Ten Tips for Family Worship

Honestly, family worship has intimidated me since my wife and I first had children. Sure I have seminary training. Sure I love to talk about theology. But how do I transfer all of that to family worship?

Family worship was nearly non-existent for the first two years of my marriage. But then I realized something. My trepidation revealed a misgiving in my own heart. I confessed with my mouth that the gospel had changed my life. I confessed that it had the power to change others’ lives. But in my shepherding responsibilities as a husband and father I acted like it wasn’t enough. My family needed something more than the ordinary means of grace.

So here are my practical tips for family worship.

1. Get Into a Rhythm

I recommend having a flexible routine that your kids can count on. For instance, we struggled to find a time that worked for my family for a long time. Years back I realized when we eat dinner, I’m frequently done five minutes or more before my family (I’ve always been a fast eater). For a time this worked great. I would eat my food, and it was a natural time for our family to talk, share, and pray.

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How to Change What Children Worship

A few weeks back one of my friends interacting with Tim Keller on Twitter. Keller made the statement that we change behavior by changing what we worship. Chris asks a question I’ve asked and most parents are asking. How can we change what children worship? Now not every parents parses it just like that, but at the heart of the issue that’s what they want to know.

Putting Out the Fires

We’ve all been in the restaurant eating with our families. Our kids are engaged with the task of eating. There are a few bumps. And in the middle of one of those bumps, you hear what sounds like the cry of war. A child going full out Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai. Screaming. Crying. Stomping feet. Demands are made. Parents embarrassingly give in. It’s over. Phew.

In many situations like that, I’ve leaned back to let my food digest and think, “At least my child is not like them.” Parents care about behavior. And it’s not that behavior is unimportant. We want to raise well-rounded people who function in society and love their neighbor.

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Freedom to Love Your Spouse

“Only if God’s love is the most important thing to you will you have the freedom to love your spouse well” —Timothy Keller

Jesus spent part of his earthly ministry dialoguing with the religious leaders of his day. Often times that took the form of these leaders trying to trip up Jesus. The Apostle Matthew reports on one of these times. “Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians” (22:15-16). Now this first round was about paying taxes to Caesar. He subverted their silly question by answering, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (v. 21). Just as we pay taxes to Caesar because his image is imprinted on the coins; we must give back to God what’s imprinted with his image. “They were amazed” (v. 22). Round two. The Sadducees tried a riddle about who gets the wife in resurrection if she had several husbands. Jesus answers their question, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage” (v. 30) then takes a simple verb is and makes the point God is not the God of the dead. “They were astonished” (v. 33).

Round three. You might think the religious leaders might have learned their lesson, but the Pharisees get together and think they may have found a sticky question about fulfilling the law. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (v. 36). As with the previous question, Jesus doesn’t just answer their question, but goes further.

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Spare the Rod?

Over the last few weeks spanking has been a hot topic due in large part to Adrian Peterson, NFL MVP and 8 time pro bowl running back for the Minnesota Vikings, being indicted for child abuse after “whooping” (Peterson’s words) his four year old son with a switch (see the photos here).

What surprised me most was the almost knee-jerk reaction I saw from many Christians. “Why is the government persecuting parents who choose to spank?” Or “My momma whooped me too. Half my family would be in jail for using the switch.” When commenting on one thread, I asked if the person had seen the photos and they sheepishly said no, but that they were sure many of us would just have to agree to disagree.

What Adrian Peterson did was wrong. Period.

Many Christians want to defend the Bible from government intrusion. They feel the Bible demands they use corporeal punishment in every instance of disobedience, and so any government involvement in cases where children are being “spanked” is an intrusion on religion.

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Parenting with Promise

I grew up in Christian tradition terrified of the world and culture. We dare not touch, taste, or see lest we become defiled as well. “We are not of the world,” I heard often. We should never ignore the sin and darkness in the world, but we certainly shouldn’t live in fear. Our King reigns eternal in light.

Often I see this fear in my own parenting and in parents I mingle with in different settings. I had an irrational fear of my child going to school because “What if she learns bad stuff from other children?”

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Sojourning Through the Deluge

I went and saw Darren Aronofsky’s Noah during the opening weekend with my wife. The point of this article isn’t to review the movie. You can find some helpful reviews from Greg Thornbury, Joe Carter, Brian Mattson, and Kevin McLenithan at CaPC (those will give the sweep of evangelical responses). As they mention, there were positive and negative points about the movie, but the one area where I think Aronofsky pushes into the narrative well is right as the flood starts and the Ark is being tossed about by the wind and the waves. During this scene, you can hear the cries of people mixed with the roar of the waters. You can hardly distinguish the two. That realization that all other humans were being killed by the deluge weighed heavily on Noah and his family.

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Four Ways Churches Can Equip Families to Rehearse the Gospel

All this hub bub about rehearsing the gospel story in your home, but I haven’t asked one question, “How can churches equip families to do this?” Yes, families must make much of God. Yes, we are all responsible for our families. Yet, when we read through Scripture, when we see God’s people acting faithfully, it almost always starts with the leadership of the church. God seems to normally use strong leadership to strengthen families and individuals.

This is true primarily because we are a body. We are connected--ligaments to bones to flesh. You cannot remove a part of the body without other systems breaking down. The journey we take with our families is squarely walked hand in hand with a church and the Church. We follow the Trailblazer as sojourners and exiles within a living, breathing community.

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The Cascade of Trinitarian Love Fills Our Homes

I have been reading Mike Reeves Delighting in the Trinity. If you have not read it yet you should immediately stop what you’re doing, purchase it, and invest some time digging into it. It is chock-full of truth about who God is. It stirs the affections and drives the heart toward Jesus Christ. All doctrine should be taught this way. These truths sink to the bottom of your heart. As I started reading through it, I started seeing this thread. This theme through out many chapters that made me ask the question, “How does the trinity transform my marriage?”

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Justification: Gospel of Peace

Many evangelical churches truncate the gospel. They focus primarily on the benefits of the gospel for us. They explore the depths of our salvation, but rarely talk about Creation, Fall, or Consummation. Salvation is a crucial act in the gospel story as we explored above but it’s still only one act.

Many theologians have desired to correct this salvation-focused gospel by pointing out the full story of the gospel. But in doing so, many downplay the importance of justification by faith.

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A Household Gospel: Redemption and Consummation

God doesn’t immediately reveal the mystery of the gospel in marriage. Humanity lives in the shadows until Jesus breaks into the story (Gal 3:28). I love how the angels proclaim His arrival, “‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’” (Lk 2:14). That singular announcement is pregnant with hope. “The Hero is here!” He lives, dies, rises, and ascends. He declares covenantal terms of peace from God through justification by faith (Eph 2:13-16, Col 1:19-20, Rom 5:1-2).

The kingdom of God breaks into the now but not fully. Enter Paul. As he emphasizes our responsibilities within our homes (Eph 5), he reveals a mystery. Marriage has always been about the gospel. Tim Keller reminds us, “The Bible begins and ends with a marriage.”

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A Household Gospel Audiobook

Creating this audiobook has been tedious, I’m not gonna lie. I already spend all day talking on the phone at my day job so to come home and record this took its toll on my voice. Thank the Lord it’s done. I hope you can benefit from the effort.

I know a lot of people who just can’t find time to read and the only opportunity they have for free time may be driving in their car or during their weekly workouts. This audiobook is meant for you.

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A Household Gospel on NoiseTrade Books

NoiseTrade Books opened today. If you’re familiar with their set up for music, it’s more of the same for books. I for one think this is brilliant. Basically, they provide publishers and writers a landing page where people can download their books, samples, or audiobooks. Those people can choose to download it for free, but they can also leave a tip.

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