By Steve and Jamie Wiechman
An Invitation In Your Chaos
We are a family of six. Chaos is a frequent visitor. Trying to “schedule” anything on a regular basis might be the very definition of insanity. That being said, talking with the ones we love is a fairly high priority for us; but when it comes to listening to and responding to God…well, our chaos can often get the better of that conversation.
But this is too important to just let go, throw our hands up, and say, “Oh well!” So we want to share with you just how much your God loves you and pursues you and invites you to know Him, to hear Him, and to live in His promises of life for you and your family. Because Jesus doesn’t let you go. He doesn’t throw up His hands in exasperation. No, He throws up His wounded hands in a big, welcoming hug for you. He’s inviting you to hear His voice and know His heart.
What Is It about God’s Word?
This is by no means an exhaustive list of why God’s Word is so important, but it begins to show just how refreshing and transformative time with God is. The deep things you long for in your soul and in your family are given freely by God Himself.
God’s Word Is Life
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”~ Matthew 4:4
God’s Word of Life Is Completely Free
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.”~ Isaiah 55:1-3a
Knowing Jesus’ Voice Is Life and Protection
“When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”~ John 10:4-5
God’s Word Speaks to the Deepest Parts of Us
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.~ Hebrews 4:12
God’s Word Is Received in Community for the Benefit of the Community
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:14-17
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the famous German pastor and theologian who was killed during WWII, wrote, “Why do I meditate? Because I am a Christian. Therefore, every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for me.”
A Simple Way for Families
What follows is a simple way that Jesus has invited us as a family to regularly hear Him and respond to Him. It’s “a” way, not “the only” way. Jesus has been so faithful to us during these times, strengthening us and filling us with faith and hope and love. We share it for your consideration as an invitation for living together in the strength of God’s voice and God’s love for you.
Some Beginning (but Extremely Important) Thoughts
- Find a ‘usual’ time, but be flexible. Our family’s best time is at breakfast, though we often don’t have all six people there. Don’t let this stop you from answering God’s invitation into His Word. You’re best time might be in the car, or at the end of the day, or all reading some section of the Bible separately and then talking about it together at dinner. If not everyone can be present, do it any way.
- If you miss a day early on, don’t feel guilty and then let the guilt paralyze you. God’s invitation is new every morning. If you miss a day or two or three, thank God for His reminder and meet Him again that day. He simply longs to be with you.
PRAYER for God’s Spirit and Against the Enemy
When we gather we have a brief prayer that we all pray together. This prayer recognizes two important realities: (1) God’s words are meant to change us, not just to read for information’s sake, and (2) we are in a spiritual battle and have an enemy that doesn’t want us to listen to the truth of God’s Word.
Our prayer that we all pray together is:
Dear God, thank You for Your powerful word. Use it to change our hearts and minds. Defend us from the lies of the enemy today. Amen.
For the engineer types who are trying to figure out how long this will take and make it work in their schedule: this part takes about 15 seconds (after however long it took you to chorale your family)!
HEARING God’s Word
No matter the make-up of your family, we would encourage you to pick a book of the Bible and read through it, about 15-20 verses at a time. If you have never really done this before, or if you have younger children, we would recommend one of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) or the book of Acts. The gospel of Mark is a great place to start. If you have kids that can read, this is a wonderful opportunity to get them participating.
When we were first starting this we told our kids ahead of time that they needed to be listening for something to respond to: something that caught their attention, something they had a question about, anything about the text that helped them know something about God or themselves or their world. The adults need to do this as well! In fact, you will be modeling it for your children. But don’t be surprised when God teaches you new things through your children, too!
Engineer types: this typically takes about 1-3 minutes, depending on the length of what you are reading, and the age of your reader.
RESPONDING to God’s Word
After we finish hearing God’s Word read, we invite people to respond to it, trusting that God’s Spirit is working through it on our hearts and minds. When we first started, the adults often went first to show the kids what we were expecting, though this doesn’t have to be the case if your kids are willing to offer something right away.
Here are some guidelines for this all-important time:
- Everybody has to offer something. It doesn’t have to be big, long or profound, but you can’t pass.
- It’s great to ask a follow-up question or two to help your kids dig a little deeper into what they are hearing (i.e. – “Tell me a little more about that,” or, “What does that tell you about God?” etc.)
- Thank people for their observations and/or questions.
- If someone asks a question to which you don’t know the answer, don’t fake it! Simply say you don’t know. Ask the rest of the family if anyone else knows anything about this question – especially if they know some other scripture that sheds light on this. If nobody does, you can either leave it, or decide as a family to check with someone else you know who is a follower of Jesus and ask them and report back to the family.
- If someone says something that you are pretty sure is not what the Bible teaches, don’t say, “No, that’s wrong,” as your first response. First, ask them to explain a little more what they mean. Their explanation might show that they mean something entirely different than what you perceived from their first statement, or it might show they are somewhat confused about the thing that caught their interest in God’s Word that day. If, as you all continue to talk about it, you still believe that this is not in keeping with God’s Word, then you can politely share another place in God’s Word where it clearly shows a different belief/truth and ask how that fits with what they just said. If you don’t immediately have a scripture to share, you can respond by saying, “I’m not sure what you just said fits with what I know of God revealing Himself in other places in the Bible. Can we look at this a little more closely and see if we can find some other places in scripture that help us understand this better?” Use this as a time to model how when two Christians disagree about something they go back to scripture to look for the answers.
Engineer types: Typically it takes about 40-120 seconds for each person to share something.
Some days, your family will be more talkative than others. If you have the time, let the conversation keep going. If you have to move on to the next thing for the day but the conversation is still going, then ask everyone to keep thinking about this and talk about it the next time you are all together.
PRAYING out of God’s Word
When we first started, we also reminded our kids each time that they would not only need to respond to the reading, but would be invited to pray based on the Bible reading. Each time, we identify who will start and who will close our prayer time. These are not scripted prayers, but prayers based off of what God showed us in the reading that day.
Here are a couple points that guide our time of prayer as a family:
- We invite each person to tell God THANKS for something they noticed in the reading that God is or does and to ask God for HELP with something the reading causes them to notice about themself (forgiveness for sin, growth in faith, etc.)
- If someone wants to pray for something else (like healing for someone who is sick, or blessings on someone who is celebrating a birthday, etc.) they can certainly do that, but the main focus of this prayer is to be about what God is doing through His specific word for you that day.
Engineer types: you’re looking at about 30-60 seconds per person, which means that for most families, this time in God’s Word together will require that you set aside about 10-20 minutes depending on the size of your family. As you get more comfortable, 20-30 minutes might become more the norm.
Some Parting (but Extremely Important) Thoughts
Remember that this is God’s gracious invitation to you to meet with Him as a family. This is not to be a burden or another thing to cross off your To-do List. Some days, maybe all you have time for is praying for God to be with you for the day and to defend you from the enemy. Don’t feel guilty for that. Call upon God’s name, and go into your day knowing He is with you and for you, and He will show up again, graciously inviting you into His Word.
If you find that it has been a few days, or a couple of weeks, since you last gathered around God’s Word, simply thank Him for making you aware and start again. There is no need to beat your self up over it. Your only need is to hear His voice and promises again, which He offers freely!
God loves you and your family beyond anything you can even imagine! Enjoy getting to know Him better and better as you hear His voice together! You’ll be pleasantly surprised how Jesus guards your hearts and minds even in the midst of the chaos of this world.
Steve and Jamie have been married since 1998 and are parents of two boys and two girls. Steve served as a pastor for twelve years in Ft. Worth and Katy, Texas. Jamie began as a middle-school teacher and coach, but has been home-schooling their four children since 2006. Steve resigned his pastoral position in January 2015, they sold their house and gave away most of their belongings, moving into their Suburban and a 6×10 cargo trailer as they travel the country and wait on the Lord for what ministry He has for them next.
To learn more about their current journey of faith you can check out their blog Dropnets. Check out the sermon in our Moving the Needle series that talks more about our core of Reach Up and this method of devotion.
Read more of our Summer Family Discipleship blog posts here.