Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Restoration Of Marriage & Right Relationships Pt. 1 ~ Family First


Gen. 1:28~ And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

In my new book "Ministering Effectively" (soon at a book store or available online near you) I was led of the Lord to dedicate an entire chapter to the believer's relationship to family and family values. I believe that faithful observance of duties pertaining to the family is the foundation of a powerful and successful life and effective service to the Lord. Many individuals speak about family, but many less make family and duties to family a priority, know how to serve family, or define the needs of family.


Within the context of church and church service and just plain old living, there is always a reason to leave family or to relegate family to a second class status in the pecking order of daily activities. Secular work takes individuals away from their families in the name of producing an income to survive. Certainly we are commanded by God to work to sustain our household, and this is a valid and unavoidable result in many cases, however even in that, I believe that we must approach service to our families and community in a balanced manner. Not only naturally or monetarily, but also physically and emotionally. In other words, life can't be all work and or ministry and no or very little family physical and emotional connection. The proportion of the ingredients placed within the family setting and environment determine the outcome regardless of the material or monetary ability.

To expand upon this, on Facebook I placed my 5 top suggestions and encouragements on what it takes to make and keep a strong family for those engaged in public ministry. Although I am certainly no expert by any definition of the word on family relationships, there are some things that I have learned over the last 31 years of marriage and experienced as I have sought to strengthen families entrusted to my pastoral guidance that I believe may benefit those in similar situations. 

I hope that this mini-series helps in whatever family setting and situation that you are in and hopefully the contents of these posts can be the basis or foundation for ongoing conversation and discovery of the boundaries of your marriage. Finally, I hope that you will be built up in your faith as you discover the strength found within the bond and unity of a strong, godly and Christ centered marriage and family unit

Here we go:  

1- REMEMBER THAT FAMILY IS MINISTRY. ALWAYS KEEP FAMILY FIRST.
Needless to say, marriage and the family is under attack. With the expansion of the definition of marriage to include homosexual relationships, it is certain that the institution of marriage itself will continue to face redefinition from the secular or worldly point of view. Although marriage is not the only institution by which family is defined in modern times, marriage is yet at the pinnacle of the definition of family, and issues and values that flow from the family effect all of society.   

As Christians we should be aware that marriage and family are the first institutions of God. As such, it is revealing that no matter if one is a pastor, or a doorkeeper within the context of the church, family IS ministry. That's right, nobody in the church, and no situation that you encounter rises above the needs of family because family IS ministry. It is not, serve family then do ministry; it IS serve family and all other things is an extension of that. hypothetically speaking, neither "Sister LuLu" nor "Brother Joe" comes before Wife or Husband, and neither "Sister LuLu's" or "Brother Joe's" children, no matter how fatherless they may be (if that is the case), come before your own children.

Isn't It Ungodly To Place My Family FIRST? 

Too often, people in the church attempt to make care for their children a litmus test for the level of love of the leader or other individuals in the church. This is manipulation and I will explain why. First, individuals within the context of the church have no right to ask either your spouse or your children to suffer in effort for you to prove your "love" for them or other members. This sort of demand is indecent, out of order and is contrary to the biblical command for one to "provide" (Gk: pronoeo ~ to apply forethought in looking out for a person's best interest) for their household.(1 Tim. 5:8)  No matter how large or small the church, the lion-share of your time, effort and attention should be on, for, and given to your family. 

One popular minister boasted that his itinerary took him from multiple churches throughout the week and multiple states throughout the course of a month. At the height of his ministry, he was so enamored with "proving his love" for the people that he would minister in 3 states every Sunday and multiple services transported by a private jet. This particular minister went on to lose his family and his ministry due to infidelity and unfaithfulness within his marriage to the point of fathering a child by a youth associated with the church. 

Was My Marital Failure God's Fault?

What can we say? Some blame God for making the call and solidifying it with apparent success of material wealth. In his book "The Remnant, Restoring The Call To Personal Integrity" [Charisma House 2008] author, Larry Stockstill, poses that nearly 20% of the nations over 388,000 churches have leaders who are living a "double life" (Preface pg. 13). That comes out to over 75,000 spiritual leaders who are in trouble as we speak. I would venture to say that most of them consider that God is somehow at fault because their circumstances are at times overwhelming and they can't disappoint those under their leadership or ministry by failing to be there for them. At some point many of these same individuals believe that it is allowable for them to stop and "pick the roses" and serve themselves even in light of the fact that God has commanded them to and protect tend to the garden.    

God is not to blame when there is a character flaw of deficiency. Many times issues arise when we fail or refuse to honor, cherish, and value what God honors. The fact is that if a person truly wants a successful marriage and healthy and blessed family, some trips cannot be taken. Some visits to certain member's, friends or associates homes cannot be made and some events MUST be missed if family is to be served and honored as God has required. 

I don't know how many married people I have counseled over the years that feel that their spouse is the reason for the "hindrance" of their ministry, work, or service. I have spoken to some pastors who felt like their wife was the cause or reason that their ministry could not expand of grow. Some feel that if their children were only "better" or "better acting" that their personal plight would be much better and that they would have more success in ministry. These are highly selfish and in many cases blatantly inaccurate attitudes and sympathies. In fact, if a spouse is deficient, it is up to the other spouse to help relieve the deficiency. Kids are to be trained and reared by their parents, so if they are ungodly, let's examine how much time that the parents have placed in to their success. 

A Right Perspective:  

God records the following about the help given that was meet for Adam:

Gen. 2:18 ~ And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
After creating his wife Adam was not only happy about her and her design, but he was ready to leave all and establish a life with her:
Gen 2: 23-25 ~ 23-And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24- Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25-And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Further, God said this about our children:
Ps. 127:3 ~ Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.
The help that was "meet" for Adam according to God was not a church, a group of people, a stage or even a paycheck. The help that was "meet" or "fit" for Adam was his wife. Similarly, Psalms 127, though only 5 verses, is full of praise towards the family, children in particularly, and the blessings they bring to one's future, one's home and one's community.

Conclusion:

Looking back to the beginning and to God's intent provides us a glimpse into God's heart and character. Examining what he intended for the family is a priority if we want to get the greatest and best success from our marriages and families in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

In the book of Joshua, God charged the people:
Joshua 1:8 ~ This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
"Good success" is not the acquisition of land, houses, property or simply material possessions. Good success is being able to maintain integrity, character and godly priorities along the way. The "good success" of God was to be able to freely worship and serve God by honoring and obeying his commands so that our joy would be full.  

Make first things first in life and ministry and God will honor that. Anything to the contrary is not honorable and will not be honored nor favored by God!

Blessed!

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Part 2 is coming up just prior to New Years Day. 

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