessing? What are some things we could do at bedtime that make it very easy in little, small, spoon-size chunks to bless our children as we're putting them to bed? So, how do we capture those moments?”
Well, a lot of people talk about it—a lot of people want to do it—so, we thought, "Hey, wouldn't it be fun to actually just make some recipe cards that you can grab on the fly and incorporate it into the everyday-ness of life?"
Olivia: And we did realize that it's hard to do. I mean, even as intentional as we want to be and we are in our lives—and to actually get to it is hard. So, to make it easy—and make it into a kit where they can just pull out a card is very simple, easy to read, and it looks fun for the kids—makes it a little bit easier. We feel like, during these years, if we can make it fun—make it appealing when they think about our faith—they have a good feeling, they have love, they have fun—and Mom and Dad—then, we're earning the right, and we're setting up the right, when they're teenagers, to go to the Scripture and have a Bible study with them and discuss worldview issues with them.
Really, you're creating the idea that, “If I have a spiritual question, who do I go to? Yes, I can go to my youth pastor, but I want to go to my Mom and Dad, too, and say ‘What do you think about this?’” You're creating that environment in your home, where faith is discussed as an important part—
Kurt: Earning the right to influence them.
Dennis: And just to kind of assume nothing here, from a biblical perspective, this is commanded in Scripture.
Olivia: Yes, it is.
Dennis: Deuteronomy 6—
Kurt: You had to get to that; didn't you? Well, “If there's something I ought to do, I certainly don't want to do it.”
Dennis: Well, you know, but here's the thing—when God was forming the nation of Israel, and He was sending them off to establish this new nation that had its own spiritual identity—He charged the fathers and mothers with, first of all, modeling a love for God but, secondly, passing it on through the everyday teaching of life—but also formal, intentional teaching.
Bob: So you've had 10/15-plus years, as a family, of trying to be intentional, trying to disciple your kids, and make this kind of thing happen. What has been the net effect of that in the Bruner family, Olivia?
Olivia: Well, the net effect—I would say the bottom line effect is relationship, which is the great part. We have built a very strong relationship with our kids. They know they can talk to us; we know we can talk to them. We have created an environment where they realize we want to talk to them about their faith.
It's also been growth, and every stage is different. I always say, "You know, be flexible—if anything, as a parent, be flexible," because every stage of their spiritual growth is different. It's not about putting a child in a box and saying, "You must look exactly like this or act exactly like this." It's about their relationship with God—and to watch our children begin to develop their relationship with God, starting at a young age, where it was us just telling them through—whether it be a fishing rod and paper fishes or a little—
Kurt: That's a bad idea. [Laughter] I don’t like that idea.
Olivia: Or a little—
Dennis: I think it's a brilliant idea. [Laughter]
Bob: You said it was dumb earlier. Now, you're rising to defend it; huh?
Olivia: Or something a little more high-tech like we do—
Dennis: Yes, there you go.
Olivia: Basically, you're creating that environment for them to grow and for them to see, "Hey, Mom and Dad are modeling it; and Mom and Dad grow at the same time." That's the neat thing—we have grown through it—I have learned. I mean, as a parent, you learn from your children. They come up with these great statements and sayings during family nights, that I go, "That is a good point." We've developed this atmosphere in our home where faith and spiritual growth is talked about amongst each other.
Bob: So give us an idea, Kurt, of what a typical Just Add Family event would look like. If I pulled—
Dennis: No, no, no, let's just pull one out of the can—one of the recipe cards. Kurt, I know you have this one committed to memory.
Kurt: What color—okay—it's the green shaded—
Bob: What does the green one say?
Dennis: This is called a "Special Occasion" recipe, and we need to mention there are bedtime recipes—
Dennis: Mealtime—this one is a “Special Occasion” recipe—in case you need to look and have a cheat sheet there, Kurt. It's card number two of "Special Occasions."
Dennis: Okay, it's called "Spittin' Image".
Kurt: That's right.
Dennis: Spittin' Image.
Bob: Now, wait, this is sounding messy to begin with. I'm not sure.
Kurt: Back up, back up, because here it goes. Okay, so you want to hear, “What does this typically look like?” That's what you're saying; right, Bob?
Kurt: Okay, so, typically, it looks like this: "Oh, my goodness! It's Family Night. We've got to do something. Have you thought of anything to do?" "No, I haven't thought of anything to do, but the kids are expecting us to do something on Family Night."
Dennis: Where is that recipe can?
Kurt: Where is that can? We really wish this can had existed starting 10 or 15 years ago in our house because we had to come up with ideas or call our friends and say, "What did you do last week for Family Night?
So the first step is realizing, "I didn't prepare anything;" alright?
Bob: Okay, so tell me what I'm doing in the spittin' thing now?
Kurt: Alright, you go ahead. Do you want the card?
Olivia: Oooh, I would get the card.
Kurt: Well, let's start with—we'll share the duty here. First of all, the card has at the top the title, and then it says, "Best use. How should you use this card?" The first is: "As a Family Night activity, near a child's birthday, to reinforce their special identity." So you're thinking, "Okay, it's a special occasion recipe card. What's the occasion? Well, one of the kids is having a birthday, let's do something significant."
So you're going to need some ingredients. It lists the ingredients. So, you've got your prep ready here—large pieces of butcher paper available—you can get those from, like, Sunday school supply stores, or grocery stores, or whatever—you need some of those. So, this is one where you'd want to think in advance.
Dennis: You really can go back to the produce section in a grocery store—
Kurt: You can.
Dennis: And just ask them if they'll tear off a chunk of—
Kurt: A big piece of butcher paper.
Dennis: There you go.
Kurt: “What's the nutritional value?” That's listed as well. “The nutritional value of this recipe card is it affirms your child as one made in the image of God.” So, that's the point of what you are about to do.
Bob: All right.
Olivia: Okay, so what you're going to do is—this one actually has two activities—and I always encourage—if you don't want to do them both just do one. But you're going to start out with having your kid lie flat on the paper. You're going to draw basically an outline of them, and actually let them do it. If you have a couple of them, let one child outline one and, then, the other child outlines the other.
Dennis: So if you have six kids, like we do, you might want to slip the butcher five bucks. [Laughter]
Bob: You might need to become the butcher.
Kurt: Buy something when you ask for the paper. [Laughter]
Dennis: I'm just picturing how much paper that would take.
Olivia: We have gotten a lot of questions when we've had to get things for Family Night from people, "What do you need that for?" —you know? Yes, so they are basically making a spittin' image—hence, the title—of themselves on this. Then, you're going to get out the markers; and they are going to, after their outline is drawn, they're going to actually make a picture of themselves—make it look as much like them as they can.
Kurt: So if they're wearing blue pants, they might color the pants blue, and so forth.
Olivia: Okay, so after you do that—and that's going to take a while—so that's what I mean—if you just want to do that one, that will work. But if you have kids that are just having a blast, and you're engaged, and you're not in a hurry to get to bed, then, “Let's do the next one.” You're going to get out your play dough, and you're going to do the same thing—you're going to try to make an image of yourself with the play dough. If you're a boy, obviously, you're hair is shorter; if you're a girl, it's going to be longer; and this is fun. This is all about creating an atmosphere where you are having fun with your family.
Dennis: So act goofy, have fun with your kids.
Olivia: Yes, exactly!
Kurt: Right, the two-year-old’s messing with the play dough while they're supposed to be drawing; that's okay.
Dennis: It's not a matter of achieving the objective. It's a matter of building relationship—
Bob: And driving home a spiritual principle, at the same time; right?
Kurt: And, honestly, especially when the kids are younger, I'm less concerned about whether they get the point than they've emotively-connected: “When we talk about God in this family, it's a great time;” alright? I want to reinforce, at the emotional level— whether they get the point or not—although, they get a lot of points.
Olivia: They get them; yes.
Dennis: And Family Night is going to be a fun time; right? I mean, Family Night is not going to be, "Oh, here comes another lecture from dad."
Bob: So far, there has been no actual spitting involved in this. Is there spitting coming somewhere? [Laughter]
Kurt: "Spittin' image" is actually a phrase, Bob, that’s used—“You're in the spittin' image of God.” We're going to get there.
Bob: I was too literal on this; wasn't I? —too black and white.
Olivia: Okay, so after—
Kurt: Although, that's a great idea!
Bob: No, no, no. I should not have suggested—
Kurt: Dennis could come up with a good activity for that.
Dennis: There's been some real interesting Family Nights at Bob's house, over the years. Keep going, Olivia.
Olivia: Okay. The point of this is they have made two different examples of their image. Then, you're going to take some time and get quiet. This is where they do sit and listen, and we do go into the Bible. I had a pastor ask me, "Well, you don't open your Bible and read chapters at a time at Family Night?" I said, "No, but we are not opposed to opening your Bible." I mean, you want to—
Kurt: In moderation—in moderation. [Laughter]
Olivia: We want you to open your Bible— that's not what we're saying. This isn't in lieu of your Bible, this is in addition to. So we, then, open it up and start talking about what does it mean to be made—us— to be made in the image of God? We start that discussion with them.
Dennis: I have to stop you, Kurt, because some just heard you kind of kid about this—"In moderation". Why do you say that word?
Kurt: Well, because, actually—well, it isn't just—but you can only feed—to your children so much at a time; right? You can't—you're not going to want to read six chapters of the Scripture in association with it or else what you've done is you've lost them. You want to drill home the specific, very limited concept of what you're dealing with, at that time.
Bob: So, in one sense, you were teasing when you said, "in moderation"; but in another sense, you were saying—
Kurt: It is in moderation.
Bob: Don't pour too much into a thimble.
Olivia: Yes, exactly.
Dennis: Yes, yes. It's just like when they're young—you don't pour that much fluid in the glass. Of course, they have sippy cups, now, that can't spill, anyway. So, that's a bad illustration.
Olivia: That worked before, though.
Bob: And you don't want them to over-eat cotton candy and candy corn or there's going to be a mess that way, too; right?
Kurt: Well, you do have to be sensitive to “Where is the child?” in terms of their ability to comprehend and so forth. Like, “Do we want to deal with the doctrine of the Trinity at five?” Well, in truth, our daughter was sitting there one day. We've gotten into the habit of catching—kind of getting clues of what they're picking up and such. My daughter was sitting there, very intensely concentrating, as if somebody trying to thread a needle. She was thinking; and she said, "Okay, God lives in our heart, and Jesus lives in our heart. So, both of those guys do." [Laughter] We realized, "I don't think she's getting all of the concepts we're trying to get across, but she's reaching for them.” That's the goal.
Olivia: That's exactly right.
Dennis: You know, I'm reaching into the can here. There's a "memory pantry", that's kind of a clear plastic box, that's in there. I'm assuming you've got 52.
Kurt: There are 48. We wanted to assume that you're not going—
Bob: You're going to take a vacation?
Kurt: Yes, that there's—
Dennis: Forty-eight recipes, then, for special occasions, bedtime, mealtime—
Kurt: The goal was, “If you could do it four times a month, over a year.”
Dennis: Here is Bob's secret sauce recipe. That must be where the spitting occurs.
Bob: [Laughter] I don't spit in my sauce. What are you talking about?
Dennis: “Cooking from scratch”—it's all about doing what Psalm 78 talks about, which is passing on the truth about God to your children—and you, as a parent—your experience of God, as a follower of Jesus Christ.
Kurt: That's right.
Dennis: And, you know, that is the command of Scripture to us, as parents, to make that handoff in the relay race so that our children, as much as it depends upon us, don't end up being in that 50 percent category you were talking about where we lose them.
Here is my challenge—I want to challenge every listener—that has a family—and I think you can use this 12 and under. I think you could use it a little older than that—but even if they spread out beyond that—take the next 12 months and become intentional, in your family, about passing on the truth of God's Word to your children. And, frankly, Bob, this can right here and the recipes would be a great way to start.
Bob: I mean, it's a recipe box and it’s got recipes for how you can be intentional. That’s a word we’ve kicked around a lot here. If you've already got something that's working for you in your family at home, fine. Stay after it! Keep doing that.
But if you’ve heard us talking about some of the ideas that are in Just Add Family and you’d like to begin using a tool like this that kind of spells it out for you and makes it easy for you, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. You can order the Just Add Family resource from us on our website —FamilyLifeToday.com—or you can call, toll-free, at 1-800-FL-TODAY.
We’ve added some other resources that are designed to help families have family devotion times together. There’s a great book by Marty Machowski called Long Story Short that you could use, as well. It takes you through the Old Testament. I think the point is—get involved. Do something in the new year.
Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information on the resources we have available or call toll-free: 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.
Now, we just have a couple of days to go before we’ll be in 2013, which means we just have a couple of days left to take advantage of the matching-gift opportunity that’s been made available to us, as you heard Dennis mention at the beginning of today’s program. If you can make a yearend contribution to help us take full advantage of the $4.1 million matching fund, we would appreciate you doing whatever you can do. Be as generous as you can be and help FamilyLife enter the new year in a good place, financially.
We would love to hear from you. You can make a donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY” —make a donation over the phone. Again, we appreciate your financial support of the ministry and we look forward to hearing from you.
We want to encourage you to be back with us again tomorrow when we're going to continue our conversation with Kurt and Olivia Bruner and talk about how we can cultivate a regular habit—a practice—of discipling our children intentionally. We’ll talk about that tomorrow. I hope you can be here.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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