A Spoonful Of Insight: Family Worship Part 3

By: Mark Baker

Read, Pray, Sing

In the last post I briefly outlined a helpful structure for family worship through three simple actions: reading, praying and singing. This installment will expand on each of these three elements.

Read

The purpose of family worship is to gather together as a family to glorify God. What better way to glorify God than to do it by being saturated in the Scriptures? Create a Bible reading plan where you work your way through Psalms, Proverbs or the New Testament. Depending on the age of your children, you may want to read one third or one half of a chapter. As your children get older, one way to help engage them in conversation is to ask them to choose one verse that they will explain to you and one verse that you will explain to them. This will keep them paying attention as well as allowing them to verbally process the easier verses and to understand the harder verses with greater clarity.

While secondary literature should never replace the Bible, it can prove to be a helpful and enjoyable supplement. Here is a list to help you get started:

  • The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones. (0-4 years)
  • The Children’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos. (4-10 years)
  • Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware. (8-up)

Pray

Prayer is the natural response to reading the Word. Your prayer time is a wonderful opportunity for your children to learn how to pray by hearing you pray and by praying themselves. Try to pray about what you have just read from in the Scriptures. You also may want to include praying for your pastor, friends and family, missionaries and the persecuted church.

  • Voice of the Martyrs is a wonderful (and free!) resource for learning how to pray for the persecuted church.
  • Operation World is a helpful resource that lists specific gospel-oriented prayer needs for every country in the world.

Sing

I have recently gained a new appreciation for worship through song. We are currently singing through the Psalms at the school where I teach. Though I cannot carry a tune in a bucket, sometimes I am required to lead a class or even the entire school in a cappella singing. If there were ever a group of off tune singers, it would be my class when I lead! But I have experienced fresh waves of joy in Jesus and fresh understanding of the Scriptures as I have lifted up my voice in song to the Lord.

It is easy to compile a simple family song book. If your church prints song lyrics in the bulletin, collect several of the extras and put them in a notebook. You might also be able to get your hands on some old hymnals if you so desire.

Conclusion

If this post makes you feel like you are drinking from a fire hydrant, then stop and take a deep breath! You will obviously not be able to incorporate every suggestion into your own time of family worship. Keep these three points as general guidelines for all that you do in family worship: brevity, regularity and flexibility. Remember the goal is not to legalistically accomplish a task, but to glorify God by gathering together as a family to worship on a regular basis.

Fun Stuff Fridays…

5 Things I Like…

1. I like John Piper’s questions to ask before marriage.

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2. I think Jon Acuff’s blog post Covet 2.0 is funny!

3. I like Desiring God by John Piper. This is a great book. I’ve been listening to it on CD.

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4. I think these mini peach pies are so cute. For the recipe click here.

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5. I never knew what a camel looked like when he ran. How can I not like this?

Sacred Parenting: Book Review

“Raising a child shapes a parent spiritually every bit as much as a parent shapes his or her child.” -Gary Thomas

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In his book, Sacred Parenting, Gary Thomas shows this reality. He explains that parenting is a sacred enterprise and that children are one of the ways God intends to make us holy. Thomas explains that through the dirty diapers, toddler tantrums, or even the teenage silence, God can transform us to be more like Jesus.

Thomas addresses subjects like sacrifice, guilt, listening, prayer, laughter, fear, inadequacy, and ultimately how we must rely on Christ in our parenting. Because of how Gary Thomas shows that Jesus can shape our character through having children, I would recommend his book.

As Thomas says in his book, “We are living in the midst of holy teachers. Sometimes they spit up on themselves or us. Sometimes they throw tantrums. Sometimes they cuddle and kiss and love us. In the good and the bad they mold our hearts, shape our souls, and invite us to experience God in newer and deeper ways.” Pick up Sacred Parenting, it is a great read.

Here is what Gary Thomas has to say about his book.

A Spoonful Of Insight: Rotating Toys

I love for everything to have a home. So when a tornado of toys took over my living room, I nearly slipped into a coma. Thankfully my poor husband didn’t have to find an unconscious wife on the living room floor, because I finally found a way to deal with all of Elias’ toys.

No, I did not throw them all away, even though that was slightly tempting. Instead I decided to go with what I call the “Up, Up, and Away” system.

Basically how it works is, you buy two or three storage bins (or however many you need) and begin a rotation system with your child’s toys.

I started by purchasing three different toy boxes. One stays in Elias’ room, one stays in the living room, and one is for storage. The plan is to keep the toys rotating. This keeps many toys, games, etc… out of the Elias’ mind and off of my living room floor. At the same time Elias has a toy box that will keep him entertained but is still easy to clean up.

Mrs. Duggar, author of The Duggars:20 and Counting! , uses this system and says in her book that “when we bring it out again (stored toys), it’s like receiving a new gift at Christmastime; they are so excited about playing with it again” (165).

I have loved this easy to do system.

Fun Stuff Fridays…

Five Things I Like:

1. I loved reading Pastor Nathan Tarr’s blog post: A Lively Reverence.

2. Mark and I are reading through Pilgrim’s Progress right now. I love it! John Bunyan gets it.

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3. I thought this was so funny.

4. I like this quote by Augustine.

“God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil at all.” –Augustine

5. I love seeing family. This is Elias playing with his second-cousin.

Not The Way It Is Supposed To Be

By: Mark Baker

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It is not often that you hear about a book entirely devoted to the theology of sin. If you were to think about the content of such a book, you would probably imagine a book that would produce depression, legalism, liberalism or some kind of a mixture of all three. Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., however, treated the topic so well that it does not produce these results at all. Rather, his book is sobering, yet witty; convicting and inspiring. By the end of this brief theology (or “breviary”) you will be humbled and convicted because of your own sinful condition, yet inspired to cling to the gospel because of the hope we have in Christ. For theologian and lay-person alike: take, and read!

Fun Stuff Fridays…

5 Things I Like…

1. I love fun straws! We used these at a recent baby shower.

2. I am currently in love with peach tea!

3. I love how beautiful the moon is.

4. I like watching my men play soccer together. My mom and dad recently brought these jerseys back from Brazil.

5. I think it is hilarious when Elias pretends to be like Mark. Of course this pretending would include books and a backpack.

What Are You Reading Your Baby?

Elias loves to read, and I really want to encourage him to keep the books open. I love it when I peek into his room, and he is sitting on his yellow beanbag with a book. Often times I will catch him rambling non-english words interspersed with “ball” and “hat” thrown in. It is a precious sight.

Right now some of our favorite books are:

1. Paddington Bear Goes to Market by Michael Bond. In this story a cute bear meets his friend for a special morning treat.

2. Psalms For Young Children by Marie Helene Delval. This book has forty different Psalms paraphrased and illustrated for kid’s understanding and enjoyment. Mark reads this book to Elias as a devotional right before bed.

3. The Dragon and The Garden by N.D. Wilson. This book highlights the Gospel in the first few chapters of Genesis in a kid friendly and exciting way.

What is your favorite children’s book?

If you are looking for books and have a pre-school aged child you can get a free book every month if you sign up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Baby Book Worms

As the kids in our neighborhood walk down the street to the bus stop with their new backpacks and lunch boxes, I can’t help but love school. For some reason, I love the nippy air that accompanies the newly rising sun in the morning. I love new school clothes, and I love the idea of having a mountain of new school supplies and books in a backpack.

That being said, I am not ready to walk Elias to the bus stop at the end of our street and send him off to his first day of school. I do, however, think this is good because Elias is only eighteen months old. I’m sure the teacher would appreciate it if he was at least be potty trained before coming to class.

So what about pre-school, am I ready for that? Let’s just say, I think I would probably fall into an emotional stupor if I sent him to pre-school. And if by chance I didn’t cry like a baby when I dropped him off, I’d probably miss him so much that I’d be “that mom.” You know the one who stands outside of the class room door peaking in for nearly two hours before leaving. By the time I’d make it to the parking lot, class would be over and I’d have to walk back in and pick him up. I’m not ready.

With Pre-school out of the picture, I intentionally wanted to find something to do with Elias- something that was geared towards his age group and something that we could do together. That is when I found Baby Book Worms at our library. It is a once a week class that reads, sings, and does nursery rhymes. Elias and I have been going for about a month and he loves it. He claps his chubby hands together after the songs, and really enjoys reading the books.

This is Elias ready to go to his little class.

Isn’t he the cutest little guy? He loves his class, but even when we are at home he wants to walk around with his backpack and lunchbox.

Afterwards we go to the park that is adjacent to the library. We usually lay out a picnic blanket and relax in the shade. Without fail we end up with sticky hands from our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and juice boxes.

Here is Elias’ new lunchbox. He picked this one out because he really loves Elmo right now. He refers to him as “Elm.”

After a leisurely lunch, Elias will tear off running into the open field, recklessly screaming and kicking his ball. By the time Elias is red in the face from racing up and down the field, he is ready for a nap. A quick bedtime story and he’s off to snooze.

Fun Stuff Fridays…

5 Things I Like…

1. I like the movie Pride and Prejudice. I watched it earlier this week, and at one point Elias was sitting on the couch with me holding my hand.

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2. I love it when babies impersonate adults. I think it is hilarious. Elias has become my little parrot recently.  He will repeat whatever I say or do. All of that to say, I had no idea how bad my morning sickness looked to a one and a half year old until one day Elias pranced into the bathroom after me. He smiled mischievously in my direction; walked over to the toilet, hung his head over it and started “pretend coughing.” I  laughed my head off after that because my poor son is “playing” morning sickness. I don’t know who to feel more sorry for… him or me.

3. I love organizing! I’ve read parts of Sandra Felton’s book and it has really helped my home become neat and clean. This week I got rid of five trash bags full of stuff just from my closet.

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4. I like finding random gift cards that I didn’t know I had. This week we found a $50 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods and we bought Mark a new pair of running shoes. Always check the balance before you throw something away. This gift card was seconds away from the dump.

5. I love cinnabons. Mark, Elias, and I went on a family date and split one. Yum!

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