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Fun and Family Worship

with Jason Houser | May 10, 2011

Enliven your family worship! Today musician Jason Houser of SEEDS Family Worship, along with Tom Dodds, songwriter for Bethlehem Baptist Church’s Fighter Verse Song project, tell how setting the scriptures to song is imparting God’s word into the hearts of children and adults.

Enliven your family worship! Today musician Jason Houser of SEEDS Family Worship, along with Tom Dodds, songwriter for Bethlehem Baptist Church’s Fighter Verse Song project, tell how setting the scriptures to song is imparting God’s word into the hearts of children and adults.

Fun and Family Worship

With Jason Houser
|
May 10, 2011
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob:  In addition to having regular family times where you read the Bible together or where you discuss spiritual issues, Deuteronomy 6 tells us that we are to be engaging with our children around God’s Word as they lie down, as they rise up, and as we walk along the way.  Here’s Seeds Family Worship’s Jason Houser with one way that that might work.

Jason:  There are times that you can redeem.  Like I drive my kids to school two or three days a week, and my son has an iPod, I have an iPhone, we have the Bible on them, so we’re reading through the book of Proverbs. 

It just sparks great conversations.  It’s time we would have been doing it anyway.  We would have just listened to the radio.  I want to read through the book of Proverbs with my kids before they’re grown, it’s a goal, so we’re blasting through that just by using the time that’s right there.

Music:

We will hold with our hands, we will tie to our heads, we will sing to our children the things that we have read.  We will hail when we lie down and rise from our beds; for as long as skies remain, our king will reign.hen we lie down, when we rise from our beds; for as long

Bob:  This is FamilyLifeToday for Tuesday, May 10th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.  We’re going to talk today as parents about how we can engage with our children around God’s Word.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us.  Back when your kids were young and you would try to round them up for a family night, some time when you were going to do something in the Word, was singing a part of that at your house?

Dennis:  Yeah, we tried that, and as you know, Bob, our family is musically challenged.

(laughter)

Even with CDs it’s still musically challenged.  When we listened to most of the music for kids that was made back then, you know Bullfrogs and Butterflies and all the music that was designed for them, we would do it as we traveled across the country on vacation.  It was a great time for kids to learn some valuable spiritual lessons, and we would all be humming some of those songs for a long, long time.

Bob:  There was an old Hide ‘em In Your Heart song that Steve Green did that our kids learned.  It took the verse “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking guile:”

Music: 

Keep your tongue from evil

Keep your tongue

Keep your tongue from evil

Keep your tongue

And your lips from speaking lies

Keep your tongue from evil

Keep your tongue.

Bob:  We would make the kids grab their tongue when they sang it.  You’d have to actually hold on to your tongue, so:

(Bob singing along, holding his tongue:)

Keep your tongue from evil

Keep your tongue

Keep your tongue from evil

Keep your tongue

Dennis:  So your family’s got enough talent that you can sing while holding your tongue.

Bob:  (holding tongue) -- from speaking guile

Keep your tongue from evil, keep your tongue.

Dennis:  There are some of our listeners who recognize that song.

(laughter)

Well we have a couple of guys who are significantly better than either Bob or me.  Jason Houser and Thomas Dodds join us on FamilyLife Today.  Tom, Jason, welcome back.

Jason:  Thank you so much.

Tom:  Thanks.  It’s good to be here.

Dennis:  You know, I’m glad you guys have got real talent.

Bob:  Otherwise the show would be in real trouble.

Dennis:  I mean, Tom, first of all, you’re from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, you go to Bethlehem Baptist, which is Dr. John Piper’s church where he teaches.  You’re an IT guy during the day, and in the evenings you’re leading a volunteer team of more than fifty people that are cranking out family worship songs for what age group children?

Tom:  Our target market is for families with school-age children, that’s the center of the bull’s eye, and then out from there it’s everybody else.

Bob:  You’re talking elementary age?

Tom:  Elementary, junior high – type age children.  That’s our focus, but there are songs in the mix, since we release about thirty some songs every year, there are songs in there – we’ve got jazz to blues to pop and rock.  There are lots of different styles to appeal to people.

Dennis:  Jason, you’re a singer/songwriter and have your own company that has written a bunch of great songs for secular singers . . .

Jason:  Right, right.

Dennis:  But you got a vision for a project that you call Seeds Family Worship, and you’re designing music for families as well.

Jason:  Yes, right.

Dennis:  What age group?

Jason:  Well, the core of what we do is elementary age, but it reaches into teenagers and really young – they’ll see two- or three-year-olds at our concerts, really singing the words.  Before they can read, they can actually be grasping some of these Scriptures. 

But the core is we want to set a biblical world view, use these songs to help the elementary age really start to grasp the Bible, and the music prompts them to ask questions.

Bob:  When you led worship in a chapel service here at FamilyLife, we invited families to bring their kids in, and I remember looking at this sweet five-year-old girl, just singing along, knowing every word of every song you were doing, and then I looked up and her mom was singing just as loud and just as passionately.  In fact, I looked at all of the moms in the audience and I thought, “These moms like these songs as much as the kids do, I think.”

Jason:  Yes, it’s been amazing for us, because when we started our ministry it was really for kids, but we actually renamed it Seeds Family Worship because so many moms and dads were coming saying, “This music has blessed us so much.”  What we try to do musically is capture the Scripture, you know, kind of put the emotion behind, and we try to make it fun.  It’s young and energetic, but we try to capture the text.

Bob:  And that’s one of the things both of you are doing.  You’re putting Scripture to music, not just writing worship songs, but putting actual word-for-word verses.

Jason:  Right.

Bob:  What version of the Bible do you guys use at Bethlehem?

Tom:  We’re using right now in The Fighter Verses it’s the ESV Bible.

Bob:  English Standard.  And you’ve used NIV through most of the projects that you’ve done, right?

Jason:  Right.  We’ve used NIV through the last five projects.  The new project is actually ESV, because the new church where I am serving – ironically enough, I am the pastor of Family Life as of a month ago.

Bob:  Congratulations.

Jason:  Thank you.  So, God has a good sense of humor in that, but we use the ESV at the church and there’s also a school, so we’ve moved over to ESV because it will just help serve our church body the best.

Bob:  Now both of you are young fathers.  Tom, how many kids do you have?

Tom:  Four.

Bob:  And ages?

Tom:  Seven, five, three and ten months.

Bob:  Oh, my goodness.

Jason:  He’s in it.

(laughter)

Dennis: And Jason, you’ve got a few less, but . . .

Jason:  Yes, we have three kids.  My wife is Heidi, and Benjamin is our oldest.  He’s 12.  Brandon’s our middle man; he’s nine.  Abigail is our little girl, and she is six.

Bob:  So when you sit down with them, do you try to something most days, every day, once a week?  How do you do it at your house?

Jason:  The way that we do it – structure for us, you know – we kind of have a crazy life with me traveling and different things.  I encourage families, don’t get caught up in trying to put too much structure, like to be religious in the wrong way about things.  What we try to do is the time right before bed is a devotion time for us, but if we do one to two times a week and our kids are involved in Bible study that they go to at their kids’ club and then we have church on Sunday – we try to have four spiritual imprints on their life a week, but some of them we try to do with us.

So at night we’ll sit down.  We’re reading through the book of John now.  We’re not using a devotional.  We open up the Book, you know.  I don’t know how long that’s going to take us, not as long as it maybe will take John Piper to get through a book, you know.

(laughter)

But we’ll read a section of Scripture and we’ll just talk about it.  I have a study Bible and if we need to dig in, and if they ask questions that we don’t know, too, I’ve had to go to our Pastor even at times and say, “Hey, my son’s asking this question.”  So we do that.  And the other thing, just an idea for families out there, is on the way to school, there’s times that you can redeem.

(all agree)

Like I drive my kids to school two or three days a week, and my son has an iPod, I have an iPhone, we have the Bible on them, so we’re reading through the book of Proverbs.  It just sparks great conversations.  It’s time – we would have been doing it anyway.  We just would have listened to the radio and we talk about – because I want to read through the book of Proverbs with my kids before they’re grown.  It’s a goal, so we’re blasting through that just by using the time that’s right there.

Bob:  Do you do music with them in the evenings or anytime?

Jason:  You know, during our worship time we don’t at home.  Our church is so musical and we do a lot of praise and worship through our church, and they go to a Christian school. 

But actually my kids are starting to play instruments, so we’re going to try to have a family worship time where we all are playing.  That’s my next thing, to where we can sit down and go, “Okay . . . “  I’ve got a set of drums, and then one son’s playing the guitar and I can play piano and we can do that.

Dennis:  Well, I know you write and you actually lead a team of folks who do a lot of songwriting.  Do you have a favorite, because I’d like to hear one from your album – one of your songs?  What’s your favorite?

Jason:  Whew. Boy, that’s a tough question.  Wow.  You know the song that’s coming into my mind right now when you asked that is from The Seeds of Courage CD.  It’s Young, and it’s 1 Timothy 4:12 – “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”

Bob:  You did that as we were gathered together for the chapel service.  I saw a lot of folks light up like they knew that song, like it was one of their favorites as well.  This is from the first project, right?  Seeds Family Worship One?

Jason:  Right.  That’s right.  Seeds of Courage.

Bob:  And it’s called Young.

Jason:  Yes.  And the artist singing this is Matthew West.  He came and sang this song for us.

Music:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young

But set an example for the believers

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young

But set an example for the believers

 

In speech

In speech

In life

In life

In love

In love

In faith and in purity

 

In speech

In speech

In life

In life

In love

In love

In faith and in purity

 

1 Timothy 4:12

1 Timothy 4:12

One more time

1 Timothy 4:12

 

Bob:  That’s fun.  That’s the song Young from the Seeds of Courage Seeds Family Worship CD.  I can see where kids would grab onto that quickly.  And that’s the thing: music implants something in your memory, I think at a deeper level than if you just learn it as a spoken word, don’t you think?

Jason:  Yes.

Bob:  I mean, there’s something about the melody that brings the recall of the lyric back, and so it’s like – it’s just some heavier glue that you’ve used to hide that in your heart.

Tom, I want to ask you as you’re involved with the Fighter Verse song project at Bethlehem Baptist, you said you’re a parent of a seven, five, three and ten-month, is that right?

Tom:  That’s right.  That’s right.

Bob:  To try to do some kind of family worship or family night with kids that age, that’s a tough chore, because your two-year-old and your seven-year-old are miles apart in terms of cognitive ability, in terms of level of engagement, and some families sit down and try to do this and about three minutes later they say, “Well that’s the last family night we’re ever going to have at our house.”

(laughter)

Tom:  Yes.

Bob:  How do you do it, and what do you do?

Tom:  I love what Jason said about structure versus non-structure.  We have rhythms and movements in families that, throughout our days that we go through, not everybody eats every meal together anymore, but I’ve made it a priority in my home to eat dinner together, and so we sit around the table and I’m able to do a devotion at that time while the kids are eating.

Right now we just worked through Genesis.  There’s a great little book that we use called Long Stories Short, and it helps walk through that with some questions and makes it explainable for the kids and reminds parents about how to teach their children, and engages the children.  So I can ask my three-year-old, Eleana, “What was it that God put in the sky to remind us of his covenant with us that he would no longer destroy the earth again?”

Dennis:  So here it is, you’re very talented musically.  Do you do a lot of singing in your family time together?

Tom:  Well, in our family time together we do a lot of music in our family, and we love it, but that doesn’t mean that people can’t pick that up.  For us, it’s about redeeming the time, as Jason said.  We have times together, but often it’s just, okay, people are together in the living room, Dad picks up the guitar, and I’ll start playing, and my kids dance and we’ll sing along and rejoice in that together.

Sometimes it’s in the middle of the night.  My daughters will wake up and they’ll be afraid.  Just a couple of weeks ago with Psalm 56, verses 3 and 4 -- “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you, in God whose word I praise, in God I trust.  I shall not be afraid; what can flesh do to me?” -- in the middle of the night, comes home to my children’s hearts.  Not only can I say that verse to them and they might know it, but their heart sings.  We say, “Shall we sing that together?”  “Yes, let’s sing that.”

Bob:  And you guys have written a Fighter Verse song for that verse, right?

Tom:  Yes, we have.  My good friend, Phil Carlson, wrote that, and it’s a beautiful song that has in the spirit of the song to help calm the hearts.  I’ve used it many times with my children; they absolutely love it.

Bob:  We’re going to play it and let our listeners have a chance to hear what you guys have done in setting that verse to music.  This is from the Fighter Verse Songs project at Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Psalm 56, verses three and four

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you

In God whose word I praise

In God I trust.

I shall not be afraid

What can flesh do to me?

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you

In God whose word I praise

In God I trust.

I shall not be afraid,

What can flesh do to me?

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you

In God whose word I praise

In God I trust.

I shall not be afraid

What can flesh do to me?

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you

In God whose word I praise

In God I trust.

I shall not be afraid

What can flesh do to me?

Psalm 56, verses three and four

 

Bob:  That is Psalm 56, verses three and four from the Fighter Verse Songs project at Bethlehem Baptist Church.  That was one of those verses that we helped our kids memorize, because all kids have fear, whether it’s fear of the dark or fear of the unknown, whatever it is.  Just for the kids to know – “When I am afraid, I will trust in you,” right?

Dennis:  I’ll tell you, any time we ever tried to do a family devotional, whether it involved memorizing Scripture or attempting to have a family night, there were discouraging things that would happen.  I mean, it was like it was a collusion of the children trying to figure out, “How can we undermine this by doing some of the silliest, crazy things that your parents could never imagine?”  Does that ever happen at your house, Jason?

Jason:  Oh, man.  Boy, that just strikes a chord with me, because when we started – I made the commitment and families do that, and maybe some families that are listening to this will say, “You know, we’re going to really try to do that in our home.”  For a dad to sit down and lead his family when he hasn’t done that before, and you sit down, and this is what was in my heart. 

So I sat down with the kids on the floor of my boys’ bedroom.  They’ve got bunk beds and we’re sitting on the carpet, and start doing this devotion time.  It was so stressful, they were so out of control, they were so wound up that night – I just thought, “Man, this was a complete failure” at the end, and then I just leave totally stressed. 

And then so we tried that over the next couple of weeks.  It was just really hard.  I believe, and I want to encourage families, those are real spiritual battles that are going on at that time.  I was really discouraged about that, but I pressed on, and by the grace of God, just to go, “We’re going to do this.” 

And then Brandon, my middle man, who is a lot like his dad, a lot of energy and it’s got to be channeled in the right direction; you know what I’m saying?

Dennis:  We get the picture.

Jason:  Yeah!  And so he, after I had shared a devotion time and I wish I could remember exactly what it was, but it was a gospel truth that for his age – I believe he was about maybe five years old at the time – he really grasped what I’d been teaching for the past two weeks. 

I’m like, “You got that?  You got that!”  It was amazing, so I want to encourage families to press through those challenges because there will be spiritual battles.

You have to make it fun.  All the research that I’ve done, I’ve heard people say that with the age of the child, and of course you’re dealing with different ages like what you have, Tom.  Obviously, you’re going to have different ages that you’re dealing with – like maybe five minutes.  Start with five to ten minutes, but the age of the oldest child, let that be your maximum time.

Do you know what I mean? 

Tom:  That’s good.  That’s good.

Jason:  Or maybe it’s the youngest child, but really to start with five or ten minutes.  If you can do less time more consistently, I think you’re going to see greater fruit from that.

Tom:  Yes, yes.

Jason:  I just encourage parents; don’t beat you up when it doesn’t go great.  Just get back up, pray that the Lord will give you the strength just to keep going.

Bob:  And if you’re having a hard time and things aren’t going well, just pop out a Seeds Family Worship CD, pop it in, and

Dennis:  Yep.

Jason:  Turn it up!  Dance around the house.  C’mon, now.  Whoo!!

(Laughter)

Jason:  That’s right.  They’ll be getting the words and they won’t even know it, right?

Bob:  That’s right.

Jason:  Bob, that’s a good strategy.  I like that.

Dennis:  That is a good strategy, and I appreciate you guys, both of you, using your talents for helping families honor God’s Word, and helping kids hide it in their hearts.  Who knows how God is going to use your songs in the lives of kids? 

When they become an adult, thirty, forty, fifty years later, they’re facing a circumstance, and the words from a Psalm or a passage in Isaiah or perhaps the words of Christ, something you guys have put music to, will be used by him to turn them away from evil to do good.

Thank you guys.  I sure appreciate you.

Jason:  Thank you guys so much.

Bob:  And if folks are interested in hearing some of the Seeds songs or some of the Fighter Verse songs, they can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and sample a few of the songs from both of the projects.  If they are interested in ordering CDs, we have a number of the Seeds Family Worship CDs and a couple of the Fighter Verse CDs in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.

So go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and listen to what’s there, and then order CDs.  These would be great to have in the car as you go on vacation this summer.  You can listen to these together as a family and as you drive you can memorize Scripture.  That’s a good thing to do.

Again, FamilyLifeToday.com is our website, or you can call us at 1-800-FLTODAY,      1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800 “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “Today.”

We also want to encourage you to look into the National Bible Bee that’s going to be taking place next fall.  This is an opportunity for young people, elementary age, middle school, high school age, to compete in Bible Bee competition where you memorize verses of Scripture, passages of Scripture, and where you compete around Bible understanding and Bible knowledge questions. 

The preliminary competition will take place in September, and then the nationals are in November.  There is still time for you to sign up, so your children can compete.  You can find out where the regional competition is being hosted near you, or you can sign up to host a site if you’d like to.  Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and click on the link for the National Bible Bee. 

If you’re not familiar with the Bible Bee, you will probably want to know that the winners in the three divisions get cash prizes.  The elementary winner gets a $25,000 prize; the middle school winner gets a $50,000 first prize, and the high school winner gets $100,000 first prize.  So it’s not only great competition and a lot of fun for families to go through, but there is some incentive attached to this as well.

Again, find out more when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link for the National Bible Bee.

Now, I also want to keep you up-to-date with what’s going on with the matching gift challenge that has been presented to us here at FamilyLife.  We had some friends of the ministry who came to us and said, “We know that for ministries like yours, summertime can be a slow time when it comes to donations.  A lot of people get busy and for whatever reason, they just don’t donate to ministries over the summer as they might in other times of the year.  And we wanted to help you guys make it through the summer in a good place financially,” so they offered us a matching gift of $750,000 during the month of May. 

This is the largest matching gift we’ve ever received as a ministry outside of the month of December.  Obviously, we were very appreciative of their generosity, and we sat down and said, “We have to get the word out and make sure our listeners know about this, the friends of FamilyLife are aware of this, because we want to take full advantage of this matching gift opportunity.”

So again, if you make a donation this month, if it’s $50, we’ll get $50 from the matching gift fund.  If it’s $100, we’ll get $100 from the matching gift fund.  Every dollar is doubled, thanks to this matching gift.  We’re asking you to consider helping us out by making a donation this month, whatever you’re able to do.  If it’s $10 or $20, that’s fine. 

Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and donate online, or call 1-800-FLTODAY and make a donation over the phone.  If everybody can do what they are able to do, we think that we can get to the place where we can take full advantage of this matching gift.  So will you make a donation today?  FamilyLifeToday.com is the website, or call 1-800-FLTODAY.  And let me just say thanks in advance for your financial support of the ministry.

Now tomorrow we want to encourage you to be back with us.  Jason Houser is going to be here again.  We’re going to talk about a turning point that he came to in his marriage, and it could have gone either way.  We’ll hear about the decisions that were made.  I hope you can join us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today

Music: 

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Help for today.  Hope for tomorrow.

©Title:  Deuteronomy Six

Artist:  Preson Phillips

Album:  Weep... He Loves the Mourners Tears (p) 2010 Come&Live! Records

©Title:  Keep Your Tongue from Evil - Psalm 34:13

Artist:   Steve Green

Album:   Hide 'Em In Your Heart, Vol. 1 (p) 2003 Sparrow Kids

©Title: Young

Artist:  Seeds Family Worship

Album:  Seeds of Courage (p) 2006 Cedar Extreme

©Title:  Psalm 56:3-4 When I Am Afraid

Artist:  Fighter Verse Songs Project

Album:  Fighter Verse Songs, Set 1 (p) 2011 Children Desiring God

©Title:  Matthew 5:3-12 The Beatitudes

Artist:  Fighter Verse Songs Project

Album:  Fighter Verse Songs, Set 1 (p) 2011 Children Desiring God

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Copyright © 2011FamilyLife.  All rights reserved.

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Fun, engaging conversations about what it takes to build stronger, healthier marriage and family relationships. Join hosts Dave and Ann Wilson with FamilyLife Today® veteran cohost Bob Lepine for new episodes every weekday.

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