Tag Archives: family time

Family Reformation (Spurgeon)

Today’s Family Friday post comes from the Prince of Preachers himself.  This is a snippet from a sermon he preached by the same title: “Family Reformation,” taking the text from Genesis 35 and Jacob’s call to Bethel.

It appeared to Jacob, next that if he was to fulfil his vow, it was necessary to reform his whole house; for he could not serve the Lord and worship other gods.  He said to all that were with him–to his sons first, and then to his hired servants and the rest–“Put away the strange gods that are among you.”  Yes, it must come to that.  If I am to get back to my old positions with God I must break my idols.

“The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be;
Help me to tear it from its throne,
And worship only thee.”

The idols of the family: the acts and deeds of the young folk which would grieve God, the doings of the elder ones which are inconsistent with a profession of faith in Jesus, the ill tempers that have been indulged, the divisions of heart which have come up in the family, with all that is sinful and unlovely, must go, if we are to get right again.  There must be a general breaking and burying of idols, or we cannot worship the God of Bethel.

And then next he said, “Be clean.”  There was to be, I suppose, a general washing, indicative of the purgation of character by going to God with repentance and seeking forgiveness.  Jacob also said, “Change your garments.”  This was symbolic of an entire renewal of life, though I fear me they were not all renewed.  At any rate this is what was symbolized by “Change your garments.”  Alas, it is easier to say this to our families than it is to get them to do it.  And do we wonder?  Since it is so much easier for ourselves to say than it is for ourselves to do.  Yet, beloved, if your walk is to be close with God, if you are to commune with the God of Bethel, you must be cleansed.  The Lord cannot commune with us while we wallow in sin.  “What concord hath Christ with Belial?”  Sin must be put away.  The best believer that lives must wash his feet if he is to draw near to God as he has done aforetime.  All this Jacob was to undertake, and to him who had become so lax with his family it was no small work to screw up his courage and say to Rachel and all of them,–“Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments.”

Well the next and last thing they were to do was to celebrate special worship.  “Let us arise, and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress and was with me in the way which I went.”  When we get wrong and feel that there must be a decided change, we must set apart special times of devotion.  We must say to our soul, “Soul, soul thou hast fed so little lately.  This leanness of thine comes of neglecting spiritual feasting.  Come, thou must humble thyself; thou must lay thyself low before God, and thou must approach the Lord with lowly reverence, and beg to be refreshed with his presence.  Thou must set apart more time for feeding upon Christ, and upon his word, and never be quiet till thou becomes against full of grace and of the Holy Ghost.”  In families it is often well, when you see that things are wrong, just to call the household together and say, “We must draw near unto God with peculiar earnestness, for we are going astray.  We have not given up family prayer, but we must now make it special, and with double zeal draw nigh unto God.”  I am afraid that some of you neglect family prayer.  If you do I am sure it will work evil in your households.  The practice of family prayer is the castle of Protestantism.”…Draw near the Lord again, more thoroughly than you have done before, for it is the only way by which the backslidings of persons and families are at all likely to be corrected.  God grant a blessing with these words by the power of the Holy Ghost.

A Neglected Grace

It’s Family Friday, and this morning, I wanted to reblog about a book that I am constantly recommending for families who are new to, or are just thinking about, family worship.  This is a review that I gave back on June 6, 2016.

I recently finished reading a short book on family worship: A Neglected Grace: Family Worship in the Christian Home, by Jason Helopoulos.  It was recommended to me (and even a copy was given to me) by a good friend, but I neglected to read this little treasure until last week.  I am not what you would call an “avid reader.”  My goal is to read 26 books by the end of the year, and this was not one that I had planned on to help me reach that goal.  Yet, as it sat on my desk staring at me, I couldn’t help but think something was really lacking in our family worship time.  It was inconsistent, and honestly it was just boring.  So, I picked up this short book (109 pages, not including the appendices), and it has changed our family worship.  Below will be a quick review of what I thought the strengths and weaknesses were of this gracious help the Lord gave me by way of a friend.

Strengths:

  • It was short.  Most books on family worship are short; I mean how much can you really say about the subject?  I didn’t feel like I was wasting time on a subject with which I was somewhat familiar.
  • It was encouraging.  I have read a few books on family worship (in the distant past) and found that they were long on reasons why family worship was important and biblical, and why not doing it was to our own detriment, but they were not particularly encouraging and understanding how “new” to the West family worship is and how hard it is to be good at it and faithful with it.  Jason Helopoulos is gracious in these regards.
  • There are helps.  When one reads this book, he is likely to sense the passion its author has for FW.  He offers practical advice, and even puts various ideas in the appendices for structuring it.
  • Practical.  This may be too close of a word for the previous strength, but in this regard I simply mean that Helopoulos demonstrated what FW is and what it is not.  He wrote about what to look for and what to avoid.

Weaknesses:

  • Slow beginning.  The beginning of the book was a bit slow.  That’s not so much a weakness, but where else am I going to put this?  It is my fault.  If I am going to read a book, I read it cover to cover (ToC to epilogue, and skim appendices).  Helopoulos said that if I am familiar with the reasons for FW to skip ahead.  I didn’t.  I rehashed much of what I already knew.  For the person who is new to FW, these first 3-4 chapters will be a blessing, a strength and not a weakness.
  • A bit much for our FW.  Again, the author gives suggestions about the structure of FW.  We took his advice on some things but did what worked for us. While I love catechisms, I believe that it would put a drain on our family.  We left that out.  However, we did start singing together and memorizing Scripture, along with prayer requests and other suggestions as well.

The result? A brand new FW that my family is really enjoying and participating in.  Our sons don’t sing but our girls do.  Yet I’ve notice that both boys are reading the words as we sing (it’s a start).  They are excited to get down our song folders and get out their Bibles.  I was amazed at all the prayer requests.  As we discussed our chapter, there were questions, and excitement.  Where was all this a few weeks ago?  I would highly recommend Helopoulous, A Neglected Grace.  But don’t take my word for it; it is also recommended by Kevin DeYoung, Richard D. Phillips, Justin Taylor, Joel R. Beeke, and Don Whitney (back cover recommendations).