For the last several weeks we have been highlighting different staff members and how they conduct "family worship" with their families, and many of you have let me know how much this has meant to you and how it has helped you as you seek to lead your family in worship. Well, on the heels of that, I wanted some of you to share with each other the highlights (and pitfalls) of family worship in their homes! I appreciate Jeff Cole being willing to kick things off and share with us how he leads his family...
**As you read this blog, please be praying for Jeff and his sweet family. He is dealing with some health issues this week that are definitely concerns and stress for this precious family.
Cole Family Worship Time
As a husband and a dad to three kids (ages 7, and 5 year old twins), I have been challenged, as have many others at Trinity, to lead our family in worship in our home. I am learning daily that our worship, our response to God, is not confined to the four walls of Trinity, but is always with us. As a dad, I am responsible for ensuring that my family is grounded in the gospel. Like many other Trinity dads, I grew up with a good dad, but not a Godly dad. I want to change that legacy for my family. As a sinner, I fail miserably, but God’s grace allows me to get back up and try again.
I really started to grasp the importance of family worship time late last fall as Brother Chad was encouraging all the Trinity dads to step up and begin this important practice. Since my dad didn’t go to church on a consistent basis (my mom was the organist, so my sister and I both went with her), I didn’t have a clue what family worship time looked like. I asked Brother Chad for a recommendation and he quickly provided some ideas. Since our kids are young, we started with small steps that can hold their attention long enough for them to grasp God’s word. We started by using the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones that I purchased at the book table in the foyer at Trinity. The great thing about this Bible is that in every Bible story, the writer alludes to Jesus as coming (in the Old Testament) or Jesus as the Rescuer (in the New Testament). I try to do at least one story each evening before the kids go to bed. I have missed some nights and regretted that I didn’t ensure that we had our family worship time. However, our kids will be the first to remind me the next night that we missed the previous night. Our kids love these stories and usually ask that I read two or three stories each night. For me, the key is to be consistent. When you fall off, get back on as quickly as you can.
Since we are approaching the end of the Storybook Bible, I recently purchased Big Truths for Little Kids by Susan and Richard Hunt, somewhat of a pre-curser to Big Truths for Little Hearts. Although our 7 year old is probably ready for the Little Hearts book, I wanted to make sure we are all on the same page and got the Little Kids book. My plan is that when we finish the Storybook Bible, we will begin the Little Hearts Book. I am excited about this new upcoming book for us because it will keep the attention of our kids - it uses the interaction of the similar-aged characters in the book and it provides thought provoking questions on a kid’s level after every story. I am excited to see what God does through our family time in Big Truths for Little Kids.
Because I take our kids to school in the morning, we have an opportunity to praise Him in song by rocking out to some of our favorite songs on K-LOVE. There is nothing better than hearing your children sing/scream – “It’s a big, big house” (Big House by Audio Adrenaline) or “My God He was, My God He is, My God is always gonna be” (My Savior My God by Aaron Shust) or “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty” (Revelation Song by Phillips, Craig and Dean). While listening to K-LOVE, I ask them about something God is doing in their life or something they need God to help them with. Most of the time, it’s something very simple like “not get in trouble at school” or “be able to run faster than ___”(some other kid), however, you’ll be surprised at the complexity of your child when your oldest tells you that “she needs God to help her stay balanced between her regular school work and SPOTLIGHT” (gifted program that takes her our of class).
My wife and I look for “teachable moments” that we can remind our kids, and ourselves, how big our God is. We recently started our garden in the backyard and had all the kids help us. It was a great time to remind them of God’s creation and how He allows us to plant seeds and sow them later just as we do when we share the gospel with an unbeliever. Another time, we were lying in the backyard counting stars. It was a great opportunity to remind them that God placed every one of those stars and there are millions more that we can’t even see. We both look for opportunities for prayer such as when we are driving and see an accident on the side of the road. We will ask one of the kids to voice a prayer for whoever was involved. It hasn’t been earth shattering things – just things we see around us in every day life. Those are the things we easily take for granted. Deuteronomy 6:7 tells us to “impress upon your child as they sit, as they walk, as they lie down and as they get up”. We’ve found it’s very easy to simply notice the things around us that God does for us on a daily basis.
Because of my responsibility to my family, I have to be responsible in my daily walk as well. I can tell you for many years, that has not been the case and I woefully regret that. Because of this duty to my family, God has given me a desire to be in His Word daily. I decided that I need to ensure that I am grounded in the Word and figured that the best way to do this would be to start with the beginning. So, I started with Genesis 1. In doing this, I realized all the things I didn’t know before or forgot about as a child. In addition, I have begun to read some good quality books. I recently purchased Crazy Love by Francis Chan which, at least in the chapter I am in now, speaks to the enormity of God and how incredible it is that the God who created pine needles, caterpillars and E-minor, loves me and wants a personal relationship with me. I have also begun to use podcasts on my phone to listen to some well-known speakers – Francis Chan, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll – during my drive to work and back. I will be the first to tell you that I am a work in progress and won’t arrive until Jesus takes me home, but I am slowly, but surely working on sanctification.
As many of our ministers have already alluded to in their “day in the life” portion of the blog, the key to family worship is consistency. It’s so easy to get pulled away. The key for me is to remind myself that I am responsible for my family. However, when you hear one of your children pray at night and hear him say “Thank you Jesus for not letting me get nails in my hands and feet,” you quickly realize that he understands what Christ did for us...and that the time spent with them in worship was not in vein. You are indeed leaving a new legacy for your family.