unstained and unwasted: DECISION #2

we share a family meal together every night.

(note: this decision is a personal decision that we have made. you may or may not agree with the decision or the rationale or convictions that form the basis of the decision. in romans 14:1-9, paul wrote about similar 'non-essential' matters where there was disagreement among followers of christ. at that time, the issues were disagreements over certain days and certain foods. while we are "convinced in [our] own mind" of this decision, we are not implying that you are living a 'stained' and 'wasted' life just because you have not come to the same decision point. we are not saying that our way is the only way to honor god or the only way to avoid sin. at the same time, we do hope you are challenged to think about this issue.)

we have actually been sharing a family meal together each evening (with very few exceptions) for several years now, but with the addition of ainsley and griffin – and based upon our renewed focus on living an unstained and unwasted life – we are re-committing ourselves to this important time together as a family each evening. there are many new dynamics at work now that we have a 13-month old and a 24-month old at the table with us. so, we have to be more intentional, more creative, and more committed than ever in order to make this time more than just a time to feed our faces.

you may recall that in my DECISION #1 post about killing our tv, i pointed out that canceling cable in and of itself will not necessarily result in an unstained and unwasted life unless we are intentional about replacing that tv time with conversations, activities, and adventures that are all about building relationships, serving others, and seeking christ. a similar line of thinking is true for the family dinner. just like killing our tv will not necessarily lead to an unwasted life in and of itself, sharing a family dinner together each night will not necessarily lead to an unstained or unwasted life either.

with this renewed decision to share a family mealtime each evening, we want to really focus on making this a time in which we have conversations that are filled with weightiness and awe and wonder at how god has been at work in and through us each day in one way or another. we don’t want to settle for the typical, trivial dialogue that goes something like this (and, believe me, there have been far too many “conversations” like this for us over the years):

“how was your day?”
“fine. how was yours?”
“good.”
“what did you do?”
“nothing much. same old same old.”
“how about you?”
“same.”
“hmm.”

instead, we want to have conversations that go beyond this type of lazy, meaningless, and mediocre banter back and forth. we want to talk about bigger things and ask questions like:

  • how have you not wasted your life this week?
  • how are your devotions? 
  • what is god teaching you? 
  • in your own words, what is the gospel?
  • is there a specific sin you’re aware of that you need my help defeating?
  • are you more aware of my encouragement or my criticism?
  • what do you see that i am most passionate about?
  • do i act the same at church or with friends as i do when i’m at home with the family?
  • are you aware of my love for you?
  • is there any way i’ve sinned against you that i’ve not repented of?
  • do you have any observations for me?
  • how am I doing as a husband/wife? as a dad/mom?

as the kids get older, i am so excited about the kinds of conversations we can have. but, make no mistake about it, now is the time to start. even though our children are pretty young, they already pick up on the types of conversations we have (or don’t have on nights that might not go so well) when we all sit down for that meal every night. they pick up on so much (for better or worse): the tone, the sense of love and security, the genuine interest in each other, the words we use, the body language, and more. we are eager to see how god will use this time in our lives as we re-commit to make our family mealtimes more than just a time to eat together, but a time to engage and encourage one another.

don’t ever underestimate the power of your dining room as a launching pad for an unstained and unwasted life – new life, new hope, new mission! 

(and don’t just keep these mealtimes for your family or for the same old friends you invite over again and again. branch out and bring in some folks who are from a different part of town, different country, different culture, different language! or how about some guests like those decribed in Luke 14:12-14?)

by the way, we are fully aware that having dinner together every night is not a cure-all for every ill that faces our family (or anyone else’s). nor is it a return to “leave it to beaver,” as if families were so perfect in that era. rather, this is a very modern-day call to just one particular example of moving away from the all-too-typical trite and trivial family interactions and towards the all-too-desperately-needed meaningful engagement as a family. it is not an end-all, be-all. and it certainly is not the only family time we should be having each week. in fact, if this is the only time during the week when we are connecting as a family, building those relationships, and having those deep conversations, then we should not be surprised if it does not lead to the desired outcomes outlined above – namely, a family unit that is god-centered, christ-exalting, and loving and learning together each day.

finally, i want to be very careful when chronicling these decisions not to make it seem as if these are things we are just checking off a list (or suggesting for you to check off) so that we can say we are living an unstained and unwasted life. these are decisions that involve doing certain things, but the real battle and the real change is in becoming and being a different person. these decisions are much deeper than they appear. this is a battle to get beyond the mere act of killing your tv or eating together as a family and get to the root of what is going on in your heart as you do those things. we do not want to do these things merely out of a sense of duty; we want to delight in doing them for the glory of god. now, that’s where the battle is…ultimately. in the heart.

interesting quotations and references

“John Piper wrote the following mealtime prayers for his own family to use. The three longer ones have been used by his family for over 20 years, and all the children know the prayers by heart now so that they are able to say them together without reading.

For example, in August of 2001, when Benjamin, John’s second oldest son, was married in Brazil, John was asked to say a table grace at a large family gathering in Fortaleza. Instead of praying by himself, he said, “I think what I would like to do is ask all my family (Noel, Karsten, Benjamin, Abraham, Barnabas, Talitha) to pray with me the evening prayer that we have used during all their growing up years.” Then they all recited the prayer. The people were so moved that the whole family could say the prayer together in unison that they asked John to pray it again slowly and have it translated in Portuguese one phrase at a time. It proved to be a wonderful witness for Christ to all the people there.”

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~ by david on April 27, 2008.

One Response to “unstained and unwasted: DECISION #2”

  1. […] we share a family meal together every night […]

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