While starting the practice of family worship may be difficult, a robust confidence in the gospel of God’s grace in Christ urges onward. (Discussion of the fifth chapter of Don Whitney’s book, Family Worship).
The “Gospel Shaped Home” podcast is a family discipleship resource from Providence Baptist Church, in Raleigh, North Carolina. It aims to equip you and your family to be on mission with God, to the end of the street and the ends of the earth.
Hello, Providence families. Welcome back. This is Andy Owens, Pastor of Family Discipleship. And once again, I’m here with Daniel Savage. This is the fifth week now. We’ve been reading through Family Worship by Donald Whitney, so we’ve come to the last chapter. Daniel, how do you feel?
I feel good.
Feel really good.
Really this is Dr. Whitney’s appeal, his encouragement to us as readers to devote ourselves to leading our families in worship, right? He starts the chapter with this kind of list of benefits that we would experience by leading and worship in our homes. It’s an opportunity to speak the gospel to our children. It’s an opportunity to establish ourselves as their primary spiritual influencers.
It’s a way to create a pipeline for communication. For them to feel like they can come to us and ask deep questions, important questions about life and God’s truth. It’s an opportunity for us to model the life of a disciple, to model worship before them. It’s a way to even be training them for decades down the road when they are on their own with their family and have a vision for leading in family worship.
There’s so many benefits, and the key amongst them all is the worth of God is on display when we spend time. When we gathered together, we get to say, “God, you are worth our time. You are worth our energy. We want to hear from you. We need your help, and we want to praise you.” That’s how he starts the chapter, but really he goes pretty quickly into a major obstacle. Daniel, what is this major obstacle that Don Whitney talks about?
Well, he talks about the difficulty of getting started. He follows up all of these benefits and really the question, “Isn’t this what you want to do?” And, for any believer, anyone who’s following Christ, the answer is yes. Yes, I want my kids to hear the gospel regularly. I want them to know the truth of God. I want to be a primary influencer that is helping them to follow God, but then he jumps into, “Really, why aren’t we doing it then? Why don’t we start today?”
The first hurdle that he talks about is that we would have to start. And to start is to recognize that we haven’t been doing something that we should have been. There’s this sort of built-in hurdle there where there is a requirement for…
Acknowledgment of failure.
Yeah, some repentance…
Failure to lead, yeah.
…some humility, some confession of, you know this is something that I think is good and right. We haven’t been doing it, but I’d like to start.
And, I would just say if that’s where you find yourself and whether it’s you’ve never started, and you’re having to acknowledge to your family, I’ve never led in family worship. Whether you’ve missed a few days or a few weeks, actually it’s a great opportunity for us to model childlike trust in the grace of God.
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. We can invite his help, his gracious gaze by acknowledging, yes, I failed, and I’m sorry, but I want to lead this family to treasure God above all things. So, will you go with me? Will you accept my apology and let me lead us now?
There’s a lot of power to, especially reaching your kids’ hearts. To touching their hearts with tender acknowledgment of failure is really significant in parenting.
He talks about Jacob, Genesis 35. Jacob kind of went through a season like this apparently because in Genesis 35 we see that he tells his family and all who were with him, to put away the foreign gods that are among you and to purify yourself, change your garments. He says we’re going to go up and make an altar to God.
There’s apparently a season where Jacob was not leading his family to worship the one true God, and there was worship of idols in his home. And so he is resolving to turn back to God. Really that’s what this is, is a call to turn again to God.
And, I love where Don Whitney goes in the chapter he talks about John Patton and his relationship with his father. John Patton was a missionary to the New Hebrides, and you can read about his story in the book titled, John T Patent Missionary to the New Hebrides by Banner of Truth.
It’s a great book, but he talks about his early years and his father’s example in leading family worship and what an impact it made on John Patton. He said he, “Vowed deeply and offed by the help of God to live and act so as never to grieve or dishonor such a father and mother as God had given me.” So, you know he traces this influence, this profound sense of respect that John Patton had for his father and for his influence in his life to his leading in family worship and his being on his knees, praying with his family. When he said, when he would come up from prayers, his face would shine, and he said, “I wish I were like him in spirit.”
So anyway, the point there is that we can have a powerful and profound impact on our children’s lives and on their future walk with Christ by our example in family worship.
So Daniel, what encouragement can we give right now to folks in our church who find themselves in this spot? Okay, I haven’t led before, I want to. What kind of final encouragements can we give to folks who want to take up this mantle of spiritual leadership in the homes?
I think I would say there will always be lots of reasons not to do this. Lots of discouragements, lots of ways to justify not doing it, but the reality is, it is something that you want to do if you’re a follower of Christ. It’s something that you desire to do. And so, I would just encourage you to go forward with the Lord’s help.
This is something that God wants you to do. He wants you, He’s commanded you over and over again in the scriptures to pass on the knowledge of him to the next generation. He will be with you. He longs for this. He desires it. He will empower it. Even though you feel weak and feel maybe inadequate in certain ways…
Like you can’t answer every question. Like you…
Feel overwhelmed. Feel like this might be too much for you. It’s not because the Lord will help you. That would be my encouragement. Is that the Lord does not call us to do things that he will not empower us to do. Go forward with God by faith.
That’s good. God is rich in mercy. He has loved you with a great love. He has made you alive together with Christ and from the fullness of Christ he will give you grace upon grace to lead your family. To treasure him, to worship him, to treasure his truth, to build their lives on his truth.
There is a helpful word at the end of the book though, and that is, “Remember the gospel.” Right? He says, “Family worship is not the gospel.” What does he mean, Daniel?
Well, he just means regular practice of family worship is not going to save you, and it’s not going to save your kids. What saves you and saves your kids is the gospel. The good news about Jesus Christ that He lived a perfect life, died the death we deserved to die, and was raised from the dead. That is the good news, and that is what saves us.
Family worship like many other things is a tool. A means that we can use to engage the gospel, to pass on the gospel, to talk about the gospel, to build our trust in the gospel. It is a tool that we use, like many other tools, that is not going to save us in it of itself, but it is a tool nonetheless that we should use and use effectively and powerfully to help us embrace the gospel and to believe it.
That’s good. You know, the horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord. We want to do what God has called us to do: to train our children to see the good shepherd, to Jesus in his death, and his resurrection, but we know ultimately that it’s his grace that is going to work in their hearts and transform them.
We don’t trust in our family worship times, we trust in the savior, but again, family worship is an opportunity to be the Philippians three sort of people. Who put no confidence in the flesh, who worshiped by the spirit of God, and who glory in Christ Jesus.
May God help us as a church, and as individuals, and as families to be those kinds of people. May he give us great joy and great influence in the next generation as we lead our homes to worship him. Daniel, thanks so much, brother.
Absolutely, loved it.
See you guys. Talk to you next time.
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