Monday, February 4, 2013

Find a vision for family devotions

In my very limited Spanish, with the help of some charades, I asked Luis if he had led his family in devotions that morning. He said yes. Guillermo said the same thing. It was, for me, one of the highlights of our week in the impoverished community called Bocachica, some 1,900 miles away in South America. The night before, I spoke through a translator for about an hour to men and women who came to hear how they could make their marriages and their families stronger. I began the three-night conference by encouraging the married men there to step up to spiritual leadership in their homes. A good place to start, I told them, is with consistent family devotions.

“First, pick a 15-minute time slot with which you can be most consistent; for my family, that is first thing in the morning, but your best time may be at supper or in the evening. Next, select a book in the Bible, and start with chapter one. I would recommend the book of Proverbs, since it is easily understood and is a wonderful manual for raising children. Get everybody settled with their Bibles open, and read a few verses. Take turns reading. If it’s just you and your wife who can read, that is easy. But if any of your children can read, let them take a turn as well. After you have read a few verses, answer questions about the text. What does it say? What did the writer mean? How should we respond? Are we commanded to think something is true or to know something is not true? Or are we commanded to do something or to stop doing something?”

I then took 1 Peter 3:7, as an example, which says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

“Notice several things about this verse,” I said. “First, husbands are supposed to live with their wives. You cannot leave her! Then, he is to live with her in an understanding way. Here’s the good news: Men do not have to understand ‘women.’ Here’s the better news: God commands us to understand our wives, and wherever he commands, he also provides a way.”

We went further in discussing how to lead our families in devotions, ending with prayer. “I will ask for prayer requests from my family,” I said. “Then, we all get on our knees and take turns praying.”

I talked some more about the joys of teaching your children the Bible, and learning alongside them in the process.

“Make it a topic of conversation at the dinner table,” I said. “Bring up something you heard on the radio or at work and ask, ‘What does the Bible say about that?’ Challenge what you watch on television with the same questions. In so doing, you will be teaching your children to think and to live biblically.”

The next two days, the conference attendance grew, and more men told me, along with Luis and Guillermo, that they had begun leading family devotions. On the last night of the conference, almost every man came forward in response to an invitation: “All of you who want to make a public commitment, before God and each other, to learn to be the spiritual leaders in your homes, come forward and we will pray with you.” How about you, husbands and dads? Will you also take that step?

J. Mark Fox is the author of “A Faithful Man” and the pastor of Antioch Community Church on Power Line Road in Elon. You can Tweet him @jmarkfox and can find all of Mark’s books on Amazon or other online sellers. Email Mark at markfox@antiochchurch.cc

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