Devotion and Discipline

My kids love family devotions. That is the time every morning after breakfast, when the family piles onto the couch with our Bibles and start our day praying and reading together. We usually begin with a story out of Liam's Read And Learn Bible. Then we read out of Caleb's The One Year Bible for Children (Tyndale Kids) and also a page out of A Faith to Grow On, which teaches through the fundamentals of our faith.  We talk about all that we have read, and usually the kids ask to sing a song. (And if you haven't experienced what that is like, go to my video pod below, and click on "The Lord's Prayer.") Growing up family devotions often became a forced and unknowingly legalistic ritual. We could not miss a single day without feeling guilt and concern over our spiritual welfare. My parents were young Christians and did the best they could with what the understood. Having devotions somehow gave me the sense that I had met my checklist for the day, along with brushing my teeth and making my bed. Unfortunately, this kind of commitment to a devotional crumbles when busyness and lack of discipline creep in. The desire is misplaced on the practice rather than the Person of Christ. My hope is that my kids might understand the relationship and reward of knowing Christ, not having a devotional.

On the flipside, I was never required to make my bed or brush my teeth more than once a day, and consequently fought to have discipline throughout my adult life. The discipline to keep up with cleaning, the discipline to do all the dishes before bed, the discipline to speak kindly to my kids even when I'm cranky, the discipline to be consistent in disciplining with my children, the discipline to read my Bible even when I don't feel like it. If you wait upon feelings, you will never be up to doing anything difficult. Yet you may have found, if you require of yourself more than what comes naturally, the feelings and fondness for the practice follows. The key to spending time in the Word is still to love Christ. Love for Christ is not an act of sheer will, but it will not grow apart from the will to grow it.

"Observe the words--that He may dwell in your heart, that best room of the house of manhood; not in your thoughts alone, but in your affections; not merely in the mind's meditations, but in the heart's emotions. We should pant after love to Christ of a most abiding character, not a love that flames up and then dies out in to the darkness of a few embers, but a constant flame, fed by sacred fuel, like the fire upon the altar which never went out. This cannot be accomplished except by faith. Faith must be strong, or love will not will not be fervent; the root of the flower must be healthy, or we cannot expect the bloom to be sweet. Faith is the lily's root, and love is the lily's bloom...if love be cold, be sure that faith is drooping."

--Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Based on the New International Version