The Family

18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:

23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

4:1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. Col. 3:18-4:1

We should be extremely wary of the flesh, especially in relation to our families. You notice in this scripture that Paul is not talking about relationships within the church, but within the family. And here the Apostle Paul makes it clear that even a servant is a part of the family.

The reason for this need for vigilance is because it is the easiest thing for us to cast ourselves into a mould, where things become ‘normalised’ and we are no longer running the race we have been called to. The whole concept of salvation, including our relationships, is a daily race, and a gritty one. It is a race of the Spirit vs the flesh. But it is with the family that God is most concerned and it is with the family that this race must begin.

My son is a slow learner, and much of the time (at least, according to my estimations) he does things contrary to the instructions I give him.  I am well aware that there was some delay during his delivery and this was what caused his condition. But this knowledge does nothing to calm my high-strung calibre and much of the time, the things that my son does have me clawing up the wall, literally.

And so it was that one day I was watering my garden and I asked him to carefully move the hose for me between the young plants. Instead of picking the part of the hose I had shown him, he picked the wrong one and in the process he ended up breaking one or two of my precious plants.

To talk of a sonic boom here would hardly do credit to the bellow I let out. If you ever saw Disney’s animated “Beauty and the Beast”, well, the Beast’s roars there are a downgraded version of what occurred that afternoon. My son stood still as I went on the warpath and blasted him into Neverland.

But the Lord is good and I thank Him for His mercy towards me. After my son had left the crime scene, the Lord quietly came to me and showed me the rot that was in my heart. As I lay on my bed that the evening, I called my son.

“Joe”, I said, “I want you to forgive me for what I did to you this evening. I am truly sorry and please know that I love you.”

I was sorely tempted to add, “But please, please try harder at doing things right”; but with all the effort I had I bit my tongue and held my peace.

Notice the Bible says, both in Colossians above and in Ephesians 6:4, that fathers should not provoke their children to anger. The Bible here is not talking of the small children that we in our selfishness are wont to spoil. Rather, when children reach a certain age, when they are in their teens, it is the time that their independence begins to assert itself, and it is here that parents need to be very careful to not to stamp out that independence. It is this independence, nurtured in the love of God, that will lead your child on to maturity.

There are any number of scenarios with regard to our lack of vigilance. It is the easiest thing, for example, for the wife or husband to enter into an adulterous relationship with another person, not for any other reason than that they have not been vigilant in their relationship to their spouse. But it requires a daily death to the flesh for that relationship to stay renewed in the Spirit.

The same goes for every other relationship within the family. The parents need to die for their children; and the children, likewise, for their parents. The servant needs the death of the cross to work in him for him to serve his master as he would serve Christ; likewise, the man and woman of the house towards their servant. If the work of the cross is not in them, they can easily look down on or mistreat their servants.

It is the easiest thing for the pastor to run about pastoring everyone else except his family. He never spends time with his wife or children! It is no wonder, therefore, that many pastors today stand accused of having adulterous affairs with other women, because they were unable to pay the price needed to take time with their wives.

It is the easiest thing for the mother to be busy, oh! inviting over and welcoming all those beloved brothers and sisters in Christ – but never having a thought for her children. And the children become rebellious and she wonders why!

It is the easiest thing, as I said, for us to allow the flesh in its various forms to take over control of our families. It is the easiest thing for us to become selfish and to look only to our own interests: the father, to his own pride; the child, his/her own independence, etc. But the Bible in 1 Peter 5:8 says:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…”

It talks about the devil there, but it might as well be talking of our flesh. The flesh is always lying in wait for us, ready at any moment to step in and take control the minute we lose our vigilance. That is why we need to be very vigilant in our relations with our family members.

The church setting is meant to overflow with the love and selfless sacrifice of Christ. And it has to begin with the family. As one of my friends used to say, you cannot jump to No.2 before you are done with No.1. The family is the Number One place where we are required to deny ourselves, to take up our cross daily and to follow Christ.

[My family. The highest responsibility I have is both to my wife and children, to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” – Eph. 6:4]

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Stop Press!!

There is something that I really feel bad about, and it has weighed on my heart for a long time. I have many blogs on my “Following” list. They are blogs which I truly want to “follow”, to like and to comment about.

Unfortunately, I live in a very rural town and the internet here is nearly always down. So, actually, much of the time I only have enough time to post an article, and the internet is out. For this very reason, it would be impossible to respond to all my fellow bloggers’ posts, even if I had the time to do so (I am a night owl, so time is not a problem with me).

I felt I needed to get this off my chest because I really admire all of these blogs and I know I am truly missing out a lot by not reading them. But again, blogging is also about communicating, and I do not want my fellow bloggers to feel as though I am acting out as being so important I cannot comment or like their posts.

I love you all. May the Lord bless you all. You are precious in God’s eyes, and any situation you are going through should not rob you of that truth.

[Below: With my two lovely – and very loving – neighbors…

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… And the kids who come to watch Bible cartoons (and Cinderella!) on my laptop]

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A Sad Occurrence

Those of my readers who read my post, “Not A Spot of Unforgiveness” were most likely captivated by the captioned picture of the girl with a stunning gaze that I put at the end of the post. Well, I just received news that one of this dear girl’s elder male siblings passed away.

The members of this family are members of our church in Musoma, and they are an extremely lovely family. I had visited with them and I was struck by the distance they have to walk to come to church. But they never miss a service, even the mid-week ones. This is one family that has taught me that the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Mat. 11:12).

This family has always been on my heart, and after hearing the sad news I knew I had to pay tribute to the little boy who went to be with the Lord (for he died in the Lord), and to this very courageous family.

May the Lord remember them! May He bless them! May His face shine upon them evermore!

[Below: A few pictures of this very special family]

Here, the mother and two of her children (there are 3 more, one of whom has gone to be with the Lord)

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The road leading from their home to distant church… but they never miss a service!

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Our Struggle…

And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.

Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?

And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?

Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. Acts 23:1-5

There is nothing like a whack in the mouth to bring out the ‘snake’ in us. That was what happened with Paul. This is one of the rare moments when the Apostle Paul is caught breaking God’s laws. He ‘spoke evil’ of a ruler of God’s people, which is against God’s law. Actually, Paul insulted the high priest. That was a sin.

Paul was caught off-guard, which was a very fortunate thing to happen to him. Why fortunate? Because it exposed a fault in him which he probably did not know existed.

In a moment of weakness Paul allowed the flesh to triumph. He gave place to his old anger.

But Paul was quick to repent and move on. His defeat was momentary. He hurriedly stood up, dusted himself, and moved on.

Some of us lie there for hours, days, years even, wallowing in the mud of self-pity, unforgiveness, hard-hearted denial, and pure pride. But God is not going to take a knife and prune back His standards just because we want to nurse our flesh.

I wonder if Paul was embarrassed by the exposure of his weakness. Maybe he was. But again, maybe he wasn’t. Paul was a man who rejoiced in his weaknesses – even the revelation of a fault on his part.

Not that Paul would rejoice in the anger that he manifested here; and yet, I am convinced that Paul was very happy to have any such a failing in him exposed.

It is the hardest thing for a person to admit their weakness. We scramble to hide our nakedness, just like Adam and Eve, our ancestors in the flesh, did. But that is not God’s nature. God is the Great Revelator – and I am not talking about visions and dreams. I am talking about Him revealing our failings, weaknesses, flaws and faults.

Paul knew something about God. He did not waste time thinking, “This can’t be! How can I be caught like that, a great preacher of the gospel like me?” I am aware that there are times when I got angry with God for allowing me to be caught in such ‘embarrassing’ situations. But I am ashamed because that has simply been human pride on my part.

On the contrary, Paul realized that he was only a man and if there was any perfection in him, it was all by the grace of God. He was happy to admit his humanity.

God has never tried to sweep anything under the carpet. He has never spared anyone, not even His best ones. He exposed them all! How much more will He expose us. The things we try our best to hide from people He says that one day He will cause them to be shouted from someone’s rooftop!

You might appear a simpleton by admitting your human-ness. But that is exactly what we should be doing. Jesus said we should be like children! Do you think children are embarrassed when they make mistakes? Hardly! They move on with life as if nothing has happened.

Let us stop being God. None of us is perfect. Only God is; and we are not God. Let us be simple folks like the Apostles were. In that way, we will have much grace upon our lives, for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” James 4:6