Family Worship

One of the great holes in our discipleship today is family worship. Husbands and Wives, Fathers and Mothers ought to lead their families to adore our Heavenly Father. God has made his desire for family worship clear enough:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, …You shall write them on the doorposts of your house

So, what then should family worship look like? How do you do it? Stick with this next sentence:

If the command is to love the Lord with all our being, then family worship should incorporate all of the appropriate forms of worship prescribed to us in the Bible. In other words, family worship is learning to love God within the home through:

  • Reading and Listening to His Word
  • Singing His Praise
  • Confessing Our Sins and Forgiving One Another
  • Offering Prayers to Him
  • Using Our Gifts to Serve One Another

As I’ve been learning more about the subject, I want to tell you how we do this at my house. After dinner, we gather in our living room. Dad, mom, kids. My children are all 6 years old and under so my expectations on their attention spans are quite low. We shoot for 10 minutes of family worship. Within those 10 minutes, I’ll include a couple elements of worship. Sometimes I’ll read from a children’s Bible and the kids will listen. Other times (when they have the wiggles) I have them act the story out. We almost always sing and currently, I close family worship by having them repeat the Lord’s Prayer after me.

I’d love to say this happens every single night without fail. That certainly is my aspiration. But, just like your family sometimes kids are worn out and falling asleep. Sometimes dad is tired and gives in to his own weakness.

God has called me to disciple my wife and the children under my roof. He hasn’t placed that burden primarily on the church I attend. When I stand before him on the last day he won’t turn to the children’s pastor to give an account of my children’s’ discipleship. If you are a husband or father, God places that responsibility primarily on you. (Ephesians 5:22-6:4) Wives and Mothers (especially single mothers) God has given you the responsibility and will equip you with the grace to do the same in the absence of a godly man in the home.

In the coming days, I’ll write posts on trustworthy resources that I like to use, questions I’m regularly asked about the subject, and a few other odds and ends. If you don’t currently observe family worship in the home let me encourage you to turn your Bible to Deuteronomy 6 and memorize verse 4-9. Let God’s command to you sink in and transform your leadership in the home.

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7 Quotes from The Pastor and Counseling by Jeremy Pierre & Deepak Reju

Counseling is not a strength of mine. But, as a pastor it’s a part of the job and so I want to grow into the counseling ministry. This year I’ll be reading three books on the subject. I just finished this short into by Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju: The Pastor and Counseling. The book divides into three sections: Concepts, Process, and Context. I explain those three here but I bring them up to highlight part of section three: Context.

The real strength of books from the 9Marks organization is their focus on the local congregation. No pastoral counseling can be separated out of the church context in which it occurs. Your church culture either encourages gospel-centered counseling or it discourages it. Pierre and Reju offer helpful ideas on cultivating a church discipleship culture that supports the pastor/member counseling relationship.

Buy the Book Here

Here are 7 of my favorite quotes:

Loving someone means showing concern for his well-being, even if you are unable to fix his particular troubles.

The scent of superiority rather than humility is a stench to Jesus, since it is the opposite of his example.

A pastor should commend anyone who seeks help. Even if you later discover that the presenting trouble has little to do with the actual problem, you can celebrate the God-given humility the person is demonstrating in recognizing his or her need for help.

Be sure to open you Bible during the first meeting. If God’s Word really matters to the process of change. you need to show it.

Don’t be easy or simplistic in labeling what a person’s heart is worshipping. You are not on an idol hunt, as if these things could be easily labeled.

For your people’s sake, don’t accept their starting points or conclusions. Help them to consider other frames, other angles, other lighting that better draw attention to the redemptive hope in the picture.

We should strive to make church a place where being anonymous or nominal is difficult to pull off.

Members who seek counseling should understand from the beginning that as a ministry of discipleship, counseling is a part of a broader accountability to the church. Counseling is therefore a safe place for those struggling against sin, even if they fall often in that struggle. But counseling is not a safe place for those who willfully continue patterns of clear and unrepentant sin.

Have a Biblical counseling book your enjoy? Recommend it in the comments.

 

5 Scripture Passages I Wish Every Christian Knew: Romans 8:26

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Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. – Romans 8:26

We do not know what to pray for. We never know what to pray for. Paul tells us that the Spirit helps us, not in our weaknesses, but in our weakness, singular. We aren’t people who mostly have it together with a few weaknesses. We are weak. That is a definitive word on our current fallen condition. Part of our weakness is that we do not know what to pray for.

We do not know the will of God. We do not naturally love and desire what he loves and desires. We are weak. Our prayer is weak, small, distracted; a candle blown out by the slightest breeze. Even the deepest prayers offered by the godliest saints are weak.

But, the Spirit helps us. The Spirit knows the will of the Father. He naturally loves and desires what the Father loves and desires. He’s strong, all encompassing, a blazing fire no flood and quench. I hope you can take the same encouragement from this verse that I do.

If you want to go back and read other posts in this series just click the following links:

Galatians 3:2-7

Hosea 2:16-23

John 5:18

Equip Notes on Meditation

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Last month I taught at a discipleship event on the topic of meditation. Below is a link to a PDF of my slides from the event. I admitted freely in the talk that I’m indebted to Tim Keller for his thoughts and research on the subject. Consider going to his ministry resource site, gospelinlife.com, and purchasing his series on meditation. Don’t be surprised when you hear anything that sounds familiar.

Meditation

Recommended Resource: Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson

51fBcQ3mCGL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Yesterday I finished reading Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson (the same pastor who gave us The Message). Just as Tim Keller’s book will be my go-to resource for Christians who want to learn to pray, I highly recommend this book for those wanting to learn to read the Bible for spiritual nourishment.

The title comes from the passage in Revelation when the Apostle John is commanded to eat the scroll which contained God’s Word. As he devoured the Word it was sweet in his mouth and bitter in his stomach. Peterson’s hope was that Christians wouldn’t just read the Word of God, he wanted us to would devour it, taste it’s utter sweetness as well as feel the bitterness of conviction it can bring.

Peterson spent part one of the book explaining what kind of book the Bible is, and how we should approach it. Part two is a method for reading the Bible spiritually (lectio divina), and the end of the book includes Peterson’s commented on textual transmission, translation and his work on The Message.

This book will lead you to a higher observation of God’s Word than you’ve known before, and it will push you headlong as a participant in the world of that Word. Here’s a link to purchase it along with some quotes to mull over:

Peterson, Eugene H. Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading. pbk. ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Pub Co., 2009, ©2006.

  • Christians don’t simply learn or study or use Scripture; we assimilate it, take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus’ name, hands raised in adoration of the Father, feet washed in company with the Son.
  • An interest in souls divorced from and interest in Scripture leaves us without a text that shapes these souls. In the same way, an interest in Scripture divorced from an interest in souls leaves us without any material for the text to work on.
  • This may be the single most important thing to know as we come to read and study and believe these Holy Scriptures: this rich, alive, personally revealing God as experienced in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, personally addressing us in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, at whatever age we are, in whatever state we are- me, you us. Christian reading is participatory reading, receiving the words in such a way that they become interior to our lives, the rhythms and images becoming practices of prayer, acts of obedience, ways of love.
  • It takes the whole Bible to read any part of the Bible.
  • Lovers don’t take a quick look, get a “message” or a “meaning,” and then run off and talk endlessly with their friends about how they feel.
  • Contemplation means living what we read, not wasting any of it or hoarding any of it, but using it up in living.

 

20 Questions to Gauge Your Bible Reading

It’s the middle of January. How’s your Bible reading going? How can you know how it’s going. These certainly aren’t the only questions you’d want to ask to gauge your Bible reading. There’s a host interpretive questions I’ll post later. For now, ask some penetrating questions about your Bible reading, and share some thoughts in the comments.

  1. Do I believe the Bible is primarily about me or Jesus?photo-1450101215322-bf5cd27642fc
  2. Do I primarily read the Bible to find something to try harder at today?
  3. Do I primarily read the Bible to understand my life?
  4. Do I primarily read the Bible to know God?
  5. Do I primarily read the Bible to be closer to God?
  6. Do I read the Bible in order to feel better about myself?
  7. Do I read the Bible in order to feel guilt over my sin?
  8. Does my Bible study result in guilt, shame, and condemnation?
  9. Do I feel like a failure when I read the Bible?
  10. Does my Bible study result in a sense of accomplishment, pride, and condescension to others?
  11. Do I feel assured in my obedience to God’s commands when I read the Bible?
  12. Does my Bible study result in confidence before God because of the finished work of Jesus?
  13. Does my Bible study result in action that stems from fear or pride?
  14. Does my Bible study result in action that wells up from a heart of love for God?
  15. When I study my Bible do I equally sense God’s hatred of my sin and God’s mercy towards me?
  16. When I read my Bible do I feel more like a hopeless case, a self-assured worker, or a chosen son/daughter?
  17. Am I reading the Bible in order to say I’ve read the Bible?
  18. Is my Bible reading generally refreshing or dry?
  19. Am I working to see Jesus on every page?
  20. Does reading my Bible cause me to lift my heart to Jesus on the spot?

What is Discipleship?

What is discipleship? Read 10 different books on the subject and you may get 10 different answers. Discipleship means many things in many contexts. When hearing the word many people think of the spiritual disciplines: prayer, Bible study, Scripture memorization. Others think of a class or course of study; a set of facts that once learned make the student a disciple.

At our church we often use a slogan to explain discipleship. I’m sure we didn’t invent it, so if you know it’s source feel free to offer it in the comments. Here it is:

Disciples don’t just know what their masters know. They do what their masters do.

That’s obviously a pithy saying, but every time I use it I have Ephesians 4 in the back of my mind. It’s one of Paul’s richest characterizations of the life of the Christian and the church. There’s nothing pithy about it:

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4.11-17

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Loads of passages in the Bible explain what discipleship is and how to do it. This one is my favorite because of those two lines I emphasized. At its most basic, discipleship can be described by these two poles: children who are tossed around by waves and maturing in every way to Christ. Discipleship is the process of moving from worldly immaturity and instability towards spiritual maturity and buoyancy found in Christ. I love that these two poles aren’t a method. They don’t offer a program. For myself, I find that a method can often be a shortcut. We find one spiritual discipline that ministers to us and make it the answer to all our problems. Paul offers no shortcuts here. He offers a gauge:

Am I being tossed around by waves? Then on some level I haven’t grown up into Christ.

This kind of personal analysis requires intense reflection combined with broad reading and application of Scripture. It focuses on the gospel of Christ as the solution instead of a method or practice.