I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is excited about a new year with all kinds of goals and hope for the future. As many of you know, I hunger to lead my family into a greater knowledge and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in 2016. It is no secret that I love to encourage others to do the same. I have written in the past regarding prayer, bible reading, and especially scripture memory. Some have been positively influenced by this, others could care less; Both are ok by me.
It is a blessing for me to write and bring encouragement and challenge because as I encourage and challenge others, I am encouraged and challenged myself. If my thoughts impact even one person to come into the kingdom or become more effective for the kingdom, then it has been worth the effort.
As we begin the New Year, I thought I would simply share some of the ideas that my family and idea are striving to successfully implement and execute in 2016. If any of these ideas are inspiring to you then borrow away.
A Few Thoughts On Our Hearts As Spiritual Leaders In The Home
If you are a father, this role should be yours primarily. The bible places the spiritual leadership of the home squarely on your shoulders. However, if you are a single mom or a wife and mother who's husband is not a believer, then that role falls to you until such a time as you get married to a believing spouse or your spouse becomes a believer.
This role is not for the faint of heart. The last thing Satan wants is a famiy who is being trained up to be in the Lord's army. He will do everything he can to bring distraction, division and discouragement into this process. You must be prayed up, prepared mentally, physically, and spiritually and ahead of those you are leading in the disciplines which you are leading them into.
This is not a job to be taken lightly, but it is worth every bit of time and effort that you invest. There is nothing more than seeeing God glorified because your family is growing in grace and the knowledge of Jesus and knowing you had something to do with that.
Last but not least, remember Psalm 127:1, "unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it". This cannot be done successfully on your own. It must be a partnership with God in which he is the dominant shareholder. You will need His grace and empowerment to endure the challenges that will come and to successfully set the example by actually striving to live out what you are teaching. Your example is a huge part of this.
Now on to the ideas.
Every year, thousands of Christians resolve to try reading through the bible in a year. Some make it. I would wager that most do not. I just read a post from a ministry site stating that there are many bible students and preachers whom have not read the bible all the way through. I confess that I have been through much of it, but never the whole thing. Reading through the bible in a year is a noble idea and one that should be pursued however, sometimes it is the time frame that is the problem. We forget that we don't have to read throught the bible in a year. We can do it in two years or 18 months or three. What is most important is that we do it.
Courtesy of Melissa Kruger at The Gospel Coalition I have discovered a bible reading plan that I am really excited about. She discusses it in detail here. Suffice it to say that I like it because it is only 5-days a week and you can use the same plan to read the whole bible or only the New Testament. The other characteristic that I like is that some chronological aspects to the way the OT and the NT are arrnaged for reading. The bible is not altogether layed out so much by time frame. For instance, in the NT, the book of Acts is the major history book about the New Testament church. A chronological plan will help you read some of the letters in conjunction with how the authors of those letters are developed in the book of Acts. Or, the Gospel of John and all of his letters, including Revelation are grouped together.
Here is an example of what it looks like.
If you go to the article that I linked to above, you will find a downloadable PDF so that you can have access to the whole thing and print it off. I am striving to do the whole bible this year. After some discussion, we decided, as a family, to only read throug the New Testament. That will be good for them.
As for scripture memory, if you have followed my writing recently, you have seen plenty about my thoughts on that. Here are links to a couple of the blogs that I have written on that subject: Fighter Verses, Successes and Failures in Scripture Memory, Scripture Memory for the New Year.
In the first link, you will find some suggestions for extended memory of longer passages. There is also a link to the Fighter Verses website where you can find all kinds of resources including blogs about the verse, charts for keeping up with the verses you are memorizing and charts for committing the verses to your deep memory where they much harder to forget.
Take my word for it. This can and should be done. Like anything, it does not come easily. However, like any discipline, it is easier the more you do it. I am working on the basic Fighter Verse set with my kids. This week we are memorizing Deuternomy 7:9. The extended memory set for 2016 involves memorizing all four chapters of Philippians. I am doing that with some of my siblings and at least one spouse.
This is such an invaluable Spiritual Discipline to practice. I just cannot emphasize it enough. For the spiritual well-being of you and your family and the church as a whole, it is important that people do this.
Prayer, Theology, and Doctrine
I will be brief here, not because these are not important, but because I have less resources to recommend. Regarding prayer, I will say that teaching your children to pray and demonstrating it is of utmost importance as well and is something that most individuals and families struggle to do consistently, myself included. I have written a little something about it in a blog post entitled A Simple Way To Pray. The best advice I can give is don't give up. Persevere, one day at a time. Prayer is our communion with God. It will enhance every area of your life.
Regarding theology, that is a word that scares people. They think of it as purely academic. So is the word doctrine. Theology and doctrine are simply words that describe what it is to study about God and to have categories for what you understand and believe. Everyone does theology and has doctrine on some level but many don't even realize it.
There are some wonderful resources out there. It can be something as simple as learning the Lords Prayer as found in Matthew 6:9-13, or The Apostles Creed. The Ten Commandments is another excellent totally biblical source of truth that should be learned and understood. There are all kinds of catechisms and creeds out there. One resource that I will share, which I am using this year with my family was given to our family by my sister for Christmas. It is called The Ology.
It is a very simple book which is designed to teach children how to understand the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. At the link provided, you will find an interview with the author discussing the importance of this book. I highly recommend it.
I am sure there is plenty more that could be said. Let's face it, if we can do anything to increase the spiritual disciplines of bible reading, scripture memory, prayer, and knowledge more than we did the year befoe then we are doing something right. We have as long as the Lord gives us to make it better and better. In the mean time, we only need ensure that our desies and actions are driven by a desire to grow in relationship with the Lord and see His name exalted. If we ae moving in the right direction, then there should be opportunities to be salt and light and bring glory to our God.
May it be so in 2016 in Jesus name,