This past week my family and I had the privilege to spend a week on the beach in North Carolina – a special place we’ve been visiting for many years. As you know, when you sit on the beach and play in the sand with your children, you often notice other people around you and what they’re doing. My children usually end up playing with random children around us building sand castles and splashing in the water.
If you’ve kept up with the news, you’re aware that this year has been a unique season on the North Carolina coast with several shark attacks. In fact, as I watched the water and ventured out with my children to ride waves with them, I couldn’t help but notice that people were not venturing out nearly as far as they normally do in the water. After playing in the water for a while, I took my seat in the shade. I noticed that one father followed his children out into the water and stood about ankle deep with his hands on his hips and watched every move his children made in the ocean surf. As he stood there watching, I glanced to my left and noticed that he was standing a few yards from a lifeguard stand where a professional lifeguard was standing on his post, but he continued to stand there for the duration of the time that his children were in the water.
That scene made me think about the spiritual duty of a father. Although a child may be under the direct care of teachers and pastors in the life of the church, the one who is to take the lead in protecting and caring for that child spiritually is the father. A perpetual problem in the church is the mindset that many families have on the beach. They view the protection of the children as the job of the lifeguard on the stand, so they sit under the umbrella with a book while their children play in the water. In many ways, parents are consistently guilty of that same mindset spiritually. Unfortunately, many fathers believe it’s the duty of the youth pastor, children’s minister, and Sunday school teachers to disciple their children through the gospel. Like that father I saw standing ankle deep watching over his children merely yards from an occupied lifeguard stand – we as fathers need to do the same with our children spiritually.
Family worship may seem like a strange concept to many who have never practiced it, but as Matthew Henry once wrote, “Here the Reformation must begin.” Take time each week, each evening when possible, to read the Bible, pray, and sing with your family. Have you ever watched teenagers sneer at church life and worship as if it’s strange and uncool? Perhaps it’s strange because what they see the church doing is never practiced in the home. Voddie Baucham, in his excellent book, Family Driven Faith, shares that 70-88% of all students walk away from the faith of their parents by the end of their freshman year of college. If sharks swimming in the water will cause parents to focus more on their children while playing on the beach, shouldn’t we care about the massive numbers of children who are walking away from the church after they graduate? What’s more dangerous – sharks in the water or sharks in our culture?
With a flamboyant agenda, the culture is interested in discipling your child with a secular worldview. Are you prepared to do battle? Are you standing guard? Are you seeking to practice in the home what the church practices together in order to normalize worship in the life of your family? Take time to consider the high calling of the father and mother as the prime influencers in the lives of your children. Deuteronomy 6 gives us the key responsibilities regarding family discipleship. The children of Israel were commanded to teach their children the Word of God and to instruct them regarding the redemptive history and purposes of God. As believers positioned on the other side of the cross, we must do the same thing. God has redeemed us, not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and spot (1 Peter 1:19). When your children ask you about the lamb imagery, you can take them back to the Exodus and explain the whole scene that was a foreshadow of Jesus as the Savior of the world.
Don Whitney – Family Worship: In the Bible, in History & in Your Home
Joel Beeke – Family Worship