Family devotions… Followers of Christ, whose families are growing, likely have the desire to do devotions as a family, but often are at a standstill when it comes to actually setting out to do so. Whether it is time, organization, lack of content, or a bit of anxiety, the reasons abound for not getting into the rhythm of regular family devotions.
As a husband and a parent (of a quickly growing 10-month old), with both a full-time job and a part-time position in vocational ministry, I often struggle to establish regular, substantive times of devotions with my wife. I know that what my wife and I establish now will be the foundation upon which we build our times of family devotions when our children are at an age of understanding. In light of that, it is important to me that I find resources that will assist our family in establishing quality times of family devotion and worship. And these cannot be resources that merely market themselves as a “family devotional”. They must be doctrinally sound, gospel-centered, graciously honest, accessible and applicable to a range of ages, and those that we can utilize well within our busy schedules yet remains substantive. Though that may sound like quite the list of criteria to meet for a family devotional, I am excited to say that one in particular thoroughly passes this test!
In Old Story New: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God (New Testament) (New Growth Press, 2012), family pastor Marty Machowski provides a guide to lead your family through the New Testament in 78 weeks. As the next offering in Machowski’s Gospel Story for Kids series, Old Story New remains true to the distinctives which set this series apart. Here we have a resource that is keenly aware of the Bible’s grand story, rich in biblical theology, hermeneutically sound, and responsible in application that connects the reader’s point of need with the grace of the gospel at every pass.
Machowski begins with an altogether helpful introduction that sets families up to utilize the devotional to its fullest extent. Beginning with a note on the sovereignty of God in salvation, Machowski explains what responsibility the parents have in training their children while trusting God for their child’s salvation in Christ. He moves forward to explain the benefit of using the devotional in cooperation with its Old Testament/Hebrew Bible counterpart Long Story Short and the Gospel Story Bible. As one acquainted with both of the aforementioned resources, I can honestly say I know of no other family devotional series that handles the entirety of Scripture so well. If you choose to work through the Scriptures with the complete series, your family will be well equipped with a thoroughly Christ-centered understanding of the Bible’s grand story of the redemptive work of God from Genesis to Revelation.
For parents struggling to connect with children who may vary quite significantly in age, Machowski concludes the introductory chapter with extremely practical suggestions and insights as to how to connect each study with your children at various stages in their development. Far from quick generalities, these suggestions are evidence of the years of experience Machowski has as a parent and pastor.
Moving into the devotional, each week’s devotional is clearly connected to a specific story in the Gospel Story Bible. Though you do not need to own the Gospel Story Bible to benefit from or follow the week’s devotions, it does provide a helpful rendering of each story for a wide range of children. The text of Scripture to be read with each devotional is clearly listed. Each week’s story is then divided up into five days:
Day 1 – “Picture It” – This section helps your family understand the context, setting, and subject of the story. It is then followed by a reading of the text, questions concerning the interpretation and application of the text, and a time of family prayer.
Day 2 – “Remember It” – This section helps your family recall and retain what they encountered on Day 1. It is a time of open discussion as your family reviews the story and its significance. Again, It is then followed by a reading of the text, questions concerning the interpretation and application of the text, and a time of family singing/prayer.
Day 3 – “Connect It to the Gospel” – Perhaps my favorite feature of Machowski’s devotional series, this section encourages your family to think about how the story either points forward to or back at the gospel. A wonderfully helpful section that helps your family steer away from mere moralism and move toward an understanding of the Scriptures insofar as they tell the grand story of God’s redemptive work in Messiah Jesus.
Day 4 – “Remember It” – Having discussed a particular story for 3 days, this section helps get your family talking about the impact the story has had on their lives this week.
Day 5 – “Discover It” – Yet another unique feature of Old Story New, Machowski helps your family connect the New Testament story with its Old Testament roots (specifically the Psalms and Prophets). This will give your family an increased awareness of the unity of the Scriptures and the grand story they tell. Additionally, it may serve to awaken an interest in the Old Testament Scriptures among your children, as much of the OT, in some churches, is often left aside while a majority of time is focused on the NT.
Overall, I cannot say strongly enough how effective the structure and substance of this series is for developing quality times of worshipful, devotional study as a family. God has given families a gracious gift in the resources and ministry of Marty Machowski, and I recommend Old Story New and the entire Gospel Story for Kids series with enthusiastic acclaim.
*As a part of the Old Story New Blog Tour, the publisher, at no charge, for the purpose of review, provided a copy of this book. I was under no obligation to write a favorable review.
Old Story New Giveaway & Interview
Want to win a copy of Old Story New for your family?! CLICK HERE to check out the giveaway and my interview with Marty Machowski.