Does the Bible Contradict Itself?

Does the Bible Contradict Itself?

Date

May 1, 2020

Categories

Family Worship

This question, asked by one of my daughters was not the first time it had been asked. Some of my other children have asked similar questions as they’ve studied the Bible on their own.

She asked her question at morning devotions when we were together as a family. It came up almost in passing.

I reminded her that God doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17) and therefore His Word, the Bible, does not contradict itself; that the Bible is in fact true and completely reliable (Psalm 12:6, 2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, and the Westminster Confession of Faith (i. 2, 8).

We looked at the passages in question. We discussed the meaning of the key words in each passage as well as the context and were able to quickly determine to her satisfaction that although the passages seemed contradictory, they actually were not.

After this rather startling episode, a rather horrifying thought entered my mind…what if I was not there at that moment to answer this question for her and she began to doubt God’s Word?

Now, God doesn’t “need” me. He could’ve worked differently. But He has put me in position to be a tool He normally uses in the life of my children. I am humbled and also grateful for such a calling. But I am just a man. I have divided interests and it is easy for me to weasel out of my responsibilities.

In today’s distracted world, we must fight to maintain an intentional focus on the gospel in our lives and relationships.

This is all the more reason then that we should seek to set and maintain a regular time when we are together as a family where we can read the Bible, pray, and have conversations.

It is during these conversations that we learn about what’s really going on in each another’s lives.

Care should be taken not to presume upon God to work around our own agendas. Rather, we should fully embrace our responsibilities to one another by making time to converse, read, pray, and answer questions!

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Practical Tips for Family Worship with Littles

Practical Tips for Family Worship with Littles

Date

May 23, 2019

Categories

Family Worship

Somedays you find yourself asking yourself “Is this making any difference?” It is! Press on friend. Here are some practical tips to help.

1- Music! You don’t have to be a professional or even sing on key, kids love it. Singing, dancing using homemade instruments, gives little ones an excitement for family devotion time. If you really don’t feel like you can do this on your own, play a CD and sing to a song or two.

2- Flannel board sets. A great interactive tool that children love.

3- Printable coloring pages. There are tons of free websites that have many to chose from based on the topic you happen to be discussing.

4- Acting out what is read.

5- Quiet toys saved just for family devotions… play sand or playdough, anything that can keep little hands busy. The bonus to these is that they can mold characters or other objects related to what is being read.

6- Carpet squares or rugs. When our kids were all little we used colored rugs for each child, this provided a boundary between them to avoid fights and also gave them personal space which they appreciated.

7- Prayer cards. Eric has written about our prayer card box, you can read the article here. The little ones look forward to choosing a person to pray for at the end of each reading time.

8- Memorize scriptures. Little kids love repetition, focus on a verse or two each week, reading it a couple of times a day, you will be amazed how quickly they will pick it up. They love putting motions to the words. We bought a simple sign language book and learned signs for some of the words.

9- Find the right time for your family. Don’t fall prey to doing things like others do. What works for one family may not work for you. You may find that reading right after breakfast is best when everyone is fresh. Maybe dad leaves too early and you need to use the dinner hour. You may find that including it in the bedtime routine works best for you. Our family has tried all of the above! Sometimes the time needs to be altered for a season due to other activities going on.

10- Never give up! Winston Churchill had it right! You will face discouragements, kids will run wild some days more than others. You will get out of practice and not read for a week or even a month. Don’t count it as a failure. Success is a process not an event. When things don’t work, change plans and keep going. I have seen this success, Eric has faithfully endeavored through all of these years… many of them with more kids under the age of five than over. They were crazy times, but he stayed with it. Our family devotions are second nature because the practice has been so established.

Have tips that weren’t mentioned? Please share below in the comments!

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Why Read the Bible to Little Kids?

Why Read the Bible to Little Kids?

Date

May 16, 2019

Categories

Family Worship

You’ve heard a lot about the importance of family devotions. You’ve probably even made a few attempts at starting them in your own home. However, they just seemed to crash and burn because of babies crying, toddlers circling the room in their underwear or sibling rivalry ramping up the minute you open the Bible. In a frustrated huff, the Bible is closed and people scattered their own way. What is the point? Is it really necessary?

All parents seeking to be faithful have asked these questions at one point or another. Be encouraged, it is worth it! I would like to offer several reasons why it is not just good—but imperative—to read the Bible to your younger children.

1. Nowhere does God’s command to parents to train up their children have an age limit. Check out the most quoted passages, Deut. 6:4-9, Psalm 78:1-10, Psalm 127:3-5, and Ephesians 6:1-4 and you will not see an age limit. In fact, you find just the opposite! The little ones were included where the Word is being ministered (Neh. 8:1, Acts 2:14-41). In other passages where the church is meeting in homes, it would push the edge of reason to conclude that the littlest among them were not present, hearing the word (Acts 2:42, 46, Col. 4:15, Philemon 1:2).

2. God’s word is powerful. God’s own word is what God promises to bless (Isa. 55:11, 1 Cor. 2:5, Heb. 4:12). If God’s word is strong enough to create out of nothing (Gen. 1), then it is strong enough to work in the hearts of the youngest among us. God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isa. 55:8). You do not know how the Holy Spirit is using the passages you read to supernaturally work in your young child’s heart.

3. What are you trying to get them to understand? Is it to amass Bible facts? Or is it to come to know God? Little kids understand basic concepts such as love; good and evil. Any passage you read will feature either information about man’s sin, or information about God’s grace, both of which give the opportunity to talk about those basic truths on the simplest levels. They can come to know God in a way that is on their level if you are reading to them with that intention of making those simple things clear. It is possible to do that and also explain the deeper things to the older kids.

4. There is far more to be gained from reading the Bible to your youngest children than merely amassing facts. Consider these additional benefits:

a. They learn that reading the Bible is valuable and are more likely to continue the practice as they grow older.

b. Reading the Bible teaches them that their father and/or mother are their spiritual leaders.

c. They learn to sit still and listen…so that they can stay in the worship service or small group meeting.

5. Finally, and perhaps most important of all—reading the word is one way of showing that you love the Lord. Is reading the Bible something that YOU enjoy? Reading the Bible—seeing Jesus through the gospel—is a critical part of how we grow in our love for Jesus. Including the youngest children in a regularly scheduled family Bible reading time is one way for them to grow up watching you demonstrate your love for God through a passionate pursuit of His Word.

It is hard to fool kids. We can say what we want. But what they believe will likely be the result of what they see us do. Our example is incredibly powerful—one way or another.

As one final word of encouragement, please consider again, Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

God’s redemptive purposes are not thwarted by our parental inhibitions, imperfections and the craziness that is often family Bible time. God’s word is itself powerful. Through his Spirit, He will do his work. We just need to be his willing instruments.

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How to Get Your Family to Want to Read the Word

How to Get Your Family to Want to Read the Word

Date

May 7, 2016

Categories

Family Worship

Could it be that we’re making the mistake that Jesus addressed in Matthew 5:39-40? “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”

Tragically today, we know a lot about Jesus. But we do not know, Jesus.

We feel compelled to study the Bible because we know we should. It is God’s word, after all. But we often leave our time in the Word like we leave the encyclopedia, newspaper, or magazine. Encouraged, perhaps entertained, but not changed.

Knowing and Loving

To know Jesus is to love Jesus. If we love him, we will keep his commandments. God-glorifying, joy-inducing obedience (including the obedience of confession and repentance) comes not out of mere textbook knowledge of what we’re supposed to do; it comes out of love for the One Who gave His life for us through excruciating pain on a Roman cross.

Jesus is not just our savior, He is our brother (Heb. 2:11). He is our righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). He is our only dependable source of joy (Ps. 16:11). He is our peace (Eph. 2:14). He is our love (Jn. 13:35). Our lives are so intertwined with his that scripture actually says that we are hidden in him (Col. 3:3). He is our new identity. THAT is an interesting and exhilarating plot line for our devotions each day, don’t you think?

Anyone with the Spirit of God in them and who sees the grandeur of Jesus proliferated from Genesis to Revelation cannot help but love him. Knowing leads to loving. Even in our human relationships we know that usually the better we know someone, the more we love them.

Pursue your time in the word as a time of getting to know Jesus. How do we do this?

First, we remind our families [often] that our purpose in coming together around the Bible is to know Jesus. Have you done this? God is speaking to us through the Bible because it is his word to us. It is like he is sitting there talking with us. The book is alive and through the Spirit, it gives life.

Second, we look for how the passage reveals the person and work of Christ. This is not always readily apparent, especially if we only read a few verses at a time, or if we stay away from the books of the Old Testament that provide vital backdrop and depth about who Jesus was and what he accomplished for us.

Just this week I was greatly encouraged by one of those ah-ah! moments for my wife as my family was reading in Isaiah of all places. What struck her was not new, but I think it was just that she saw it in a different way. As we were reading the message God gave Isaiah to pass on to the people, there was a theme of him reminding the people that He was in control, that He should be feared, not the Assyrians.
They needed to focus their attention on God and look to Him for help. It paralleled with 2 Cor. 4:18 (where she had been reading on her own) Paul reminds us to “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Many people read passages and miss how Jesus is present. David and Goliath is a classic example. Many think the message is something like God makes us strong so we can fight Satan. Wrong. The message is that none of us can fight Satan and win. Only one person fought and defeated Satan, Jesus! We need to recognize our utterly powerless state against sin and by faith apply Jesus’ victory on the cross as our own in each specific temptation.

As a husband and father, it is very exciting to see my wife and children enjoy reading the Bible. Certainly, there are days where I blow it or that joy is not as prevalent at Bible time. We struggle like all families. But I think the sowing and reaping principle of 2 Cor. 9:6 applies and I have seen it work!

If your family is not having regular family worship, my encouragement is to begin, NOW! God’s Word is powerful because the one about whom it is written, Jesus, is all-powerful. And he sits at God’s right hand, praying for you, dear father, to lead your family not to the Bible per se, but to a relationship with Him!

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Five Reasons to Continue Reading the Word with your Family

Five Reasons to Continue Reading the Word with your Family

Date

Apr 28, 2017

Categories

Family Worship

Do not underestimate the power of regular time in God’s word as a family. I write because I am particularly burdened that God’s Word is easily set aside in our homes.

Yes. Life is busy—almost—to the point of being out of control. Yes. “Thanks” to I-phones and social media, attention spans are like that of gnats on espresso. It is getting harder to hold the attention of our children long enough to make it through even a light discussion on a few Bible verses. You might rationalize that you are doing a poor job. Perhaps for these and other reasons it is easy to let go of this powerful means of grace: the proclamation of God’s Word in our homes.

Here are five reasons to strive to continue gathering the family around God’s Word.

  • God’s Word is our only source of Truth. Social order continues to disintegrate as man hedonistically and foolishly seeks truth everywhere but the one place it can be found: God. Let us agree with John in his gospel in 17:17: “Your word is truth” and seek truth there.
  • Because God’s Word is truth, it speaks authoritatively in our lives. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” This is a timeless promise that should joyfully compel us to seek what God has said about how we should think, speak and make decisions each day for his glory.
  • God’s word makes our way clear in this world of darkness. The spiritually blind stumble over themselves in their darkness. Psalm 119:105 reminds us that “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
  • God’s Word is powerful. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Scripture really is, God’s Word. Because it is powerful, we can be assured that it will accomplish God’s purpose (also see Isa. 55:11).
  • Because God’s Word is all of these things (and much, much more) we can have peace; assurance; and confidence when everyone else is crippled with anxiety, fear, and depression. As a husband and father, I know that my performance is not nearly enough to ensure that my wife and children walk with Jesus. It brings me real peace and joy to know that although I am deeply flawed as a messenger of God’s truth, God’s truth is inherently powerful. This is highly motivating to me as I seek to read, discuss, and apply God’s Word with my family.Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3, “In the end times people will not be able to endure sound doctrine.” Let us hold fast the word of God in our families so that we will stand strong… not only for our families, but just as importantly, so that we can offer the Truth to those still walking in darkness that they might know the know the hope that is within us.

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Four Practical Encouragements for Reading the Bible as a Family

Four Practical Encouragements for Reading the Bible as a Family

Date

Oct 6, 2020

Categories

Family Worship

A few highly rated articles about activities families should do together reveal some interesting answers—and non-answers. For example, one article said to visit museums, take a hot air balloon ride, have a picnic, go treasure hunting, or start a YouTube channel for its top ideas.

Another article, this one published by a popular Christian ministry, listed 30 ideas but did not include reading the Bible as a family. One idea was to read books together but didn’t mention the Bible as one of those books.

While the ideas presented in both articles were useful, the reading of God’s word was highly conspicuous by its absence. Was it just an oversight? Or was it representative of how families value the place of God’s Word in the home?

For me, this is a concern and not just because reading the Bible as a family is the right thing to do. It is a concern because reading the Word is such a joyful time together as a family to meet God and see his infinite greatness and unconditional love for his people. It saddens me to think that any family could miss out on such a blessed experience!

The Irreplaceable Value of God’s Word

Jesus said in Matthew 4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Paul says in II Timothy 3:16, 17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” The prophet Isaiah says in Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

What can be a more valuable family activity than reading the Word of God together? On the plains of Moab before entering the Promised Land God commanded Israelite parents to teach the Word of God to their children… day and night. In Psalm 78, the second-longest Psalm, God commands fathers to teach their children and their children’s children the works of God.

God’s Word, not our word, is powerful. God’s Word, used by God’s Holy Spirit, is able to accomplish what we need and want the most: our families to know Jesus personally and to walk with him in a way that others come to know him, too.

Many families know they should read the Bible together, but struggle to make it a reality. Therefore, it is the first pattern of four that I write about in my book, Real Hope for Your Home.

Following are four encouragements to help you establish or re-establish family worship as a pattern in your home. (I use the term “family worship” to represent the activity when the family gathers to read the Bible and pray together.)

  1. The goal is to see God’s love for his people

The goal of spending time in God’s Word as a family is simply to learn about how much God loves us. In other words, it is about developing a relationship with God. When this is our guiding principle, we will read Genesis to Revelation in a whole new light. The Bible becomes intensely interesting void of the boredom that comes from looking at God’s word as an encyclopedia, a theological textbook, or onerous list of dos and don’ts. When we see God’s love for us, it compels us to live obediently to him and all that entails, confession and repentance.

  1. Take a long-term view

There will be bad days. You will not want to read. Your children will complain. The discussions will be very dry and forced. You will get stuck in a place in the Bible and become bored. You might even just hit a bad patch in the family calendar when you will miss meeting days or even weeks. Guess what? God knows this! Because you are in Christ, he still rejoices over you and your family. If you are faithful, the pattern will prevail and consume all the bad days and weeks. But you can’t allow the bad days or no days to stop you.

  1. Vary what you do

Be wide-open to trying new ways of doing family worship. Read a book of the Bible, then read a devotional or other Christian book. Have different people read the passage of the day or pray. Share what you learn in your personal devotions. Or, have a family member share what they learned. Meet in a different room in the house. Meet at a different time of the day. There is no right or wrong way to do this.

Family Worship Podcast Season

To build on those three points, we offer a four-part podcast season on how families can establish time together around God’s word. Topics include: “The How and Why of Family Worship”. “How to Read the Bible with Young Children”, “How to Read the Bible with Older Children”, “Your Family in Worship at the Church”. Each podcast is only about 25 minutes long.

We are excited to provide this encouragement and equipping to families especially today as biblical foundations are under relentless attack. We need the solid foundation of God’s word in our homes now more than ever.

  1. Don’t give up!

The final point of encouragement is this: if you fail, remember that your righteousness is complete in Christ! His love for you has not changed. You have no reason to give up! Stay on the path! Believe what is true about you in Christ and let that compel you to keep seeking to be faithful.

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