Devoted to Family…A happy family is but an earlier heaven

25 Apr

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During a visit to the children’s Bible class, a preacher looked into their serious faces and asked, “Why do you love God?” After a moment a small voice came from the back: “I guess it just runs in the family.”

Some of us are blessed to be ‘lifers.’ It’s a phrase I first heard in Mansfield, Ohio, many years ago, used to describe a person “who has been around the church his whole life.”

What a blessed person! To have grandparents and parents who knew the value of God, Christ, the Bible, and the church! To attend worship and classes “every time the doors are opened” is a blessed way of life that benefits into eternity.

Some aren’t so fortunate, for many children don’t even feel as if they know their parents, much less the Lord. The story is told of a young boy who wanted a new suit of clothes, and he asked his mother if she would ask his father to buy it for him. The mother suggested that it might be better if the boy would ask the father himself. The response of the boy was, “Well, I would, but you know him much better than I do.”

Sadly, it’s not easy to bring about much-needed change. Herbert Prochnow tells of a little girl who wrote in an essay on Parents: “We get our parents at so late an age that it is impossible to change their habits.”

In Japan, many workers are finding themselves either too busy or too stressed to visit their parents.  An enterprising business is now offering a solution for lonely parents.  For $1,130 a day, the Japan Efficiency Headquarters company will send actors to provide “family” time.  The actors have been trained in psychology to ensure a more realistic family visit.

Lee Iacocca said, “Your job takes up enough time without having to shortchange your family. Still, I’ve seen a lot of executives who neglect their families, and it always makes me sad. You can’t let a corporation turn into a labor camp. Hard work is essential. But there’s also a time for rest and relaxation, for going to see your kid in the school play or at a swim meet. And if you don’t do these things while the kids are young, there’s no way to make it up later on. I learned about the strength you can get from a close family life. I’ve had a wonderful and successful career, but next to my family, it hasn’t really mattered at all.”

It is sad commentary on our times that families have become so fragmented and splintered some must hire a surrogate family to provide companionship. [1]

A family is more than a collection of human beings who are blood kin.  A family is more than the sum of its parts.  It is a living, shaping, powerful unit that teaches us our most important lessons in life.  It teaches us who we are, how to act, whom to relate to, and what is important in life.

 A popular book of a few years ago, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, extolled the “virtues” of independence and individuality at any price.  The seagull is a popular subject for photography, and many people who vacation at the shore end up with some kind of souvenir bearing the picture of a seagull.  It is easy to see why people like this figure.  A seagull exults in freedom.  When flying alone, he thrusts his wings back with powerful strokes, climbs higher and higher, and then swoops down in majestic loops and circles.

 In a flock, though, the seagull is a different bird.  His majesty dissolves into in-fights and cruelty.  Concepts of sharing and manners do not seem to exist among gulls.  They are so fiercely competitive and jealous that if you tie a ribbon around the leg of a gull, making him stand out from the rest, you sentence him to death.  The others in his flock will furiously attack him with claws and beaks, hammering through feathers and flesh to draw blood.  They’ll continue until he is a bloody heap.

   If we must have a bird as a model for our society, there is certainly a better choice.  Consider the wild goose.  The V-formation they use in flying enables them to fly with more ease and speed.  The point position is the most difficult because of wind resistance, so the geese rotate this position every few minutes.  The easiest flight is experienced in the two rear sections of the formation, and the stronger geese permit the young, weak, and older birds to occupy these positions.  It is also probable that the constant honking encourages the weaker geese.

The seagull teaches us to break loose and fly alone, but the wild goose teaches us to fly in a “family.” We can fly further with our Christian family than we could ever  fly alone – and, as we fly, our efforts constantly help others in our family.

We should be aware that if we died tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days. But the family we left behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives. And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more into work than into our own family, an unwise investment indeed, don’t you think? So what is behind the story? Do you know what the word family means? Family: Father And Mother I Love You.

I am the second of nine children in my family.  I’m used to hearing remarks about the size of our family. Once when my father had taken four of us to the grocery store, a woman asked him, “Are these all your children?”

“Oh, no,” he innocently replied.

Seeing the look of relief on her face, Dad said with a twinkle in his eye, “The other five are at home.”

He took to heart Solomon’s words from Psalm 127: “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. {2} In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat– for he grants sleep to those he loves. {3} Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. {4} Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. {5} Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.”

Close friends of our family used to tease Mom (a nurse) and Dad (a  chemist). “You do know what causes children, don’t you?” they would ask. They made it crystal clear of their knowledge: “Some people put their efforts and their money into houses or vacations. We’re investing in children.”

We never know the love of the parent until we become parents ourselves.

A dad is a fellow who has replaced the currency in his wallet with snapshots of his family. The family you come from isn’t as important as the family you’re going to have.

There is a story about a father who became disturbed about the length of time his six year old son was taking to get home from school. The father decided he would make the trip to discover for himself how long it should take a small boy to cover the distance.

The father settled on 20 minutes but his son was still taking an hour. Finally the father decided to make the trip with his son. After the trip, the man said, “The 20 minutes I thought reasonable was right, but I failed to consider such important things as a sidetrip to track down a trail of ants — or an educational stop to watch a man fix a flat — or the time it took to swing around a half dozen telephone poles — or how much time it took for a boy just to get acquainted with two stray dogs and a brown cat. “In short,” said the father, “I had forgotten what it is really like to be six years old.”

A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold. [2]

People are blind to what they really need. They need family, and they need religion. Period. There is such an incredible strength in family, and religion gives you respectability, responsibility and a reverence for life. [3]

Desmond Tutu observed, “You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”

Children want to feel instinctively that their father is behind them as solid as a mountain, but like a mountain, is something to look up to.

In Sources of Strength, former President Jimmy Carter recalls: “I had just been inaugurated, walked down Pennsylvania Avenue, reviewed the parade with my family, and then begun to walk with my family, for the first time, toward the White House. Eager news reporters with cameras surrounded us, and my press secretary said, ‘Don’t anyone stop to answer questions.’ Typically, Mama ignored him and stopped to talk to the press. The first question was ‘Miss Lillian, aren’t you proud of your son?’ “Mama replied, ‘Which one?’

Studies have shown that the child who has the lowest self-esteem is the one who isn’t permitted to say anything at the dinner table. The one with the next lowest image of himself is the child who is allowed to dominate the conversation. Highest on the list is the youngster whose parents tell him, “Yes, you may speak up — when it’s your turn. [4]

It is said of James Boswell, the famous biographer of Samuel Johnson, that he often referred to a special day in his childhood when his father took him fishing. The day was fixed in his adult mind, and he often reflected upon many of the things his father had taught him in the course of their fishing experience together. After having heard of that particular excursion so often, it occurred to someone much later to check the journal that Boswell’s father kept and determine what had been said about the fishing trip from the parental perspective. Turning to that date, the reader found only one sentence entered: “Gone fishing today with my son — a day wasted.”

Few have ever heard of Boswell’s father; many have heard of Boswell. But in spite of his relative obscurity, he must have managed to set a place in his son’s life which lasted for a lifetime and beyond. On one day alone he inlaid along the grain of his son’s life ideas that would mark him long into his adulthood. What he did, not only touched a boy’s life, but it set in motion certain benefits that would affect the world of classical literature. Too bad that Boswell’s father couldn’t appreciate the significance of a fishing trip and the pacesetting that was going on even while worms were being squeezed on to hooks.

Grandchildren are a different discussion! They bless our lives in ways we could never have imagined!

A woman had a very precocious grandchild who was visiting her.  She was about 10 or 11 years old.  She asked, “Grandma how old are you?” And grandma said, “Well, honey we don’t tell our ages, it is not polite to ask a women her age.”  “Oh, come on grandma, tell me how old you are.”  “No, honey.  I am not going to tell you how old I am.”  So, the girl disappeared.   Grandma heard something up stairs and went up and found the little girl in her purse. The little girl had found her driver’s license and she was adding up the date of birth to the present time, and she said, “Grandma you are 78 years old.”  “Now honey, you shouldn’t be in there,” grandma said.  “Plus, grandma, I see that you got an F in sex.”

Conveying Christian Values

1. Acknowledge that your child is a gift from God (see Ps 127:3, GNB).

 2. Dedicate your child to the Lord to be used in his service (see 1 Sam. 1:11, RSV).

 3. Make a personal commitment to God to grow as a Christian parent.

 4. Identify your values and convey these values consistently in your behavior.

 5. Express to your children love and acceptance.

 6. View discipline as an ongoing process of helping your children ultimately to become self-controlled and self-disciplined.

 7. Pray daily for each member of your family.

 8. Maintain family worship and Bible study in your home.

 9. Involve all family members in church activities.

 10. Participate in events your church will offer to help you grow as a Christian parent. Be imitators of God as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loves us.


[1] David Charlton, Proclaim 1. “Families For Hire,” The Christian Reader, November/December 1992, 75.

[2] Ogden Nash

[3] Willard Scott, Marriage Partnership, Vol. 8, no. 4.

[4] Dr. Joseph Bobbit, child psychologist.

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Posted by on April 25, 2015 in Family


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