Looking For Practical Lord’s Day Tips

Discussion in 'The Pilgrims Progress' started by Rutherglen1794, Dec 31, 2018.

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  1. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Today I have begun my new Bible reading plan, and have been meditating on Genesis 2; more specifically, the institutions of the Sabbath and marriage.

    Would you please share practical wisdom for observing the Lord’s Day?

    I know it is ultimately a matter of the heart, but I am always in need of practical wisdom as well.

    My context is a sick and pregnant wife, and two boys that are just under two years of age. Come summer, we will have 3 children under 2.5yo. This makes time alone with the Lord extremely difficult, and going out of the house nothing but a chore—two things that render our Lord’s Days spiritually useless.

    Thank you very much.
  2. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    We are in a similar situation as you. We spend most of the day at the church (setting up, serving, morning worship, lunch, prayer meeting, evening worship, then dinner with some families.) We typically have to bring the kids home in the middle of the day for a quick nap.

    Honestly, I think the best time I have right now spiritually, is my private time with God, but it's a blessing to be with His people in corporate worship. Fellowship is so important, especially with having young children. We let them play throughout the day with their friends as well.

    We just take a break from the world, and don't shop, buy anything, watch secular movies or listen to secular music, etc. It's basically a fast from the normal way of life, to be enjoyed with God and His people. Some seasons in life though, it will be more of a day of physical rest.
  3. Kinghezy

    Kinghezy Puritan Board Freshman

    We also do some of those things, though our Sunday is less full than what Ryan described. We have learned that what we do on Saturdays bleeds into Sunday, so if the kids (6yr, 4yr, 1yr) are tired it makes for a harder Sunday. Our kids have done better with having a snack immediately before service so they are not hungry. We let them draw during the sermon which for the 6yr, that recently is turning into mnemonic to remember portions of the sermon (4yr is a much different story!). We usually do a crockpot meal to limit time in the kitchen.
  4. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Tha sounds nice, but not feasible for us. Our boys are too young to “play with friends,” but old enough to require our attention as they run in different directions.

    I’m beginning to resign myself to accepting tha this is going to be a season of life with minimal opportunities for meaningful worship and fellowship. I don’t know how other people do it; but then again, most other people don’t have two kids at the same time, or three under 2.5yo.
  5. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    Perhaps I do not understand, but could you explain what you mean by "spiritually useless?"

    Do you mean you aren't going to be able to focus on sermons?
    Do you mean you aren't going to be able to get to service?
    Do you mean you don't have the ability to read the Bible?
    Do you mean you can't spend a lengthy amount of time in prayer?
    Do you mean you feel tossed to and fro by every wind of child?
    Do you mean you need to devote all your time to taking care of your wife and children?
    Do you mean you won't be able to partake in meeting with others?
    Do you mean your conversations with others will be short due to your roving eyes looking for children in wayward places?

    What exactly are your expectations right now?
  6. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    All of those things.
  7. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I remember my dad saying this is the toughest time of life, but the most rewarding. If I may add the most rewarding in the eternal sense also. He and mom had 9 kids in 10 years, and one time a person asked him what he thought of the Viet Nam war. He replied he had 9 kids and he had his own war at home.

    Providence must be looked at from all angles. Worship and fellowship may suffer amongst people we enjoy being around, but it is the times we hang around the "vipers in diapers" that bring forth the most fruit and heavenly reward. Taking up that cross is not for the faint at heart. Hang in there it gets much better. :)
  8. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    That's why I'm asking you what your expectations are. Are you only "spiritually useful" if you accomplish all the things in your own mind that you think you should be doing? How did you come to your expectations of what being spiritually useful is?

    I'm not trying to be obtuse or pointed but I really cannot stop thinking about the phrase "spiritually useless" and possibly your own feelings of inadequacy as a result of it. I feel that way a lot, so I know what it might be like in some degree.

    It may be important for you to consider doing this - figure out a way to get someone to help you out with your kids for a brief enough period of time so you can gather yourself, get your thoughts together and ask yourself (1) whether your expectations are warranted and (2) what would instead be realistic expectations in growing in faith during this time.

    Once you've done that, take time to talk to your wife about them and see if you two can agree together about what the Christian life is going to look like during this challenging season.

    If you all think your expectations are realistic, then you all need to do them. If you can't fathom how to do them in your situation, then your expectations are not realistic and you need to re-examine them.

    Let me know if that makes sense. Again, I am truly not trying to pick a fight!
  9. Kinghezy

    Kinghezy Puritan Board Freshman

    I would also suggest not to overly judge what your family can do against other families. My church has had a sort of Sunday school time that I have been surprised when families with kids, around the same age as ours, have not been able to attend. But then, there are some who are running around Saturday and Sunday, which would cause Monday to be a diaster for my family

    My eldest son is relatively self-contained and can sit quietly better than some his age. Maybe your sons are really rambunctious and cannot sit still, even having them run around before service to burn off some energy.

    Maybe there is someone at your local church who knows your family well enough to offer some concrete suggestions. I think this board may not know your unique situation enough. (After talking to your wife as well.)
  10. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    I have a feeling you misread what I said. I didn’t say I am personally spiritually useless, I said that the non-stop focus on necessary earthly things during the Lord’s Day makes it so there is no special spiritual benefit from the day; a spiritually useless day.
  11. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    No, I did not misread you - I think that feeling of a spiritually useless day is because of incorrect expectations.
  12. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Post #8 definitely seems like you are applying the term “spiritually useless” to me personally, but I digress.

    Are you trying to say that I need to lower my expectations from “being able to partake of the means of grace in any way on the Lord’s Day,” to a more realistic “not being able to partake of the means of grace on the Lord’s Day”?

    We must be talking past each other.
  13. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    My husband says you can't train for battle when you're in the midst of one. Life can overwhelm at times and you must draw on the strength gained in quiter times of life.

    That said, you must make a priority to get at least a portion of your family to worship. This can take all week: i.e. doing wash on Friday so clothes can be put out on Saturday to dress the kids on Sunday.

    If I'm sick, or home with a sick young'un, we'll participate in an online service such as 10th in Philadelphia. My kids request this now, which makes my heart glad: they know worship is the norm.

    Hang in there, friend!
  14. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    @E.R. CROSS

    My dear brother, I don't believe that Jason was essentially talking past you at all. "Spiritually useless," whether applied to the day or yourself on the day, is scarcely distinguishable.

    You find yourself in a situation contrary to your wishes. The call here for you, as for us all, is not to deal with life as you idealize it (wish it was in your head), but as it actually is.

    Many of us waste lots of time living, not the life we've been given, but the one that we wish we were given. And we go forward dealing, not with life as it is, but with life as we would like it to be.

    This causes untold suffering and angst. I don't speak to you as one who has, by any means, mastered this, but who has often instead been mastered by an anguish of my own making, because I failed to engage reality as it is and instead dealt with my life from the frustration of what I wished it to be.

    The Lord's Day is a blessing. Seek to enjoy it in the shape that it necessarily takes now in your life. Stop resisting the challenges that God has placed in your way, because, ultimately, they're part of his blessing for you. This isn't really a matter of you needing practical "how-to" advice. It's re-thinking your situation in light of God's present providence.

    Let go of an idealized Lord's Day and embrace the one that God has now given you in the circumstances of your life. You'll find great joy and peace!

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  15. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    Brother, I am a father of a 3.5-year-old and 20-month-old. I understand--Lord's Days are difficult. And I'm guilty of wanting the ideal that @Alan D. Strange talks about.

    At the same time, the Lord gave us children, and in His providence they are noisy, wiggly, and rambunctious, even on the Lord's Day. And in His providence, God allows your wife to have many needs while pregnant--easily tired and exhausted, and not so able to manage the children as other times. You as the man, he gives you the strength and wisdom to know how to ideally serve her and the kids. It's all a real drill for leadership and manhood, and it's a chance to learn to be like Christ--sympathetic to weaknesses and difficulties. To do this on the Lord's Day is to do a work of mercy and piety. If you look at it that way, the day is far from wasted, and you reap the rewards of finding that your children come to church, listen, even remember points from the sermon, and pay attention in Sunday School. You're not just training your kids to be quiet so you can be edified--you are discipling them to hear Christ's words to them. This is why your children are entrusted to you, so all the energy you put into it is worth it.

    There have been Lord's Days where I can hardly focus, at church or at home. But I can also assume that the Lord only expects of me what I can reasonably do, far as personal ability to listen goes. Sometimes getting bits and pieces are enough to let you know what the sermon was about. If all you can pray is five minutes, pray those five minutes fervently. If the Bible reading is providentially short, be sure you get the best of it. If you caught three points from the sermon, you'll find it a great work just to make use of those three points.

    I can say my older one has become more tame than she used to be. Lord's Days were endlessly consumed with keeping her under control. She's in a much better place. Be encouraged--it'll be worth it :)
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  16. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior


    Very good word, my friend, from one currently in the same trench (as Brother Cross)!

  17. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thank you for the encouragement. I will ponder these things.
  18. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    Brother, I did have an experience and an insight this past Lord's Day which may help you further.

    We had the Lord's Table this week. We sit down at an actual table and pass around bread and wine. My daughters are 3.5 and 20 months respectively, so we must seat them with us when we go up, and we've really got no other practical choice (they do not partake). My older daughter was a distraction most of the time because of her playfulness and tendency to test boundaries. The observation at the Table itself wasn't profitable. I admit I was sinfully angry. However, that doesn't mean the observance was a waste.

    Here is WLC 175 on what we are to do after the Lord's Supper, my emphasis on the part most relevant for me that day:

    Q. 175. What is the duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord's supper?
    A. The duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord's supper, is seriously to consider how they have behaved themselves therein, and with what success; if they find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it, beg the continuance of it, watch against relapses, fulfill their vows, and encourage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance: but if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their preparation to, and carriage at, the sacrament; in both which, if they can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to wait for the fruit of it in due time: but, if they see they have failed in either, they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence.

    It hit me that all the means of grace are this way: there may or may not be a blessing at the actual administration of the means, and the lack of blessing at the time of the means isn't necessarily because we sinned in preparing or somehow disqualified ourselves from blessing. In my own case for the Communion Season, the week leading up and the Lord's Day itself were filled with blessings from the Lord which should accompany this sacrament. Though not right at the Table, the blessings of Christ truly did come in a sensible way. And Christ was proclaimed that day by all of us present who partook.

    So when you come to the Lord's Day and the children are a distraction, and as far as your duties allow you, you can say that you have prepared and observed and fellowshipped, be confident of a blessing. It may not be now, but it will come. Sometimes the Lord makes us wait for fruit, but it does come.

    And if you haven't prepared, we must simply be humble ourselves, repent, and go again at the next opportunity.
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