Restoring the Family Altar
Once Upon a Time
Everyone needs to find a good used book store that has a selection of older, weathered and well read book. Just a few years ago, my family and I visited a book store in Brainard, MN called Emily's used books. As we were perusing the shelves, I found a copy of Charles Spurgeon's Treasure of David, a seven volume commentary on the Psalms that was published in 1885. After I wiped the drool off my chin, I began o dream of what those volumes would look like on my own bookshelf. Little did I know, my wife was already scheming. They are on our shelves today and I get to use them in sermon prep.
I love everything about the old book experience. The heft, the feel, and the smell are all reminders of time gone by and the aged wisdom between its covers.
Reading the writing of old saints has been an invaluable add to my walk with Christ. I often referenced Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Henry, Richard Baxter, and Arthur Pink from my shelf. These men have taught me much from across the centuries and offer a view into the timeless nature of Christian truth. We would do well to read old books from the saints of old who line the way of faith.
Restoring the Family Altar
One old saint has captured my attention in a book entitled "A Family-Altar Erected to the Honour of the Eternal God." This book was written by a puritan named Oliver Heywood, in which he argues that the main problem in the protestant church of his day (1630-1702) is a neglect of the household faith. He states "It is a word in season; for it is a common complaint, and that too, by many, who are not a little guilty of it themselves; that the power of godliness, the life of practical religion, is at this day under a lamentable decay; and amongst the many causes of this decay, there is scarcely any that hath been more perniciously influential thereunto, than the neglect of family worship of God, which is one most proper means to promote seriousness in religion."
Take the problem that Oliver Heywood identified in the 1600s, and then amplify it by the number clicks and likes a post bearing one of his quotes will receives on social media and you would begin to understand how deep the same problem might be stated in the Christian home today. Christian parents today are dealing with more distractions and more ways to neglect their duty to lead their families to worship God, and yet it remains true that families who focus on efforts to renew the family alter and worship God in their home are committed to developing the a strong culture of faith.
Restoring the family alter
To combat the notion that family faith is waning, the church must train families to dedicate a purposeful and consistent time of worship in every home. The classical phrase attributed to this is the "Family Alter." Creating a culture that gathers often at the "Family Alter" offers a Christian family the opportunity to learn from the scripture and respond together to the beauty of the promises of God.
If your family does not currently meet together in a consistent time of worship, it is never to late. Our holy God is still worthy, His promises are still good, and each person in your family is still in need of the Gospel message. Start simple; keep a bible at the dinner table and read a passage at each meal or take the time when you are already preparing each night for bed to pray with your children. Find a time that works for you and your family to rejoice and enjoy faith together.
Sharing your faith with your children is not a burden, but a joyful responsibility.
When we consider our responsibility as parent to pass on our faith to those entrusted to us, it ought to make us wonder what could possibly be more important? Why is it so often neglected? Why do we often let other things crowd out the act of worship in our home?
We must not allow the business of our days be the catalyst of neglecting our family faith. We must change the narrative around family discipleship, creating in our Home a joy around the family altar.