by Brian Christensen, HCA Parent
It is clear from scripture that as parents we are charged with being good stewards of the children we have been blessed with. Devotions offer a format to fulfill Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
In the midst of the information age Christian’s have gotten quite complex and may I say even formulaic in the way they go about having devotions. I would like to propose that there is no cookie cutter way in which we should go about this important commitment.
I love to fool around in our yard and garden and evidently I am not alone. For century’s long gardening has made top ten lists for most popular leisure activity. Every garden is unique and requires special attention and active participation in order to bear fruit. Sixteen years of laboring in my yard have brought great joy, periodic challenge and lots of sweet fruit. However, the beauty and fruit have only come about through a commitment to know and understand my yard, to weather storms and challenges and to nurture it with consistent rhythms of fertilizing, watering, pruning and protecting it against pests (animals, insects & weeds). The act of nurturing our families is very similar.
Ephesians 5 & 6 makes it clear that one of God’s great designs for family is to be a delivery mechanism for the gospel. The gospel must be the main ingredient of the water and fertilizer that we nurture our families with. Be wary of falling into the trap of nurturing your family garden out of obligation alone. In doing so, our attempts to care for our family are at risk to becoming about rules rather than relationship. I have friends who look back on their family devotion time with disdain, saying it felt more like punishment than a time of encouragement. Therefore, our attitudes must embody the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness that living by God’s Spirit promises in Galatians 5. If these qualities aren’t at the heart of our devotions, our attempts to cultivate will actually do what Ephesians 6:4 warns us not to do and provoke our kids to anger.
I won’t presume to know how God has made your child unique or what your family rhythms and schedule will allow as far as a regular devotion life with your family. I would encourage you to not just wing it! Think through a strategy for cultivating your child that takes into account your family lifestyle AND how your child has been made. Be a student of your child studying their tendencies, preferences, strengths & weaknesses. Ask yourself these two questions, “what fruit do I want to see produced?” and “how am I going to go about cultivating it?”
For our families schedule and the personality of our daughter we have decided to have “devotional eyes” that are always watching for opportunities to water, fertilize and nurture. Whether it is a song, book, movie, news article or real life issue, we want to be ready to ask stirring questions that elicit thinking, wondering and ultimately understanding about the Truth, God, his character and work in our lives. As we ride in the car, eat meals together, take walks or simply sit we want to be ready to give clear, honest and helpful answers. God bless you as you water, fertilize, and nurture the family God has blessed you with! And may God produce great fruit and multiply his greatness through you and your family!
Brian Christensen is a fellow Heritage parent who is husband to Keri & daddy to Molly. He has served on staff at Christ Fellowship Church in Fort Collins for the past 19 years and currently oversees communications, building & maintenance, leads the worship music teams and the Grapple ministry for 3rd-5th graders. He is especially passionate about missions, pastoral care and anything related to marriage & parenting. At the present time he is consumed with preparing his family for an adventure to China in August 2014 where they will serve ELIC for two years.