Turning Our Focus Back To What Matters
I praise God for my family. I praise God for creating families. We tend to hear more about dysfunctional families than we do about strong families. God's plan from the creation was for a man and woman to come together and multiply. The way we can build families is through the teaching and preaching of God's word. The result of our efforts will be a strong nation, strong society, and strong churches.
I must admit that this is different from anything that I have
written but it is heavy in my spirit. In this essay, I want to
impress upon the reader the importance of family. We tend to
minimize the value of family. I believe the weakness in our
society is a result of the deterioration of the family unit. I
also believe that America will never be strong until the family
becomes the strong unit God intended it to be.
I would like to start by sharing a recent experience with my family. My cousin has been getting dialysis for about five years. In October, she announced that she would be having a transplant. We anointed her and prayed for her in a morning service. On November 16th, we anointed her and the donor because the transplant was scheduled for November 20th. I got up at 4:45 a.m. on November 20th. I didn't sleep much but I prayed a lot for my lovely cousin. I got in the car and headed for University Hospital in Denver. I listened to a tape of a sermon as I prayed and meditated on my way to Denver. I arrived at the hospital and went to the waiting room. There I saw a family, my family. Some of them hadn't slept much but they made it known that they were trusting God in this matter. As we talked, a pager went off and then another one went off, it was to inform us that we could go down to see my cousins who were now prepped for surgery. My cousin Steve was donating a kidney to his sister, Princess.
The Lord began to minister to me in this situation about the importance of family. I saw such a love between this brother and sister. Steve had to love Princess to give his kidney to her. It is this kind of love that families need today. Steve was the first to go to surgery so we circled his bed and prayed. We put him in the best hands we knew. We put him and the surgery team in God's hands. Then we circled around Princess' bed. My cousin Wesla began to sing “More Than Enough.” After she sung I prayed. With tears in our eyes, we left the room and headed for the waiting room. In this small waiting room was gathered family and friends. We talked about a variety of things as we waited.
The Johnson family is a large family with strong Christian roots that came from Jim and Gertrude Johnson. They weren't like some parents today. Jim and Gertrude didn't play. They demanded respect and were given respect. They made their children go to church. There were no options and a lot of obedience. As a result, their children did the same thing. We laughed about how our parents and grandparents raised us but we certainly realized that they presented Christ to us through their witness. As a result, we have continued to be a family that believes in The Lord Jesus Christ.
After about two hours of talking and praying silently, the doctor came into the room to tell us that Steve was fine. The kidney was on the way to the operating room for Princess. A short time later, Steve was taken to his room on Seven West. The hospital staff allowed a few of us at a time to go in and visit. I was one of the first because my Aunt Dot had me go in with her. In the room, we praised God for what he had done and what he was doing. Steve testified to God's goodness, but what stood out was how excited he was that now Princess would not have to go to dialysis three times a week and how she will be able to enjoy a better quality of life. Now, that's love. My visiting time was up so I went back to the small waiting room. The crowd had grown. In this small room were now more than 35 people. The majority was family but there were some loving friends who came along side of our family. It was now early afternoon. We had been at the hospital since about 6:30 a.m.. We continued to talk. It was great to be with family. About two hours or so after Steve came to his room, the receptionist came into the room. She told us that the surgery went well and that Princess was in the recovery room. We joined hands and I prayed a prayer of thanks and praise unto the Lord. As I prayed, a melody flowed through the room. Our family was singing “Thank You Lord”. I began to realize how important it is to have family. I praise God for my family. I praise God for creating families.
I shared my personal experience with you to let you know that families are loving units. We tend to hear more about dysfunctional families than we do about strong families. God's plan from the creation was for a man and woman to come together and multiply. Genesis 1:28 says “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (KJV). The result of the man and woman multiplying is a family.
The family is the backbone of society.
I used to say that there is a manual that helps you learn to
drive, to learn about various things but there is no manual to
raise children or help a family. I was wrong because The Word of
God tells us about the family and how to raise our children. It
tells us about the need to teach in the family. Deuteronomy
6:6-9 says, “And these words, which I
command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt
teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them
when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the
way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou
shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as
frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the
posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” (KJV).
The parents are responsible for teaching their children about the Lord. This means parents need to know the Lord for themselves. I feel that the only dysfunctional family is the family who has not accepted the Lord. I feel this way because God can fix anything that is broken in a relationship or a family. God requires parents to teach their children but He didn't stop there. God clearly tells in His Word what the responsibilities of a husband, wife, and child are to be. My favorite reference is found in the book of Ephesians. In the fifth chapter of Ephesians, you will find these words directed at the husband and wife. I will be using the New International Version for clarity as I move on. In verse 21, it says “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”. This is the basis for our commitment in marriage. “We are to submit to each other in a like manner as we submit to the Lord.
Paul goes on to talk to the wives in verses 22-24. He says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything”. The word submit seems to be a stumbling block for many women but it shouldn't be. It means respect your husband's position as head of the house in the same way you respect Christ as the Head of your life and the church. As a man, I feel the role of the wife is not as difficult as the husband according to scripture. Now, sisters, before you go off on me read the requirements of a husband, Paul tells us about these requirements in verses 25-30. He says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church for we are members of his body.”
I interpret this to say that I must protect my wife even if it means I must die for her! After 36 years of marriage, I am sure that I would die for my wife. My dear brothers, as you read this I wonder if you are willing to die for your wives. This passage of scripture takes us deep when it compares our role as husbands to what Christ has done for the church. Christ is the foundation of the church and we are to be the foundation of the family. In Ephesians 6, God speaks to the children through Paul. He writes in verses 1-3, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother' which is the first commandment with a promise 'that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.'”
The key to a long life seems to be the path of obeying our parents. I think the reason we see so many young people dying can in many cases be connected to the way they have treated their parents. Now, I realize there are other factors such as war but I have seen what are called untimely deaths and known the children. These children would disrespect their parents in just about any way one could imagine. I believe God stepped in and took them out of this world. Remember, I am stating my opinion, so if you disagree that's all right with me. There is a final statement on parenting for fathers in Ephesians 6:4. Its says, Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Fathers, as the ones who should dispense discipline and head the house we must not go over board with what we do. We should not pick at our children and provoke them to anger.
My dear friends, family is important. Our nation needs to begin to build strong families. The way we can build families is through the teaching and preaching of God's word. The result of our efforts will be a strong nation, strong society, and strong churches. We need to set our priorities in the right place. Our priority should not be to have a fine car and a family that is separated because we are never home. It should not be to have a fine house that requires the parents to work two jobs. Our priority should be to take our marriage seriously, after all we entered into a covenant relationship before God when we got married. Our priority should be to take these young souls made in the image of God and lead them back to a commitment to God.
Family is important to me. I went back on November 21st to visit my cousins Steve and Princess. After visiting with them, I said goodbye to Princess. She asked me if I came all the way up to Denver just to see her. My response way that's what family members do. It is my prayer that God will move on you and through you strengthen your family. It is through the family that God will move to strengthen our failing nation, society, and churches.
Just Keeping It Real!
Reverend Dr. Henry Johnson
18 December 2003