Monday, August 14, 2006

Resources for Revival: Family

I've been thinking about strengthening of families a lot lately b/c of some initiatives we've been working on at church. And then, last week I came across these great quotes from Spurgeon given in a May 27, 1875 sermon on Mark 1:29ff (the sermon is about how Peter's household becomes a home that impacts the entire region -- read the whole sermon here)

“We see before us small beginnings and grand endings. One man is called by the voice of Jesus, and then another; the house wherein they dwell is consecrated by the Lord's presence, and by-and-by the whole city is stirred from end to end with the name and fame of the Great Teacher. We are often wishing that God would do some great thing in the world, and we look abroad for instruments which we think would be peculiarly fit, and think of places where the work might suitably begin: it might be quite as well if we asked the Lord to make use of us, and if we were believingly to hope that even our feeble instrumentality might produce great results by his power, and that our abode might become the central point from which streams of blessing should flow forth to refresh the neighborhood.”

... “This first link of grace drew on another of much greater importance, namely, that the head of the family became a convert. Andrew sought out his brother and spoke to him of having found the Messias: then he brought him to Jesus, and our Lord at once accepted the new recruit, and gave him a new name. Peter believed and became a follower of Christ, and so the head of the house was on the right side. Heads of families, what responsibilities rest upon us! We cannot shake them off, let us do what we may! God has given us little kingdoms in which our authority and influence will tell for the better or the worse to all eternity. There is not a child or a servant in our house but what will be impressed for good or evil by what we do. True, we may have no wish to influence them, and we may endeavor to ignore our responsibility, but it cannot be done; parental influence is a throne which no man can abdicate. The members of our family come under our shadow, and we either drip poison upon them like a deadly upas, or else beneath our shade they breathe an atmosphere perfumed with our piety. The little boats are fastened to our larger vessel and are drawn along in our wake. O fathers and mothers, the ruin of your children or their salvation will, under God, very much depend upon you. The gracious Spirit may use you for their conversion, or Satan may employ you as the instruments of their destruction. Which is it like to be? I charge you, consider. It is a notable event in family history when the grace of God takes up its headquarters in the heart of the husband and the father: that household's story will henceforth be written by another pen. Let those of us who are the Lord's gratefully acknowledge his mercy to us personally, and then let us return to bless our household. If the clouds be full of rain they empty themselves upon the earth; let us pray to be as clouds of grace to our families. Whether we have only an Isaac and an Ishmael like Abraham, or twelve children like Jacob, let us pray for each and all that they may live before the Lord, and that we and all that belong to us may be bound up in the bundle of life.”

This is incredibly convicting and humbling -- for it suggests that spiritual renewal begins first and foremost in the family. The religious professionals don't orchestrate it. The powerful pastors don't decree a revival and everyone shows up -- it begins in the home -- the leaders of a home calling out to Jesus, inviting Jesus to come into the home, presenting the infirmities before the king, receiving healing, and engaging in acts of service. And from the home, the whole city gets curious and wants to know more.

It's a similar theme that Mike Foster hits on in his post "I don't like youth ministry" -- the youth ghetto in the church positively encourages families to neglect spiritual responsibilities.

So a key to the revival and renewal of the PCUSA and indeed our land is again learning how to make our homes little churches -- leading our children in prayer, extending hospitality to strangers, making our lives of faith lived out while we resist the fragmentation and hyperindividualism of the age. If this truth doesn't lead us to repentence and prayer (for I know I'm lacking), I don't know what will

Soli Deo Gloria