October 19, 2011
FAMILY WORSHIP by Donald S. Whitney (CHAPTER 3)
“Read, Pray, & Sing” The Elements of Family Worship
Basically, there are three elements to family worship: read the Bible, pray, and sing. Only three syllables to remember-read, pray, sing. Jerry Marcellino, in his useful booklet, Recovering the Lost Treasure of Family Worship I uses three S’s as a reminder: Scripture, supplication, and song. But the elements are so simple that you probably will not need any reminders about what to do.
Read the Bible. Chapter-by-chapter, read through books of the Bible together. The younger the children, the more you will want to use narrative passages and shorter sections.’ As the children get older, set a goal of a complete reading of the New Testament, and later of the entire Bible. Read enthusiastically and interpretively. Explain words the children may not understand. Clarify the meaning of key verses. To improve their understanding, ask the children to explain a particular verse or phrase to you.
Pray. Whether prayer is offered by the father only, or by one he designates, or by the entire family, be sure to pray together. Some people keep a prayer list. Some simply ask for prayer requests from the family. Whatever your approach, pray about at least one thing suggested by the passage you have read. Many families go to the book of Psalms and turn the words of a few verses there into a prayer. If praying through the twenty-third Psalm, for instance, after reading the first verse you might thank the Lord for being your Shepherd, asking Him to shepherd your family through certain events or decisions before you, and so forth. As you have time, continue through the passage line-by-line, speaking to God about what comes to mind while reading the text. By so doing you will not only pray for your family (in fresh and unique ways), but also teach them by example how to pray.
Sing. Get hymnals for everyone. Your church may have some unused or older ones you could acquire. Your pastor or another worship leader at your church may be able to recommend other songbooks. The lyrics of many older, public domain (that is, not copyrighted) songs are available free on the Internet. Some people sing a different song each time; some sing the same song for a week so they can learn it. As to music, some families sing along with recordings, while others utilize family musicians, and many simply sing without accompaniment. Remember: with this and all other elements of family worship, some preparation is worthwhile, but not necessary. Just sit down and read, pray, and sing.
Spurgeon concurs, “I agree with Matthew Henry when he says, ‘They that pray in the family do well; they that pray and read the Scriptures do better; but
they that pray, and read,
and sing do best of all.
Some other helps in family worship
Catechize. Used for centuries by Christians in virtually all traditions, catechizing is a question-and-answer approach to teaching biblical doctrine. I have seen catechisms used successfully with children as young as two. For example, “Who made you?” is the first question asked in one catechism for very small children. Then the children are taught to answer, “God made me.” The questions are reviewed and new ones are learned incrementally so that over time the children absorb a tremendous amount of biblical truth. A good, age-appropriate catechism is as valuable for learning the Bible as memorizing multiplication tables is for learning mathematics. Ask your pastor for recommendations, or search for catechisms on the Internet.
Memorize Scripture. Family worship is a great time to review Scripture the family members have learned separately or collectively. Some families choose to work on one or more verses from the book of the Bible they are currently reading, others use different plans. Even learning just one verse per month is valuable and takes little time.
Read other books. If time allows, you might begin your gathering together with some general family reading, after which you enter family worship. Or, at the close of family worship, you might take advan- tage of the opportunity to read a Christian book or biography to your family.
Beyond these content-related guidelines, consider these three reminders for your family’s daily worship of God:
Brevity. Be brief. Otherwise the experience can become tedious. It is always easy to lengthen the time if the occasion seems to be especially meaningful.
Regularity. Try to have a regular time each day for family worship. For some people it works best early in the morning before the family scatters. For others, the most convenient time is at the close of the evening meal. If this is your choice, part of setting the table might include putting the Bible and songbooks close at hand. I would also recommend that you not allow anyone to get up from table until family worship is finished. For once someone says, “Just let me do this first,” the others can become impatient or think of things they also need to do, and the sense of family togetherness is lost. A third popular time for family worship is late in the evening or at bedtime.
Flexibility. Whatever time you choose, consider the wisdom of adapting a time when the family is already accustomed to being together, rather than trying to create another routine gathering during the day. Of course, a set time for family worship each day does not fit the schedule of many families. Every family has to flex its worship time sometime. Just make sure that your flexibility does not lead to inconsistency. Nevertheless, if developing an entirely new family routine is what it takes to begin family worship, the benefits will be worth whatever it costs.
October 29, 2010
With everyone abuzz about costumes and candy this weekend, Bethel Grace is emphasizing another holiday. October 31 is Reformation Day, remembering a day to truly celebrate! Justin Holcomb explains…
“Reformation Day (October 31) commemorates Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. This act triggered the Reformation, as they were immediately translated and distributed across Germany in a matter of weeks. The Protestant Reformation was the rediscovery of the doctrine of justification—salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone—and the protest against the corruption within the Roman Catholic Church.”
As we prepare for our celebration of this great day, I encourage you to read through the 95 Theses. Here is a more literal translation. Here is a very helpful paraphrase/summary of each one. As you read through them, I think you’ll be interested to find that Luther was still very much Roman Catholic when he wrote them. You’ll notice his lingering belief in purgatory and the authority of the pope. You’ll find unbiblical doctrine. But clearly, God was working in Luther to refine his theology, a work (as with us all) that was not complete until he went home to glory.
The statements that inspired me are found in 1, 3, 27, 28, 36, 37, 45, 48, 50, 51, 55, 86 (!), 90, among others.
And one more helpful item… Christi Eaton, one of the younger members of the Bethel Grace family (12 years old), also has provided a very helpful explanation of the history of Reformation Day in the paper wrote for school. See it below!
I’m looking forward to a great weekend!!!
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October 27, 2010
This Sunday we are going to enjoy a Reformation Day Faire at Bethel Grace. Reformation Day celebrates God’s purification of the Church in the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation was set into motion when Martin Luther tacked his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg Castle Church on October 31, 1517.
At 9:00 am we will gather all our Sunday school classes into the Fellowship Hall to think about the “Five Solas of the Reformation.” Then at 10:30 am we will sing powerful, historic hymns and rejoice in the core doctrine of justification through faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone. Then we will enjoy some In-n-Out Burgers on the church patio, have a jousting tournament, and enjoy some time with the church family. Looking forward to a great day!
In the meantime, I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on the history of the Reformation. I recommend these messages by RC Sproul explaining all that prompted Martin Luther to compose the 95 Theses and pin them to the Wittenburg door.
October 18, 2010
I flew to Sacramento recently on flight 262. I’ve never remembered my flight number before, but this flight was very different. As I do when I am flying, I began praying for the people sitting next to me. I was praying for an opportunity for the gospel. I know most people are praying quite the opposite, “please don’t sit by me” as they see each person walk the center aisle, gazing at their ticket. One by one people came in and no one sat next to me. I had a grandmother with her 2 year old grandchild who was in desperate need of discipline in the aisle across from me—her hands were beyond full. I had a business meeting going on in the aisle in front of me. There was literally no one that would be available to talk about spiritual things, so I thought. I continued to pray that a “door would be opened” to me for the gospel (Col 4:2-3). If I only knew what would happen in just over an hour on the flight from Long Beach to Sacramento.
The moment the plane landed I knew something was wrong. The plane lunged forward as if the brakes were on. Then we heard a loud “POP” from under the plane. Coming to the fastest stop I’ve ever experienced on an aircraft, my heart was racing! Just then “FLIGHT CREW, PREPARE FOR EGRES”, the captain called over the loud speaker. Having been in the Air Force I knew what that meant, (Emergency, Ground, Escape). The flight crew sprung into action, popping open the emergency hatches and deploying the inflatable slides. “WE NEED TO EXIT THE AIR CRAFT, EVERYONE OFF, EVERYONE OFF NOW!” The fastest landing ever was followed by the speediest de-boarding ever.
I helped the 2 year old and his grandmother down the aisle and then down the slide following right behind. At the bottom we were rushed to safety (about 100 yards away) where we were able to see flames coming from the landing gear. The grandmother thanked me for helping her and said, “thank God we’re all OK.” And then I got it. In His wonderful sovereignty God gave me the opportunity I was praying for. I was able to share with the Grandmother who I had considered to be unapproachable with the gospel. God is sovereign even over malfunctioning airplane brakes and old tires, for His purposes. Our job: pray for opportunities and be ready to respond when He gives them to us.
August 20, 2010
“That’s mine!,” “Hey give that back!,” “I’ll never forgive him!,” “I can’t talk to them any more!,” Conflict is all around us. Conflict is in us! Our sinful hearts constantly produce excuses to be in conflict. And I suspect you have heard some of these things recently. It may even be a part of your normal speech or a regular occurrence in your home. James 3:10 “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”
Conflict, while it is inevitable, is against God’s design—especially for the church. Jesus puts a high emphasis on being a peacemaker as He teaches that being at peace with your brother is a prerequisite to true worship. Matt 5:23-24.
That is why I highly recommend the Peacemaker books by Ken Sande. The Peacemaker, geared towards adults, The Peacemaker Student Edition and, Peacemaking for Families, are wonderful books to aid you in your pursuit of peace that puts Jesus Christ on display in all your relationships.
Conflict is a restless evil that seeks to undermine the very prayers of our Lord. Consider. John 17:20-21.
Our unity and peace communicates the love of God and the radical transformation that He has done in our hearts. And, if indeed He has done a work in our hearts, the way we deal with conflict ought to look more like Christ and less like the world. Our unity puts Jesus Christ on display and quite the opposite is the case when we are in consistent un-reconciled conflict with each other as believers.
Ken Sande seeks, not only to expose this conflict as utterly sinful but disciples his readers through biblical resolution, restoring relationships that are currently in conflict and helps us build a God-honoring framework for dealing with conflict in the future. He does a superb job of this, communicating as if he were sitting across from you at your local area Starbucks speaking the truth in love to you and tenderly discipling you toward love and good deeds.
Ken goes about this in four parts or the four G’s of peacemaking:
- Glorify God (I Cor. 10:31)
- Get the Log out of Your Eye (Matt. 7:5)
- Gently Restore (Gal. 6:1)
- Go and be Reconciled (Matt. 5:24)
The chief of all of these, and perhaps the reason for its placement as first, is Glorifying of God. This is the most important aspect of understanding biblical conflict and making steps toward resolution. We are called to glorify God in all that we do. 1 Corinthians 10:31
Ken reminds us that conflict provides opportunity to be true peacemakers rather than breaking peace or faking peace. One of the most valuable tools that Ken uses is his model of The Slippery Slope of peacemaking.
PEACE FAKING: Those of us that find ourselves on the left side of the slippery slope tend to deny that there is conflict at all, wrongly thinking that any kind of conflict is dangerous or thinking that it will damage relationships beyond hope. All of these escape responses are counter productive to unity in the body and glorifying God.
PEACE BREAKING: Those finding that they tend to lash out in anger either physically or with words, slide this way when faced with conflict. These folks tend to see conflict as an opportunity to assert themselves or defend their rights. Ultimately these individuals are more interested in being right than considering others as more important than themselves. The ultimate extreme here would be murder. Before we write that off as impossible, let us all stand guilty under the Lord’s words in Matt 5:21-22 “…everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable.”
PEACEMAKING: These responses are commanded by God. The first three responses are the personal peacekeeping responses. The principle here is to overlook the offense. Proverbs 19:11 A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression. The next three Peacemaking responses are called assisted peacemaking. If two people are unable to come to reconciliation on their own, they may need to seek out wise counsel to assist them in the process.
Sanctification doesn’t happen in a bubble. The Lord brings situations and people into our lives to expose our sin. The question is, when that ugly monster sin shows himself will you take the opportunity to wage war with him or will you feed him and pretend that he is not dangerous? What are you doing now? Who is it that the Lord has brought to mind even as you have been reading? Will you leave your offering and go and be reconciled or will you continue the charade? If you need to be reconciled with someone or you recognize that conflict is the theme of one or more of your relationships, then go and pick up a copy of Ken Sande’s book
The Peacemaker. Start today, as much as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
May God be glorified in all your relationships!
I received another email that blessed my socks off and propelled me to prayer. A Bethel Grace member & deacon, John Brown, sent this note. Please pray that we will in fact see all that John asks about.
May God richly bless you!,
J. Hudson Taylor said, “When God’s work is done in God’s way for God’s glory, it will not lack God’s support.”
God is sending workers who are committed to the work of God. Can it be that we are seeing the first fruits of spiritual revival in our assembly? Will we see a hunger for God’s word? Will we see marriages and relationships made whole? Will we see unity in love? Will we see wide-spread repentance? Will we see the fruit of the Spirit living out in lives? Will we see a love for the lost? Will we see joy and not frowns? Will we stick together when opposition comes?
Give us a revival Lovely Lord. You have ALL authority. Please bless us.
August 4, 2010
This is Todd Friel. He is one of the speakers for the upcoming Transformed Conference.
With so many in the evangelical community ascribing to easy believism and telling church attendees to”pray a little prayer, ask Jesus into your heart and walla, you’re a Christian”, it’s refreshing to hear this practical application to the biblical mandate for professing believers to test themselves to see whether they are in the faith. 2 Cor 13:5.
For a visual of what Todd is talking about download this Ten Point Test.
August 2, 2010
Jeff’s sermon to himself, Monday August 2nd, 2010:
1In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. 2And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. 3I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” 6And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time.
Nehemiah “was very much afraid,” but he trusted God, and prayerfully took a risk to do what his heart was yearning to do in service of God and God’s people.
Chances are you will never do anything of great significance without being afraid. Never let fear keep you from doing something awesome. Ask God to replace your fear with faith and love. Instead of fearing people, love them instead.
In the words of J. Oswald Sanders, have holy ambition. Not personal ambition, but holy ambition to make the name of Christ known in every corner of this land. God values faith. Believe in the Lord. Trust in God. Step out in faith. Do hard things in Jesus’ name. Do things that require you to trust in God’s power. Advance the Gospel. Make Christ, the cross, the empty grave and the second coming known. They all need to know. Every living creature needs to know about Jesus.
June 22, 2010
Today was a busy day. The morning was full of bible study, breakfast cooking, kitchen cleaning, laundry and watching the kiddos while Jenny was at a dentist appointment. By the time lunch came around we both felt as though we had full days already. Then heading off our separate directions, me to the church office and Jenny off to help her sister with a craft project. The craft project was just finishing as I was walking in the door about 6:30pm. After a quick one dish yummy meal we switched gears to do some tiding in preparation for guests in the morning. I was just about out of steam and longing for the “much deserved” relax time as soon as the kids were in bed. Just then I heard my very bright daughter who doesn’t forget anything say “Mommy remember you and Daddy said it would be family movie night tonight!”
It is so important for us to keep our word in general (James 5:12) but especially with our kids. We need to put God’s character on display.
Praise the Lord for His faithfulness in all His words. May the Lord continue to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ and provide us His energy to keep our word and consider others as more important than ourselves.
Time to make popcorn.
Michael & Marsha Slone have been missionaries for Bethel Grace for over 25 years. They are currently ministering to Midshipmen (students) at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Mike will be visiting BGBC this weekend June 5th- 6th! Mike bring his friend ENS Kwame Anyika as a guest. On Saturday he will be speaking at the father/son Legacy meeting from noon-3pm at BGBC. On Sunday he will be teaching on discipleship in the Salt & Light class at 9am. All are welcome! On Sunday evening, he will bring a report of his ministry during the 6pm service with a reception in Fellowship Hall to follow.
Mike and Marsha, who are missionaries with Navigators, help facilitate two weekly meetings of 40-60 Midshipmen for worship, community, and Bible teaching about Christian basics in doctrine, living, and ministering. Throughout the week, they meet with individual Midshipmen for personalized discipleship training. The Slones have a ministry specialized in discipleship with African American students.
These students, who graduate from the Naval Academy, will go on to become leaders in the Navy and Marine Corps. So, by discipling these future leaders, the Navigators seek to “advance the Gospel of Jesus and his Kingdom into the nations through spiritual generations of laborers living and discipling among the lost.”
Please come out and see Mike, hear him speak, and visit with him during these events!
You can find more info about this ministry at www.navigators.org/us/staff/slone. Also, please contact Mike & Marsha and let them know you praying for them! You can send your encouragement to firstname.lastname@example.org.