family…

I sat down at the dinner table after a long day at work.

I looked at my two beautiful daughters.

I saw the smile of my nine-month old baby boy.

I watched my wife put the final touches on our meal.

And as we joined each other around the table one of my daughters began to pray…and this overwhelming feeling came over me. It wasn’t simply thankfulness and appreciation. It was something different.

So different that I immediately jumped up after the prayer and began quickly typing what I was feeling. Here is what I wrote:

As I go home and sit around the table with my family, I know that no matter the war that has been waged against me throughout the day. No matter the forces that have come against me. And no matter how much I have been torn to pieces- the healing, restorative work of God through my family mends me and makes me whole again. I can courageously face another day, another week, another year because I have a family ready to receive me and shower me with love and acceptance. Praise God!

I am incredibly fortunate that I am able to experience this each day. And, I pray that I never take it for granted. It is not lost on me how many children and adults around the world do not get to experience this slice of heaven on earth…and it breaks my heart.

My heart breaks for…

The broken families.

The orphaned children.

The widows and widowers.

The parents who lost a child or children.

The loner without a family.

The homeless individual.

The individual locked behind bars.

The social outcast.

The disabled who have been abandoned.

I don’t think it is by chance occurrence that we read about Jesus communing with these very people- because every single person is valuable and needs a family who loves them, nurtures them, values them, prays over them, and allows the healing power of God to make them whole again.

The compassionate hand of our loving, nurturing God does not leave us alone and broken but welcomes and invites us into the most important thing on earth… family. And not one person, no matter the situation or circumstance, has been left alone without a family. For our Lord assured us that, “[He] will not leave [us] as orphans (comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, or helpless).”

The Spirit of God invites us in to a family.

The Comforter opens wide His arms and holds us when we are broken.

The Counselor gives us wise advice and guidance as we move along our journey.

The Helper gives us assistance and instruction when we are having difficulty.

The Intercessor groans, pleads, and prays on our behalf when we don’t have the words.

The Advocate works on our behalf with our best interest in mind.

The Strengthener lifts us up and encourages us when we have nothing left to give.

This is what I experienced at the dinner table that night- the Spirit of God working in and through me, but maybe more importantly, through each person in my family on my behalf and in my favor. I was loved. I belonged. I experienced a richness and fullness that could never be understood or experienced apart from God.

And it is through the Church that the Spirit invites everyone into a family.

The Church is the one place on earth where…

Broken families.

Orphaned children.

Widows and widowers.

Parents who lost a child or children.

Loners without a family.

Homeless individuals.

Individuals locked behind bars.

Social outcasts.

The disabled who have been abandoned.

Are welcomed and invited.

Are comforted and encouraged.

Are guided.

Are assisted.

Are prayed over.

Are advocated for.

Are strengthened.

Are mended.

Are loved.

And no matter the war that has been waged against us throughout the day. No matter the forces that have come against us. And no matter how much we have been torn to pieces- the healing, restorative work of God through this family mends us and makes us whole again. We can courageously face another day, another week, another year because we are a part of a family that receives us and showers us with love and acceptance.

peace…

brandon

14 thoughts on “family…

  1. How true, Brandon! Thanks for sharing! May we, the body, be the family that others don’t have!
    Reminds me of Lincoln Brewster’s “Power of Your Name”:

    Surely children weren’t made for the streets
    And fathers were not made to leave
    Surely this isn’t how it should be
    Let Your Kingdom come

    Surely nations were not made for war
    Or the broken meant to be ignored
    Surely this just can’t be what You saw
    Let Your Kingdom come
    Here in my heart

    And I will live
    To carry Your compassion
    To love a world that’s broken
    To be Your hands and feet
    And I will give
    With the life that I’ve been given
    And go beyond religion
    To see the world be changed
    By the power of Your name
    The power of Your name

    Surely life wasn’t made to regret
    And the lost were not made to forget
    Surely faith without action is dead
    Let Your Kingdom come
    Lord break this heart

    And I will live
    To carry Your compassion
    To love a world that’s broken
    To be Your hands and feet
    And I will give
    With the life that I’ve been given
    And go beyond religion
    To see the world be changed
    By the power of Your name

    Jesus Your name
    Is a shelter for the hurting
    and Your name
    Is a refuge for the weak
    Only Your name
    Can redeem the undeserving
    Jesus Your name
    Holds everything I need

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  2. Good post Brandon, when we are Baptized into his body, we as a Church become the body of Chirst and we become brothers and sisters together as a Church family. I love my earthly family and I love my Church family.

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  3. Brandon I love this blog. We are very fortunate to have the families that we have, not everyone can say that. We not only have our immediate family who loves us and supports us but we also have our Church family, who could ask for more.

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  4. My brother and his wife, my sister and her husband along with their son and his wife with their 3 kids were in town this weekend to visit. It was one of the best weekends I have experienced in a long time. We have had somewhat fractured relationships for many years but I finally realized I need them and most of the distant that was between us was of my own accord, not theirs. I may not have a wife and kids but I’m grateful and blessed with the family I have and without a doubt my church family has shown me and taught me the necessity of family and the power of forgiveness.

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  5. I’m sorry but I disagree with the sentimental and virtual deification of “the family” in some circles, often by young people with small children, who are just discovering the joys of parenthood. Of course families are important, but Jesus did not emphasize family. Rather He emphasized our relationship with Him. Jesus is the most important, period. All else is secondary, including earthly family. “He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:21)

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    1. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing… Psalm 68:6 Love this post. Love the heart of it. Don’t understand how there is anything to disagree with when God so obviously created the family as a tangible example of His love for the church. Oh the legalism….

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      1. What there is to disagree with is the elevation of the family as “the most important thing in the world.” That is idolatry, just as elevating anything above Jesus is. I didn’t say the family is not important. I said it is not above Jesus as “the most important thing in the world” as it stated in the tweet.

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    2. thanks maggie for reading this post and for sharing your heart on this. it sounds as if you have had previous experience with people “deifying” the family and treating it as an idol. while i can’t say that i have necessarily heard others do that, myself, i can assure you that that is not my intention. i do believe, however, that the Spirit of God can work through a blood-relation family- and- the Church family for God’s healing and restorative purposes.

      when i say that the family is the most important thing in the world… i say that in the same way as “water is the most important thing” or “food is the most important thing.” that doesn’t diminish Christ at all. it is just a fact. the unspoken understanding and assumption of EVERYTHING i write is that Christ is central and of utmost importance. i understand the heart of your comment and appreciate it…but qualifying or predicating everything i say would be exhausting. if i say, “i love watermelon” I shouldn’t have to say “but I love Jesus even more.” do you see what i am saying?

      finally, i appreciate being lumped into the “young people with children” category… : ) as a 37-year-old dad…hearing that I am still young feels really good!

      thanks again for your post. peace…

      brandon

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  6. While having pondered the response given above, I completely understand what Maggie is trying to say..yes, we are ” to love the Lord our God above everything else.” However, God’s word is very CLEAR about the value that he has placed on the family. I admire Brandon for the love that he has for his wife and children. It is rare to find a husband/father that feels this deeply for his family. God has clearly shown us from the very beginning of his word..the value..and expectation that he has for a husband and a wife. In Genesis 2:24..God says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave (adhere to, stick to, or join with) to his wife : and they shall be two in one flesh.” I don’t know about anyone else, but I DO take THESE words literally ( I’ve been married for nearly 25 years and sometimes this takes a whole lot of God’s love! ) LOL. Another verse that states our role (or our love..or passion) for our family..1 Timothy 5:8..tells us “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” The word PROVIDE when used as a verb in the Hebrew language means…”to provide and protect what is given as a priviledge” as well as “to have an intimacy of action and EMOTION.” I have made the statement that “I love my family more than anything else in this world” countless times..and I do! But, to me, this in no way devalues my love for God..it only inhances my love for Him! My love for God is not “of this world”, I love my family..but I do not pray to, follow, reverence, worship, honor, or love them in the same way that I love God. When feelings of overwhelming love for my husband, children, and grandchildren start to bubble up within me..they are feelings of gratefulness (Psalms 127:3) that God has given me such beautiful “gifts” and valuable “rewards.” My love for God is.. HOLY, of the SPIRIT, HONOR, GLORY, and nothing that could ever be described in mere “earthy” words, it’s to INFINITY and BEYOND!

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  7. I love a good encounter-with-God-through-people story. I don’t think it’s idolatrous at all. I think it’s the point of life and of love. The fact that that moment with your family pointed you to something bigger, something bigger than the stresses and troubles of the world, is crucial. It gives you strength to keep fighting to improve this world, and to make sure those who do not have what you do at home still feel that love and encounter, perhaps through you.

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