The Power of Unity in a world full of Broken Families
I recently had my students take three minutes to come up with as many questions as could about family. Most of the questions dealt with the hardship, pain, and disunity within families. As I analyzed a lot of these, I am led to ask another question. How often do we debrief as a family and hash out the good, the hard, and the ugly things? How often do we take the time to redirect in order to bring unity and direction as a family?
How do you keep family close now a days when everything in the world tries to pull you a part? Here are my thoughts. Yes, my personal thoughts. I don’t know how to parent, I have never had a sister, but I have seen my family fail over and over, so I have some wisdom to share.
While I was on the race, we had team debriefs every two months. We became family. It was directed in a way that broke down the flaws in my immediate family and gave me the ability to surrender my pride and selfishness and grasp the power of forgiveness and grace. So, what does that practically look like?
Well, it looks like sitting down on the couch with your family with no time barrier. Everyone get the opportunity to share how they are doing – what they think, feel, what’s good and what’s hard. As everyone intentionally listens, not to cretic or interject but simply to understand the leader (Father/Mother) can facilitate the conversation for more depth and to hash out the problems amidst the family.
Many times, this feels uncomfortable especially if there is conflict in the room, which there often is. However, if you never embrace the conflict and the problems then the disunity that takes place becomes like a wedge to drive you apart and to keep your relationships shallow. The Bible says in Ephesians 4 of how be unified and it starts with “always being humble and gentle, being patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. (Eph. 4:2)” However, when there is a lack of humility and a sense of pride that takes place, the conversation starts to look like blame and pointing fingers. The key to these conversations is ownership and personal reflection – its part of “working out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).
Families can be so hard, especially without parents who don’t know how to lead or direct these conversations. However, there is grace for them too. Know that in the hard is where the most growth and love is developed. Trails bring about the genuineness of faith and I believe the same is true with family.
When I was 16 my family finally sat down and had a debrief. By the end of the open, honest and real conversation, my whole family was balling all around the table. It was this deep realization that we had hurt each other in so many ways and we were holding unforgiveness and bitterness because of it. From that one moment it changed my perspective on the importance of creating the space to make that happen. I don’t know if my family has had a heart to heart like that since, especially now because everyone is out of the house. However, what an impact it can have when we are free to be and workout the problems in order to grasp more harmony within the family.
In conclusion, maybe its time to debrief. Start a new tradition. Have a conversation that is not bound by time. Listen to each other, humbly correct and encourage each other. Enjoy the fellowship and strive for unity in the body. “For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all and living through all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Sunday Pastor Scott Bauman shared a message about how Satan tries to attack us every day. I wanted to add a couple of practical ideas I try to remember when I realize I’m in a spiritual war. I’m sure you know these tips already, but even if I’m reminding myself, it’s still helpful as we all press on towards the goal. We know , but sometimes we need to confidently declare that truth, so the enemy knows the fight is over. Warfare to me involves: First, acknowledging that Satan is trying to dissuade me from my Christian walk. Second, deeply believing that I do belong to the Lord Jesus Christ so nothing can separate me from Him and lastly declaring the name of Jesus. I want to focus on how we can boldly proclaim the saving name of Jesus when we are in a bind. Most of our battles go on in our minds. The good news is that Jesus can transform our stinky thinking to His holy praises with just the mention of His name! Announce to yourself, the enemy and the world where your allegiances lie so there isn’t any confusion. Wouldn’t you love to, “live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, ‘Oh no, he/she's awake!’ ” The first way to do this is to broadcast His name. Every morning when we wake up our first thought should be “Lord, I give you my heart!” (from Hillsong Worship song, see lyrics below). Hopefully, you’re carving time out of your schedule to spend in prayer and His Word each morning. I’m trying something new this year, and after I spend my quiet time with Jesus, I am writing one tidbit on my hand in pen. I pick out either part of the verse, an idea to focus on, or a song that it reminds me of and then I have that to peek at through the day as challenges come up. Next is to put on your Armor of God from Ephesians 6:10-18. Figure out how to work this into your day, but one idea I’ve heard is as you get dressed to speak forth the parts of the armor as you put your clothes on. Someone else I know prays over it as she drives to work. We must also keep the Word close to our hearts. If we have an arsenal of weapons ready, with bible verses memorized, then nothing can attack us. Sometimes before I speak God’s Word, I say the lyrics of Michael W. Smith song, “Surrounded” that we sang in church on Sunday. THIS is how I fight my battles. This is HOW I fight my battles. Emphasis a different word in the sentence each time as you meditate on the meaning. During the day, be prepared with biblical declarations to speak over yourself. For example, if you are starting to feel the enemy wants you to be afraid, you can say, “I am anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, I let my requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard my hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7). Or God has not given me a spirit of fear. He gives me power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV).
Last is to be ready to watch for spiritual warfare going on around you. If the enemy thinks he can attack your family or people you see as you’re out and about, ask if you can pray for them. Do not allow the enemy to take any ground when you are present. Wherever you are is holy ground, and you need to keep it pure, both for yourself but to cast out demons who want to attack. In staff devotions last week, I told about how I was driving in the car with my foster kids, and both boys started saying they hated themselves. I knew it was an attack from the enemy and I wanted everyone to know we would not stand for it. As soon as I started to sing these words from an old Bill Gaither song, the boys’ mouths were zippered closed! WOW! There is no kingdom greater than our Master! “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; there’s just something about that name. Master, Savior, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain; Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, let all Heaven and earth proclaim Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, But there’s something about that name.” If you feel like you are in bondage and need more help, run to the book of Ephesians and read about the power you can claim. Call another Christian to pray with you or take time to fast and focus on the strength God can give you. This is indeed the day He has made, and we will rejoice in our freedom! Amen!
" Lord, I give you my heart" by Hillsong Worship This is my desire To honor You Lord, with all my heart I worship You All I have within me I give You praise All that I adore Is in You Lord, I give You my heart I give You my soul I live for you alone And every breath that I take Every moment I'm awake Lord, have Your ways in me