The Restoration of Family

On April 22, 2018 at 6:32 am, our son Josiah Thomas entered this world to increase our family head count to five! I sat there in the hospital completely exhausted (as if I did all the work), yet overjoyed to be given the beautiful gift of another child. I cried, prayed and definitely dozed off a few times while my wife pressed through like a champ, but the Lord was also stirring my heart about His own dream for family.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.”

— Gen. 2:18

We know that marriage was God’s idea from the beginning, but why was it such a centerpiece in His plan? What is He after by joining us together in families, and where is He going with it in the end? There is so much to be said about this, but in order to understand God’s destiny for family, we must first seek wisdom and revelation about His desire and design for family.

God’s Desire for Family

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring.

— Mal. 2:15

Scripture reveals that God was after something even more when He united man and woman together in marriage beyond their distinct relationship with one another. He was seeking for them to produce Godly offspring. Whether they be natural, adopted or spiritual children (disciples), we were meant to reproduce and raise families after His own heart. Why? Because God Himself is a Father who longs for a family made in His image whom He can dwell among, provide for, protect, pass an inheritance to, and raise up to work alongside Him to help fulfill His good and perfect will (Gen. 1:26-31; Rev. 21:1-9). If we who hold our new born babies in our arms as parents are so deeply moved, how much more is our heavenly Father moved with desire when He looks at every child who is born into His growing family? Jesus said that all of heaven rejoices every single time that one sinner repents (Luke 15)!

God’s intention for the family has always been at the core of His strategy for establishing His kingdom and bringing restoration to the fallen earth (Gen. 1:28; Mal. 4:5-6; Matt. 17:11). After sin entered the human experience, God called a man named Noah to bring his family with him to build, preserve and restore what was lost. He later called Abraham to become the father through whom all the families of the earth would blessed. God would even send His only begotten Son through this family, from the lineage of King David, to be crucified for our sins, buried and raised from the dead, so that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life (Jn. 3:16). It was His plan all along to take on our flesh in Jesus Christ to pay the price of redemption as our kinsman, so that we could be called children of God (Rom. 8:29; Heb. 2:10-18; Jn. 1:12-13). Now, it is His Great Commission to the Church to function as a spiritual family, with mothers and fathers raising up sons and daughters, and with brothers and sisters loving, serving and honoring one another (Matt. 28:18-20; Rom. 12:10; 1 Cor. 4:14-17). God still desires to bring about His purposes through families who unite as the one Body of Christ (Ps. 133; Jn. 17).

God’s Design For Family

Behold, children are a heritage from the LordThe fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

— Psalm 127:3-5

God has uniquely designed family, whereby every relationship and role is equally valuable and important. Imagine if a vehicle was manufactured in a way that was contrary to its design. How could we expect it to do what it’s supposed to if every part was out of place? God has created mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters to be the same way. The family unit was intended to be a vehicle that moves forward with dignity, authority, purpose and love to overcome obstacles together, bear fruit that remains, and bring blessing to the world around them. Fathers must be fathers and mothers must be mothers.

When we understand the authority, power and plan that God has for families, then we can begin to understand why the family unit has been under enemy assault since the beginning. Our society is riddled with broken families, fatherless children, adultery, abuse, divorce, abortion, and so much more. Children are disobedient to their parents, while parents continually provoke their children to wrath. Families who were once close, have since been torn apart by the snarling teeth of pride, bitterness, envy and greed. Why all of this? Because Satan knows the threat that a godly family presents to his dark domain!

Our enemy fears that there are still families out there who will actually take a stand at his gate and overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony (Rev. 12:11). He trembles knowing that if he cannot divide godly families who make up the household of faith, then he has to give an early forfeit to the fight for the soul of humanity (Gal. 6:10; Matt. 16:18). Thus, he has targeted key relationships to destroy, and he has sought to darken and distort our view of family altogether.

The sanctity of marriage has been repeatedly trampled underfoot across our nation. Children are being viewed as an unneeded liability rather than a precious gift and heritage from the Lord. They are treated as hindrances to our comfort that keep us from our goals rather than our help, our joy and our life mission.

We are gloriously invited to share in God’s heart and story by raising up our children and growing the kingdom of God, but this is a calling that requires far more than changing a few diapers, providing a few meals and turning on Netflix. We cannot afford to relinquish our responsibility to give them biblical shelter, guidance or discipline, nor can we afford to abuse our authority, to overly shelter them to the point that they become paralyzed with fear or provoked to rebel. If the rules we give our children are just about pleasing us, then we make ourselves God and produce in them an unhealthy man-pleasing, performance-driven spirit that rebels out of bitterness and frustration. On the contrary, if we let our children make their own rules, then we empower them to become their own god, producing a lawless, narcissistic, entitled generation that has no clear moral compass or respect for authority. But if we are children of God ourselves who understand who we are and what God is after, then we have the grand opportunity to train up our kids in the way they should go, so that when they are old, they will not depart from it (Prov. 22:6). We must resolve to raise our kids up deliberately and delicately like arrows in the hand of a warrior, trusting the Lord as we prepare them and then release them into the world.

God’s Destiny for Family

A family who passionately serves the Lord is still His primary method of warfare against the kingdom of darkness, and I believe the Holy Spirit is orchestrating an end-time revival that is deeply connected to the restoration of family. If you are reading this, then it is not too late. If you come from a broken family, if you feel like you have failed as a parent, or if you are hoping for restoration in your family, then I implore you to call upon the name of the Lord with me, receive His mercy, and believe with me for revival in the home! A well organized church is good, but it is not enough. A doctrinally sound church is good, but it is not enough. A community-serving, missionary-sending church is good, but it is not enough. A praying church is great, but it is not enough. The world needs a Church that looks, speaks and acts like God’s intention for the family. We need fathers and sons, mother’s and daughters, brothers and sisters of faith to rise up in the fear of the Lord! I believe that God is raising up the family of His Church in the midst of the most sexually broken, fatherless, disobedient, self-absorbed, violent and rebellious generation to rescue, redeem and restore the hardest and darkest hearts before His glorious return.

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed.

— Psalm 112:1-2

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.

— Psalm 68:5-6

The Un-Offendable Heart

Have you ever been hurt by someone? Have you been offended at something that was said or not said, done or not done? I would venture to say that most all of us have. Looking across my own life and experience, I have seen how subtle offenses can quickly pry open old wounds, resulting in broken relationships, betrayal and bitterness that is kept for an entire lifetime. I’m convinced that offense, bitterness and envy, things that Jesus seeks to expose and remove from our hearts, are some of the primary reasons that His disciples forsake assembling together. Many Christians have settled for a “churchless Christianity” because they are bound with hurt and un-forgiveness, so they choose to avoid the vulnerability, accountability and responsibility that comes with church community, and rather, they surround themselves with people who will feed their insecurity. This is dangerous and unbiblical. The Bible speaks of a great falling away that will come before the return of the Lord (2 Thess. 2:3), and many wonder how something like this could even happen, but I believe that offense will be Satan’s greatest weapon in that day to divide and conquer.

And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. (Matt. 24:10)

Jesus, enduring the most offense out of any human in history has every right to be hard and bitter, yet He mercifully opens up His heart to us time and time again! In His short time on earth, He was despised, rejected, mocked, falsely accused and betrayed, while receiving little encouragement from His closest friends. It is nearly impossible to be alive and avoid offense, but we can avoid giving in to the temptation to retaliate or retain that offense. Being easily offended is more than having a sensitive personality; it is a spirit that has been around since the fall of man. Cane carried the spirit of offense, which led him to murder his own brother (1 Jn. 3:12; Gen.4:1-16). Cain saw how the Lord was pleased with Abel and blessed him, therefore, he became very angry. God told Cain, “You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master” (Gen. 4:6-7). The offense came as a test, and Cain had a choice on how he would respond. This article is not trying to justify the hurts that you have experienced, but rather my goal is to expose their existence, so that the Lord can heal and restore you. It needs to be dealt with in the heart, not concealed in the heart. Bitterness is like a poison that you drink expecting someone else to die from. Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, but it sets you free.

Jesus had what I call an un-offend-able heart, not that He diminished sin or the wrongfulness of other’s behavior, but He didn’t let it rule Him. He responded to the many offenses hurled at Him by silently going to the cross and dying for the very people who mistreated Him. God wants us to have an un-offend-able heart for the sake of freedom, so that our love for Him and others will not be hindered.

How do we obtain an un-offend-able heart?

  1.  Connect to Church Community (Eph. 4:1-6; Heb. 10:25)
  • How does God deal with us when we are easily offended? He offends us. God offends the mind to reveal the heart. Most of the time this is done through family members, church members, and spiritual authority that God has placed in our life. We shouldn’t be shocked at this, but we should learn to commit ourselves to God and ask Him to help us respond in the right way.
  • God desires that we remain connected with people in community because He uses its relational pressures and tensions to mold us into the image of His Son.
  • It’s fascinating how the human body works to heal itself when it is injured, but this can’t happen if the injured body part is disconnected from the body. We must stay connected to the Body of Christ!

2.   Learn to Be Secure in His love (1 Jn. 4:16)

  • If we don’t know who we are to God, or have the assurance we are loved by Him, then we will quickly search for identity and approval elsewhere. Insecurity is an open door for the enemy to breed all sorts of evil in our hearts.
  • We must take time to meditate (think deeply) about what the Scripture says about us as we ask the Holy Spirit to show us. We must spend more time in His Book than Facebook.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere without offense till the day of Christ. (Phil. 1:9-10)

3.   See the Bigger Picture (Isa. 49:1-5)

  • Jesus lived before the eyes of His Father, knowing that He sees and judges righteously. He is our Avenger.
  • If we don’t know that His eyes are on us, then we will quickly become bitter when we don’t receive credit from man for our devotion.
  • We must constantly refresh our perspective in light of eternity, for our Father sees us in the secret place. He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
  • We learn faithfulness and humility in the hidden years, and the Lord esteems it greatly. Like an arrow is prepared and hidden in a quiver before it is launched toward its target, must we embrace the seasons of hiddenness as unto the Lord where we feel the most under appreciated.

4.   Be Merciful & Bless Our Enemies

  • Being merciful can also mean giving others the benefit of the doubt. Many people get hurt by something that the other person is often unaware about. We must have mercy toward them in these situations.
  • Our “enemies” or adversaries are those who intentionally slander, accuse or oppose us (Our actions, values, words, biblical stances, etc). To bless them implies more than just forgiving them and praying for them, but actively looking for ways to give to or serve them without expecting anything in return. Jesus commands us to do this because He knows that it will transform our heart over time if we stick to it.

5.  Take up Our Cross

  • In the event that you are wronged, keep in mind that the first one to the cross wins. One of the best ways to combat offense is to transfer our personal rights to God. Nobody can hurt us if we have already died to our self and surrendered our sense of entitlement to God.
  • One of the core issues is that we naturally expect that people (and God) owe us something, thus when we are let down, we become offended.
  • Our lives are not our own (Gal. 2:20).

Side Note: Being unoffendable does not mean we are to be apathetic toward sin, but rather we are to respond to that which comes against us, not out of hurt or revenge, but boldness, gentleness and meekness.

Pursue peace with all people…lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled…(Heb. 12:14-15)

Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. (Matt. 5:22)

But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. (Matt. 5:39)

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…(Matt. 5:44-45)

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained a brother…(Matt. 18:15)

Blessed are the merciful…(Matt. 5:7)

Blessed are the peacemakers…(Matt. 5:9)