Friday, August 10, 2007

Family Discipleship

We have recently started two new habits in what I'll call "family discipleship" that God is using to bless each of us. For the past several months, we have been having a sermon discussion on Sunday afternoon. We encourage the kids to take some notes during the Sunday morning sermon, and James and I do as well, though it usually is a joint effort between us. If Logan is with James, I'm writing, but if Logan comes to me, the notes get passed down to James.

At some point in the afternoon, we gather the family together and go through our notes, asking the children questions in order to discuss the main ideas. We have found the practice to be a great platform for discussing key spiritual truths, bringing up examples of our own, or tying in other scripture that goes along with the sermon. It is encouraging to hear what the children remember from listening and to go over what was missed.

An exciting benefit we have discovered from starting this habit is that we are all retaining in the long run more of past sermons, and when we discuss the sermon of the week, we often tie in examples, illustrations, or truths from past sermons.

James and I are encouraged by the soft hearts we see in our children at this point in their lives. We haven't run across sighing, groaning, eye-rolling or other "How boring" type of behaviors. The children participate in and seem to enjoy our sermon discussions. It has even been a time when I get to "cuddle" one of the older kids on my lap which doesn't happen as often the older they get!

Sunday afternoons are often opportunities for a family bike ride or walk as well (though I often stay at home while Logan naps, because I feel all worn out on Sunday afternoon), but I like that we have added in this spiritual "discipline" to our routine which draws us closer together as a family and closer to our Savior.

The second discipleship habit that we have added is in our nightly family worship routine. We have begun using the guide Balancing the Sword to aid us in our Bible reading. Right now, we are reading through Exodus (Again-- in case anyone remembers that I read in Exodus with the kids at the beginning of last school year.) The guide includes 3-4 content related questions which James reads to us before the Bible reading and then asks the children to answer after we read the scripture aloud. We also pick one of the questions to read all of the related cross-references which often is a wonderful opportunity for tying the Old and New Testaments together.

When we read the chapter about Moses and the burning bush, we talked about how God wants and requires the worship of His people. The guide asked the question, "What did Pharaoh say was the root problem that caused Israel to ask to leave and make sacrifices to YHWH?" The kids remembered that Pharaoh accused the Israelites of wanting to worship God out of idleness, and we talked about how Pharaoh considered working for him more important that worshiping God. The cross-reference for the question included Matthew 26:8,9 ~ the story of the woman who poured out expensive perfume on Jesus, getting scolded by those present for wastefulness, while receiving commendation from Jesus Himself for her act of devotion. While the children did not grasp the connection between these scriptures on their own, the light dawned on James and me as we pointed out the similarities between the two stories. Just as Pharaoh discounted the Israelites desire to worship God, considering hard work more important, the disciples frowned on the woman's simple, yet extravagant act of worshiping Jesus, telling her that it would have been better for her to use the money from the perfume for the poor. We came away from our Bible reading with a renewed sense that our highest calling as God's people is to worship God. (And what an encouragement to continue faithfully in family worship.)

Guess what the sermon the following Sunday was about... Matthew 26: 6-13! Praise God for His grace to us! We thank Him for this demonstration of His love and encouragement to us through His Word and the timeliness of the sermon for our family! The pastor brought out the phrase "She has done what she could" from the parallel passage, Mark 14:8 and discussed how, though she was nothing in the eyes of the world, God made note of her, because of her worshipful, self-sacrificing act, done solely out of love for the Lord Jesus. The sermon drove the meaning of the passage deeper into our hearts.

For my family and any other readers of this blog, if you would like to pray for our family, please ask the Lord to continue to lead us into greater faithfulness in our worship and service to Him, that we would do what we can, simple though it may be, but out of love for Christ and with our eyes fixed on His glory.

Thanks for letting me share our joy in the Lord!


Gayle @ thewestiecrew said...

I will pray this for your family. What a beautiful thing. I *love* your idea of sermon discussion after church.
You know, you mentioned that the sermon was on that in which you had just used with the children. I have to tell you that on the way to church this a.m., I was praying and the song "It is Well With My Soul" came strongly into my mind, as meeting me right where I am. Guess what? It was one of the worship songs that morning...I just knew that it was the Lord in His lovingkindness.
Haven't told anyone that today, so it was nice to share it. :)

Anonymous said...

what an enoouragement! i love hearing that families are truly engaging their whole family in God's Word. truly, it is a great encouragment