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Jim Elliff: Family worship counters ungodly influences

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–As husbands initiate family worship through song, Scripture and supplication, they expose family members to God’s instruction, enabling them to withstand ungodly influences, explained Jim Elliff, director of the Midwestern Center for Biblical Revival.
Reading from 1 Timothy 3-4 in a message at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo., Sept. 9, Elliff related how the Apostle Paul’s instruction for a minister is applicable to the husband and father as pastor of the home.
“The Scripture which you have in your hands right now is that which will enable your family to withstand the prevailing currents of society.” It also equips the family to stand firm even when the church fails to help, he said.
Elliff told of watching a ferry operate on the Rhine River without the aid of an engine. Hooked to a steel line, it could be driven from one side to the other, then turned to come back.
“Unless you take those tender children that God has given you and that wife of your youth whom you love, and you help them grasp a steel line of truth, the Word of God, you might as well be throwing your family into the river like the folks in India do when they give them to their gods,” Elliff declared.
He offered practical suggestions for incorporating the elements of song, Scripture and supplication during times of family worship. Recognizing that a generation of believers currently lives without a knowledge of great hymns of the faith, Elliff proposed utilizing the time of worship at home as an opportunity to learn doctrinally sound music.
“Though we have many fond memories and warm feelings about many hymns that come at a later date, there is something very substantive about the hymns that were written in an earlier day,” Elliff said, observing pastors often wrote hymns for their congregations, providing doctrinal substance.
Elliff has borrowed an idea from the family of Charles Spurgeon, where the memorization of hymns was rewarded monetarily. “I am convinced some of the eloquence, imagery and poetic way in which Charles Spurgeon was allowed to be an instrument in God’s hands and in his preaching was precisely because he’d memorized those great hymns of Isaac Watts,” Elliff said.
Just as Spurgeon’s grandmother paid the lad a penny per memorized hymn, Elliff said he rewards his children a dollar for each hymn they learn. “I don’t care if we break the bank,” he told them, adding, “You can have a hundred dollars if you learn a hundred of them.”
By guiding his children in their choice of hymns and enjoying them together in family worship, Elliff said, “Music brings those truths deep down into the heart of the family.”
Elliff also directed fathers to depend upon the actual words of Scripture in family worship, rather than turning to devotional books. Devotional books “wear thin and are weak in certain points, and often misconstrue the meaning of the text to say things you do not believe the text says,” he explained. “But the Word of God sits there in your home and you can use it continually throughout all your day and use it as a family.”
He recommended utilizing the story portions of Scripture with younger children, particularly gospel accounts such as Mark, and then turning to Genesis, Exodus and historical accounts of 1 and 2 Chronicles, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, Esther and Ruth. “These are pegs for these children to understand great doctrinal truths lived out.”
By praying together as a family, Elliff said children will grow up recognizing God’s provision in answering their prayers. “What a warmth in your heart you will experience when your little children offer up their prayers to God.”
Elliff challenged the husbands among the seminary community to ask themselves if they were willing to “give up your children without a fight.” Rather than “throwing them in the river of the current of society with no restraint,” he urged them to become instruments God could use for the salvation and edification of their families.

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  • Tammi Ledbetter