Put Faith into Your Family
By Connie Neal
-- Every vacation should be memorable; bringing in FUN Bible experiences
related to your vacation locale and activities can make your next vacation
and the associated Bible stories unforgettable.
If you like the idea, but don't think you can do this for your family by
yourself, consider joining Connie Neal for a vacation where she will do the
planning and teach you how to do it in the future.
Here's why and how to create your own Family, Faith, and Fun Vacation:
1. Kids - even teens - long for recreational time with their parents.
T. Suzanne Eller recently discovered that 99% of teens would choose a weekend
with their parents over a $200 gift certificate at their favorite store (see
her book Real Issues, Real Teens). Kids deeply desire their parent's attention
and shared fun experiences. In my decade as a youth pastor, I found that it
was much easier praying with kids if I'd spent the day playing with them.
2. We remember experiences far more than what we only see or hear.
So, make the most of family vacations by using any exciting activities to
reinforce Bible lessons. We miss a huge opportunity if we keep vacation fun
separate from Bible teaching. You could just read a devotional at day's end,
but integrating Bible teaching with exciting activities makes the teaching
3. Connect your vacation with biblical faith:
a.) Identify a theme related to your vacation locale or activity.
b.) Make a connection between that theme and a Bible story. Engage
your children's imagination with what it might have been like to have had
experiences described in the Bible. Play related games, take photos of a dramatic
moment in the Bible using your locale as a backdrop, read Bible stories tied
into the kind of place you visit. Here are some examples:
Ocean/beach = Bible beach scenes. Imagine an army coming to enslave
or kill you unless the entire ocean opens before you to let you escape. Read
Exodus chapter 14. Explore tide pools and count all the different kinds of
sea creature God created: Genesis 1:21. Surprise them with a picnic of 2 small
fish and five barley rolls. Have your kids try to count up to 5,000 men, imagine
trying to feed them all, and then read Matthew 14:15-21.
Nature/animal life/ zoo = Read Genesis 1:1-2:20. Imagine God asked
you to make up names for all the animals and take turns making up new names
for each animal you see - the funnier the better. Read reflections on nature
in Psalm 19:1-6 and Psalm 8.
Battlefields = battles of the Bible. Read stories of great Bible battles
in Joshua chapters 2-6 (Joshua at Jericho), 1 Samuel 17 (David vs. Goliath),
Judges Chapters 2-8 (Gideon vs. Midianites).
Monuments = Bible monument moments. 1 Samuel 7:12 (Ebenezer stone
commemorates victory over the enemy and God turning favor toward his people),
Joshua chapter 4 (twelve stones commemorating the twelve tribes that crossed
the Jordan River).
Vineyards = Bible stories and metaphors about vineyards. Genesis 9:20-28
(Noah's drunkenness and bad results), Leviticus 19:9-10 and Deuteronomy 24:
19-22 (God's care for the poor by requiring vineyard owners to leave some
grapes for them), 1 Kings 21 (King Ahab stealing Naboth's vineyard after Jezebel
has him murdered and God's justice). Discovery of great grapes in the Promised
Land Numbers 13:23-24.
Castles - even at Disneyland = Bible stories about God being the king
and us as his children, therefore royalty. Read or memorize 1 Peter 2:9-10,
Read Psalm 45, The book of Esther or Daniel where God's people were in the
royal court, the coronation of King Solomon in 1 Kings 1, how God sees his
people like the crown jewels, Zechariah 9:16-17.
Water skiing = Jesus and Peter walking on water, Matthew 14:22-32.
If you have life vests, you might imagine what it was like for Peter to step
out of the boat at Jesus' command as each of you try to walk on water by stepping
out of a boat.
Parasailing, ballooning or other up-in-the-air activities = Bible
stories of people going up in the air miraculously. Read about Jesus' ascension
in Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, Acts 1:1-11, 1 Timothy 3:14-16; Elijah taken up
in 2 Kings 2; the mysterious disappearance of Enoch in Genesis 5:21-24, Hebrews
4. Create games or a party experience to reinforce the learning themes
(even within your hotel room or in the tent) if you have the time, imagination,
and energy. For example: if you're on a battlefield or camping in a tent you
could pretend you're among the soldiers in King Saul's army who are afraid
to go out to fight the giant. You could make up the Top Ten excuses for not
going out to fight. Compare scars and tell stories of your worst injuries,
maybe spin yarns about how you got the scar in battle - maybe with the fierce
puppy. Make a safe sling shot; practice using it against lions and bears (preferably
stuffed) as David did to prepare for his victory over Goliath.
5. Use media and photography to reinforce memories & understanding.
Find age-appropriate videos related to the activities. If you're at a battlefield
you could show Veggie Tales Dave and the Giant Pickle or Josh and the Big
Wall for younger kids. Have kids dress up to reenact a dramatic moment from
the story. Take pictures at an apt location. The vacation photos will forever
commemorate the related Bible story. (Learn to recreate the "dress-up" scenes
mentioned here by seeing Christian Parenting Today's summer issue in
the article "Picture This!")
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