Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Being In the family (Jeremiah 17, Mark 3)

July 21, 2014

“Behold they say to me, ‘Where is the word of the Lord?’ Let it come,” Jeremiah 17:15

Sometimes being in a family can be a messy deal.  For example,” The struggle of raising a family can be a difficult time, especially when your children reach the age of making their own decisions.”

Consider the struggle Jeremiah is locked in.  Here we find the man of God being challenged to stand in the gate of the city (Vs: 19) and proclaim God’s message.  Back in chapter 7 he was challenged to stand at another gate (The gate of the temple) and proclaim the word of the Lord.

Here was the Word of God:  God’s judgment is coming as the spoil for the people’s sin (Vs: 3).  The Lord has tested the heart of these people (Vs: 9).  The heart of man is deceitful above all things.  God is going to give every man the reward for what he has done, (Vs: 10).

Jeremiah is being accused of being a false prophet (Vs: 14-18).  But the opposite is the case, he is speaking the Word of the Lord, (Vs: 15).

Question: “Do you ever feel like you are like Jeremiah speaking to your family?”  The more you try to point them to God, the more they seem to blame you for standing in the gate?  Consider what Jeremiah is told to proclaim:

I.  Judah, you are to honor the Lord on His day, Vs: 21-26

If they honored the Lord on His day, then they would be honoring Him above all things.  God would honor them by giving them the Kingdom of God.

II.  Judah, would not honor the Lord on any day, Vs: 27

Think it through:

There are days when we think our family is really at odds with us.  But deeper still is the fact that they are at odds with God.  We must be consistent in standing at the gate sharing the Love of Christ with our families.  In Mark’s gospel we find the other side of the coin,  “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother,” Mk. 3:35

Our response:

This day I chose to rejoice that I am in God’s family.  This day I believe that my family is worth the effort to work through all the things that cause us sorrow because we know that joy comes in the morning.

Take time today to pray for those in your family that need a great movement of God!!!

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Seeing Your Spouse through fresh eyes (Song of Solomon 7, Hebrews 6)

May 1, 2014

“I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me,” Song of Solomon 7:10

In 29 short days from now, Sherry and I will celebrate 22 years of marriage.  I can still remember my amazement when I stood at the altar and watched as this beautiful woman walked down the aisle.  The last 22 years have gone by extremely fast and it has been a glorious journey.

Today’s reading in the book of Song of Solomon reminded me of the importance of daily seeing Sherry through fresh eyes.  This book called the Song of Solomon presents for us love in God’s terms.  We feel like we are almost intruding on a man and his bride.  The greater picture is of God’s love for His church and the church’s love for their God.

In chapter 7 we see both the bride and groom showing love for each other.  Certainly the way he describes his bride is not the way you and I would speak.  I read the first 7 verses to Sherry this morning and I simply got a stare.

The point is not to read the verses in the vocabulary of the day, but to understand the verses in the intend of God.  God intends for his people to spend time investigating the value of who He is and in the same way to spend time investigating the value of our spouse.

Sadly we often investigate the flaws in our spouses.

Think it through:

How much time do you spend in looking for the good in your spouse?

How much time do you spend in God’s Word cleaning up your heart so that your eyes see clearly?

This morning I was reminded to open my eyes and to see how much my wife loves me and how much she daily does for me.  This caused me to love her with fresh eyes.  Now my responses to her will be of love and joy.

Our response:

Take time every day to spend with God in his Word.  As you do, your eyes will change and your spouses value will grow in your eyes.  Above all as you read, Christ value will grow in your eyes.

Doing Life Together (I Timothy 5, Ecclesiastes 3)

April 16, 2014

“Do not rebuke an older man, but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”  I Timothy 5:1-2

Growing up in a small family had many advantages and many disadvantages.  This was magnified when Sherry and I married.  I was from a small family and she was from a large family.  I can still remember our first Christmas gathering with her family.  I found myself in family overload.  There were children and grandchildren everywhere in the room.  I shamefully retreated to my room and missed the blessing of doing life together with a larger family.

As Paul writes to Timothy we must not forget that he is writing to a pastor of a local church.  We do not know the size of the church, but we do know the church needed instruction in how to do life together.

In I Timothy 5 we see 4 areas of instruction:

1.  Instruction for the church family, Vs: 1-2

2.  Instruction for widows, Vs: 3-16

3.  Instruction for elders, Vs: 17-23

4.  Instruction for discernment for evil and good deeds, Vs: 24-25

These areas would greatly aid the pastor in helping his congregation to do life together.

Think it through:

Question: “Do you like a large family or a small family?”  Many people chose a church based upon their preference regarding this question.  I have come to understand, this is not a correct question when looking to do life within the body of Christ.  The better question would be, “Is the church doing life in the correct way?”

Does the church have elder members who are spiritual fathers and mothers?  Does the church respect their elder status?  Does the church have mature members who respect each other (in purity) as brothers and sisters?

These are the qualities we need to be celebrating and committing ourselves to.  I can honestly say, this is how Sherry’s family has conducted themselves over the years.  I am honored to be a part of a big family.

Our response:

Dear Father, help my church to become a church that does life the way you require.  Help those churches that fail here to see models and to seek to be a model of a church that does life together. 

Hope For Dysfunctional Families (II Samuel 14, II Corinthians 7)

September 18, 2013

“But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.”  II Samuel 14:14

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death,” II Corinthians 7:10.

The family found itself in cardiac arrest.  Despite all the financial resources any one could imagine and despite all the wisdom of God-given to them, this family could not get it together.  The dysfunction is now in its third year and it will not get better in the next two years.  This sounds much like a modern-day sitcom or sadly an accurate account of many families.

However, this is not a modern-day sitcom.  This is the story of the family life of King David.  In this chapter we see David as a father who choses to do nothing about the rebellion of his wayward son Absalom.  In his spirit (13:38) David wanted the dysfunction to end, but he could not bring himself to make things right.  Notice what happens:

1.  We see the intervention of a friend

The captain of David’s army (Joab) seeks to help his friend. This leads to Absalom being allowed to come back to his country, but he is still not allowed to come to his father.

2.  We see the intervention of the son

Now the son takes matters into his own hand.  Now David receives his son.  However the chapter ends with no reconciliation.

Think it through:

1.  How can anyone be reconciled to someone who has hurt them or has hurt others?

2.  What dangers lie ahead for those who have hatred in their hearts.

God’s answers:

1.  Only God can lead us to a place of reconciliation.  Here we see this in 14: 14, “God has a place.”  This is a picture of our need of bringing everything to Jesus, Matthew 11:28-29.  This is a picture of how Jesus alone is our refuge and strength to walk through such moments, Joel 3:16.  As we sit at His feet, we discover His mercy toward us and we discover the strength to give mercy to others.

2.  Destruction lies ahead of every person who remains in dysfunction.  David’s own son would try to take the kingdom from him (II Samuel 15).  Only Christ can change all of this.  This happens in the church as well.  The needed answer must be Jesus (II Corinthians 7:10).

What Should We Be Asking For?

July 12, 2012

“This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short…” I Cor. 7:29

This morning I spent some time as I often do praying for my children.  There were the familiar things that I prayed for including, “wisdom, grace, and mercy in their lives.”  However there was one glaring difference.  There was a prayer that I struggled with.”  More about this in a moment.

Question, “When it comes to your children, do you sometimes find it difficult to know how to pray and what to ask for?”  Could it be that we might possibly be praying selfishly or we might be praying in the wrong way?

Enough application, let’s go to the meat of the Word.  This mornings, More For Christ readings are I Corinthians 7:25-40.  In this passage Paul is continuing to deal with moral problems in the church.  Here Paul is writing to those who are unmarried and to those who seek to be married.  Paul has a word for both.

1)  Those who marry must be careful with the following:

a.  Pay close attention to not allowing the world to take their focus.

b.  May sure that your marriage is about Christ and not about selfish needs

c.  Unity in Christ

2)  Those who remain unmarried:

     a.  Must focus all of their love to Christ

b.  Must have an urgency in Christ

Both groups are ok in God’s great plan for their lives.  Both groups must give united focus to God’s work.  However, one group has and advantage over the other.  The one who remains single can focus themselves entirely on the Lord’s work.

Now, here is where my problem with praying comes in.  I found myself asking the Lord to give my children the right spouse.  Paul would say, ‘this is an ok prayer.”  However, the better prayer would be, ‘God, may you be the love of my child’s life.’  In this moment I realize that my life is filled with selfishness.  I want my children to have a life partner in the covenant of marriage that will nurture and care for them.  But this is what they have in Christ.  No love is as great as his love.  In this moment I prayed, “I want your best for my children because they are only on loan to me.”

This is much to ponder and consider.  May God give each of us wisdom and grace.

 

You Got Mail

July 11, 2012

I wish that all were as I am myself.  But each one has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another,” I Corinthians 7:7

One of my wife’s favorite chick flicks is the movie, “You Got Mail.”  The movie chronicles the lives of two bookstore owners living in New York City.  They begin an email friendship which becomes their connection to each other that leads to romance and eventually getting together.  Being a guy, I endure because I am madly in love with Sherry.

This morning, I felt as if God were saying to me, “You Got Mail,” as I read I Corinthians 7:1-24.  In this case it was God speaking to me about both Sherry and I relationship in the covenant of marriage.  Here is an outline of the first 16 verses:

1.  Paul addresses the issue of intimacy in marriage, Vs: 1-5

The church at Corinth had many problems and one was with the issue of immorality.  The city of Corinth was known for its prostitution and all other kinds of perversion.  Those who had heard the gospel were facing a culture that they used to thrive in, but now they were facing the pressure of friends and neighbors who did not share the same moral values.  So Paul addresses this issue.  Paul teaches us that we should never be involved in sexual immorality.  Jesus had gone as far as to say to not even look or think about immorality in Matthew 6.

On the opposite side Paul teaches us about the proper intimacy we are to have with our spouse (Vs: 3-4).  Paul makes one allowance for a time of interruption in intimacy and that is when both are dedicating themselves to a time of intimate prayer.

2.  Paul addresses the issue of the institution of marriage, Vs: 6-16

There were those who took their commitment to Christ to the opposite extreme.  They were saying, “Do not get married or if you are married to a person who is not a follower of Christ, you should divorce them.”  Paul say’s just the opposite.  There are those who God calls for marriage and others he does not.  Never does the scripture teach a person to leave their marriage because they have become a follower of Christ.  They are to remain if possible to be a witness so that the spouse will come to the Lord.  In these moments the person is the spiritual headship for the family.

Maybe you ask:  “How does this apply to my present circumstance?”  I cannot speak for you, I can only speak for my circumstance.

I am so blessed with a Godly wife who I have the joy of enjoying God-honoring intimacy with.  After 2o years of marriage she is still the apple of my eye.  Daily I must keep my heat and mind pure so that this life will continue.

I am so blessed with a Godly wife who is a partner in the institution of marriage. For 20 years she had carried so much in our family so that I could do ministry.  I am so thankful that our children are at the age where she and I can do more and more together.  And the greatest blessing is to now see our children moving into their own ministry.

There Was A Man

June 12, 2012

“And He said, ‘There was a man who had two sons.'” Luke 15:11

Someone once said to me, “No two children are alike.”  After almost 19 years of parenting I can amen this fact.  Our children all have uniqueness’ in their lives, but they all have something in common, Jesus Christ.

This mornings, More For Christ reading, Lk 15:11-32, covers a section of scripture that is well documented.  This scripture allows us a front row seat into the life (parable) of a man who had two sons.  Both of them were unique and both had something in common.

1.  The younger son, Vs: 15-24

This was a very rebellious son.  Some might question when this came about in his life.  I can hear comments like, “He started to hang around with the wrong crowd and he became rebellious or he used to be a great kid but something happened.”  The fact is, he was born with a rebellious nature and in the course of time it took over.  So is the path of everyone without God and also those who chose to walk away from God.

This was also a reckless son.  He wasted all of his wealth on things that would not satisfy (At the end of the day he made his own choices).  Because of this rebellious and reckless life he ended up in ruin.  I cannot imagine how his father must have felt, but I do know that God would use this to help this young man to have a revelation from heaven.

In his ruin God awakened his heart to his state and he said, “I will arise and go to my father.”  In this moment I see a great need for young men to have a revelation from God.  May it happen, even this day!!!

As this young man comes to his father, he repents and he is restored by a merciful, loving, and forgiving heavenly father.  The last scene is worth going through all the other scenes.


2.  The older Son, Vs: 25-32

Here is the son who stayed at home.  He was not opening rebellious, but it became apparent that he was inwardly rebellious.  He was reckless on the inside because all he could think about is how he could not do what his younger brother did.  He inwardly wanted to do it and he inwardly wanted to get even with his older brother.  The hardness of his heart caused him to have no revelation and no restoration with his Father.

Question, “Where do you see yourself and your family in all of this?”  You could be in either place or have family in either or both places.  So what made the difference in these boys?  “THERE WAS A MAN.”

God the Father was the one who made the difference.  This was his son who told this parable.  He was on his way to the cross so that sons could be changed from a rebellious state to a righteous state.  So my encouragement to you is to simply hold on to Jesus and cry out to Jesus He will make the difference in our family.

What Happened To Your Family?

June 6, 2012

“Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  Luke 12:13

The moment could not have been, on this side of eternity, any sadder than when the man said, ‘My wife and I are no longer together.’  These words always send shock waves up and down the spine of any God-called pastor.  In my 20 years of ministry, it never gets easy and it never stops.

This mornings More For Christ readings, Lk 12:13-40, begin with a challenging question for Jesus.  Apparently there was trouble in the family.  I don’t know if the parents had died or if in the case of the prodigal Son, Luke 15, if the son’s were receiving their inheritance before their death.  One thing was for sure, “There was unhealthy conflict.”

Jesus responds with an illustration, Vs: 15-20 that illustrates the foolishness of humanity in striving and fighting to get what they want out of life.  In the end Jesus says, “Fool this night your soul will be required of you, and then whose things shall these be after you.” 

In Jesus teaching we see a much better way of living life than with struggling for the trinkets of life.  Jesus teaches his disciples, “To strive for true wealth in this life.”  You ask what is true wealth, “Seek the kingdom of God.”  One who seeks God’s kingdom will find his or her reward waiting for them in heaven.

This past week my wife and I celebrated 20 years as a married couple.  I can honestly say, the first few years were great and then came the hard moment.  In this moment we both had to either chose to chase our wishes or chase God’s wishes.  14 years later, we are so thankful that God taught us to seek the kingdom of God.

Now we have one daughter who has finished her sophomore year in college and one son headed to his senior year as well as a 10-year-old headed to youth group for the first time.  Now more than ever we need to seek first God’s kingdom because soon our family will be multiplied in the world.

Our belief that seeking God’s kingdom will pay off.  We know that God will do great things so that the word will ask, “What happened to your family.”  When they do we want to say, “Jesus happened to our family!!!”  Oh how I pray this for your family as well.

Sunday Night Church

March 15, 2012

“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.”  Acts 20:7

What ever happened to Sunday Night Church?  This is a question that many older adults ask in this age of less commitment!  When I was a kid, Sunday night was about going to church to be with our church family.  Sunday night was different.  Our country church would begin typically will singing and then the offering.  But then things would come to life.  Our pastor would often have testimony time.  This was when members of the family could share what God was doing in their lives.  I still miss those saints of God sharing their testimonies.  After this time, our pastor would teach from God’s word.  This was also a wonderful time of Spirit-filled inspiration as God blessed the teaching of his Word.

In Acts 20, God’s Spirit was moving as Paul led a Sunday night service.  The service was running long when a young man fell asleep sitting at a window.  The service was on the third floor.  This young man fell out the window and was found dead lying on the ground.  What happens next is nothing short of a miracle as Paul comes down and takes the young man in his arms and says, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is within him.”  

Paul picks him up and they go back up stairs and continue the service until daybreak.  All I can say is, “Wow, some Sunday Night service.”

Now please do not think that this blog is an advertisement for Sunday Night Church.  Even though I greatly believe in its value and we at Kings still have a Sunday night service.   What I am saying is this, “Followers of Christ desperately need to once again see the value in attending church.”  It seems that people’s commitment to worship is getting less and less.

There was a day when church had top priority in our weekly schedules.  But today, most people plan church around their busy schedules.  Unless we as the church meet to study and grow in God’s word we will be carried away by the cares of this life.

Question, “Do you struggle with being all in with church?”  If so, here are a few things you are missing:  “Fellowship with people who love you, Prayer partners who will lift you up, Warriors who will stand beside of you in good times and bad, Growth in the Word of God, and a unity of fellowship with God’s people.”  These are just a few things you are missing out on.

Please consider what you are missing and please consider what you others are missing because you are not engaged.  Church has great value.  Check it out and see for yourself.

The Best Community To Live In

June 27, 2011

This morning I worked my way through chapters 54-60 in the book of Isaiah.  There was much to comprehend as Isaiah spoke of both condemnation and redemption.  The people of Israel were under God’s wrath because of their rebellion, “Each has turned to their own way, each to their own gain, one and all,” 56:11.  

As I read these words I was reminded of the words of my small group leader, “New York is another place where we would not want to live because of the approval of gay marriage.”  Our nation is much like Israel in the fact we are living in open rebellion against a loving and holy God.  Daily our sins increase and daily our God is grieved with our sin.

As a follower of Christ, I ask myself, “What if I were called to go and live in states that have legalized gay marriage?”  “What if I were called to move my family to a community that practices homosexuality openly?”  There are tough questions, but be assured our God has truthful answers.

As a follower of Christ, I am reminded that I am to be a light to darkness, Matthew 5:16.  I am reminded that no matter where I live I am a member of another community called the family of God. Here is what Isaiah writes about God’s family, “The Lord God, who gathers the outcast of Israel, declares, I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered,” 56:8.

Isaiah reminded Israel that God was going to bring Gentiles into His family.  Both born again Jews and Gentiles would make up the best community to live in.  This morning I stand amazed that God would place me in His community of believers.  I also stand amazed that God would call others to be in His community of faith.

Revelation 21 gives us a wonderful picture of what it means to be in community, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God,” Vs:3.  Some day we will be in heaven where there is an absence of sin.  There will be no corruption of this community.

However we are not there as of yet.  Certainly our God dwells within every believer in the person of the Holy Spirit. Certainly we are in fellowship with the God who empowers us to live holy lives.  But also certainly we have been called to live in communities that are corrupt so that we can give forth the light to a dark world.

So this day I want to challenge each of you to not run away from corrupt communities.  I want to challenge you to take the light of the gospel to these communities because I still believe God is “gathering people from other places.”  I also want to plead with you to share the gospel in the community you live in.  People need the Lord!!!

Get outside of your comfort zone and engage the lostness around you.  This is the only way your community will grow.  Who knows who the Lord will call to His community today?  He could us you be His mouth peace.