A loved one claims to be a believer but wants to marry an unbeliever. So you’re unable to support the relationship.
Family members invite your child to stay with them, but you know they’ll be a negative influence on them. So you have to decline.
A relative is living in habitual sin and you have to confront the person.
There are examples in the Old Testament of individuals having to choose God over family members. For example, Moses called for the execution of the individuals responsible for the Golden Calf. This meant some Israelites had to kill their own relatives. Exodus 32:27 says:
“Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’”
King Asa was one of the greatest reformers in the Old Testament. When he purged the idolatry from the land, he had to punish even his own grandmother. 1 Kings 15:13 records:
[Asa] removed Maachah his grandmother from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah.
In both of these situations it would’ve been very easy for those involved to choose loved ones over God.
Jesus is the premier teacher and example when it comes to choosing God over family
Jesus said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37; see also Luke 14:26). He taught the closest relationships in His life weren’t with His physical family, but His spiritual family. Matthew 12:46-50 records:
While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
Should we seek great things for ourselves? Last post discussed leading a quiet life that’s faithful in “small things” based on:
1 Thessalonians 4:11 Aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.
Zechariah 4:10 Do not despise the day of small things, for the LORD rejoices to see these things take place.
God is looking for consistency in the ordinary activities of our daily lives that often seem insignificant or trivial.
The prophet Jeremiah had a faithful scribe named Baruch. He was probably Jeremiah’s closest friend, and for much of Jeremiah’s ministry, his only friend. Jeremiah gets the attention, but Baruch was also a man of God who faithfully stood by the prophet through years of persecution and rejection. Jeremiah was the most despised man of his day, and being his assistant meant being the only person on Jeremiah’s side and suffering when he suffered. Continue reading “Should we seek great things?”→
Even if you’ve been trained to think church is only about showing up Sunday morning and leaving when service is over you need to know that’s not what God wants! God’s plan is the opposite of shallow, superficial involvement with our brothers and sisters in Christ. The church is a family where we’re expected to be involved in each other’s lives and have people involved in our lives. The church is described as a body where every part is important:
“If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body?” (1 Cor 12:15-16). Every part is important!
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ Those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.” (1 Cor 12:21-22) Each part needs the other parts! Every part has to be involved and working together to have a healthy, efficient body.
An interesting consideration is that although corporate worship on the Lord’s Day is important, if that constitutes your involvement in the church you’ll be unable to obey many commands:
Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification (Rom 15:2).
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Phil 2:4).
Comfort each other and edify one another (1 Thes 5:11).
Exhort one another daily…and let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good words (Heb 3:13 & 10:24).
As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another (1 Pet 4:10).
If you think your responsibility toward the body of Christ ends at showing up Sunday morning and leaving when service is over, you’re going to disobey most of these commands. The level of involvement God wants us to have in each other’s lives is much deeper than what can take place when churches don’t challenge people to love and service.
Woodland Christian Church is growing, which is a good thing, but we want to make sure we maintain a family feel. That happens as people get to know each other and develop relationships. Attend church events and activities, but also invite people over to your home.
This past Saturday was the 4th Annual WCC Ladies’ Conference, the one time per year there’s an interesting twist in my relationship with Katie: I’m the one listening to her go over a message she’s prepared. I feel like the conference went wonderfully, and it reminded me how thankful I am for all the women in the church, and how blessed I am to consider them friends and sisters in Christ. With that said, I’d like to elaborate a little on something from the end of last week’s sermon: I discussed wives going to their husbands with spiritual questions. It’s important to notice I said “spiritual questions.” If a woman wanted to ask me about something relating to the church that I would know as the pastor – like for example a question about an upcoming activity – of course that’s fine.
I hope the reasons for this are obvious. First, husbands are supposed to be the spiritual leaders or heads (according to 1 Corinthians 11:3 and Ephesians 5:23) of their wives, and that’s not a role I would want to usurp. I want to be the pastor of WCC and the head of my wife and children, but I want the men of WCC to be able to lead their families. Second, I wouldn’t want to deprive couples of the opportunity to discuss spiritual matters together. Some of the best conversations Katie and I have revolve around time spent in the Word and I don’t want any spouses missing out on that with each other. If husbands didn’t know the answer to their wives’ questions, I’d feel privileged to have the husband come to me, provide any help or support I could, and see the husband go back to his wife “equipped” in the language of Ephesians 4:12. In this scenario the husband is still able to be the spiritual leader of his wife, and the wife can appreciate the seriousness with which he took his headship.
Now I’m anticipating two questions. First, what about widows or women whose husbands are not in the picture? Those are unique situations where the elders can help in the husband’s absence. Second, some wives might say: “Well, what happens if I go to my husband, and he doesn’t get back to me?” Great question. First, we’re going to address this at our Men’s Breakfast on Saturday, February 1st, encouraging husbands to lead their families well. Second, at least in some of the situations the husbands might take their roles more seriously if they felt like the responsibility rested solely on their shoulders and their wives wouldn’t be looking anywhere else. Third, it’s a little of a “two-wrongs-don’t-make-a-right” situation in that just because husbands don’t respond to their wives, pastors shouldn’t assume that role. Fourth, possibly speaking to these situations is Titus 2:3-5 regarding older women…admonishing (or teaching) the young women. Older women who have “been there and done that” make wonderful resources for not just younger women, but women whose husbands are absent.
When Katie and the kids left for our hometown of Fall River Mills, California this past week it was a lot harder than I thought. I’ll be flying out of Portland tonight (September 1st) to go see them and I can’t wait; this is the longest I’ve been away from them…which I know isn’t very long…which brings up what I’d like to discuss. Them being gone has made me think about a few things…
First, it’s helped me see that I’m pretty blessed by the availability I have to my family. When I say goodbye to them in the morning, I don’t say goodbye like most fathers do (for 9 hours or more); I say goodbye for an hour or two until they surprise me at the office or I walk home to see them. I can have most meals with them. If Katie’s having a rough time at home she’ll have me come home and help (i.e. spank one of the boys). Katie sends me coffee, smoothies, and love notes daily. Almost all the church’s activities involve my family. Whenever I go on visitations I bring my kids…sometimes even when I shouldn’t (like Linda Sprague’s retirement party: I knew something was wrong when I walked in and didn’t see any other kids, and it got worse when someone said, “I think your son just took a bite out of that cookie and put it back on the tray.”).
Second, I’ve been thinking about the reality of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:32, 33 that married people have to be concerned about their spouses, but unmarried people can really focus on the Lord. With Katie and the kids gone I was sort of like an unmarried guy again, able to get a ton of work done. It made me hope the unmarried people appreciate all they can do for the Lord during their seasons of singleness. When they get married, and especially when they have children, these other obligations will take priority.
Third, I’ve been thinking about how valuable my wife is to me as a pastor. I didn’t consider how much she helps me…until she’s not here to help me. I bounce ideas off Katie and talk to her about almost everything. Whenever I teach she always gives me feedback. She reads every one of my bulletin letters ahead of time (including this one, which involved a recommendation to remove two paragraphs that were “over the top.” I don’t know what that means, but I took them out anyway). I always go over my sermons with her (sometimes a couple times), but this week I wasn’t able to, and it really bothered me and this week we went over it late Saturday night. Proverbs 18:22 He who find a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord and that’s definitely been the case for me.