Category: Family Worship

A Lenten Fast: Biblical Truth Meets Tradition

A Lenten Fast: Biblical Truth Meets Tradition

I am a Baptist Pastor. I also have some mild inclinations toward Anglicanism and many friends on both sides of the Lenten Debate. Is Lent biblical or is it just tradition? I contend that is it both. Walk with me down this path…

What is Lent?

Historically, Lent is the 40-day period leading up to Resurrection Sunday. It calls our attention to the time when the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Prior to that temptation, Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights with much prayer. (See Matthew 4 for additional study) Lent reminds us to do the same.

Do Fasting and Ashes go together?

Esther 4:1 tells us that Mordecai clothed himself in sack cloth and ashes, walking about the city wailing loudly.

Job 42:6

Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.”

Nehemiah 9:1

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them.

Jonah 3:5-9

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water.

Should I tell people what I am giving up for lent?


Matthew 6:16-18 (NIV)

16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

How do I please God with my fast?

Read Isaiah 58. The Lord God, Himself, describes the fast that pleases Him. So often we are tempted toward the outward acts of righteousness, tithing our mint, dill, and cumin and we miss the entire point behind the act (Luke 11L24).

A proper fast is designed to give God His due glory and to prepare ourselves to be with Him and to serve Him.

So is ritual wrong?

Not at all. Many liturgies, including those in Leviticus, are filled with deep and rich theology. Ritual helps to guide us in our theology and more importantly in our doxology (praise). A certain level of ritual (if your church has an order of service you have ritual) is necessary to help us stay on the path. Ritual, however, must never rise to the level of mandate, if that mandate cannot be drawn, chapter and verse, from the Scripture itself.

What do I do?

Enjoy the ritual, if you like. It was designed to help you grow closer to God. Just as the Model Prayer (The Our Father) is designed to teach us to pray and to develop the right habit and attitude, so ritual and liturgy do the same.

Give God the glory and don’t advertise your obedience. God deserves glory, you and I don’t.

If you celebrate Lent, I wish you to have a holy season which draws you deeper into communion with Christ. If you do not celebrate Lent, I still wish for you to draw deeper into communion with Christ. He will be our inheritance and treasure forever so let us savor that Treasure even today.


Valley of Vision and Family Worship

Valley of Vision and Family Worship


One of the best devotionals available is the collection of Puritan Prayers, Poems and Psalms known as The Valley of Vision.  Previous to a server failure I had reviewed  it (trying to recover that review). This time around, I want to spend a few minutes on incorporating Valley of Vision into your church family, either on Sunday Mornings or during  your weekly family worship time.

Oder from Christian Book Distributors (affiliate link)

To use Valley of Vision on a Sunday morning, the best use would be either to use it as a guide for your corporate prayer time or perhaps as a responsorial reading with your congregation. I have also palyed with the idea of using it as a teaching aid by offering it to candidates for membership.

A black leather version is aviailble (see link above) and it would make a great gift for confirmation (if your faith tradition practices that) or as a gift in celebratiob of Believer’s Baptism.

The most common use that I have gotten from the Valley of Vision is as an aid in family worship. If you are not the type that is inclined to sing hymns, acapella, at home, you will find Valley of Vision to be a most welcome substitue. Depending on the frequesncy of family worship in your home, you will probably get through it a couple times a year.

I, personnaly, use it mostly on Saturdays. I find that it helps me to focus myself and to prepare mentally and spiritually for the Lord’s Day, especially becuase I am in the pulpit and need as much spiritual reinforcement as possible. The selections elevate the mind and heart as they intensify your focous on the Lord. If it were possible to attain to the heights of Heaven, here on Earth, this would be the vehicle that takes you there. The Puritan is one focused on holiness and God’s glory and I can find no book, other than the Bible, that so richly equips the reader for time with Jesus.

It is actually our intent to re-release our Family Worship Guides and we wll be adding a reading guide for the Valley of Vision as part of those worship guides. 

How Old Must a Person Be to Receive Communion?

How Old Must a Person Be to Receive Communion?

I was asked, again, today how old a person must be to come to the Lord’s Table. The Scripture does not prescribe a specific age so neither shall I. I will give this counsel though…

Romans 10:9 teaches us to confess that Jesus is Lord and to believe that He was raised from the dead for our salvation from sin. A person who can explain why he needs a savior and also confess that he has yielded his life to Christ should in no wise be refused the Elements.

Upon our salvation, we are commanded to step in to tbe Waters of Baptism to show, symbolically, that the filthiness of our sin is washed away and we arise to the New Life. Immediately (and I mean while the convert is still wet) the Elements may be offered whereby we seal the new believer in fellowship with Christ and in brotherhood with the saints of all the ages.

The Lord’s Table is a sacred privilege enjoyed by ALL Believers. Let none say they are too young. ANY who will confess Christ may eat of the Bread of Life and drink from the Cup of the New Covenant.

The Bible Train (Family Worship) 17 September 2018- 23 September 2018

The Bible Train (Family Worship) 17 September 2018- 23 September 2018

This week, the Bible Train is recounting the concerns of both Ezra and Nehemiah for Jerusalem as well as the Temple. We will also see Zechariah prophesy the coming of Messiah the King.


Monday Ezra 7:1-10; 8:15-36
Tuesday Nehemiah 1:1-2:10
Wednesday Nehemiah 2:11-3:32
Thursday Nehemiah 8:1-18
Friday Nehemiah 13:1-31
Saturday Zechariah 9:9-10:12
Sunday Zechariah 14:1-21


Discussion Questions:

  1. Why is it so important that the Temple get rebuilt?
  2. What do we learn from Nehemiah’s prayer?
  3. What is the significance of Ezra reading the Law to the people?
  4. What comfort do we draw from Zechariahs words about the coming Messiah King?
  5. Zechariah makes it clear that God will rule the earth and we also know that Messiah will one day rule the earth. What do we learn about Messiah and His relationship to God.
The Bible Train/Family Worship 8.6.18-8.12.18

The Bible Train/Family Worship 8.6.18-8.12.18

This week the Bible Train rolls through the prophecies of Habakkuk, sees Ezekiel’s calling from the Lord, and views Daniel in the court of Nebuchadnezzar.

We do not have any discussion questions for this week. Those will return next week


Monday Habakkuk 3:1-19
Tuesday Daniel 1:1-21
Wednesday Daniel 2:1-49
Thursday Daniel 3:1-30
Friday 2 Kings 24:8-17
Saturday Jeremiah 24:1-10
Sunday Ezekiel 1:1-2:10


The Bible Train 7.23-7.29

The Bible Train 7.23-7.29

This week, the stops on the Bible Train include an exercise in contrasts as well as time with three prophets, Nahum, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah. We will see Manasseh, the most wicked king, contrasted with his grandson Josiah, one of the most righteous kings in the history of Judah. We will also see the final doom of Nineveh, and by extension of the Assyrian Empire, predicted by Nahum.

Monday 2 Chronicles 33:1-25
Tuesday 2 Chronicles 34:1-35:27
Wednesday Jeremiah 1:1-19
Thursday Jeremiah 7:1-8:3
Friday Jeremiah 16:1-21
Saturday Nahum 1:1-2:13
Sunday Zephaniah 3:1-20

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why is Manasseh’s sin so much more than the sins of others?
  2. What can we learn about the importance of a father’s influence or lack thereof from the story of Manasseh and his righteous father Hezekiah?
  3. What do we learn about God and the preservation of the righteous from King Josiah
  4. Jeremiah is God’s voice during the final years of the kingdom of Judah. What do we learn about God from the fact that Jeremiah prophecies both judgment and comfort?
  5. Nineveh is used as an instrument of God’s judgment but God still pronounced doom for them. What does this teach us about God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility for the things he does?
The Bible Train 7.16.18-7.22.18

The Bible Train 7.16.18-7.22.18

This week, the Bible Train has stops at the majestic Passover celebration and then Isaiah, the Prince of Prophets will bring us several encouraging messages. Isaiah will tell us of the suffering Servant, he will invite us to the Lord’s salvation and offer comfort to those oppressed. In this week’s readings, we get some of our clearest pictures of Messiah.


Monday 2 Chronicles 30:1-27
Tuesday 2 Chronicles 32:1-23
Wednesday Isaiah 38:1-39:8
Thursday Isaiah 40:1-31
Friday Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Saturday Isaiah 55:1-13
Sunday Isaiah 61:1-11



Discussion Questions:


  1. Why was it so important that Hezekiah celebrated the Passover?
  2. What is the comfort that Isaiah foretold?
  3. Many of the Jews missed the fact that Jesus was suffering servant is Isaiah; why is it so important to Redemptive History that Messiah suffered and died for His people?
  4. Isaiah speaks in the 1st Person and on behalf of the Lord; what does this invitation tell us about the Lord’s salvation?
  5. What is the good news that Isaiah has for the oppressed?
The Bible Train (Family Worship) 7.9.2018-7.15.2018

The Bible Train (Family Worship) 7.9.2018-7.15.2018

This week, the Bible Train will take us through the reign of Ahaz and into the reign of the godly Hezekiah. We will see some major prophecies of the Messiah being given by Isaiah and there will also be comfort offered by the the prophet Micah, a contemporary of Isaiah.


Monday 2 Chronicles 28:1-7
Tuesday Isaiah 7:1-25
Wednesday Isaiah 8:1-9:7
Thursday Isaiah 11:1-6
Friday Micah 1:1-16
Saturday Micah 7:1-20
Sunday 2 Chronicles 29:1-36



Discussion Questions:


  1. Why does the entire country suffer for the wickedness of King Ahaz?
  2. Why is it important that Hezekiah brings reforms and tries to turn the people back to God?
  3. In Isaiah 7 we are given the sign of Emmanuel, God with us; Why is it significant that God will walk among us in the person of Messiah, the Redeemer-King?
  4. Messiah, the Redeemer-King, will come as a light bursting forth into darkness. What does this metaphor tell us about God and His Covenant People?
  5. If Messiah is a “branch” from David, and Messiah will endure forever, what does this teach us about the Covenant People Israel?
  6. Why does the prophet, Micah, grieve over Israel?
The Bible Train (Family Worship) 6.18-6.24

The Bible Train (Family Worship) 6.18-6.24

This week, the Bible Train visits three of the prophets, Hosea, Amos, and Jonah. We will see God’s concern for Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire and we will see His concern for the faithfulness of Israel, His Covenant People.


Monday Jonah 1:1-2:10
Tuesday Jonah 3:1-4:11
Wednesday Hosea 1:1-3:5
Thursday Hosea 11:1-12
Friday Amos 1:1-2, 2:4-16
Saturday Amos 4:1-13
Sunday Amos 7:1-8:3

Discussion Questions:

  1. What do we learn about God’s character when He refers to the people of Nineveh as not knowing their left hand from their right?
  2. Why does God refer Israel’s unfaithfulness as adultery?
  3. Why is God compelled to judge the idolatry of Israel and Judah?
Bible Train (Family Worship) 6.11 to 6.17

Bible Train (Family Worship) 6.11 to 6.17

This week, the Bible Train’s stops are full of political action and intrigue. Additionally, we will see the changing of the prophetic guard from Elijah to Elisha

Monday 1 Kings 19:1-21
Tuesday 2 Kings 2:1-25
Wednesday 2 Kings 4:1-44
Thursday 2 Kings 5:1-27
Friday 2 Kings 9:1-13, 30-37, 10:1-27, 18-31
Saturday 2 Kings 13:1-25
Sunday 2 Kings 14:23-29


Discussion Questions

  1. How does the catching away of Elijah foreshadow the Rapture?
  2. What does the healing of Naaman teach us about faith?
  3. How did God use Jehu as an instrument of judgment