How to Change the Life of Your Family: Part Three

In a previous post, we saw the lives of individuals like Abraham, Moses and the nation of Israel, Joshua, and New Testament exhortations from the Apostle Paul. In another one we saw men throughout history who either promoted it or shared their experiences themselves.

In this post, I want to share with you some practical helps that will, prayerfully, enable you and your family to begin worshiping our great God. At some point, you will have to begin! But be of good cheer, many people have shared their experiences in order to help you be successful.

So, what does family worship entail? It is really simple. In fact, it can be summarized with three syllables: read, pray, and sing. (For a more thorough discussion of this, I recommend Don Whitney’s book Family Worship) Is it really that simple? Yes! It really is as easy as reading, praying, and singing. In order to help you though, I want to share some practical suggestions for each one.

Read

We begin by simply reading the Scripture. Depending on the age of your family (for instance, if you have little ones) you will determine what you will read. If you are a couple, read through the Bible. Purpose to work your way through a New Testament book, or a narrative in the Old Testament. If you are a family with young children, use a children’s Bible (I’ll share some helpful titles at the end). If you are entering the golden years of life, you may want to read larger chunks of Scripture. Whatever you choose, make sure it is Scripture.

As you have time, you may want to include books and other material. Working your way through historical documents and creeds can be quite enlightening and spiritually fruitful. Of course, the Scripture must always be found.

Pray

Everyone can pray. The father may pray one day, the mother the next, and the children in succession. Or you may want to choose a week for one member of the family. If you have children, this is a wonderful way to begin to teach them how to pray. No matter how your family worship occurs, make sure to pray. My soon-to-be five year old daughter is learning to pray simply through our time of family worship.

Sing

This may seem odd at first, especially if you have older kids (middle and high school students). However, Scripture is laden with passages discussing singing. Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19 both encourage disciples of Jesus to sing (among other things) spiritual songs. Family worship is the perfect place to “address one another…in spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19).

From a personal standpoint, this was what I dreaded the most. I enjoy singing, but I don’t really have the gift for it. My wife, on the other hand, does. When I hear my kids sing, it makes it all worth it. Find music that you enjoy and that is God-honoring, and then simply sing!

Some Suggestions

Many people think they must prepare lessons or materials ahead of time. This is not the case. If you are a couple, or have older children, simply reading through Scripture and offering a few comments is acceptable. If you have young children, I recommend one of the following:

The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm
Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name Sally Lloyd-Jones
Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments Marty Machowski

Finally, let me leave you with three suggestions Whitney offers:

  1. Brevity- be brief! A good average to follow is ten minutes.
  2. Regularity- keep it going! Make this a commitment every night.
  3. Flexibility- be supple! While maintaining consistency, do not be too rigid. Change up the time, the material, or whatever needs your family has. (taken from Don Whitney’s Family Worship, pages 50-51)

We will discuss some specific challenges and questions in the next post on this topic. I am praying that you will begin worshiping God as a family now!

Reading- Random Thoughts Part Three

How we read is also another important factor to consider. What I mean by this is, what the location is when we read, our physical position, digital versus hard copy, etc.

I personally prefer reading while laying belly flat on the ground. I find this the most comfortable position. Others may prefer a chair on a porch on a nice warm day. Whatever your choice is, go with what is most comfortable for you. The chances you will read more are higher if the conditions are conducive.

Next find the location that you can focus your attention what you are reading. Some people need complete silence when reading, so a family room with a lot of activity would definitely be a distraction. Others may prefer the outdoors, where birds sing their songs and crickets make their rhythmic hum. I read best when there is noise. Whether it is a show on tv or my daughter playing in the room, I need noise in order to concentrate.

Lastly, find your preference of reading material. In other words, if you like digital copies then use it! With the availability of so many tablets, phablets, and smart phones, there are a variety of options from which to choose. On top of this, there are several apps that can be downloaded for the use of reading. Some cost money while others are free. Either way you decide to go the main thing is to read! If, on the other hand, you are like me, you prefer hard copies. I like to write in my books.

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Sometimes I write thoughts I may have, such as “I agree”, or “Where is the proof?”. Most of the time I write how the passage, paragraph, or statement has made an impact on me. I also like to write cross references in order to ease future searching. The key difference in digital copies and hard copies, for me at least, is that I can personalize my books by adding myself into each one.

Reading- Random Thoughts Part Two

So as we contemplate reading, one of the sure threats to excellent reading is “skimming.” We do it all the time. I would venture to guess you’re probably doing it now!

It’s something we all struggle with daily. The amount of material we come in contact with is astounding. From news and sports channels on television to Twitter and social media, Americans have access to a seemingly infinite amount of information. It is impossible to process all this information.

Because of the amount of information we have available we have developed the ability to skim read vast amounts of material and get the gist of what was written. This can be very beneficial for matters that are not related to truths that have eternal results. Sports scores, daily news, stock prices are all easily observed and stored into the brain.

However, for Christians, we should develop the ability of reading comprehension. After reading an article, magazine, or book the Christian should be able to give what was read in his or her one language. Skimming will not suit this desired goal. While skim reading has benefits, it should be avoided when reading the Bible and other books that can help develop the character and life of the individual. So as you read throughout today, stop; take the time to actually read with the ability to comprehend what you have just read. You’ll notice a difference in your ability to process what you read!

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Reading- Random Thoughts Part One

So we all desire to read more, read deeper, and probably finish some books. But we all have the same problem, no matter what stage in life we may be found in at the moment, we are all busy. Time is a precious commodity, and from the busy mom to the working dad, from the teenager involved in all sorts of activities to the young children busy playing, we all struggle to find time to read.

For the Christian, reading is a necessity. Reading the Bible is of utmost importance. It is how we grow in our relationship with The Lord, it is how we learn more about the Christian faith, and it tells us how we should live in the present world.

But the Christian shouldn’t be satisfied with just the Bible. This is not to say the Bible isn’t all the Christian needs, but that other books can prove to be helpful, encouraging, and informative.

There will be additional posts coming soon, but for now, purpose to read at least ten minutes a day. You may be surprised at how much you can work through a book with only ten minutes a day.

Thoughts on Devotional Reading

There are many books available for the eager Christian on which to read and reflect for growth. The first book, without a doubt, should be the Bible. Whatever translation you may use, read it! Growth comes through a consistent, systematic reading of the Word of God.

Besides that, there are many other books, of a variety of genres, that can help sour growth and love for God and fellow man. There are biographies, histories, systematic theologies, the collected works of individuals, sermons, fiction, devotional books, and the list goes on. All you have to do is walk into the local book store and you can find a dozen books from which to choose. But how do you find the best ones?

I recommend browsing through several genres and finding out which one appeals more to you. It will help you get an idea of how you and your own soul interact with that of the individual or material you are reading. There are some who reap much fruit from biographies, while others prefer the more devotional readings of the Puritans. So choose a few books and spend some time working through them.

The most important factor of any reading, whether Biblical or otherwise, is to get closer to God. So, with that aim, go and read!

And let me know what you like, what’s your favorite author? What books have made an impact in your life?