3 Characteristics of a God-Glorifying Home

Mike Fabarez
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Yes, we should all start with prayer for their salvation, but what else should parents do in hope and preparation for their son’s expression of genuine repentance and saving faith? The knowledge and awareness of God ought to permeate our homes. Moms and dads need to speak of the importance and presence of God in all that we do. Our discussions of history, the daily news, and forecasts of where our world is headed should always find their way back to who God is, what He has revealed, and how He is actively involved in all things. In short, the existence and activity of God is the lens through which a godly Christian home must view and discuss the world in everyday conversations.

This is called a worldview. Everyone has one, and those who are going to raise up young men with a spiritual priority and a serious investment in God’s kingdom must have a thoroughly Christian worldview.

This simple reminder can be convicting for us as parents. It may reveal our own need to think more biblically. It might expose a lack in our own spiritual maturity. Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). It is sobering to consider that as a general rule the spiritual sensitivities and investments we hope for our children will rarely surpass our own.

I suppose this is why so many are motivated to step up their own spiritual disciplines and pursuit of God when they have kids. So be it. It is a good time for us as parents to consider our spiritual health and resolve to be all that God desires us to be as His sons or daughters. We wouldn’t want to send our boys to a batting coach who hits .200 or a golf coach who rarely breaks 100. So too, we ought to feel the pressure as our sons’ primary Christian coaches, and make certain we are making gains in learning to “love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind” (Matt. 22:37).

The existence and activity of God is the lens through which a godly Christian home must view and discuss the world in everyday conversations.

What I am getting at is that if we are hoping to “train up a child in the way he should go” so that “even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6), he is going to need to see this God priority modeled. And as is often the case, learning to value and prioritize the things of God as a young boy is not only taught, but it is also caught. Here are three big areas.

1. A Bible-Saturated Home

If your sons are to become acquainted with the true and living God (and not some “god” of your or their imagination), then your household discussions about God need to consist of the truths about God that have been revealed in His written word, the Scriptures. As some of the first parenting instructions God gave reveal, “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut. 6:6–7).

Scriptural words and biblical principles ought to saturate your home. Your conversation needs to regularly find its way back to the truth found in the Bible. Again, this is not likely to happen if Mom and Dad are neglecting their daily time in the Word. Be diligent about making time for your own personal Bible study. Guard it as an essential investment of your mornings (or evenings). Then be sure to leave that personal time with something from the Word; whenever possible share and discuss with your children. As J. C. Ryle rightly said:

You cannot make your children love the Bible, I allow. None but the Holy Ghost can give us a heart to delight in the Word. But you can make your children acquainted with the Bible; and be sure they cannot be acquainted with that blessed book too soon, or too well.[1]

This is the goal. Get your son thoroughly acquainted with the Bible. Talk about it as an overflow of your own daily time of learning from the Word. This is foundational. From there, consider a scheduled time of instruction.

I suggest making it your goal to discuss something about every book of the Bible with your sons before they reach school age. That may sound overwhelming, but there is a lot of good material out there that can guide a parent in this kind of endeavor. Being a pastor, I decided to write my own. I called the system I developed Bible Survey for Kids. It allowed me to spend a scheduled time with my boys, teaching them the basics of all sixty-six books of the Bible. It involves drawing a simple picture, reviewing the basic characters and truths of each book, and building a timeline chart of Bible history with pictures on three-by-five cards, which are hung on a bulletin board on the wall. Whatever you use, there ought to be a concerted parental effort to teach your sons the basic truths of the Bible. God can use this to build a stable foundation for their forming worldview.

In addition to in-home instruction, I highly recommend a prioritized involvement in a church-based, Bible-centered kids program. There are several; the most popular these days is the nationwide AWANA program, which many churches offer. If this or something equivalent is available in your church, take full advantage of it. The memorization of Scripture that takes place in these kinds of programs will naturally overflow into your home. I know that our whole family ended up memorizing the verses that were assigned to our sons week-by-week. If your church doesn’t offer a program like this, what a blessing you would end up being to many families if you prayerfully considered spearheading the launch of AWANA or one of the alternatives in your church.

2. A Praying Home

God will never be a priority in your home if your family is not regularly praying together. Prayer is essential to keeping our minds aware and focused on the presence and supremacy of our Creator. Make sure it is a guarded practice in your personal life and a permeating exercise for your family.

I know it is not hard for us to feel inadequate about our personal prayer time. But because personal prayer is important, allow me a moment or two for us to feel that conviction. Living in the modern world, our default perspective is that we are all “super busy.” We may feel busy, and, who knows, we may in fact be very busy, but we have to consider where our time goes and ask ourselves if what we spend our time on is truly more important than the most important things that we so often neglect.

Few things could be more important than prayer. If you are “too busy” to pray, then I think I can say with biblical authority that you are too busy. Something in your schedule needs to be abandoned and be replaced with time in prayer. Jesus was busy—truly busy. He had an important mission and was actively involved in doing all that God called Him to do. He was in demand, and everyone wanted His time.

God will never be a priority in your home if your family is not regularly praying together.

But Jesus made time for prayer. We see Jesus modeling the priority of prayer when “he would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16), when “rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35), and when he “dismissed the crowds” and “went up on the mountain by himself to pray” (Matt. 14:23).

As our personal practice of prayer increases, I trust it will be natural to extend that practice to initiate times of family prayer. God calls us to pray always (Luke 18:1) about everything (Phil. 4:6) and for every-one (1 Tim. 2:1). We have plenty to pray about! So gather your family and pray. Utilize those customary times of prayer (which I hope are still customary for most Christians) like mealtime and bedtime. Even before your son can talk, quiet him down, hold his hands, and talk to God. Before you feed him, before you put him down for a nap, before you lay him down to sleep for the night. Pray. Pray about what is going on in your home, your church, your city, your country, and the world.

We have made it a practice in our family to pray when we hear of a crisis. It might be an email, a text, or a news story. Stop and lead your family in prayer. It might be as you pass an accident scene on the free-way, take a minute in the car to lead your family in prayer. It might even be at the sound of an emergency vehicle’s siren, just take a moment and say, “Family, let’s pray.”

We have also made it a practice in our family to pray when our car is soon to arrive at its destination. When we were almost at the baseball field where my son’s Little League practice was about to start, we would take a few minutes to pray for the coach, for the team, for the parents, and of course for our son to be a wise, courageous, and hard-working participant on the team. If we were three or four blocks from church, Mom or I would lead in prayer that my boys would step out of the car and walk into church ready to serve others, look out for others’ needs, seek to be a blessing to new people, and learn something transformative and strengthening from God’s Word. No matter the destination—on the way to school, the grocery store, a friend’s house, the park, or to see the grandparents—let’s pray!

3. A Thankful Home

Keeping God the focused priority of our homes is aided by our conscious awareness of God’s regular involvement in protecting and providing for our families. It is clear and should be obvious to all Chris-tians that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). After all, we understand that God “himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25), and in Christ “all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). Were it not for God’s ongoing involvement in sustaining His creation, we would instantly implode. For “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

These facts are true for all people. The difference between Christians and non-Christians is that we recognize these facts and give God credit for them. This is why we are a worshiping people. We are the ones who “ascribe to the Lord glory and strength”; we are the families who “ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name” (Ps. 29:1–2). This kind of thanksgiving and praise needs to be a substantial part of our daily expression to God and should punctuate our dialog with our sons. We need to generously model our awareness that if something good has happened, God has been mercifully gracious and is due our thanksgiving. “Thank you God!” may be a simple phrase, but I trust our sons would have to admit they heard it often from the mouths of Mom and Dad, and that it made them increasingly aware of God’s involvement in our daily lives.

It has been my routine to not only lead in prayer before we leave the driveway on a trip of any kind, but also upon our return—leading the family in a prayer of thanksgiving when we arrive at that same spot in the driveway. I trust our boys will never forget that mom and dad were thankful for every good and perfect gift, even when our trip may have been peppered with various disappointments or costly mishaps. God is good. He is good all the time to our families, and it is important for our sons to hear us leading prayers of praise and thanksgiving to our gracious Lord.

And speaking of grace, as we lead in prayers of thanksgiving, let’s be sure to consistently find our way back to thanking God for the most important provision of all—the forgiveness of our sins through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is an important element in providing frequent clarification about the gospel in our homes.

[1]  J. C. Ryle, The Duties of Parents (reprint, n.p., J.C. Ryle Books, 2010), 18. Available at Amazon.com.

For Further Reading:

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