Family Ministry Today: Meals and Media

Meal time has often been considered one of the most needful times when connecting with your family.  Whether you eat at home at the table, in the living room, in the car, or at a restaurant, meal time is important.  You can make it either meaningful or literally a waste of time (except for filling bellies).  What are some issues concerning meal times and what can we as parents do?

1.  Media.  Mostly I mean television – and I’ll start with home.  Rarely do my husband and I eat in front of the television.  I can probably count on one hand the times we’ve done that in 19 months of marriage.  But, growing up we did that more times than we didn’t.  It was acceptable and counted on to eat while watching a Mets game, the news, or sitcoms.  Television watching at home provides a means to have no conversation and to also not think about what you are eating.

2.  Social Media or Telephones.  I rarely remember a meal when the phone didn’t ring in our house growing up and someone didn’t get up to answer it.  It speaks of what is more important: the person on the phone or those you are eating with.  There may be times when emergencies happen and you must do that – but I would say those are rare.  Parents: leave your phones in another room or turn them off.  Eat with your family: be all there.  If your children do have phones or other handheld media devices, have them turn them off or don’t allow them to interact with them during a meal time.

3.  Restaurants.  Last night my husband and I went to Carino’s for dinner.  We sat in the bar area and I sat facing the news channel.  They were focusing on a sex crime/murder trial.  I didn’t know anything about it but caught myself glancing up every now and then.  By the end of the meal I had mentioned it to Eric just as a way of soundbite.  It didn’t do anything to fuel our conversation, but sometimes it does.  If you are out with small children: go to a place without a tv or sit in a place where they can’t see it.   You usually have no control what is going to be shown and therefore can’t be on guard against what your children (or you) might see.  I often am saddened by couples or families that sit in almost silence at restaurants.  They rarely talk with each other and are instead engrossed in their phones or just staring at their meals.

4.  Use meal times strategically.  You can teach young children responsibility and what is important.  You can make meal times a priority for your family and a chance to have great conversation about their day and your day and what you read in the Word that day or use some books to fuel conversation.  Nancy Guthrie has a book on dinner table devotions that would be an excellent choice.  Eric and I use a grouping of memory verses to read and pray through before the meal.

Whatever you do, don’t let meal times be stolen away by society.  Use them for your family’s strength and God’s glory.

Media and Marriage

posted in: marriage | 0

Books.  Chick Flix.  Television.  Advertisements.  Blogs.  Magazines.

We are bombarded with media no matter if we have a cable subscription or not.  Checking out buying groceries we are enticed to look at half-dressed women screaming to us that “your husband would rather look at me than look at you or sleep with you.”  Or there are magazines that are telling us that are sex lives can not be fulfilling and satisfactory if we don’t do certain acts or if our bodies do not look as toned as the cover model.  We may feel insecure if we spent hours watching the swimmers and track runners/cyclists compete in the Olympics.  Does the thought cross you mind that you don’t measure up to someone who swims 5 hours a day and has never had children and doesn’t have to cook for 4 people with huge appetites?

Here are some thoughts I’ve had as I’ve been thinking through this issue the last few weeks, talking with friends, dialoguing with E:

1.  Media (in and of itself) is not the enemy.  I am not advocating that you hide yourself in a hole, never watch movies, never read books, never watch sports.  I don’t really know how to apply the verse in the Psalms that says “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.” (Psalm 101.3)  I think there is an unspoken/unwritten emphasis on the word SET that allows for a permenance or continuance.  So, the psalmist isn’t saying you can’t watch television or ever see a movie or don’t read a book outside of the Bible, etc.  But, what you choose to put before your eyes on a daily, habitual basis should not be “worthless”.

2.  Prepare your mind and heart.  There are nights that I can’t watch certain movies.  We don’t have cable, but we choose to watch movies either from our personal collection or rent from Red Box or watch a DVD series (we are making our way through Cosby Show season 3 and NCIS season 1).  I know if I am thinking something in my mind or have struggled with a personal sin – I need not watch certain movies.  And, you need to prepare your mind for action as to how you are going to respond to what you are see or read.  As 1 Peter says: ” Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1:13-16)
3.  Watch out for the weaker brother.  If you are watching something that maybe is not a struggle for you, but you might think it is a temptation to lust for your husband, shut it off.  It is not worth you watching something if it is going to cause him to sin.  Talk about it.  Somethings may be a struggle to your husband that you may not know about.  Other visions may not bother him.  But, also, know your weak areas.  If you are struggling with how you look, wanting to lose weight or tone up, maybe watching the Olympians in their bathing suits with perfectly toned and tanned bodies isn’t such a great idea.  Comparison is never a good game to play.  You never win: it either leads to pride or to self-loathing.  Neither are a mindset that God desires for His daughters.  As Paul writes to the Philippians, ” Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

I pray that this benefits you in how you watch movies, read books, participate in sports, or even go to the grocery store.  I dont’ know of any divorced couple that would say “we would have stayed together if we had just watched more television.”