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Family and church – can we succeed at both?

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Authors: Bill and Carol Gilpin

Building a quality relationship with God and with a spouse, children, and friend requires time and a peaceful heart.  Being able to wisely select our time commitments is vital to spiritual growth.  Let’s take a moment to really look into our lives and see… what have we committed to?

During a church service, our pastor was speaking of the oil of the shepherd that is rubbed on to the sheep, healing the wounds, removing the stains and briars that are entangled from things we’ve been exposed to and have rubbed up against.  For us this translated in the natural to be attitudes and images that are contrary to the Kingdom of God and words that were spoken to hurt or to discourage.  We could feel the love of God overtaking us and washing away the stains of wrong doing and ungodly images.  We were overwhelmed with God’s love.
Then we committed ourselves to express that same message of love to one another and family and the body of Christ.
Building a quality relationship with God and with a spouse, children, and friend requires time and a peaceful heart.  Being able to wisely select our time commitments is vital to spiritual growth.  Let’s take a moment to really look into our lives and see… what have we committed to?

I Corinthians 6:12 says, “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial.”

Our society promotes an excessive busyness that really takes its toll on us.
We must ask ourselves, “What are the significant activities I have committed my child or myself:”

Do these activities…
Refresh my (or my children’s) relationship with God?
Strengthen family connections?
Match my (or my children’s)gifts and calling?

Or do they…
Drain my (or my children’s) energy and relationship with God?
Weaken family relationships?
Distract from God’s purposes?

Over the years, we have stood firm to participate in activities that we could participate in as a family …whether it was sports, camping, or vacationing.  But also within the church, we chose to be a part of the Children’s ministry when each of our daughters was young.  It strengthened our family as we prepared lessons together at home and then ministered them together at church.  And even now, we teach a group of Married adults and have the privilege to have our daughters’ and their husbands with us.  Several of our friends share this same enjoyment of sitting next to their adult children and spouses.

Having this insight is important to Spiritual Growth. 
In order to become better with relationships of all levels we must become better at self-examination.  Not self-examination using worldly wisdom, but self-examination using the discernment from the Holy Spirit of God.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best…and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” Philippians 1:9, 10 NIV

When I face relationship challenges, I have learned to first ask,

“What am I thinking and feeling?”

“What am I believing?”

“How do these things hold up to God’s truth?”

Let’s take the bible story of the Prodigal Son as an example.  Everyone knows the story of the wayward son who squandered his inheritance, but came to his senses and returned home to his father who put a ring on his finger and held a big feast in celebration of his son returning.  Now let’s look at the other son, who questioned his father for putting on such a big celebration for the brother who squandered his inheritance and treated his father so disrespectfully.  He gets angry and questions his father’s decisions and accuses him of unfair treatment…not ever having held a celebration in his honor.

Let’s use those questions to help the second son self-examine himself…

What am I thinking and feeling?  Anger, Bitterness and jealousy toward my brother for getting a celebration in his honor

What am I believing?  That my father would never have used his wealth to celebrate me.  He is a hard man. He is not generous.

How does this hold up to God’s truth? It goes against the heart of a father. The father is generous, The father says, “everything I have is yours.”  The father gives good gifts.

Asking himself these questions rather than staying outside and making his father come after him could have saved him some embarrassment.

We invite God to help us understand/expose our core beliefs.  It takes courage and can be a little scary, because some of these ideas are wrong motives that we keep hidden from others, but other beliefs were put into us by outside influences, and we may not even fully be aware of them.
Growing in insight into my own life and understanding how these beliefs affect my actions can take a lifetime.  I am fully confident that God can expose and uproot these beliefs that hinder us.  Let us take the time and allow God to transform us… disentangling from our lives the beliefs that are contrary to his Kingdom, filling us with His love to overflowing that we can pour out into the lives of those around us. Giving them a picture of what God’s love is.  Increasing in us a discernment to what really matters, so that we may live pure and blameless lives. AMEN!
Living like this, may seem almost impossible, but we have found over the years that staying in right relationship with God, with each other …our relationships bear good fruit.  We grow in peace, purpose and confidence in who we are and who we are becoming.  Our children grow in respect for others and a sense of purpose for their lives.  As we accept God’s love into our everyday lives, the love in our families grows more and more contagious.  And the Kingdom of God overflows naturally to the world around us.
In closing, let me leave you with this scripture for meditation.

” I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.”  (Philippians 1:9, 10)

About the authors: Bill and Carol Gilpin are members of World Revival Church and have been since 1990. They have served in many areas of ministry, but for the past 10 years have led a class on marriage and family, which started with 24 people and has now grown to over 120.  Bill is the Business Manager at World Revival and Carol is an educator in the public school system, with a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Specialist Degree in Education Administration.

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