Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Family Worship by Donald S. Whitney.
Family Worship: It’s perhaps one of my greatest regrets that we didn’t do a better job in this area.
We did other things we believed were important. We took our children to church every Sunday. We made sure they were involved in the children’s and youth ministries.
We set boundaries as to where they were allowed to go and with whom. We made sure they knew “the rules,” that is, what Christians should and shouldn’t do.
We didn’t take cruises or buy expensive personal items. We made Christian school and family focused activities a priority. We put in a pool so the kids could have their friends over where we could get to know them and we’ve seen some of those young people come to the Lord. We took family vacations. We tried to be good examples morally.
It’s not that we did any of these things perfectly … far from it, but we worked at it. We also read our Bibles and prayed, although again, haltingly and imperfectly.
But our attempts to live the Christian life, while important and a part of what we should have been doing, coupled with what we were taught and taught our children was too much about keeping “the rules.”
Let me say here that, at that time, we didn’t attend what you would call a conservative or fundamentalist church. On the contrary, we attended a contemporary church where “freedom in Christ” was talked about on a regular basis! Yet, in retrospect, our understanding of Christianity wasn’t really about the freedom of the Gospel lived out on a daily basis.
I wish I had been familiar with books and teachers like Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick and A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love by Milton Vincent. I wish we had understood the importance of understanding that the Gospel is something we must preach to ourselves every day and that it should be understood in the grace and freedom of the Gospel lived out and talked about in our home in more effective ways.
God, in His faithfulness has grown us and exposed us to better, more biblically sound teaching through the years. And we continue to grow in that area. We understand the importance of sharing the Gospel, properly understood and applied, in our home. But our children are grown with children of their own. A couple of our grandchildren are even married and have little ones. (Yes, that makes us great-grandparents!)
My prayer is that someone out there reading this will seek to understand and do that a little bit better as a result of my testimony.
One thing I believe can be an important part of good parenting and our own personal growth in Christ is regular, Gospel-centered family devotions. I believe this is important whether or not we have children and whether or not they are still at home.
I first heard Donald Whitney talk on this subject at a biblical counseling conference. I was both blessed and convicted. But more than anything, I was motivated to share the importance of all this with those God puts in my path both inside and outside the counseling room.
Dr. Whitney’s book can be a huge help in that area, but I’ll let you hear from him:
Some time ago, I was in England and heard a report on BBC radio about a government study there which indicated that as a result of TV, technology, and the like, families rarely spend time together. The study observed that conversation between family members has “degenerated into an indistinguishable series of monosyllabic grunts.”
And what was the recommended solution to this dilemma? The government should teach a series of classes instructing families how to talk and play together.
I immediately thought of at least two responses to this report. First, things are really bad when the government believes that the family is in trouble. Second, God has a much better plan for family time together than anything presented in classes taught by the government.
I had gone to England to speak at a conference. Around the table there one evening, I heard the story of a minister’s family who had not acted as though God has a better plan until it was too late. The minister’s widow told me that the greatest regret of her life was that her late husband had not begun leading their family in the daily worship of God together until after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Contrast that with a story sent to me by a friend describing what he and his four siblings said at their parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration. He wrote,
“All five of us children decided to express thanks to our father and mother for one thing without consulting is of tears streaming over your face as you taught us from Pilgrim’s Progress on Sunday evenings how the Holy Spirit leads believers. [When I was only] three, God used you in family worship to convict me that Christianity was real. No matter how far I went astray in later years [though today he’s an elder in his church], I could never seriously question the reality of Christianity and I want to thank you for that.”
Various studies, as well as our own experiences in local church ministry, bear witness to the reality that a high percentage of churchgoing teenagers leave the church once they finish high school. One of the leading problems with this issue is that, unlike the siblings at the fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration, most of these young people have no early, sweet memories of family worship. Such recollections, if they had them, might help prevent their departure from the faith in the first place. Or if they do walk away, the memories might be the means to turn their hearts to seek God again later.
Dr. Whitney goes on to equip parents by providing chapters on family worship in the Bible and its importance in church history. But the heart of the book is about the beauty and simplicity of family worship, how to do do it, what can and what should be included, and other practical helps.
He also discusses how to handle situations where the father is not a Christian, suggestions for single moms, helps for homes with very young children, homes where there is a wide variety of ages, and homes where there are no children.
So what are you waiting for?
If you would like to know more about Dr. Whitney you can go to his ministry website or connect with him on Twitter via @DonWhitney and on Facebook.
Quotations taken from:
Whitney, Donald S. (2016-01-14). Family Worship: In the Bible, In History, and In Your Home. Crossway. Kindle Edition.
Previously featured books:
Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day by Glynnis Whitwer. Read about it here.
Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Read about it here.
Gift-Wrapped by God: Secret Answers to the Question “Why Wait?” by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus. Read about it here.
The Heart of Anger: Practical Help for the Prevention and Cure of Anger in Children by Lou Priolo. Read about it here.
Sweethearts for a Lifetime: Making the Most of Your Marriage by Wayne and Carol Mack. Read about it here.
If I’m a Christian, Why Am I Depressed?: Finding Meaning and Hope in the Dark Valley One Man’s Journey by Robert B. Somerville. Read about it here.
Intimate Issues: Twenty-One Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex by Linda Dillow & Lorraine Pintus. Read about it here.
For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn. Read about it here.
Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel With Hidden Idols by Brad Bigney. Read about it here.
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