(5) Family Worship Teaches Empathy in Trial

The Puritans said the benefits of family worship are so great they are “impossible to describe.” Nonetheless, in this series I’ll be attempting to highlight ten of its advantages.

The fifth benefit of homes gathering daily to read Scripture, sing and pray is that it teaches empathy in trial.

Godly homes aren’t naive

A wise pastor has said that to make a child love his home is to secure him against a thousand temptations.

Good parents should use family worship as a tool to make the home attractive to their children. But this doesn’t mean covering them in bubble wrap or shielding them from the pain and suffering in the world. On the contrary, godly homes talk about suffering a lot and use family worship to create concern for those who are experiences trials.

Four ways family worship teaches empathy

First, it quickly points the family to prayer. The first reaction to those in trial should be intercession. “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray” (Jms. 5:13). The Lord says: “Call upon me in the day of trouble” (Ps. 50:15). Those in the home who are suffering learn to ask for prayer. Paul did it (2Th. 3:1) but this isn’t easy for most people. In family worship, petitioning for prayer should be effortless. “In my distress I called upon the Lord” (Ps. 18:6). Continue reading

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(4) Family Worship Captures the Most Formative Years

The Puritans said the benefits of family worship are so great they are “impossible to describe.” In this series I’ll be attempting to highlight ten of its advantages.

The fourth benefit of homes gathering daily to read Scripture, sing and pray is that it captures a child’s most formative years.

Get them early

We are most impressionable in our youth. One Puritan wrote: “It is common sense to put the seal to the wax when it is soft.”

I thank the Lord for my godly upbringing. While in college I once did evangelistic work with a young man who was converted just a few years prior. He was in his mid-twenties and had great zeal for Christ. But as a new convert, he was not aware of some of the most basic Scriptures. Hymns I had learned as a child he didn’t know. Even some of the children we taught had surpassed him in some areas of theology. What an advantage I had.

I’m also thankful for the many Scriptures I was forced to memorized as a child—“forced” the operative word since I would rather have wasted my time on trivial matters. My parents and teachers did right in compelling me to commit hundreds of verses to memory. I grew up with the KJV and still can quote the majority of Scripture I know only in this version.

Four ways fathers fail their children

First, fathers create bitterness in their children when they ignore the child’s spiritual formation. We know Paul intentionally singles out fathers to teach their children (Eph. 6:4b) because he had previously mentioned both parents in vv. 1-2 and it was typically the responsibility of the father in the Greco-Roman and Jewish world to educate and discipline his children. Continue reading

Review: The Case for Classical Christian Education

Douglas Wilson, Crossway, 2003, 253 pages, 5 of 5 stars

Summary: Because all education is religious and incapable of being morally neutral, classical Christian education is the solution.

Wilson has been a head honcho in the classical and home school educational universe for decades. In his view, classical education (CE) is not a luxury but a necessity. Parents have a moral obligation to remove their children from government schools and provide them with a Christian education (Eph. 6:4)—the best option being classical Christian education.

CE is the teaching philosophy that wants to pass on the Western heritage. The goal of CE is rhetoric (a good man speaking well). But one can only reach rhetoric after the first two basic stages of learning: grammar and logic. Thus, the final product of clear thought is clear speech. Continue reading

(3) Family Worship Improves the Mind

The Puritans said the benefits of family worship are so great they are “impossible to describe.” In this series I’ll be attempting to highlight ten of its advantages.

The third benefit of homes gathering daily to read Scripture, sing and pray is that it improves the mind.

The family learns to focus

I read recently about the terrible working conditions during the Industrial Revolution. The people worked 12-16 hours a day. A boss would often fine employees if he caught them gazing out the window. Children eight years old and up worked dangerously long days and were punished if they “made faces” at one another. This is a cruel way to teach focus.

Family worship is the sweet and joyful way to educate children how to maintain their intellectual concentration. Solomon pressed upon his boys the importance of focus. “Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding” (Pr. 2:2, NLT). You’ll find some practical ways to do this below. Continue reading

(2) Family Worship Rewards Future Generations

The Puritans said the benefits of family worship are so great they are “impossible to describe.” Nonetheless, in this series I’ll be attempting to highlight ten of its advantages.

The second benefit of homes gathering daily to read Scripture, sing and pray is that it rewards future generations.

The reward of compound interest

Fools think only about today. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1Cor. 15:32). Imbeciles spend it all immediately, while wise men invest it and watch their earnings grow. In the same way, the Christian worldview looks to the future–to children and grandchildren. In family worship, fathers teach their children’s children. The placard above his home is: “All that is good, pass on.” Continue reading

(1) Family Worship Creates Family Harmony

Though the Puritans said the benefits of family worship are “impossible to describe”, I’ll be striving to highlight some of its blessings and advantages.

The first benefit of homes gathering daily to read Scripture, sing and pray is that it creates family harmony.

John Paton was the great missionary to the cannibals of the South Seas.

His father was resolute to lead the family in morning and evening prayer, Bible reading, catechism and singing. If this family worship had been mere homework or simply a job to check off, the Paton children would have rebelled against such hypocrisy. Instead, this sincere worship solidified the children’s bonds with their father and with each other. Paton wrote in his Autobiography:

“None of us can remember that any day ever passed unhallowed thus; no hurry for market, no rush to business, no arrival of friends or guests, no trouble or sorrow, no joy or excitement, ever prevented at least our kneeling around the family altar, while the High Priest led our prayers to God and offered himself and his children there.” (p. 14)

Harmony through unity

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity” (Ps. 133:1)! How many millionaires would give all their wealth for peace in their home? Most people would rather be poor and unified than rich and divided (Pr. 15:17). Continue reading

Review: How to Get Unstuck

Matt Perman, Zondervan, 2018, 288 pages, 3 of 5 stars

Summary: it’s not enough to protect your time. You must protect your focus.

“The Preciousness of Time” by Jonathan Edwards is the best teaching I’ve read on time management because of its theological rigor. From a productivity standpoint, however, Unstuck was more profitable. Matt Perman, a Christian that blogs at Whats Best Next, provides ten principles for maximum productivity. But his greatest contribution is the importance of focus–no easy thing in our preoccupied world.

The secret to effectiveness is concentration, which is focusing on one priority for an extended time.

Concentration gets more done better. The goal is “deep work”, a state of high concentration. It is a kind of super power that most people cannot perform because it has so many obstacles. The formula is: time spent x intensity of focus high quality of work produced. Effective people are able to concentrate (doing one thing at a time) for long periods on the most important things. This takes a lot of practice.

Pros: Perman has spent decades crafting excellent habits of time management. I didn’t want to forget his advice, so I consolidated his book into my own mnemonic device: F-O-C-U-S. (1) Fight distractions. These are the biggest obstacles to deep work because it kills flow. It’s crucial to finish one job at a time because incomplete tasks dominate our attention (“I still have to get this done”) and depletes energy (“I’m so stressed”). Personally, eliminating distractions during deep work includes seclusion, having no access to my phone, closing email and Evernote, doing online reading after the work day, no “work” post 5:30 pm, and no phone checks until after breakfast.

(2) Order the day according to priorities. There’s a difference between responsibilities (duties) and priorities (chief duties). It is vital to give our best, longest and most skilled time to priorities.  It’s not a priority if it doesn’t take high concentration. (3) Complete the task. Start and complete one job at a time. Bach and Handel composed one major work at a time. Rare freaks like Mozart that could do multiple works simultaneously are not the model.

(4) Use large chunks of time to accomplish deep work. Two small chunks of 2 hours are must less effective than one chunk of 4 hours. (5) Stop work when the day is over. End your day at a specific time so you can recharge. You’ll be less effective during the day if you tell yourself you can get tasks done late at night.

Cons: Perman is a Christian and Southern Seminary grad (MDiv in two years) that used to serve on staff at Desiring God. I wish he had used more Scripture in the book. Unstuck has a little too much business/CEO feel for my taste. But I never read books from that genre, so it probably was good for me.

Conclusion: Perman succeeds in convincing the reader to habitually prioritize his day and focus on important tasks for long periods of time. Read chapter 13 if you only have time for one. Chapters 1, 11-12, and 16 were helpful too.

Excerpts:

  1. “The more distracted we are, the more shallow our reflections; the shorter our reflections, the more trivial they are likely to be.”
  2. “If there is a ‘secret’ of effectiveness, it is concentration. Effective [people] do first things first and they do one thing at a time.” – Peter Drucker
  3. “Only the confidence that you’re done with work until the next day can convince your brain to downshift to the level where it can begin to recharge for the next day.”
  4. “The ability to concentrate intensely is a skill that must be trained.” Cal Newport