Parents & Kids of Faith

  • Friday, July 1, 2011

    Question: How do baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ from the other ordinances of God?
    Answer: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ from the other ordinances of God in that they were specifically instituted by Christ to represent and apply to believers the benefits of the new covenant by visible and outward signs.
    Scripture: Acts 22:16; Matt 26: 26-28; 28:19; Rom 6:4.

    As I have just turned 60 years old, my kids asked me what lesson have I particularly learned over the years. The answer was easy... I have finally figured out these 9 statements that Deb often uses in our dialogue.

    (1) Fine: This is the word Deb uses to end an argument when she is right and I need to stop talking.

    (2) Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if I have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.

    (3) Nothing: This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and I need to be on my toes. Discussions that begin with "nothing" usually end in “fine.”

    (4) Go Ahead: This is a dare from her, not permission, so I don't do it!

    (5) Loud Sigh: This is actually not aword, but a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by me. A loud sigh means she thinks I am an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing there and having a discussion with me about nothing. (Refer back to # 3 for the meaning of nothing.)

    (6) That's Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements Deb makes. “That's okay” means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when I will pay for my mistake.

    (7) Thanks: When Deb says “thanks,” I do not question it. I have learned to just say “you’re welcome.” Unless she says "Thanks a lot" - that is PURE sarcasm and she is not thanking me at all. I do not say "you're welcome" ... that will bring on a "whatever" – see #8.

    (8) Whatever: It is Deb’s way to say “you’re toast!”

    (9) Don't worry about it, I got it: Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that Deb has told me to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in me asking her, "What's wrong?" For her response refer to # 3.

    By Jerry Owen, Associate Pastor Trinity Church, Kirkland, Washington

    (For your consideration, I give you this article to read. I am in general in agreement with it, but I do not want it to be read as an excuse not to have family worship by what the author notes is just laziness. I do want to relieve some of the guilt I know that especially fathers can put upon themselves because they are not having regular family worship.)

    I get asked regularly about what we do for “family worship.” Among Christians who love the faith and their kids, family worship becomes a topic of interest. My initial response is always ambivalent, encouraged on the one hand that someone wants to have a family culture that includes the Bible and devotion in the home, and slightly concerned because the common issues that plague “family worship” are considerable. For those considering implementing some version of family worship, here are some remarks that I hope are helpful.

    Family Worship Isn’t Required by the Bible:
    This might seem impious, but it’s really only impietistic. We simply are not required to have a set, formal, liturgical time of worship as families. I’m glad some people do this and benefit from it, and as far as they do, I’m for it, but no one should feel it is something they ought to do. This is not the same thing as saying parents shouldn’t read the Bible, pray and talk about God with their children. Of course they should. And it’s helpful if this is regular, methodical, and often. But some of the healthiest Christian families I know never had “family worship” formally conducted. They would read and discuss the Bible at meal and other times for particular seasons, sing and pray before going to bed etc, but these things were not done primarily in one sitting, not in what we would typically call family worship. I know there are lazy parents, particularly fathers, who don’t make time to regularly read and teach the Bible to their kids, and I know my point here will be used by them to justify and continue their laziness. This is what gracious biblical standards always do, and in response legalists try to curb sin by adding rules. So no excuses for lazy people, and no excuse for pietists combating laziness with legalism.

    Family Worship, If Done, Is Not the Most Important Spiritual Thing You Do:
    The Bible commands us not to forsake the assembly of the saints (Heb. 10:25) which refers to corporate worship together. It’s atrocious that Christians will feel worse about missing a quiet time or family worship than they do missing the called meeting of all God’s people on the Lord’s Day. Reformed Christians and those who would consider participating in family worship are usually less casual than the average evangelical and probably have a high regard for Lord’s Day worship. But even they will set family worship above it. All of our devotion–unceasing prayer, dedicated times of prayer, singing, serving, eating and drinking to the glory of God–should prepare us to worship Him in Spirit and truth with His people together. That is the most important thing we do. Other things are practice, corporate worship is game day.

    Family Worship Should Be Delightful for Everyone:
    My biggest concern for parents are gung-ho on family worship is the tendency for it to be very “serious” and therefore unengaging and often no fun for the kids. This means that the most “spiritual” time the family spends together, supposedly the most important, the time spent talking and learning about God, is in fact the time that is least like experiencing Him. Moses forbids cooking a kid in it’s mother’s milk, taking the means of life and using them as a means of death (Deut. 14:21). When I ask people who have grown up in Christian homes how family worship affected their faith, the overwhelmingly most common answer is that it was either boring or painful. Boiling milk. Counterproductive. This is what God, and devotion to Him, is like? Yikes! Parents have to keep it cheerful, engaging and fun.

    There is a reason kids loved to be around Jesus, and it wasn’t because he was lecturing at length about the Torah or the Five Points of Calvinism. I love the Torah and the Five Points, so I try to make them digestible to my three year old so she can love them too. Good news should feel like it. This might mean singing one verse of a song, or just one song. It means all sorts of things for different situations, for people of different ages, for parents with different abilities. We need to be open to the idea that less is more. Better one verse read, enjoyed and digested, than 30 painful pious lecture minutes. One common response to this is “So you’re saying we should just dumb it down, make it “fun” like the rest of the shallow evangelical church does with worship?” No, not like that. I’m not saying the content should be effeminate drivel. I’m saying it should be a light burden. If your kids hate it, then change it. If they don’t enjoy it, fix it. They will have certain things to grow into, but our job as parents is to make the growing pains less, not more, and to be sure they are still growing.


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