Book Review: The Nursery of the Holy Spirit by Daniel Hyde

The Nursery of the Holy Spirit: Welcoming Children in WorshipThe Nursery of the Holy Spirit: Welcoming Children in Worship by Daniel R. Hyde

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great little book on including our children in public worship! Pastor Hyde does a great job laying out the Biblical and practical reasons for putting our little ones on our laps or beside us on Sunday morning. He does so with cheerfulness and without being too harsh. He does not make this a hill to die on, as some in the family integrated church movement do. But he does clearly indicate its value. Along the way he carefully articulates the place of children in the covenant. Also it has a great bibliography, which us book lovers always like.

The only problem? The book costs too much. It is only 60 pages long and retails at $15.99 with used copies going for $8.00 plus shipping. Someone needs to take this book, fix a few typos, and bring the price down to about $5-8. If they did I would buy some for every family at my church.

I highly recommend this book for all pastors, elders, worship leaders and all those interested in children and their place in the church.

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Our Children Need Public Worship

I know a few good pastors out in California, including Pastor Dan Hyde. Every book I have read by him has been profitable. Right now I am reading his short book  on children in worship, The Nursery of the Holy Spirit.  Here is a great paragraph explaining why our children need to be in worship with us. All punctuation is his except brackets and I have removed footnotes.

With a renewal in biblical doctrine in many evangelical circles today, for example, among “New Calvinism,” it is a great time to reevaluate our practice [of excluding children from worship] and to ask how we can become more “children-friendly” as churches in the area of worship. This is also a great time to do this given the content [context?] in which we live, as our children are being assaulted in their faith more than ever before. Even before many children are born they are assaulted by “Pro-Choice.” Our culture is more and more seeking to allure children into a worldview of hedonism, materialism, and narcissism. The church, therefore, needs to be a refuge for children from the earliest age. One practical expression of this is  in welcoming our children to join us before the throne of God’s grace in worship, giving them a meaningful place in the church. As the church education professor, John Westerhoff III, has shown, the biblical example of three generations in the church’s worship results in interaction and sharing among generations as well as a sense of experiencing the whole community of faith. The children of believers, therefore, are children of the church and belong in the Holy Spirit’s most child-friendly nursery-public worship.

Questions About Family Worship

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Here are some common questions that come up when family worship is discussed.

Will family worship make my children super-spiritual?
Okay, no one actually says this, but it is often an unspoken assumption. We believe that family worship is some great key to unlocking our children’s potential holiness. It is not. It is one of the many things that we can do to help our children grow. But it is not magic. Many families have practiced family worship and yet not brought their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Do family worship, but don’t expect it to do too much. There are many other tools we must use alongside family worship to raise godly children.

What if I am not capable of teaching my family God’s Word? 
All men who lead their family in worship feel inadequate.  However, if you are the father, then God expects you to lead your family in learning God’s Word. The usual problem here is that we think we need to be John Piper or R.C. Sproul every time we have family worship. But you don’t need to be an amazing speaker to lead your family in worship. You don’t need to be profound. In fact, when we try to sound profound often we lose our children’s attention. All you need to do is give your family a clear truth or two from Scripture each time.

How do I practice family worship with young children?
Family worship can be difficult with young children. My encouragement would be to keep it simple and short. If you have a three or four year old read them a little Scripture, sing a short song, and pray with them. After you read them the Bible explain what it is saying in short, clear sentences. Young children understand a lot more than we think they do. You can read them stories from the Bible. But you can also read them books like Ephesians. For example, you could read Ephesians 1:7-10. If I was talking to little children I would explain that Jesus died for us and that we can run to him to have our sins taken away. That is about all I would say. Illustrations are very helpful with young children. Sin is like mud and Jesus makes us clean. It may not be Charles Spurgeon, but it is true and clear. And that is all that is necessary.

How do I practice family worship with a broad age range?
This follows naturally from the above question. What if I have numerous age ranges? A good shepherd understands how to minister to various kinds of sheep. This is easy to do one on one, but in a group it is more difficult.  The key is to try balance the increasing inquisitiveness of the older children with the short attention spans of the younger ones. Here are my two suggestions. First, talk directly to the little ones as you do worship. Look them in the eye and ask them questions on their level. For example, “Elijah (my three year old) what does Jesus have coming out of his mouth?”  Second, let the older ones ask questions, but don’t allow them to go on and on. With older children, you will want to set aside time to discuss spiritual issues with them outside of family worship. Sometimes I will tell one of my older children to wait until after family worship and then answer their question privately.

Can I use a story Bible instead of the real Bible?
Using a story Bible can be a helpful way to supplement reading the Bible. But I would not encourage using it in place of reading Scripture. Even with young children I would read at least a little bit of the “real” Bible.

Can the wife lead family worship in the husband’s absence? 
A wife can lead in family worship in her husband’s absence as long as she does it in a way that supports her husband and does not undermine him. The woman in  Proverbs 31 has wisdom on her tongue and the law of kindness in her mouth (Proverbs 31:26). It might also be worthwhile to have older sons lead family worship occasionally to get practice.

What if a woman is married to a non-Christian husband? 
This is a difficult question. The wife is stuck here between two competing obligations. First, she wants to give her children God’s Word. Second, she wants to respect her husband’s wishes. Ideally, she would graciously approach her husband and ask to have a short Bible time with the children. I think most non-Christian husbands will be fine with this. She should ask what time he would like her to do it so it does not cause him unnecessary interference.  If he says no, I would encourage her to not implement family worship without her husband’s consent. If there is no family worship, she should make sure she is giving her children God’s Word all day (Deut. 6:7). If the husband will not allow family worship then she needs to make sure her children are getting the Bible other ways. Family worship is not explicitly commanded in Scripture so her husband is not forcing her to disobey God’s Word. But teaching our children God’s Word is. She must find ways to get them God’s Word. Obviously, a key would be getting them to church. In order of priority for a Christian woman married to a non-Christian would be 1) church, 2) Christian education, 3) daily interaction about God’s Word, and 4) family worship.

Note: Several of these answers were influenced by Jason Helopoulos’ book A Neglected Grace. 

What is Marriage For?

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Here are some Biblical reasons for marriage.  The first five would be true even if man had not sinned. Only the last two are a result of sin in some way, though of course sin affects our ability to fulfill the first five. These are not in any particular order. 

First, God ordained marriage for taking dominion over the earth. Genesis 1:26-28 gives us God’s original plan for man.  Man was given dominion over the earth, he was to fill the earth and subdue it.  Eve was to be Adam’s helper as he subdued the earth (Genesis 2:18). Psalm 8 makes it clear that this dominion still belongs to man even after the sin in the Garden of Eden. Christ redeems us so that we might participate in His taking dominion over the earth.  Of course, a single person can participate in the dominion mandate. But typically we fulfill this command through getting married and having children. 

Second, God ordained marriage to be a witness to Christ and his church. Churches love to talk about evangelism, which is of course a good thing. But marriage is explicitly called a picture of Christ and his church. Ephesians 5:22-33 makes it clear that when a man and woman get married they immediately become a living, breathing painting of Jesus and His Bride. This means our marriages always point to something greater than the marriage itself. A failed or bad Christian marriage is a slander of Jesus Christ.

Third, God ordained marriage for our companionship. It was not good for Adam to be alone.  Over the years we are married there should be an emotional and spiritual intimacy that develops between husband and wife. There is a lot of sentimentality that surrounds marriages. People talk of “soul mates” and such things.  As Christians we should avoid this. But there is a kernel of truth there. God does want us to grow closer to our spouse. Husbands and wives should enjoy each other’s company and companionship more and more over the years.   

Fourth, God ordained marriage for the bearing of children. This is explicitly stated in Genesis 1:28. The Scriptures see children of covenant parents as a great blessing to God and his Kingdom. The Scriptures assume and expect that godly marriages will be fruitful and bear many children (See Deut. 28:4, 11, Psalm 127-128, I Timothy 5:10, 14, Titus 2:4).  A couple that refuses to bear children is violating God’s Word. If a couple cannot have children that does not mean they are not blessed by God. God intends to bless that couple in other ways and for them to honor him in other ways. However, most Christian marriages should result in a having many children and bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Fifth, God ordained marriage for our physical pleasure. Proverbs 5:15-20 and the Song of Solomon make this point. The sexual relationship is not just for the bearing of children or for sexual protection. It is also for the joy and pleasure of the couple. God intended for us to enjoy our spouses physically. Too many Christians find this a bit much, that God would create such a physical high. “Is that really spiritual”, we ask? But God made sex to be thoroughly enjoyed within marriage. It is not an idol to be worshiped. And your goal is not to have the “best orgasm in history” as the world tells us. But the marriage bed is meant to be fun and exciting. Those who tell you otherwise are liars. 

Sixth, God ordained marriage for our sexual protection. Paul makes this clear in I Corinthians 7:2-5. Getting married is one of the ways God keeps us from burning with lust. Long delays in getting married, which are common in our culture, make us more vulnerable to sexual sin including pornography and fornication. Marriage is not an automatic cure for sexual sin, but it does help. 

Seventh, God ordained marriage for our sanctification.  There are few situations like marriage and raising children that can show someone their sinful heart. We get married believing we are great and wonderful, only to find out there are a lot of ungodly thoughts and emotions that we need to repent of. Later we think we matured spiritually then children come along and the process starts all over again. God sanctifies us in other ways. But marriage is  one of the primary ways he helps us grow in the image of Christ.  

S&S Podcast 2016.27 Spanking

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Here are the eight main points I covered in the podcast. If you have you questions or comments put them in the comment section. The verses I  mentioned are Proverbs 10:14, 13:21, 14:3, 22:8, 22:15, 23:13-14, 26:3, 29:15, and Hebrews 12:3-11.

First, the rod should be used when words do not work.

Second, as a general rule a rod, that is some implement should be used, not your hand.

Third, in our culture I would recommend against physical force in public.  .

Fourth, your discipline should not leave long term marks. If you are bruising your child there is a problem.

Fifth, do not spank in anger. If you are not in control of your emotions you should not discipline.

Sixth, spanking isn’t the only form of discipline, but it is often the most effective one.

Seventh, study your child to learn what type and what level of discipline works best for your child.

Eighth remember your child’s frame. If you have had them up till midnight the night before have some compassion on them. You would want the same done for you.

Ninth, repent to your children when you sin against them. As they get older acknowledge God’s rod in your life.

 

A Summary Case for Infant Baptism

If you haven’t read Pastor Randy Booth’s wonderful book on infant baptism, Children of the Promise, you should. It is full of pastoral warmth without being sentimental. He is clear without being cliched. He covers all the bases in less than 200 pages. He is not mean to credo-baptists. Here is his summary of the case for infant baptism, which he gives at the beginning of the book.

  1. Covenant Theology. Throughout the Bible, God relates to his people by way of a covenant of grace. Covenant theology provides the basic framework for rightly interpreting Scripture.
  2. Continuity of the Covenant of Grace. The Bible teaches one and the same way of salvation in both the Old and  New Testaments, despite some different outward requirements.
  3. Continuity of the People of God. Since there is one covenant of grace between God and man, there is one continuous people of God (the church) in the Old and New Testaments.
  4. Continuity of the Covenant Signs. Baptism is the sign of the covenant in the New Testament, just as circumcision was the sign of the covenant in the Old Testament.
  5. Continuity of Households. Whole households are included in God’s redemptive covenant.

J.C. Ryle to Parents: Go Forward and Obey

Here is a great quote from J. C. Ryle’s little Booklet The Duties of Parents. It is under the heading of “Train your children with an abiding persuasion on your mind that much depends on you.”

Beware of the miserable delusion into which some have fallen, that parents can do nothing for their children, that you much leave them alone, wait for grace, and sit still. These persons have wishes for their children in Balaam’s fashion; they would like them to die the death of the righteous man [Numbers 23:10, 31:16], but the do nothing to make them  live his life. They desire much, and have nothing. And the devil rejoices to see such reasoning, just as he always does over anything which seems to excuse indolence, or to encourage neglect of means.

I know that you cannot convert your child. I know well that they who are born again are born, not of the will of man, but of God. But I know that God says expressly, “Train up a child in the way he should go,” and that He never laid a command on a man which He would not give man grace to perform. And I know, too, that our duty is not to stand still and dispute, but to go forward and obey. It is just in the going forward that God will meet us. The path of obedience  is the way in which He gives the blessing.