Meal Magic

Do you sense, as I do, how time-poor and frazzled our home-life has become over the past few decades? Dinner often consists of a drive through hamburger wolfed down between the orthodontist and soccer practice.

Has your home become little more than a place to sleep and shower? Families desperately need time together, and it is our privilege as women to set the tone for happy, healthy times of refreshment for everyone who lives under our roofs.

Let’s not lose the joy of sharing at least one home-cooked, nutritious, and creatively presented sit-down meal a day. Meals were a part of Jesus’ ministry. He knows that food builds a closer kind of community. Sorrows can be shared, humor enhanced, joys celebrated, and courtesies reinforced.

In our home it is dinner. Maybe breakfast would work better for you. But if you don’t plan and prepare for it, it won’t get done, and you will miss the wonderful blessing of soothing and satisfying your loved ones. Shared meals mean shared relationships—and shared relationships mean a more secure future together in Christ.

When our four children were at home, we found our evening meal was the optimal time to teach our children the “glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders he has done” (Ps. 78:4b). Ray and I organized our schedules to allow for at least one hour together as a family every day. This wasn’t easy, but it was worth every effort!

We would use the time gathered round our dinner table to discuss our days and teach good manners. We wanted to train our kids to be “competent to stand in the king’s palace” (Dan. 1:4) and prepare them to “be prudent in speech, and a man of good presence” (1 Sam. 16:18). Napkins in their laps (those who forgot had to go to the next room and count to fifty!), please and thank yous, looking round the table to see if anyone needed what was in front of them—these and other good manners could be lovingly reinforced.

But beyond the common courtesies of dining together, we were able to talk of the things of the Lord. How had we seen Him at work during our day? What happy things had happened? Challenges? What special kindnesses had we seen in each other that could be publicly honored?

Then over dessert we would look at a Bible verse or passage, lovingly saying as we dished up ice cream or passed out cookies, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). Sometimes Ray would read a passage and we would discuss it. Other times we would tell a Bible story with pictures or props.

One year we worked on memorizing one verse from each book of the Bible. We copied the verses on a small flip chart and reviewed them, with the promise of a big reward when we made it all the way to Revelation.

This summer when our older grandchildren visit, we hope to study the Ten Commandments, looking at one each night (for ideas see my book, His Loving Law, Our Lasting Legacy). You might memorize and discuss The Lord’s Prayer or Psalm 23. The list is as long as the Word of God is deep.  

Are you a single mom or married to a man who doesn’t lead you in family worship? Don’t despair! Remember Timothy. His mom and grandmother taught him, and he was a mighty man of God, even in his younger years. Ask God for ways to teach your kids. He will show you. He loves them and deeply cares about their souls.

The next generation must hear from us the wonder of who God is, what He has said and done for others and for us, and how He will be there for them (Psalm 78:3–4). Someone told us—now it’s our turn! 

What meal magic works for you? What new ideas would you like to try? How can we encourage each other in this vital area?

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

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About the Author

Jani Ortlund

Jani Ortlund

Jani Ortlund, Executive Vice President of Renewal Ministries, loves spending her energies connecting women with the Word of God. Serving Jesus Christ through writing, speaking and discipling are her chief passions in life. Jani and Ray, Pastor of Immanuel Church, have four married children and twelve grandchildren, and minister in Nashville, Tennessee.