Posts Tagged ‘ Family ’

Families That Flourish

MC910217021[1] Our homes can be havens of blessing and places of peace. Instead, many families struggle to stay together, as relationships grow distant, and the ties that bind are strained.

MP900422733[1]I am certainly not a pessimist, but I am a realist. I recognize many families are in trouble. The divorce rate in our country for first marriages is trending to 50%, 60% for second marriages and over 70% for third marriages. That tells me the problems that plague our most intimate relationships are not fixed by changing partners. If we want to save our marriages, and build homes that are healthy and nurturing, we have to change ourselves!

Jesus’ command to love one another as we love ourselves is key to having the kinds of relationships and family ties God created us to have. But what does it mean to love another as ourselves? I want to make a few suggestions of how we might start applying Jesus’ words to our homes and family relationships.

First, we must move from a me-focused to a we-focused life. As much as I care about what I want, how I feel and what is going on in my life, I should be equally concerned about my family’s wants and needs, feelings and challenges, dreams and goals.MP900289346[1]

Second, we must put our faith into practice in our homes. In James 2:26 we are told that faith without works is dead. What good does it do for me to claim that I am a follower of Jesus Christ, if I refuse to put Jesus’ teachings into practice in my most important relationships?

A home that is built on a dead faith is going to be in big trouble when the wind starts blowing and the waves begin rolling. Relationships that lean on the joy of the Lord for strength, that cultivate the peace of Christ, and practice sacrificial love are more likely to stand strong in good times and in bad.

Third, we must put Jesus Christ in charge. He must be the Lord in our relationships and the Master in our households. His truth must be the law we live by. His Spirit must be the guide we follow. His will must define the direction our lives take.

Happy family of five together at homeOf course you probably knew all this. But I hope this is a gentle reminder of how important it is to guard and nurture the precious relationships and families ties we have. Relationship require work. As we do the kind of work Christ calls us to do, our homes will become havens of blessing and places of peace, and our family relationships will flourish!

A Family Affair

“Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:35 NRSV

MP900427723[1] For many of us, the most precious ties we have are family ties. On special holidays we get together and celebrate. In times of crisis we turn to our families for help and support. We spend much of our lives nurturing and enjoying family ties.

What is it that makes family so important? Is it being related by birth and blood? Is it having the same name? Or is it the love that’s shared?

These same questions may have been running through the minds of the crowd gathered around Jesus, when he returned to his hometown. His mother, brothers and sisters were trying to push through the crowd to reach him. Perhaps they expected to be recognized and brought up close to Jesus. Had Jesus responded that way, it would have made a beautiful family portrait.

MP900316741[1] But that wasn’t the picture Jesus wanted to paint. Jesus had a new definition of family. His definition shattered the precious belief that each person’s bloodline was what mattered most. Having Jesus in your family didn’t get you the best seat in the house.

No this was the dawn of a new age, the start of a new covenant between God and humankind. As far as Jesus was concerned, family trees no longer identified andMP900440916[1] defined the boundaries of family relationships. Those relationships were now a matter of the heart. How a person thought, felt and acted toward God were to be the defining criteria for that person’s familial relationship to Jesus.

Family relationships are a matter of the heart.

So, in his hometown reunion, Jesus enlarged his family circle! Now all of us have equal access to the Savior of the world. All of us are in Jesus’ inner circle. All of us have the right to come up as close as we want to Jesus. We don’t have to take a back seat to anyone. We are family!

There is simply no better place to be than close to Jesus Christ. There is no family bond more important that the bond of love in the family of God. This family is where we belong.

So come home! Draw near to Jesus today. Trust God as loving heavenly Father. Lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ. Live out your days in the family of God.

Jesus is closest to those who seek to be closest to God!

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for opening up membership in God’s family, and for giving me the chance to become one with you and with believers everywhere. Draw me close to you, and help me to live like one of the family!

Amen.

You are Family 2

Family Darts

MP900178824[1]Words spoken by those we love most can be the most pleasant, or the  most painful of all words!

When David was a shepherd boy, he visited his brothers on the field of battle. Instead of welcoming him and enjoying the bonds of family, David was greeted with an angry rebuke.

His eldest brother Eliab heard him talking to the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David. He said, “Why have you come down? With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart; for you have come down just to see the battle.” 1 Samuel 17:28 NRSV

00037090OUCH!! Instead of celebrating his brother’s arrival, Eliab threw a fit. As part of his tantrum, he tossed a few painful darts David’s way.

Have you ever been blindsided by family or friends? It can be pretty painful! 

I’m not sure Eliab was intentionally trying to hurt David. His anger might have come from his own frustration and sense of impotence.  After all, he and the rest of Israel’s army were paralyzed in the shadow of the great warrior Goliath.

When defeat seems certain and the future looks grim, many people lash out at innocent friends and family. I wonder if many of the darts we throw at each other don’t also come out of frustration, stress and feelings of helplessness?

As I read about the rest of David’s visit to the battlefield, I was surprised00353635 to see that those nasty comments didn’t distract or deter him one little  bit. Thankfully, David wasn’t hurt or discouraged by his brother’s anger. He was only interested in what God could do in this military standoff. So he stepped up to the plate, and defeated the giant!

That tells me that when darts start flying my way, it is time to put the truth of God’s Word, and the promises God made, front and center in my heart and mind. Those truths will guard my heart and mind, and guide my steps. They will keep me from obsessing over thoughtless comments, from surrendering to my circumstances, and from falling into a pit of despair.

MP900424396[1] Victorious Christians stay focused on the truth. They refuse to be swayed by the opinions of others. Instead, they choose to be persuaded by God and God’s promises!

Stay focused on truth,

and leave the darts behind!