By Joel Dipert
A few days ago I got the opportunity to sit in with our college and career group for something called 'Grill the Pastor'. It's a potluck they the C&C hosts where they invite a Harvest Calgary pastor or two over and have a Q&A session with them. I was initially told that I would be there with another elder and I clarified that although much of my role is pastoral, I'm not technically a pastor. I don't have a seminary degree and I'm not ordained as an elder at our church. I was assured that it would not be as intimidating as it sounded, and I agreed to attend. I ended up being the only church leader there after all, but I really enjoyed my time.
After a meal and some introductions, we sat around a fire and talked very casually. I was asked questions about my role at the church, my family's adoption story, spiritual disciplines, and family devotions. At the end of the evening, they asked how they could pray for me, we prayed, and all went home. They were right, it wasn't as intimidating as it sounded. It was a great opportunity to get to know many of the C&C group and sweet time of fellowship with the Church.
One question that I loved was on the topic of balancing personal and family devotions with the busy-ness of family life. I am no expert on this by any means. I haven't read nearly as many books others in our congregation nor have I been a husband or father very long, but I can testify to the joy and the encouragement I have experienced in making my personal and family worship time a priority. I'm thankful for God's grace as I still struggle to make it all as consistent and deep as I would like it to be, but I'm also thankful to God for the resources, based on His word that have helped me along the way the past couple years. Some of these resources are geared directly toward kids and family worship, others are for more personal spiritual disciplines. As I've found, these don't work exclusively of each other. I cannot shepherd my family well if I am not personally spending time with God and learning from His word. If I'm not being filled by the Spirit (reading the Bible, praying, and memorizing scripture) I am not able to pour into them, for I will literally have nothing to give them. I present to you my current 'round-up' of resources that have meant a lot to me and my family lately as it pertains to spiritual disciplines:
1) Read Scripture
This website and app put out in collaboration by The Bible Project and Francis Chan's crazylove.org Read Scripture is a reading plan that will take you through reading the Bible in a year as well as the Psalms about 2.5 times. Each book and/or section of a book is introduced by very well-produced animations that outline the author's intent and writing style behind each book. There are also videos that focus on specific theological themes scattered throughout the plan. The videos are great for adults and kids alike and the newly re-designed app is a great way to access all of the content and track your progress. I started the plan on January 1 and praise God, I am still on track to finish in December. Check out one of the phenomenal videos here:
2) Long Story Short
I bought this book in Louisville in the spring while at T4G at the recommendation of one of our elders and it has been a real blessing to our morning family devotion time. The devotions are short, applicable to my kids' age range (3-6) and are focussed on the narrative of the Old Testament as well as the Gospel implications. There are 5 lessons a week with helpful object lessons at the beginning of each week. The questions at the end of each lesson are great conversation guides and checks for understanding.
3) The Jesus Storybook Bible
The title says it all. It is all of the major stories and themes of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation presented in a colorful storybook format. What might set it apart from other storybook Bibles is how it points every story to Jesus, in whom the whole Bible is about anyway. This is our go-to bedtime reading and truly one of my kids' favorite books.
4) Fighter Verses
This fabulous resource put out by DesiringGod.org is all about memorizing scripture. The memory passages that we use in Harvest Kids are from this series, so if your kids are memorizing scripture and you're not, time to change that. I use the app on my phone daily to take quizzes, listen to songs written to the scripture, and even to make the current passage my lock screen on my phone. I have tried several methods and apps and this one is definitely my favorite so far.
I haven't read many books on prayer, but Keller's book, 'Prayer' is a convicting and inspiring look at what prayer is, why we need to practice it, and how to do it. There are models and structures for daily prayer that I have only begun to scratch the surface of, but have been game-changers in my prayer life.
6) The Church
Duh! Probably my greatest resource in prioritizing spiritual disciplines and family worship has been the church itself. The accountability, encouragement, and admonishment I receive from my small group, church leadership, and ministries I'm involved in have been monumental in helping keep me in check in this area of my life. We need to 'speak the truth' to eachother (Eph 4:25). We can't neglect to 'meet together' (Heb 10:25). We are to 'bear one another's burdens' (Gal 6:2) and 'admonish' one another (Col 3:16). My brothers in Christ have done this for me and I am so grateful to belong to a church that cares enough about me to ask tough questions and challenge and push me.
This is nowhere near an exhaustive list of what is out there, it's simply a list of resources that have helped me and my family prioritize personal and family worship times. If you are looking for better structure in these areas of your life, I encourage you to check these out.
What are some resources that would make your list?