Conversation Starters: Be Thankful

Use these discussion starters to help foster a spiritual conversation with your family.

THE BIBLE MEETS LIFE: For most of us, giving thanks is something we tend to think about only around the holidays. When we are spending time with family and taking a break from the busyness of life, we remember all the good gifts God has given us. As believers, this idea of thankfulness should consume our lives throughout the year. Every good thing we have comes from Jesus. Our very breath and life are a gift from God. As a result, gratitude should be our natural response to Jesus.

Concept: Be Thankful

PRESCHOOL

John 6:1-13

LIFE POINT: Be thankful for everything God gives you.

Who shared his food with the people?

What was the first thing Jesus did before breaking apart the food and giving it to the people?

LIVE IT OUT: Provide paper and crayons. Encourage your child to draw pictures of things he is thankful for. Insert the pictures into ziplock bags, and seal them. Staple the bags together along one side to make a book. Read the book together this week.

KIDS

John 6:1-13

LIFE POINT: Be thankful for everything God gives you.

What was Jesus’ first action before He distributed the food?

What are some things you are thankful for?

Say the Life Verse: Psalm 100:4.

LIVE IT OUT: Help your child think about all the blessings God has given him. Write an “I am thankful for … “ list together. Pray each day with your child, thanking God for all He has given you and your family.

STUDENTS

Psalm 100:1-5

THE POINT: Thankfulness should be our natural response to Jesus.

Why is it often easier to complain than to be thankful?

Have a conversation around this quote:

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.1 —John F. Kennedy

LIVE IT OUT: Share about the things you are thankful for.

Let your student know that you are thankful for him or her.

1. President, “Proclamation 3560 Thanksgiving Day, 1963,” Code of Federal Regulation, title 3, (1959–1963).

Conversation Starters: Why Do Bad Things Happen?

Use these discussion starters to help foster a spiritual conversation with your family.

Skeptics have dismissed the biblical view of God by saying, “If God loves us, He must not be all-powerful or else He would stop all suffering” and “If God is all-powerful and could stop suffering but doesn’t, He must not be loving.” This moves from a philosophical discussion to a real issue when we are the ones suffering. The Bible is honest with the issue of suffering, and assures us of God’s sovereignty and presence in the midst of whatever we are facing.

Concept: Why do bad things happen?

Preschool

Genesis 3

THE POINT: God wants us to obey Him.

What wrong choice did Adam and Eve make?

What did God do when they disobeyed Him?

LIVE IT OUT: Remind your child that God made him and he is able to make choices. Help your child think about and name right choices and wrong choices. Point out that God wants us to make right choices.

Kids

Genesis 3

THE POINT: All people sin.

What was Adam and Eve’s sin?

How did God punish Adam and Eve?

How can you keep from sinning?

LIVE IT OUT: Dialogue with your child about the first people who sinned. Attempt to pick out one sin that both you and your child struggle with. Pray together, asking God for help in resisting that sin. Be practical.

Students

Job 30:26-31; 42:1-6

THE POINT: God is with us in our suffering.

Why do painful experiences cause us to doubt God?

How has God walked with you through a painful experience?

Have a conversation around this quote:

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.1 —C.S. Lewis

LIVE IT OUT: Choose a verse you would like to share about pain and suffering and discuss it with your student.

Help your student identify someone who is going through a tough time and how she might help him or her.

Pray that your student will be an encouragement to others.

1. Walter Hooper, ed., C.S. Lewis: Readings for Meditation and Reflection (New York: HarperCollins, 1992), 71.

Conversation Starters: The Creator

Use these discussion starters to help foster a spiritual conversation with your family.

How we view the origins of the universe impacts everything about our worldview. Did everything start with a speck of dust or a big bang? Is the universe the creative work of an intelligent being? Or is there some mixture of these two approaches? The Bible points us to an all-powerful, personal Creator who gives us a meaning and purpose for life.

Concept: The Creator

Preschool

Genesis 1

LIFE POINT: God made the world and everything in it.

Name your favorite part of God’s creation.

What was the most special thing God made?

LIVE IT OUT: Use an opportunity spent outside to praise God for His wonderful creation. Whether you are enjoying grass, water, the weather, the sunshine, or animals, emphasize to your child that God created these things. He made the world for us to enjoy and care for. Thank God for His wonderful creation.

Kids

Genesis 1:1–2:3

LIFE POINT: God created the world.

Try to name one thing God created on each day of creation.

What did God say when He saw everything He created?

What was special about the seventh day of creation?

LIVE IT OUT: Talk with your child about the awesomeness of the world God created. Consider praying together a back-and-forth prayer. You lead by saying, “Thank You, God, for creating (something you feel shows God’s awesomeness).” Ask your child to follow with thanking God for something he thinks shows God’s awesomeness. Continue bouncing back and forth by stating things that God created.

Students

Genesis 1:1-3,6,9,11,14,20,26-27

THE POINT: God spoke the universe into creation.

Why does what we believe about creation matter?

What part of creation is most amazing to you?

Have a conversation around this quote:

“What surprises me most about God is that the Creator of the universe should want a relationship with me.”1 —Rick Warren

1. David Kuo, “Rick Warren: ‘God Didn’t Need Us, He Wanted Us.’” Available from the Internet: http://www.beliefnet.com.

Conversation Starters: Bible Validity

Use these discussion starters to help foster a spiritual conversation with your family.

The Bible is the Word of God. Trusting what it says is critical for faith and life. While there are those who argue it is a flawed document, the Bible continually shows us its trustworthiness and reliability. Beyond strong historical and archeological evidence, the Bible speaks of its own reliability and truthfulness and we can trust it in all matters.

Concept: Bible validity

Preschool

Jeremiah 36

LIFE POINT: The Bible is God’s Word.

Who told Jeremiah to write the scroll?

What did the king do when he heard the words on the scroll?

LIVE IT OUT: Help your child think of her favorite books. If the Bible is not on the list, suggest that it be added. Once it is on the list, talk about things that make the Bible the most wonderful book that has ever been written.

Kids

Jeremiah 36

LIFE POINT: The Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

What did Jeremiah tell Baruch to write on the scroll?

Why did the king get angry about what the scroll said?

Who told Jeremiah what to write on the scroll?

LIVE IT OUT: Ask your child to get his Bible. Challenge him to write inside his Bible what he believes makes the Bible the most wonderful book ever written. Pray with him, thanking God for the Bible.

Students

Psalm 119:1-8,137-144

THE POINT: You can trust God’s Word as the foundation for your life.

How has the Bible helped you in your faith and life?

If you’re not consistently reading the Bible right now, what will help you do so?

Have a conversation around this quote:

There’s no better book with which to defend the Bible than the Bible itself.1  —Dwight L. Moody

LIVE IT OUT: Help your student with accountability and encourage her to read the Bible regularly.

1. “Dwight L. Moody quotes,” Thinkexist.com. Available from the Internet: http://thinkexist.com.

Conversation Starters: Tell Others

Use these discussion starters to help foster a spiritual conversation with your family.

THE BIBLE MEETS LIFE: Is it fair that someone would die and not go to heaven simply because they’ve never heard about Jesus and, therefore, never had the opportunity to receive Him? Although God can and will make Himself known however He chooses, taking the gospel to every nation is the critical call for every Christian.

Concept: Tell others

Preschool

Luke 3:2-3,15-17; Mark 1:1-8; John 1:29

LIFE POINT: Jesus is the Son of God.

What did John say about Jesus?

What did John do for Jesus?

Who is someone you could tell about Jesus?

LIVE IT OUT: Remind your child that the best way for a person to learn about Jesus is to have someone who cares about him talk about Jesus. Think of family members who may not know about Jesus. Plan a way to say a good word about Jesus to a family member or draw a picture about Jesus that can be given as a gift.

Kids

Luke 1:1-25,57-80; 3:1-22; John 1:19-37; Matthew 3:13-17

LIFE POINT: Jesus is the only Savior.

Who did John say he was?

What did John tell the people to do?

What did John do for Jesus?

LIVE IT OUT: Talk with your child about ways to tell others about Jesus: words, actions, written messages. Choose one friend or family member who needs to hear about Jesus. Pray for that person. Talk about what your child can do this week to tell that person about Jesus.

Students

Romans 1:16-25

THE POINT: All people are without excuse.

Why is it wrong to measure our idea of “fair” against God’s actions?

How important is it to share the gospel?

Have a conversation around this quote:

“Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.” 1 —Charles Spurgeon

LIVE IT OUT: Ask your student to choose something in creation that reveals God to him or her.

As you drive together, point out some things that remind you of how great God is.

Pray that your student will be able to share the gospel.

1. Charles Spurgeon, “A Sermon and a Reminiscence,” The Spurgeon Archive. Available from the Internet: http://www.spurgeon.org.

Why Kids Flourish at Camp

Campers often describe camp as their “happy place”” or “the best two weeks” of their year. And, from my own observation, I’ve seen that kids and the counselors who work with them are obviously happy at camp.  They smile a lot. They look relaxed. There’s a lot of laughter.  So many fun things happen at camp every day that it’s no surprise it’s such a happy place for kids.

Recently I’ve read several books about the science behind happiness and the research that’s being done to determine the specific elements that cause people to “flourish” in life.  (See my reading list below.)

Traditionally, psychologists have focused on studying psychological diseases – depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc. – and their cures. But led by Martin Seligman  (University of Pennsylvania), a new breed of psychologists called Positive Psychologists have, for the past decade, been studying the positive side of people. They ask not what is wrong with people, but what is right.  They research what makes us do well in life and the reasons why some people thrive and find success and happiness in life.

Originally, Seligman had a theory of “happiness” outlined in his book Authentic Happiness, but he moved away from only using the word “happiness” to a new theory that focuses instead on well-being or “flourishing.”  Seligman determined that it’s inaccurate to use the term “happiness,” as some people simply don’t have the personality to appear outwardly happy to others, even when they are doing quite well in life.  I’m an extrovert who smiles a lot, so, objectively, people would probably say I’m pretty high on the happy scale.  But how do we account for an introvert who doesn’t show a lot or emotion or display the outward symptoms that we equate with happiness?  He may not smile a lot or appear outwardly happy, but, Seligman contends, he could still be flourishing.  So, instead of using a one-dimensional definition that’s dependent on momentary emotions and personality traits, Seligman developed a more thorough theory of well-being that moved beyond his original happiness theory.

Seligman’s uses the acronym PERMA to define his theory and the five measurable elements he has determined lead to well-being. As I read about each pillar of PERMA in Seligman’s book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, I kept having “ah-ha” moments.  “This happens at camp!” I would think. “And this, too!” In fact, as I read, I determined that ALL of the elements of flourishing that Seligman describes happen at camp. According to Seligman, “No one element defines well-being, but each contributes to it.”

I’ve always been sucked in by inspirational quotes and quick sounds bites about how camp contributes to happiness, but I love knowing the science behind why kids flourish at camp.

PERMA at Camp… Read more…  from Sunshine Parenting…

 

Conversation Starters: God is Real

Use these discussion starters to help foster a spiritual conversation with your family.

We live in an age when belief in God is no longer assumed or even valued. Many believe we no longer need a god and that our scientific knowledge has disproved the reality of God. Others see that same scientific knowledge as pointing to the existence of an intelligent designer. The Bible assumes the existence of God, and it points us to those things that affirm the reality of an intelligent, personal Creator.

Concept: God is Real

Preschool

Exodus 12:31-40; 13:3,14; 14:10,13-16,21-22

LIFE POINT: God loves people.

What did Moses tell the people to do to get ready to leave?

How did God protect the people?

LIVE IT OUT: Talk to your child about a time when your family traveled somewhere. Remind her of the trip that the Israelites took. Help your preschooler know that just as God took care of the Israelites, He will always take care of your family.

Kids

Exodus 3:1–4:7

LIFE POINT: God is the only true God.

How did God speak to Moses?

What did God tell Moses to do?

What did God say His name was?

LIVE IT OUT: Remind your child that God told Moses His name, I Am who I Am. Together, decorate a small poster board with God’s name, I Am, on it to hang as a reminder that God is the only true God.

Students

Psalm 19:1-14

THE POINT: God has given us ways to know Him.

Tell your student why you believe God is real.

What helps you overcome doubt?

Have a conversation around this quote:

“If you’re sincerely seeking God, God will make His existence evident to you.”1 —William Lane Craig

LIVE IT OUT: Plan to memorize Psalm 19:1 with your student.

Check back with your student in a couple of weeks about the verse he or she has memorized.

Encourage your student to locate some pictures online or at the library that were taken from the Hubble telescope.

Talk with your student about how awesome God’s creation is and how it declares His glory.

1. William Lane Craig, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, God?: A Debate between a Christian and an Atheist (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2004), 28.

Conversation Starters: Sanctity of Life

Use these discussion starters to help foster a spiritual conversation with your family.

Are some lives more important than others? Our culture talks about valuing life, but the way the unborn, disabled, and elderly are treated by society sends a different message. Our worth is in Christ and every life is sacred. Psalm 139 points us to an all-knowing, all-loving God who values each one of us.

Concept: Sanctity of life

Preschool

Mark 10:46-52

LIFE POINT: God sent Jesus to help people.

How did Jesus help Bartimaeus?

What can you do to help people who are sick?

LIVE IT OUT: Pray with your child for friends and others who are sick. Help him know that Jesus loves all people.

KIDS

Matthew 9:18-31

LIFE POINT: Jesus can heal people.

How did Jesus help the woman who was sick?

How did Jesus help the young girl?

What should you do to help people who are sick?

LIVE IT OUT: Share with your child that while God might not choose to heal all illnesses, He could. We can know that Jesus can heal people. Help your child create a list of people you know who are ill. Choose one or two to encourage with a visit, card, or phone call.

STUDENTS

Psalm 139:1-6,13-18

THE POINT: God values life and so should we.

How have you been impacted by sanctity of life issues?

Why are these issues so difficult to discuss sometimes?

Have a conversation around this quote:

“Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.”1 —G. K. Chesterton

LIVE IT OUT: Help your student identify an elderly person in your church or family with whom he or she can have a conversation.

Go with your student and spend time with the person they have selected.

Pray for your student as he or she learns about difficult issues like abortion and the sanctity of life.

1. Gilbert Keith Chesterson, The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987), 413.

Conversation Starters: Faith

Use these discussion starters to help foster a spiritual conversation with your family.

Just as we cannot save ourselves, we cannot live the Christian life by ourselves. Left alone, we would face continual defeat. But we are not alone. Jesus Christ comes to live in us through the presence and power of His Holy Spirit. He is the One who empowers us to stand against sin, to walk righteously, and to live every aspect of life for His glory.

Concept: Faith

Preschool

1 and 2 Peter

LIFE POINT: What we do shows we love Jesus.

In his letter, what did Peter tell people they should do if they love Jesus?

How can you show you love Jesus?

LIVE IT OUT: Prepare your child by role-playing situations that might occur during the day. Help him know how to act and react in ways that would show he loves Jesus.

Kids

1 and 2 Peter

LIFE POINT: The Holy Spirit helps Christians know how to live.

What are some things Peter told people they should do?

Do you think Peter’s letters should apply to people today?

LIVE IT OUT: Help your child recall a time when she was helped by someone who remained anonymous. Encourage her to do something nice for someone without telling him who did it. Remind her that one may not be able to see the Holy Spirit but that she can know He is there to help her live as a follower of Jesus.

Students

Romans 8:8-17,26-27

THE POINT: The Holy Spirit lives in you and empowers you.

When was the last time you really needed someone’s help?

Why is it difficult to ask others for help?

Have a conversation around this quote:

“If we function according to our ability alone, we get the glory; if we function according to the power of the Spirit within us, God gets the glory.”1 —Henry Blackaby

LIVE IT OUT: Help your student schedule a time that he or she can be alone to seek and hear from God.

Share how time alone with God has impacted your life.

Discuss the Holy Spirit with your student. Be honest about misunderstandings and things you’ve learned.

Pray that your student will trust and rely on the work of the Holy Spirit in his or her life.

1. Henry Blackaby, Mel Blackaby, Experiencing the Spirit: The Power of Pentecost Every Day (New York: Random House Digital, 2009). 

Conversation Starters: Renewal

Use these discussion starters to help foster a spiritual conversation with your family.

THE BIBLE MEETS LIFE: Let’s be honest. We all struggle with sin. Regardless of how mature we are in Christ, our struggle with sin can frustrate and discourage us. But if Christ has set us free from the power of sin, why do we still struggle with it? For Christians, our sin nature may be powerless, but it doesn’t want to admit defeat. We do not face this struggle alone; Jesus Christ is with us to give us victory.

Concept: Renewal

Preschool

Acts 9:36-43

LIFE POINT: People who love Jesus help others.

How did Dorcas help the people in her town?

How did Peter help Dorcas?

Name a person you could help.

LIVE IT OUT: Talk with your child about people who minister in your church. Do something special for that person or persons such as making a card, baking cookies, or some other act of kindness.

Kids

Galatians 2:11-21

LIFE POINT: God offers a new life in Christ.

Why did Paul confront Peter?

What did Peter learn from Paul about how people become Christians?

LIVE IT OUT: Help your child make a list of things that are different about him now from when he was younger. Include physical, emotional, and mental differences. Explain that although he is still the same person, he is very different. Share that when a person becomes a Christian, he is the same person but very different because Jesus becomes his Lord and Savior. Discuss the differences between a Christian and a non-Christian.

Students

Romans 7:14-8:2

LIFE POINT: Jesus is with us in our battle against sin.

How do you deal with the ongoing struggle with sin?

How have you found victory over sin as Jesus has worked in your life?

Have a conversation around this quote:

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”1 —Margaret Thatcher

LIVE IT OUT: Ask your student if he or she feels comfortable talking to you about sins he or she may struggle with.

Pray for your students as he or she battles sin daily.

Develop your own plan to fight sin and discuss it with your student.

Encourage your student to develop a plan of his or her own.

1. “Margaret Thatcher Quotes,” Thinkexist.com. Available from the Internet: http://thinkexist.com.