• Friday, October 29, 2010
  • Erik Raymond, Pastor at Emmaus Bible (formerly Omaha Bible South) and our speaker at the men's retreat posted this challenge to pass on to you....

    If you want to engage in an interesting social experiment, the next time you go out to eat, look around. Watch the people that are eating. I have been captivated with what I’ve seen.

    People hover over their plates or don’t put their burgers down. The only time they open their mouths is to put more food in it. It is amazing. I have watched married couples, dating couples, friends, and coworkers sit together and rarely say a word, just gorge their faces. And the eating is typically fast too.

    You may be wondering if I’ve just parachuted in from another planet or something. The answer is no. However, I think the habits of others have just recently hit home for me. Literally.

    Our dinner table is made up of seven people. The kids range in age from 15 months to 15 years. And recently I have seen an increase in the speed eating and a decrease in the conversation.

    Why is this a Problem? First and foremost, this is a problem for me as a dad. As the leader of my home I want the table to be a strategic intersection of our lives. It is a safe place. It is a place to express ideas, concerns, observations, emotions, and stories. That is, it is a place of intimacy. If we become so focused on stuffing ourselves rather than serving one another in conversation, then, I feel, we are losing something of our family dynamic.

    Furthermore, as Christians we believe that God is the creator of all things, including food. As those who live under the gospel we are able to rightly enjoy the food that God has created (1 Tim. 4.4-5). We are see it, smell it, taste it, and enjoy it! Not only does the food fill our stomachs but it provokes our hearts toward thanksgiving. I am not convinced that we can truly ‘eat and drink’ to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10.31) without mental engagement, tasting the food, and slowing down.

    This then is a problem because it sabotages two of my goals for meal time: intimacy in conversation and delight in God’s creation.

    What is the Cause? I am the last person to play the psychology card. If you’ve read this blog for more than a week you’d know that. However, I do believe that our environment does rub off on us. We are Americans. And Americans tend to eat like I described above. I am captivated by it, but not surprised. What I am saying is that there is something of an unbelieving mindset that attends eating that I, as a Christian, do not like. There is something different. Can I say, “worldly”? There is a way that people eat that does not project their appreciation of what God has done in Christ through the gospel. And my beef is that it can sneak onto my dinner table.

    What do you do about it?
    I realize that many families do not even eat together. That would be the first step. And then here are some practical tips to help improve the time at the dinner table by establishing intimacy, service and thanksgiving.

         1. Dad has got to set the pace. He has got to lead by modeling thanksgiving for food and intimacy in conversation.

         2. Give assignments: train the kids to ask questions to other kids to encourage intimacy and learning about one another.

         3. Teach manners: don’t let others dominate the conversation or talk over others.

         4. Encourage discussion of how the food tastes and how it glorifies God.

         5. Don’t rush through the meal, take your time (but don’t keep saying, “SLOW DOWN!!” either).

         6. Allow yourselves time to sit and linger at the table. Try not to let other events creep into meal time. Schedule meals and protect them.

         7. Laugh together. We can’t laugh well while we are swallowing and chewing.

         8. Tell stories. This helps keep the talking and listening going.

         9. Serve vegetables/salad. This slows everything down for kids.

        10. Do family devotions after dinner and wrap in the meal for practical application.

    As I mentioned above, we are a work in progress. I am trying to make things better as I continue to realize that their is work to do in order to get where I want to go. Feel free to leave a comment and provide further thoughts.


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