Sunday, November 18, 2007

Allen Family Church

This morning we had church, family style. Kamryn even made a program announcing it:) Bradyn and Kamryn have not been feeling so good lately, battling a stomach infection, and I didn't need to preach, so we just stayed home and worshipped together. About two years ago we started trying to have family worship together every day. We started reading the Bible and then reading verses, reading a devotion and much, much more. We tried just about everything. I still remember our first couple of weeks of family devotions. They were so painful. Kids would not sit still, they were bored, we were dying... It was miserable. Many times we about threw in the towel. After some time has passed, it is still not easy. But it is definitely better. Some days are great, and some days are just difficult and some days we are too busy and just forget about it. Some days Stephanie would lead and most days I would lead. I think two books have encouraged us in this journey. The first is 10 P's in a Pod. This is the far extreme that I have heard of family devotions and they are a very tough family to follow, but wow, what a marker to reach for... I loved this book and it helped change the way we lead our family. I was also challenged by Voddie Baucham. His messages especially during a conference were life changing for Stephanie and I. Overall, as I take an account of it all, we have tried many things, failed often, succeeded rarely and wonder at our effectiveness in the in between. But, God has been gracious with us, by helping us not be legalistic about it. When we miss some time in the word, we know that God loves us. When our time is distracted and hard, we look forward to the next day.

Nevertheless, I am so thankful that we have persevered. Here are two highlights of the last couple of years. One, this past year our family, minus Julia, memorized the entire book of Philippians. Kamryn probably has it down better than any of us. Slowly but surely, steady does it, we just went verse by verse by verse. Sometimes we would listen to Phillipians in the car before we listened to music. It was amazing to watch how over time, it just stuck. Another great moment occured one day when we were coming back from swimming lessons. I had to do a bunch of errands and after awhile the patience of our children was running thin. Kamryn complained about something and I said, "I am thinking of a verse, hmm, something that goes like this, "Each of you..." and Kamryn and Bradyn jumped in, "should look not only to your interests but also to the interests of others..." We had a long talk about that verse, what it meant, how it applied and should change our behavior. It hit me a little later while I was driving that I had just done Deut. 6:4-9 which says:
[4] Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. [5] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. [6] These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. [7] Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. [8] Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. [9] Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

We weren't sitting down at a table talking about the Bible but because we had the Bible memorized in our hearts, we could apply what we learned to the situation at hand. This was a huge victory for me, and really, as I look back over the past two years, it was one of only a handful of victories. In fact, if you were to look at the scoreboard, you would see the score doesn't show a whole lot of scoring on our part. There has been more discouragements than encouragements, but I guess you can look at it like this, that during the early parts of planting trees, it is more work than reward. Yesterday, I had an insight (I am pretty slow, so bear with me) regarding this verse: Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Training is a process, it takes time and it happens all the time, not just at the table. But, for us to train, we need a guide, and the guide needs to be accessible, right? I shouldn't expect my kids to be perfect and I need to use the days and circumstances and bad behavior to train my kids how to live. But, when I can train them with the Words of God, and not just my words, because the words are on on our hearts and minds, we are making progress. And if they grow up not only knowing scripture, but are able to apply it to situations, then chances are I will have a better shot of them not turning away to some other guide.

All this to say, maybe that will be an encouragement to you today to begin leading your family in family worship or to press on if you are feeling like you want to throw in the towel. Don't expect too much. Don't get to discouraged if you miss a day. Don't try to do to much too soon. Maybe it is the verses your kids are memorizing at Awanas or Team 3 or whatever. Maybe you just pick a passage of scripture and commit it to memory and conversation. For what it is worth, Philippians's was a great book for memorizing because there are some doozies in there that kids (and parents) can't escape:) Whatever you do, do something. I had one friend whose family memorized 1 Tim 6 about money. Brilliant. I am always looking for more ideas, so please send them to me.

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