Jul 31, 2009

family matters

It's Friday as I write this, and I'm still in awe of some things that happened over the past seven days. Beyond sharing in a 15 year anniversary with my beautiful bride and renewing our vows to each other, I got to see what can happen in a family tree when one person commits to Jesus Christ... someone like you or I.

This past Sunday in our church service we dove into the tension that King David deals with under the former King Saul (also his father-in-law), and then David's own issues that eventually integrate into his kids. Without stirring the pot much further, I'd simply suggest you listen to the message and how our family baggage usually gets passed around. (Listen HERE)

ou know how this goes, right? There is a pattern in your family that begins to affect everyone around. Whether or not others are directly involved, they are dragged in or served a negative example (which especially impacts kids) that only propagates the cycle. And things only seem to get worse - people don't even know why they're mad at each other... just that they're mad.

In David's family, as in ours, someone was needed to enter the cycle and prevent it from continuing. And the Good News is that later on Someone in David's line did stop that cycle. That "Someone" eventually did enter the family line and lived a life that allowed the cycle to turn around.

In fact He stopped it so sharply that He made it possible for us to do the same.

We can't be Jesus, but we can bear His name in our families. We can be the people who make the cycle become something redemptive and proactive. We can be the people who reset the standard forward instead of backward. We can be the people who make the right difference.

That means you - no matter what you've done to contribute toward the backwardness - can right now begin to allow God to work in you and through you to contribute to the "forwardness."

When we do things like this it shows the world that there IS another way - there is power beyond what we think there is.

And that is power that God has invited us to handle and to share...

to integrate and to educate...

to inspire as we perspire.

As my buddy Brian said, the world has no reason to believe in Jesus unless we're willing to live out His presence. So in a sense, we prove Him to others by our lives even before they've asked a single question... if anything, we give them reason to ask about how/why things are "different."

Remember - even that person in your family whom you are struggling with is not your enemy.
"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places"(Ephesians 6:13)
A few quick thoughts on integrating this:
  • Play by God's rules - not by the person who seems antagonostic. They will bait you in whether they want to or not... decide you won't play the games you're being given pieces for.

  • Keep short lists - decide right away to either deal with the issue or let it go forever.

  • When you deal with issues, make it about the issue and not the person. Always communicate that it is your goal to have a relationship with the person on some level. If the person is an abuser, that relationship will be limited... if that person can become healthy, that relationship can be generous.

  • Be consistent - approach every person with the same criteria, and not just those who are easy to get along with.

  • Find ways to honor roles versus tear at them. Even when your parents have acted less than ideal, honor them as your parents... create ways where they can genuinely add to the family, be it through a special recipe or as the person who prays during family gatherings. Maybe it's something that seems small, but chances are it will be big.

  • Protect everyone - be sure that every family member is guaranteed a certain amount of rights that others have to honor. Fight for them - whether it's certain language patterns that aren't shared in front of kids or gossip that won't be spread out of your own lips. Everyone, for example, should have the right to be listened to - as long as it is done in a respectful tone. This helps foster a spirit of trust and mutual respect in the home.
And of course, remember that it all has to be bathed in prayer.
"Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127:1a)
What patterns has your family struggled with, and how do they affect you?

If Christ has helped you overcome a particular struggle rooted in your family's history, how did He deliver you, and how has your life changed since then?

And are you seeing what God is doing in you having an affect yet on others in your family?

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