Archives For Family life

Community to Destiny

Ben —  February 22, 2017 — Leave a comment

At times we may find ourselves living individually, relying on our own efforts and seeking the coveted self-made status. But God’s word has a different message on our destiny and purpose on this earth. His word reminds us that we can only become all that He has created us to become, in the context of engraving our life in a biblical community of people called the local Church.

We see this powerful message during the establishment of the local Church [Acts 9:17], where Jesus humbles Paul and makes him reliant on the community around him. It is only then that Paul’s destiny begins to come into fruition. There is lasting change and real transformation in Paul’s life, and he emerges a new man whose destiny and potential are released because of the community around him.

From scripture we learn that the Christian walk is a collaboration, where community is the custodian of our destiny. We as followers of Christ are meant to be in fellowship with one another, sharing life together intimately and not on the superficial level.

As you meditate on God’s word this week, I’d like to share some truths regarding the importance of community. May these reminders encourage you to take the next step into intimately sharing your life with your local church.

  • Jesus ministered in community
  • Your potential is found in community
  • Community is the context for destiny
  • Destiny is a shared commodity; you never have full ownership over it, you are a part owner
  • Your potential is a collaboration
  • Fruit grows in family

Understanding Grief

Ben —  February 25, 2013 — Leave a comment

As a Pastor I encounter people going through all kinds of trials and difficulties.  None of us are immune to grief – sometimes life just brings us tough challenges. Yet it’s not something we hear spoken about all that often.  I want to share from my heart, the Lord’s heart, and the care and love we find in the Bible.

Ps 6:7 We all love talking about the ‘mountain-top’ experiences, but as a pastor, I also need to address the ‘valley’ experiences, such as grief. They are hard to deal with, and even though we all go through these times we find it hard to talk about them.  In these times, your vision seems limited, and you feel alone and isolated.

Even raising this kind of subject might seem to be at odds with our message of faith, hope and encouragement; but avoiding the more difficult issues like these can actually breed a very destructive Christian culture where people don’t know how to handle the realities of life. We need help dealing with times of grief and loss.

Grief can arise out of a broad range of experiences: Loss of a loved one, illness or injury, job loss or retirement, infertility, miscarriage, family or relationship breakdown or change such as the onset of ‘empty nest’ phase, loss of freedom or possessions and even the process of ageing.

We all ask ‘why’ in times of difficulty and loss, but often there is no answer to this question. The book of Job raises the question of ‘why’ – why did a good man go through such great trials? Faith points us back to this conclusion: we may not have answers to the “why’, but we do have the ‘Who’ – the one we can always turn to for help.

Psalm 77 speaks of real life – raw emotion at its lowest; inconsolable grief. It is sometimes called the ‘Dusk to Dawn’ Psalm. In it the writer describes some of the effects of grief: feeling overwhelmed, confusion, anger, sleeplessness, restlessness, having no words to say, re-living the past.

Ps 77:2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted.

It concludes with a ray of light penetrating into a time of darkness as the author recalls God’s power to work great miracles.

Some of the reactions to grief we find in other Bible passages include: shock, denial, anger, trying to bargain with God, depression, and eventual acceptance and resignation.

Many people ask “If God is a loving God, why is there such pain and hardship?” I explain that there’s an enemy who’s out to kill, steal and destroy, and that sin has brought suffering along with it. We live in a fallen, messed-up world – we can see this everyday. And yes, we are all in need of help ourselves. As Christians, our spirits are redeemed, but our bodies and souls need daily renewal – we are ‘works in progress’ undergoing a process that happens over time. Jesus was subject to human pain and grief, and He took on all of ours when He went to the cross.

Grief may last for a season, but it’s not something we should remain in permanently, even though it will change our lives forever. When you don’t have the answers to ‘Why?’ remember the ‘Who’ – hold onto God. His love is always there for you. Ask Him to walk with you – and keep walking. The dawn is coming. God is always with you and He is able to lead you through the darkest hour.

7 principles of a strong family

Ben —  May 31, 2012

In a society obsessed with fame, the often unseen task of motherhood tends to get overlooked and undervalued. Yet it is in the home and amongst our families where destinies are forged. Your parenting will live on through future generations. The rewards: the small, everyday things like a child’s first smiles or their first steps. Many people who have achieved great success, including many who have attained considerable fame, point to their mothers as one of their most important influences.

It’s very interesting that in the Bible, God uses family terms to express spiritual truths.  For instance, God is called ‘our Father’, we are called ‘His children’ and Jesus is called ‘our brother’.  The church is called ‘the family of God’. Even terms that are used to describe our salvation are family terms.  We are ‘born’ into God’s family – ‘born again’. We are ‘adopted’ into God’s family.  The family is God’s idea.  It is a model of relationships that he wants us to have forever – relationships of love, trust and mutuality.

The first family – created to be the fundamental unit of society – was God’s pinnacle of creation.

Gen 2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

In Exodus we see Moses mother, desperate to save her baby boy’s life from the Egyptians decree of death, place him in a waterproofed basket and set it a float on the river.

Ex 2:3 When she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River.

What a beautiful picture of a mothers love! The challenge this young mum faced was extraordinary.

We face different challengers but it is still a mother’s role to wrap her children up in love, nurture them, protect them, and push them along the river of their destiny.

Here are seven key principles – some great ways to strengthen your family:

1. Commitment to your family: make having a healthy marriage your no. 1 priority – above accumulating assets, building your career and putting your kids through expensive education. The greatest threat to family life comes from within the marriage itself. Be at work to constantly build your marriage. Allow for the fact that each of you had a very different upbringing – and remember that the greatest gift and most important investment in your children’s lives is having a healthy home life.

Pr 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

2. Spend time with your spouse and children: As a parent you will have a far greater influence on your child’s development than their school or the church. As parents you are the primary moulders and shapers of their lives.

3. Have good family communication: Learn to discuss and resolve issues as they arise rather than avoiding them or shutting down. Teach your children to talk about and work through areas of conflict or difficulty.

4. Express appreciation: Encourage a culture of appreciation. ‘It’s easier to build boys than to repair men’ Give plenty of praise and approval – but don’t let your children rule the household – they don’t know what’s best for them (although they think they do!)

5. Be able to solve problems in a crisis: All families face difficulties at times. We need to be able to rise above them and stay together through the ups and downs.

6. A Godly father plays an important role: Dads, you are the spiritual ‘thermostat’ of the family. You set the spiritual tone of the household. And it’s more about who you are and what you do and don’t do than what you say. You are their greatest role model of what it is to have a genuine, authentic love for God. And no matter what age your children are, you are in the process of instilling values into their hearts.

7. Strong spiritual commitment: Among all the fun and laughter, beneath all the madness and chaos that family life can bring, maintain a deep honour for God.

Mothers, your role is highly valued and greatly appreciated!

6 Principles For Parenting

Ben —  January 1, 2011 — Leave a comment

There are so many different schools of thought and opinions about parenting out there these days. How do we find the best approach?

Here are some principles to help raise children to become Godly adults:

1. Follow the leading of God in your parenting. Involve God. There will be times when you run out of strength or answers, but if you turn to Him he will help you through.

2. Parent ‘through your imperfections’. We all feel inadequate, and no doubt we will all make mistakes at times, yet God still chooses us to do the job anyway.

3. Dads, be men of God; mums, be women of God. If you want to raise Godly children, be a Godly person yourself. Parenting is all about modelling, not lecturing.  Having your own active relationship with God is vital – don’t delegate this area to your spouse! And remember, your greatest calling in life is to your family.

4. Parenting is all about looking after your relationships. With all the busyness of family life, don’t lose track of your relationships with your spouse and each one of your children.

Parenting is leading by example. Your strengths (and weaknesses) will be noticed, picked up and passed on – even to future generations.

6. Actively nurture your children. Create an environment where health in all areas, growth and success are encouraged. Build a positive environment and a caring atmosphere. Your home is the no. 1 influence on your child’s development.

As parents we have the amazing opportunity of shaping and moulding these young lives, and watching God’s hand upon them as they grow into adults.

When Mother Theresa was asked what she thought would be the greatest contribution people could make to world peace, her answer was: ‘Go home and love your family.’

The family unit is not something that was originated by man, the church or society in general – the family was God’s idea from the start, and children are gifts from Him.

Ps 127:3 Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.

Children are a gift, but they come with a huge need for responsibility and stewardship attached.

Let’s look at the story of Jesus’ birth – from His earthly parents’ point of view. God chose Jesus’ entry into the world to be as a newborn baby. He also chose the couple who would be his earthly parents – Joseph and Mary.

On the surface, it certainly didn’t seem like the perfect scenario.

Firstly they were not yet married – in a time and culture where pregnancy out of wedlock had far greater stigma attached than in our day.

They were not well off financially.

They weren’t even in their hometown, and the ‘birthing suite’ was barely adequate.

They were human, like us, with failings and weaknesses.

Nevertheless God chose them for the role, just as he appoints us as parents to our children (or future children).

Being a good parent is a great challenge, especially in today’s world of high divorce rates, the pervasive philosophy of ‘Child-centric’ parenting, and the erosion of morals in our society. All this only serves to highlight the importance of the job of parenting.

As parents the primary responsibility of raising our children doesn’t belong to schools, day care, the government or any other organisation, not even the church – it belongs to us.

Being God’s Family

Ben —  November 17, 2010 — Leave a comment

We see so many overwhelming problems in the world today…yet God has a solution for so many of them.

I’m talking about ‘Family’. Interestingly, statistics indicate that just being part of a couple or close-knit family group, despite all their quirks, idiosyncrasies and even failings, contributes significantly to longevity and overall long-term wellbeing.

Ephesians 2:19–20 (NLT) So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.

The word ‘family’ has very different connotations for all of us. Especially if you are married, you will have had a very real experience of how different your idea of family life is from your spouse’s!

When God saw that it wasn’t such a good thing that Adam was by himself, he created Eve – a helpmeet. In doing so God started up the very first family.

But God’s idea of His worldwide family, called the church, is something else again.

A family is a picture of what church is supposed to be. We see our own immediate families as having a limited potential for growth (eg how many children you want to have) and influence. But God sees His family as having an unlimited capacity for growth – there’s always room for one more new member.

When a church body becomes comfortably satisfied with its current state, it can easily end up closing off, becoming inward looking and insular. This will affect the whole feel of the church, and visitors may feel a bit like intruders trying to gain access into a tightly closed circle. It’s can almost feel as if there’s a ‘No Vacancy’ sign up.

But God doesn’t want anyone to feel excluded from His family. This is why we as a church need to continually welcome newcomers in. To do this effectively, every member needs to be able to stay open to meeting new people and building new relationships. We need the attitude that there is always room for new friends in our lives. We need to be able to embrace people as individuals and welcome them into our daily lives – not just greet them on Sundays.

When did you last:

  • Invite someone new in to your home or your close circle of friends? Start up some new relationships? Befriend someone you didn’t need to?
  • Go to a small group not for your own gain, but to do the work of being God’s family to others?
  • Speak to someone at work about a hard time they’re going through – even though you were busy?

Do you come to church not just wondering who will talk to you, but on the lookout for somebody new to meet and have over for dinner? Staying ‘relationally open’ requires maturity – it needs to be a deliberate decision.

Who are you praying for, believing for, caring for and inviting to church? Make it a priority to do something for them this week.

As God’s family we have a purpose – to bring God’s love to a world that needs to know about Him.

In church we often hear phrases like ‘Reaching the world’, ‘Changing the city’ and ‘Impacting nations’.

Some people talk about ‘Reaching the nations’, yet seem to ignore the many needs all around them. If we want to reach a city, a nation, or the world, it’s mostly going to involve reaching people we come in contact with in our daily lives, one by one.

And to do that we need to be operating as God’s family, reaching outwards beyond our own needs and actively befriending, welcoming and caring for those around us. If we can help make things better for even just one person, we’ve succeeded!

6 Marks of a Godly Father

Ben —  September 14, 2010 — Leave a comment

What can fathers do to effectively ensure that their children grow up in a Godly environment?

  • Cultivate a Fear of the Lord – Pr 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
  • Children will learn to have respect for God if they see you exhibiting a healthy fear of    Him and doing your best to obey Him
  • Maintain a healthy relationship with God. God saved Noah and his entire family from the flood. Why? Because Noah believed, and had his relationship with God in order.
  • Live with integrity – impart your faith by the morals, values and standards you live by. Give your children the gift of high moral standards.
  • Remain yielded to God’s Spirit. Don’t be proud and stiff-necked. Being yielded to God’s Word and will is not being weak – it’s showing strength! Stay pliable, mouldable and obedient towards God.
  • Value God’s House – you are a pillar of the church. Godly men play an active role in building strength into God’s body in the earth, the church –and into to society in general!
  • Value the Word of God and make it a part of your family life.

Children will instinctively adopt your values. What values are you giving them?