The following is an excerpt from my interview with Chuck Musselwhite on my podcast, You’ve Got This.
Chuck has been in full-time ministry for more than 25 years. He started out as a youth pastor at Santa Maria First Assembly of God after graduating from Vanguard University. After his first position, he worked at several churches until 2007 when he and his family, along with a dedicated group of people, planted The Village Chapel in Vandenberg Village, California. In 2017, Chuck started a blog that posted devotionals five times a week called the Daily Walk Devotion. In November 2018, he produced his first devotional book called the Daily Walk Devotion. Chuck married his wife, Jennifer, in 1997, and they have four children, two of which are special needs. He loves to take daily prayer walks and get out on his mountain bike to ride the trails.
It’s important for parents to model devotions for our kids. So many times, we fall into the trap of do what I say, not what I do when it comes to personal and family devotions. When my husband and I were first married, one of the things that we did was to start having family devotions, even though our family was just the two of us. We knew that if we started family devotions just as a couple, it would be easier to add the kids later, instead of starting family devotions when we had kids.
Chuck: When I was in college, I worked at a summer camp, and one of the speakers said, “If you read five Psalms a day and one Proverbs a day, you will get through both of those books in one month.” I had never thought about reading the Bible systematically like that. I had read devotionals, but hadn’t read through the Bible. When I met my wife, I had already developed a systematic devotional approach for my own personal life. We continued with our personal devotions, then a joint time a prayer and reflection together. Once we started having kids, we simply included them in our devotional prayer time.
I think that by setting that example for our kids with our own persona devotions and also encouraging them with suggestions as to what to read, we can help them develop their own devotions. But overall, have you found that it’s been kind of a lost art today, this idea of family devotions, especially?
Chuck: I remember growing up and having family devotions from various denominations that were very formulaic and structured. These days, I think because the business of families has lengthened into longer days, we’ve lost that structured time at dinner that many families used as a springboard to devotions. The cool thing is that we are seeing a resurgence in it. I credit the Youversion Bible App from Life Church because it’s put thousands and thousands of Bible reading plans and devotions on phones and iPads and other devices. It goes from basically almost a cradle all the way up to the grave with different app versions, like a kids’ app with animation. They have all these different kinds of devotions that you can read in just a matter of moments or that you actually listened to auditory. A lot more people are using these kinds of electronic devotions because it fits into their lifestyle.
Kids like variety. Some of the things that we’ve done as a family is memorized verses together and gone through the shorter Westminster catechism. That has been really helpful to get some of those foundation nuggets in our kids. We have also read various devotion books. We do sword drills where everyone has a Bible and we scramble to see who can find a specific verse first. Right now, we are reading through the New Testament as a family. What are some of the things that you found to be helpful in keeping that variety in the family?
Chuck: We use every opportunity to explain Bible things to them. As they got older, my kids went to a Christian school that incorporated biblical illustrations throughout the curriculum. That’s spurred a lot of great conversations. My autistic son always wants to know what I’m teaching on Sundays ahead of time, so that also is a jumping off point for conversations.
Chuck: With today’s youth more technologically connected, you almost have to force them to rethink their priorities because they will take the path of least resistance. There is also just the temptation to be distracted, and I think as parents, we have to provide boundaries and guidelines to help them not get caught up in the trap of distractions that they don’t know how to get out.
We show we value family devotions by making them a priority in the way we schedule our family.
Chuck: You always make time for the things that are important. I always tell people that if you don’t start the day with God, you are starting with your own power in your own spirit. Fill your heart with the truth of God’s word and the power of the Holy Spirit, then walk throughout the rest of the day.
One of the things that was really kind of surprising to us was the power of prayer as part of your devotions, and as soon as our kids were kind of old enough to string a sentence together, we started including them in saying the family prayer. Sometimes, they were quite hilarious, you know as preschoolers often are, but everyone would go around and tell the designated prayer person if they had anything to pray about. It gives us that extra connection and the ability to remind everyone how God answered our prayers.
Chuck: I remember when I would put my kids to bed, I would always pray over them, and then as they got older, we kind of talked a little bit and sometimes, they pray and I would always finish my time for them. As they got older, they would remind me if I forgot to pray for them.
When I can see my teenagers getting a little anxious about something, I ask if I can pray together with them about it, for example. We should take those moments to remind our kids they are not alone in their struggles. God is interested in our lives, and keeping that connection with him through devotions is just so important.
Chuck: It is amazing something that was written 3,000 years ago can still be so pertinent and applicable to our life today. People sometimes forget that God’s Word is living and active and powerful because they treat devotions as information. God’s Word is able to cut right through the minutest of issues and speak and minister to that. We neglect ourselves of that power when we don’t include that into our life. The key is consistency. Develop a routine for devotions, and do it the same time at the same place every day, and once you do, it just becomes natural.
To hear more great advice and stories from Chuck, listen to “Devotions With Your Kids” on the “You’ve Got This” podcast.