Pastor Dad

Something that I’ve been working on over the last few years was my struggle to get my family to enjoy Bible reading as much as I do. While I understand that, initially, some of its concepts can be hard to grasp and some of the wording can be a little hard to wrap your brain around, the overarching benefit from daily Bible study is something that I cannot imagine going without. I tried everything I could think of, from giving them a daily reading plan, to guilting them into it (honestly, to my shame), to reading at home aloud so that they could listen to it, to trying to lead them into a competition (as we are very competitive) as to who could keep it up the longest. In all of these instances, it has proven to be very difficult to maintain. While my daily reading continues unabated, my family, outside of my son, was not sticking with it at all.

That’s when a new idea popped up. I’ve been reading using the M’Cheyne reading plan for the last two years. It is broken into four parts read daily and, throughout the year, it provides you with the opportunity to read the Old Testament once, and the New Testament and Psalms twice. Through October into the end of December, I was doing my normal daily reading and my son was reading the fourth portion along with me. At the beginning of this year I decided that it would be a good idea to read the first three parts alone, but the fourth with my family. I would not fret too much if we slip for a few days with the understanding that we’d catch up shortly. That said, January 1 we began in the book of Acts.

We took turns reading and when we came to a significant point I’d stop us and discuss it. Once we hit the book of Romans, I started reading more on my own, simply because there was so much content to cover and so many things to explain. While it offers many teachable opportunities in the text, it also affords us the ability to explore topics that often go unmentioned due to time constraints or an unwillingness to approach certain topics. For instance, I can say with certainty that my own father would never approach the topic of Christian sexuality with me, or the defense of marriage from a Biblical perspective, even as he was (before his renouncing of his Christian faith) the spiritual “leader” of my family when I was growing up. It usually takes about 15-20 minutes to tackle a chapter, sometimes more depending on the content. Last night, however, we were four chapters behind due to conflicts in our personal life, and we’ve just not been able to get together to read at a reasonable time. That meant that we were able to sit down and, over the course of 90 minutes explore the riches of the seventh through tenth chapters of 1st Corinthians. What did that look like? Here are the topics that we were able to discuss in detail:

    Things my kids and I discussed last night while reading 1 Cor 7-10:
  1. Christian marriage, sexuality, and how the two are related
  2. The purpose of sex, when it is appropriate, and how God ordains it for our good and his glory
  3. When and who it is appropriate to marry
  4. When marriage may not be appropriate
  5. Moses as a Christ-figure, and Israel’s time in Egypt, passing through the Red Sea, time in the wilderness, and Canaan as a picture of salvation that God provides:
    • Egypt as us trapped in our sins
    • Plagues as God working in our lives to direct us to salvation
    • Final plague as God making the payment for our sins through the passover
    • Passing through the Red Sea as our baptism – death to our old lives and alive to Christ in the new
    • Wilderness time as our time of waiting on God and trusting in him for the salvation to come – sanctifying us while we wait on our new lives in Heaven
    • Canaan as Heaven – God’s promises fulfilled and he dwells among us.
  6. Christian service
  7. Payment for leaders in the church or in Christian ministries
  8. When/What NOT to eat: serving our brothers and sisters by refraining from engaging in our freedom to partake of all things in moderation while in the presence (or possible presence) of brothers or sisters who may stumble in their walk because of our freedom to partake in certain things that they may have troubled consciences over

I would never, in a thousand years, give up the opportunity to discuss these things with my children. Granted mine are eleven and fourteen and I understand that it may be beneficial to think ahead about what you are going to say based on the content being discussed, but when it comes down to it, we are the ones who are charged with teaching them the things of the kingdom of God, not our pastors, and not their teachers. Can there be any higher calling?

What about you? Do you have family devotion time? What does that look like for you?

Beat it into their heads continually at Of First Importance:

“The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine.… Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.”

— Martin Luther, quoted by Timothy Keller in
“The Centrality of the Gospel”

You know, this is funny that I read this today. After our nightly reading and prayers a few days ago, I asked my daughter what the central point of the gospel was. She responded, “That Jesus rose from the dead.” I agreed that it was a key part of it, but then I refocused the question and asked, “But what is the GOOD NEWS?”, and she responded, now with some attitude at my insinuation that she was wrong (she IS 14, you know), “that Jesus ROSE from the DEAD“.

It seems that as Pastor Dads, sometimes it’s important to go over some of the roads that we’ve long since travelled and check for weeds of corruption and forgetfulness. Not merely asking the same questions, but leading questions that push our kids to expand their view of God and to help them see that it’s not about merely remembering the answers to questions, but to defining these things ourselves and exploring them biblically. While it’s accurate that our salvation is guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor 15:12-19), that’s not the good news. The good news, the “truth of the Gospel”, is that Jesus has removed the yoke of the law from us, and that our sins are totally forgiven. Erased. Disposed of. Destroyed. We are not guilty of our sins anymore because they have been applied to the account of the One whom God sent, in His divine good pleasure, to take our place on the tree of suffering. He absorbed the blows of the flagellum and the fists of the officers and guards. He suffered the ridicule of those whom He sustained, whose lives He authored, and allowed them to spit upon him, falsely accuse him, and tear his beard from his face. He did all of this to see God’s justice fulfilled, so that those who turn to Him in repentance and faith may have the sins that keep them from Him removed – so He may embrace them in purity. That is the central point of the Gospel. That is the heart of the good news. When Jesus was resurrected, it showed that the payment was complete and that we may trust in Him to be the bearer of our sins to the glory of God.

So, Pastor Dads – maybe it’s time to walk down these roads you’ve left alone, confident in their quality because you took so long to lay them. Be prepared to pull the weeds that have crept onto the roadway, but be confident and consistent and your work will be rewarded. If Martin Luther had to beat it into their heads continually, are we any greater than he?

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(e.g., John 1 or God's love)