Belonging to a Family [v53]

JULY 2003

BELONGING TO A FAMILY: My brother Randy just left to go home to Houston after spending the last week here with us. My dad, Arielle, Tyler and myself had a wonderful time sharing many different experiences with him.

We did a lot of golfing (he drives ’em 300 yards, but still can’t beat my dad); Arielle and Tyler ‘ganged’ up on him on the go-kart track; we ate a lot of ice cream; we did some swimming; took a bike ride; and the kids chased him around the yard a bit (to ‘complete’ the triathlon that he missed doing in Texas—and to work off the ice cream); he saw one of Tyler’s baseball games; visited some aunts and uncles; saw a fireworks display; and drove, by himself, a real stock car for 24 laps around MIS at 150 m.p.h.! [I think he knowingly planned to go home on a Saturday so he could have Sunday to rest!].

Even though it was wonderful to have him here, there was something missing—by no fault of his own—my sister Terry and brother-in-law Scott were not here. Our family wasn’t ‘whole’—not a cohesive unit—and, at least for me, it felt incomplete.

I started thinking about why I felt that way. Webster defines family as “consisting of descendants of one common progenitor of honorable or noble descent” and “a group of several allied individuals taken collectively.”  So, depending on how you apply this definition, I can think of a few different ‘kinds’ of families.

Reflecting upon the meaning of our recent holiday and what the framers of the Declaration of Independence said, our country could be considered our ‘family’. It states that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. . . that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

Now, if we ‘enlarge’ the definition, we could also be considered to be a part of the ‘human’ family—identifiable by genetic code, or the “Homo Sapien” species—no matter the race, creed or color.

But I’ve got to believe that when any of us think of “family,” we think of our parents, spouses, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunt, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces—the most common ‘elements’ of a family.

A California Joint Select Task Force on the Changing Family gave a more specific definition that focused on its role and function:

Family is “the primary social and economic unit whose function include (1) maintaining the physical health and safety of family members by providing for basic necessities; (2) providing for emotional growth, motivation, and self-esteem within the context of love and security; (3) helping to shape a belief system from which goals and values are derived, and encouraging shared responsibility for family and community; (4) teaching social skills and critical thinking, promoting lifelong education, and providing guidance in responding to culture and society; and (5) creating a place for recreation and recuperation from external stress.” [Mary Sinclair, 1992]

Families have always been the bedrock of any stable culture. They are intended to produce and release strong, capable, humble, generous people into the larger society so that each may be a blessing to all. This requires that each family have a strong sense of “mission” in order to cultivate this—of critical importance for anyone who desires to have a close intimate relationship with another.

Many of us live with an awareness that our relationships with one another, especially our family members, fall far short of our expectations and hopes. The truth is, all of us secretly ‘cry’ for an intimate belonging, long to be accepted for who we are, and have a deeper, more joyful fellowship with others—just what the family was ‘designed’ to provide. It is a shelter in times of trouble; a learning ‘center’ for life’s basic skills like character and values; a haven for happiness; a place to ‘play’; and a ‘cooperative’ that  offers hospitality to those in need. And in spite of the rapid changes our societies have undergone and are undergoing, the family is still the foundation for a human being’s sound growth, sense of importance, meaning, safe harbor, comfort, restoration and a balanced perspective of every area of life.

Even though this type of family is really important, I submit there is one that is of greater importance—the family of God—and being one of His ‘children’.

Think back to a story you probably read as a child—Cinderella. In the popular English version that I remember, a poor peasant girl was living a slave-like existence with her ugly stepsisters and a tyrant of a stepmother (both are bad stereotypes!).

While the stepmother and stepsisters went to a ball in the king’s palace, Cinderella had to stay home. But when she was magically transformed into a dazzling beauty, she set off for the palace in a pumpkin-turned-coach.

During the evening the dashing young prince danced with Cinderella and fell in love. She had to rush home when the clock struck midnight, however, and accidentally left behind a glass slipper. The prince searched the kingdom to find the slipper’s owner, and eventually found that it fit Cinderella. He swept her off her feet, married her, and she became a royal princess, part of the royal family.

It’s a great story. I think part of the reason so many of us like the tale is that we all like to imagine we too could be a child of a king—living like a princess or prince—with all the privileges that come with such a position. We’re often frustrated by the daily drudgery or even mistreatment of daily life, and we long to be treated as someone special.

The Bible describes something far better than any mythical tale of a peasant-turned-princess, and something more real than imagining ourselves to be a child of a present-day world leader. The Bible states that common sinners, like all of us, can become children of the King of the universe.  It says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” [1 John 3:1].

Those are powerful words! Ordinary people like you and me can be called children of the Creator of the universe. The Bible also tells us that we can not only be given a wonderful new status as children of God, but also be saved from an eternity in hell. Pastor and author Erwin Lutzer states in his book “You’re Richer Than You Think”, “Christ did not die on the cross just so our sins could be forgiven, though that itself would deserve our endless praise. Sin was a roadblock which God removed so that He could achieve some lofty goals in our lives. Specifically, we have been appointed to be sons of God.”

I believe that this is the most important issue of life: Can you say that God is your Father? Have you become a child of God by declaring your personal faith in Jesus as your Savior? Your answer determines whether all the joys of knowing God as Father now and throughout eternity will be yours.

Perhaps you have an uneasy feeling that you are not a member of the family—now might be a good time to settle the issue.

(If you would like to investigate further what it really means to “believe”, visit the following link:
http://www.4VIS.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q10_d1_1of10.html ).

The Father longs to adopt you, and the procedure is simple. Come to Him in childlike faith, accepting His offer of forgiveness from your sins, which have kept you out of the family. Jesus lived, died, and rose from the grave to show you the Father’s love and to make it possible to become a member of God’s family.

The Father is waiting to hear from you. He does not expect flowery words, just a simple expression of childlike faith. Tell Him that you believe Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sins. Accept His gift of forgiveness [Romans 6:23] and the invitation to be part of His family forever.

If you’ve done that. . .WELCOME TO THE FAMILY!!!

(If you would like to know what to do next, visit the following link:
http://www.4VIS.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q12_d2_1of10.html ).

[Excerpts from: Randy Blan; Dean Scott; Gary R. Collins; Martin R. De Haan II]

Blessings…Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v53) for JULY 2003  If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@ameritech.net

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WRITTEN WITH A PEN…
We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we might have made them worse.  For my grandchildren, I’d like better.

I’d really like for them to know about hand-me down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meatloaf sandwiches.

I hope they learn humility by being humiliated, and learn honesty by being cheated.  I hope they learn to make their beds and mow the lawn and wash the car.

And, my cherished grandchild, I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you are sixteen.  I hope you have a job by then.

It will be good if at least one time you can see a baby calf born and your old dog put to sleep.

I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother.  It’s all right to draw a line down the middle of the room.

When you want to see a Disney movie and your little brother wants to tag along, I hope you’ll let him.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely.

I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books.  When you learn to use those newfangled computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head.

I hope you get razzed by your friends when you have your first crush on a girl, and when you talk back to your mother that you learn what Ivory soap tastes like.

May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove and get your tongue stuck on a frozen flagpole.

I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your grandpa and go fishing with your uncle.  May you feel sorrow at a funeral and the joy of holidays.

I hope your mother punishes you for throwing a baseball through a window and that she hugs and kisses you when you give her a plaster of Paris mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you – tough times and disappointment, hard work and above all, happiness.  [Paul Harvey]

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FAMILY AS A GARDEN
A family is like many things, perhaps most like a garden. It needs time, attention, and cultivation. The sunshine of laughter and affirmation. It also needs the rains of difficulties, tense moments, and serious discussions about things that matter. And there must be spade work, where hardness is broken loose and planting of fresh seeds is accomplished with lots of TLC. Here are some suggestions for 15 rows worth planting:

4 Rows of Peas:
– Preparedness
– Perseverance
– Promptness
– Politeness

3 Rows of Squash:
– Squash gossip
– Squash criticism
– Squash indifference

5 Rows of Lettuce:
– Let us be faithful
– Let us be unselfish
– Let us be loyal
– Let us love one another
– Let us be truthful

3 Rows of Turnips:
– Turn up with a smile
– Turn up with a new idea
– Turn up with determination

An then? Well, from then on it’s pretty simple. Water, weed, tend with care, and patiently watch the garden grow. Someday you’ll look back and realize it was worth all the years of all the work and effort and prayer. Like a lovely garden, your family will be a thing of grateful pride, of seasonal beauty, and of daily sustenance.  [Chuck Swindoll]

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A PLACE TO BELONG
Like a traveller, you’re lost
Wondering which road you should be taking
Too many voices have left you confused
My friend, it need not be like this

Are you looking for a place to belong?
Like rhyme searching for its rhythm?
Look deep inside your heart
He’s waiting to come in

He’s standing at your heart’s door
To see if you’ll let Him in
He knows you’ve nothing to offer
My friend, “you” are all He wants

Oh…could this be your answer
To open up your heart to Him
Jesus is the answer to your questions…

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
[Elaine Yap]

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FATHER, I WANT YOU TO HOLD ME
Father, I want You to hold me
I want to rest in Your arms today
Father, I want You to show me
How much You care for me in every way

(Chorus)
I bring all my cares  (2nd time “fears”)
And I lay them at Your feet
’cause  You  are always there  (2nd time “here”)
and You love me as I am
Yes You love me as I am

Father, I know You will hold me
I know I am Your child, Your own
Father, I know You will show me
Your grace and love for me     I’m not alone
[Song and lyrics by Brian Doerksen]

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DEEP THOUGHT:
What can go up a chimney down, but can’t go down a chimney up?

allerbmu nA    (Answer is backwards)

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!  Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty”
[2Corinthians 6:18].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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