Archives For Family
Since Crossway made it free for Kindle, I’ve been browsing through Randy Newman’s book, Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Your Family Members, Your Close Friends, and Others You Know Well. This is an incredibly important topic as I have come to find it harder to share the gospel with family members as it is with an unknown person in my community. I imagine this is true for most if not all Christians.
In the conclusion of his introductory chapter, Newman provides four steps for sharing the gospel with your family. I though they were very thoughtful and practical. Check them out.
1. If you don’t already have one, develop a system for prayer for your family. Perhaps you can set aside a section in a prayer journal.
2. Begin your prayers for your family with thanksgiving. This may be more difficult for some people than others. Regardless of your family’s well-being, thank God for the family you have and all the accompanying benefits you can identify.
3. You may need to include prayers of confession as well–confession of your lack of love for your family, your idolatry of control in trying to change them, your reliance on your ability to convict them of their sin instead of trusting the Holy Spirit to do that, your coldheartedness, haughtiness, and self-righteousness, etc. Ask the Holy Spirit to shine his light of truth on your darkness of sin.
4. If you haven’t already done so, “come out of the closet” as a Christian to your family. Pray for gentle words and a gracious demeanor mixed with bold confidence. . . . Aim for your announcement to be informational rather than evangelistic. You can trust God to open evangelistic doors later.
#3 nailed me.
One thing I might add, especially if you have a large family: look for opportunities in the course of the day when it is not so hectic where you might be able to enjoy a sustained conversation with a family member who is not a Christian. In a large group setting, conversations tend to stay on a superficial level, but if you can get alone with one or two family members for 10-15 minutes or longer, you will have a greater opportunity of magnetizing the conversation to the gospel and how Jesus has changed, and is changing your life.
I was a young, immature 18 year-old kid fresh out of the house in my first year of college when I walked into my hometown pet store to meet a whimpering puppy who I would take home with me. That puppy would spend the next 14 years of my life with me, numbering every year of my adulthood life, and this morning she was laid to rest.
The crazy thing about Hershey is that I have more memories of her than I do of just about any person in my life. She was with me in the formative years of college life, sat next to me as I struggled through the many deep, deep valleys, and was in more ways that I can imagine a gift from God. In the 14 years of her life, she lived with every member of my family, including my brother while a student at University of Alabama, my grandparents in their dying days to serve as a companion when they were too weak to get out of the house, and my parents who littered their refrigerator door with dozens and dozens of pictures of her. Almost everyone who came into my life over the past 14 years knew and loved her, but none more than my own family.
One funny story about Hershey has to do with when we moved down here to Cape Coral. While in Louisville, I really got into photography, so I took tons of photos of Hershey (see below for examples), and I posted them on my Flickr page. Since these photos were public, anyone could view them not only on Flickr but on any image search engine. One of Hershey’s photos went viral and became one of the most popular searched photos for a Pomeranian. So when we moved to Cape Coral, we needed to find a new dog groomer. When we entered the store to pick up Hershey, lo and behold here was an 8×10 print out of her on the wall of the store! One might think this was because they wanted customers to think she was one of their clients (when she lived in Louisville), and then she actually became one! But if you’re asking me, they probably posted it because she was that famous.
Hershey had an unusual personality for a Pomeranian. In her early years, she was quite stingy with my pillow, and when I would demand for more she would make up for that by resting her back on my head. Upon entering the house, she would run laps around the living room in absolute glee that made me feel like the most important person in the world. She wasn’t a dog who could do many tricks (largely my fault), but she made up for that in the way she loved. If Hershey had the ability to talk, she would be able to tell you more about my life than any other person (except my wife). But I guess that’s what makes dogs such good companions. They don’t talk, they just listen. And they make us laugh and feel loved.
I honestly could not have asked for a better dog and companion for the past 14 years of my life. Thank you Lord for providing a great companion and friend to love me and my family.
Starting this Sunday, Grace will be spending the next 12 weeks on Gospel-Centered Family by Tim Chester and Ed Moll. I was really looking forward to teaching it, but after meeting with my fellow pastors, I am transitioning to focus more on leadership development and growing our church family in the areas of gospel, community, and mission. A couple of weeks ago, I took some time to jot down some ways that the functional centrality of the gospel in the family impacts the church.
1. Discipline in the home facilitates gospel mission.
When parents are intentional and consistent in shepherding the hearts of their children and applying appropriate formative and corrective discipline to their lives, they are freed up to communicate the gospel to others and even have their children join them in the process. However, undisciplined children often sideline parents seeking to live on mission because of their unruly behavior (maintenance). When the gospel is not functioning in the home, it becomes very difficult to put it only display in the community. In anything you do, discipline brings freedom, and in the case with children, parents who are skillful in raising their children will likely be more engaged and effective on mission together.