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- Address: 1325 E. Cloud, Salina, KS 67401
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As I have considered how best to encourage the families in our church and community, I have found a myriad of opinions out there about how the church can most effectively come alongside parents in their journey to raise up the next generation in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). And, of course, there are new phrases being coined daily, like “family-integrated”, “family faith walk”, “family-equipping” and a multitude of new books being written on the latest, greatest formula for family spiritual health. And though there is value in many of these pools of thought, it occurs to me that God’s heart for healthy families hasn’t ever and won’t ever change—and it just isn’t that complicated. You really can’t reduce families to a formula for success. We are too uniquely created and purposed beyond our narrow scope of understanding. God has set us, with our quirky selves, within this unique framework of other quirky personalities and, frankly, what works for one family may simply not work for another. And that is as it should be, but here is what does work. Find your own voice and expression and reinforce these important Godly principles within your family. Walk them, talk them, believe them, live them, even eat them, if you must! And then pray without ceasing. Forever!
Identity Sure, your identity is firmly entrenched with your earthly family. And that is a good/bad thing, for sure, but God calls us His family and our identity within that spiritual family is what should inform our complete understanding of ourselves. Our Creator God says that we are a new person (2 Cor. 5:17), a masterpiece (Eph 2:10), a friend of Jesus (Jn 15:14), not afraid (2 Tim 1:7), wonderfully made (Ps 139:13) among other things.
I challenge you to always point back to the Creator God in discussing identity with your family. Remember that we are not, ultimately, reflections of our parents, but of our Creator God—created in His image and being transformed by the Spirit.
Believe who God says we are and then act like it!
Truth and Grace John 1:14 says that Jesus came “full of grace and truth.” As followers of Christ, we are to walk in the truth (3 John 3), love the truth and believe the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10,12). But Ephesians 4:32 also reminds us to speak the truth in love, which can be difficult. Is the truth serving to build up or tear down?
Randy Alcorn , in his book The Grace and Truth Paradox, says it like this: "If we minimize grace, the world sees no hope for salvation. If we minimize truth, the world sees no need for salvation. Truth hates sin. Grace loves sinners. Those full of grace and truth—those full of Jesus—do both."
I challenge you to balance truth with grace in your interactions with your family.
Purpose "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:10) Whether or not we acknowledge it, the truth is that we were created for good works!
I challenge you to regularly look your family members in the eyes and remind them they are created perfectly, down to hair texture, size, and even the skin they are in. They were born into the exact family that God intended them to be, to the parents that God chose. God even knew which stepparent or step-sibling or half-sibling they would be in community with later. God doesn't make mistakes and He will walk with us through the difficult times.
Hope "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 A Christian’s definition of hope is “confident expectation”, not wishful thinking. Are we imparting this sense of confidence in our families?
I challenge you to inspire hope in your family by speaking out loud thoughts of peace, goodness, future and hope over them. Bless them!
Love God, Love People Jesus lays this concept out quite nicely in Matthew 22. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”
It doesn’t get much simpler. This is the filter through which we make every decision. Is your child agonizing over what to be when they grow up? Is your spouse struggling in their job? Are you at a crossroads yourself?
I challenge you to remind your family that as long as they seek to first love God and then love people, God will honor their decisions and direct their paths.
This is, by no means, an exhaustive list, but I challenge you to use it as a starting point towards developing a healthier understanding of family through the lens of our Creator God.
Praying God’s Wisdom and Understanding over your family in 2015!