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I’m your host AMBrewster, and I want to congratulate you for faithfully working through this series and engaging in these counseling sessions.
I know there may have been some disinterest, apathy, and potentially an argument or tear or two . . . but you’ve made it, and I pray that you have learned something, been challenged, and built up in Christ as a result of our time together.
Today we’re going to finalize these sessions by giving you and your family an opportunity to do something.
But before we get to that, allow me to remind you that Truth.Love.Parent. is active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and even LinkedIn. We also have a YouTube channel, and we’ve love for you to like, subscribe, and follow us on your favorite social sites.
We desire to continue building you up in the Lord, and we believe that Christians need to redeem their newsfeeds and put them to work in equipping us for life and godliness.
And while you’re on the world wide web, follow the link in the description of this episode to access today’s free episode notes, transcript, and related resources.
And if you’re a member of the TLP Family, you can get free access to today’s LifeWork.
So, assuming that your LifeWork is printed out, let’s get started.
Today’s session has four parts. We’re going to start by stepping back to get an overview of what we’ve been learning from the book of Ephesians and the impact it needs to have on your family.
And then we’re going to talk about an important step I believe your family needs to take. We’re also going to talk about what may happen if you do or do not take this step.
So . . .
1. A Family United in God
The whole purpose of these counseling sessions has been to pursue and achieve true family unity.
So, what have we learned? Well . . .
A. True family unity starts in your unity with God.
Have you ever made a necklace? Whether you’re using plastic beads or pearls, the only way to successfully connect the pieces is to string them on a piece of string of cord.
Imagine that you and your family members are pearls, and God is the silk chord. Your pearl must be united with the cord before it will ever be able to be united with the other pearls.
If you are not a born again saint, a follower of Christ, of disciple of God, a genuine Christian, it’s impossible for you to be beneficially united with anyone in this world.
Sure, thieves have superficial unity, and unbelievers can be unified around sports teams and politics and favorite shows, but soul-linking, eternally beneficial unity is only achieved by having a relationship with God Who created us.
But though God takes us as we are, true unity requires change, and that change starts with . . .
B. True family unity requires new life in Christ.
We can’t do anything good in and of ourselves. Romans 8 teaches that we have no spiritual power in our flesh. We need the Holy Spirit to give us the power we need to glorify God.
Our new life in Christ makes it possible for us to do what we could never do on our own. And why does God give us this new life? Why does He give us access to His power? Ephesians 2 teaches that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.
When you and your family members are actively doing right to the honor and glory of God, you will be unified in ways that you couldn’t have ever imagined.
I bet if you think back over your life, you will recognize that some of your favorite memories with your family were the ones where everyone was being a decent individual. So, trust me when I say that when you are being more than just a decent individual, when you are actively worshipping the Lord by doing what He created you to do, your experiences (and the memories of those experiences) will be even better.
C. True family unity requires that you submit to God’s will for your life.
It’s not enough to have a relationship with God, and it’s not enough to be the recipient of new life, if you’re not going to submit to God.
Chapter 3 of Ephesians showed us the amazing things that happen when we submit to God’s requirements for us.
The Apostle Paul’s life was completely changed. The people whom he was previously trying to imprison or have executed were now his closest family. He loved them. He sacrificed for them. And how did the change take place?
Paul wanted to please God, so He submitted to God’s plan for his life.
You know God wants to have a personal relationship with each of you. And you know that one of the many blessings of that relationship is that you will have the life and power to obey God. But you have to choose to use that power to submit to God’s will.
Only then will you be the person God wants you to be. Only then can you be unified with the other people in your family who are also submitting to God’s plan for them.
But how do you know what God’s plan is?
D. True family unity requires that you unify with God’s people.
Yes, God’s will is revealed in the Bible. The Bible needs to be our Family Foundation. But God has ordained that His people, the church, be unified with each other in order to help each other better know, love, and obey God.
As we speak the truth in love to each other, we build each other up into Christ. As you teach me what the Bible says about how I need live, I need to submit to that. As I teach you about what the Bible says about Christ-honoring speech, you need to submit to that.
And slowly but surely we will all grow up in all aspects into Christ Who is the head of the church.
Imagine if everyone in your family spoke truthfully and lovingly to each other. Imagine if everyone from dad and mom to the youngest child submitted to that truth and love. That would be a tightly-knitted family!
E. True family unity requires that you mature in Christ.
Remember, it’s not good enough to be different than you were, you need to continue growing and changing and maturing.
It’s not enough to graduate from kindergarten. We all still have a lot of learning and growing to do. And the same is true with your family unity.
If you are all redeemed and living and submitted and unified, then you need to continue maturing in your unification by maturing in your submission by maturing in your understanding and use of your new life in your redemption.
Take whatever degree of family unity you have — take your favorite memories, activities, and experiences — and try to imagine how they could get better and better from year to year. In fact, they get so good from year to year that you rarely look back at your past experiences because you’re so looking forward to how much better the future ones will be!
F. True family unity requires that you influence your family members for Christ.
As was already mentioned in point D, God wants us to understand His plan for us in our families. Husbands and fathers have a special responsibly. Wives and mothers have a unique responsibility. And children also have an original responsibility that only they can do.
No one can influence your family the way God wants you to influence your family.
But if you are all doing your part in the family, your family will work the way God created it to work. And that is perfect unity. That’s like all of the parts of your family car working the way they should. When that happens, your car runs smoothly and safely.
But when even one little part fails, it affects so many others that the car becomes unusable and unsafe.
True family unity requires that we all be doing our unique parts in our families.
And then and only then will we experience our last point.
G. True family unity will result in your flourishing.
God has given us everything we need for life and godliness in His Word.
Last time we looked at Ephesians 6 and the Armor of God. That chapter taught us exactly how we can have victory in this life.
Your family can only flourish as you use the Spiritual Weapon in the right way.
And that’s what God and I want for your family. We want you to thrive.
And if you want to thrive as well, then there’s some really important things you need to do. And that leads us to our second main point for today’s session.
2. Your Family Commitment
When we’re done here today, your family members are going to have an opportunity to make a commitment to God and each other.
So, let’s start by defining what it means to make a commitment.
A commitment is an agreement. It’s a pledge or a promise.
It’s when two or more people promise to do their agreed-upon part.
So, now you’re probably wondering on what you’re being asked to agree. What promise are you being asked to make?
Well, let me start by saying that I rarely ask people to promise to do something that God doesn’t already expect from them.
I have no right to tell your family how it needs to function, but God — your Creator — has every right. And so, Your Family Commitment has a number of ideas that all come from our study.
Let’s look at the Commitment together.
A. Your commitment is personal.
Please notice that it starts with, “I promise.”
You can’t control anyone else, but you must take responsibly for yourself.
B. Your commitment is being made to two groups.
First, your commitment is being made to God, and second, your commitment is being made to everyone else in your family . . . whether they choose to sign the Commitment or not.
Now — wait a minute — some of you are probably thinking, “I don’t have to sign the Commitment?”
And no, you don’t have to sign it. In fact, if you don’t want to sign it, anyone who would try to force you to sign it would also be forcing you to lie.
This is something you have to believe is the right thing to do. But I’m going to talk about this more in a minute when we look at the consequences of signing or not signing the Commitment.
For now, please realize that you are making this agreement with your family, but — more important — with God. That’s an important thing.
C. Your commitment includes the following:
Fist, you will pursue knowing God.
Please note that I didn’t say, “You will be born again.”
Yes, God wants you to be born again. Yes, you should become a Christian by having a personal relationship with God. But for the sake of our Commitment, we’re acknowledging that fact that you might not yet be completely sure of your relationship with God, and maybe you still have questions or doubts through which you want to talk. And I don’t want any of that to be a hindrance to you when it comes to whether or not you’re going to agree to this Family Commitment.
So, what does it mean to “pursue God”? It means that you will engage with learning about Him. You will participate when the it’s time to talk about God. You’ll attend church, you’ll engage in family devotions, you’ll take part whenever it’s time to learn something about God.
Any why is this important? Imagine that I befriend your family, but I absolutely refused to get to know you. I didn’t want to talk to you, and I didn’t want to talk about you with anyone else.
That’s a really terrible thing, and it would be hard for the rest of your family to have a relationship with me if I stubbornly refused to even take the time to get to know you before I rejected you.
So, we want to pursue God. We want to better know what He says about Himself in the Bible.
And I encourage dads and moms to carefully identify for the family what this entails. I’ve already mentioned participation in church and family devotions and one-on-one conversations about God, but maybe there are other things your family does that you want to add to the list.
Second, you will work to better understand God.
Remember, it’s not good enough to know something if you don’t understand it. You can know that football is a game, but if you don’t understand how it’s played, you’ll never be able to play on a team.
Understanding God means that we ask questions about what we’re learning. We think about what it means for our lives. Maybe it means that we look at a study aid to help us deepen our understanding about what we’re learning.
Even this podcast is a helpful tool to better understand what God expects from our families.
Third, you will submit to the truths you learn about God.
As you pursue knowing and understanding God, when you learn something new, you need to do your best to submit to it. Examples of this may include obeying a rule He has or recognizing that because He is so powerful and loving, He is worthy of your trust.
It’s not good enough to know what football is and understand how to play it if you’re not going to follow the rules. You can try to score on your own goal all you want, but you’ll be doing the wrong thing and hurting your team.
In the same way, what good is is to learn about God if you’re not going to live in the light of what you’ve learned. You’re just going to hurt yourself and your family.
And then Your Family Commitment just gets a little more specific about what we’re learned from Ephesians. It reads, “I will work hard to fulfill the special job God has for me in my family by unifying with my family members and influencing them for right. I will also do my best to use truth, righteousness, peace, faith, my relationship with God, and the Bible to make my decisions.”
Now, you may be wondering what happens if you fail to keep your commitment. That’s a good question. There’s all these promises to “do my best,” and stuff like that. What happens if you don’t do your best? What happens if you refuse to submit.
That’s where the second part comes in.
Fourth, you will seek reconciliation when you fail. The next part says, “When I fail to keep my commitment, I will take personal responsibility for my actions. I will confess my sin, I will ask for forgiveness, and I will do my best by the power of God to change my behavior and be reconciled to the rest of the family.”
Confessing your sin basically means you’ll talk about your actions the way God does. If God says your actions were evil and wrong, you’ll agree with Him.
Asking for forgiveness means just that. You will say to the people against whom you’ve sinned, ‘Will you please forgive me for ____________?”
And then repentance involves us doing our best in the power of God to renew our minds, put off our sinful behavior and put on righteousness like we learned in Ephesians 4:22-24.
The idea of reconciliation simply refers to getting back to where you should be. If a relationship has been hurt, let’s fix it.
Now, please note that this Commitment is not a promise to be perfect. This is a promise to try to do right. And the truth is you won’t be able to do this on your own. You’re going to need help. We’ve already acknowledged that you’re going to need God’s help, but you’re clearly going to need your family’s help too.
And guess what? They’re going to need your help.
That’s why the next part is . . . .
Fifth, you will help others be reconciled to each other. “When others fail to keep their commitment, I will lovingly speak truth in love to them in order to help them take personal responsibility for their sin and be reconciled with the rest of the family.”
This is a more specific application of the idea that you’re going to influence your family for right.
And then the Commitment ends with these words, “I want to be more closely unified with my family, and I promise to diligently pursue that unity the way God requires.”
Now, that’s the Commitment. Let’s talk briefly about what will happen if people in your family choose to sign it or refuse to sign it.
3. The Consequences of Committing
I believe that formalizing things like this are very helpful for a number of reasons. It’s helpful because it gives us the words to say to explain our desires. It’s also helpful for those days that we’ve forgotten our promises. And there my commitment is, hanging on the wall. And it’s helpful for everyone to be on the same page with an identical understanding of why we’re here and what we’re doing.
All of that can be good for your family. It gives you a biblical goal, structure, and helps you understand what you need to do if things don’t go the way they should.
By the way, this shouldn’t be the only commitment your family members make to each other. I believe it would be valuable for there to be more of these as your family matures in Christ.
So, this clear purpose and stepping stone can and should be used by everyone in the family to keep everyone moving in a Christ-honoring direction.
And assuming that — humanly speaking — everyone does their best by the power of God and the help of others, I can promise you that each of those people will mature in Christ and become more unified with each other.
But, now let’s talk about our final observation.
4. The Consequences of Not Committing
As I said earlier, you should’t sign this if you don’t mean it. We don’t want you to lie about a commitment to God.
But if you refuse to sign this commitment, you’re obviously refusing the content of the commitment. You’re telling everyone in the family that you’re not going to pursue the knowledge and understanding of God, and that you’re not going to do what He says.
That means that you refuse to unify with the family, influence them for right, submit to truth, be righteous and peaceful, mature in your faith and relationship with God and use His Word.
In addition, you also refuse to take responsibility for your sinful and hurtful choices — which means you’re probably going to blame everyone else — and you’re not going to try at all to reconcile with others or help others be reconciled with you.
Which means that you’re not interested in being unified with your family in God.
Now, let’s imagine the consequences of those choices.
Yeah, I’m assuming that it doesn’t take a very vivid imagination to picture the family disunity, distress, and dysfunction that would arise from decisions like that.
Now, those of you who choose the sign the commitment, I know it can feel very disheartening to have family members who would refuse to participate in family unity, but please understand that it would be completely inappropriate for you to break your commitment to the family members who refuse to participate.
You still need to speak the truth in love. You still need to be righteous and peaceful. You still need to pursue God’s best for your family members whether or not they want to please the Lord.
They may dislike you for it, but the most loving thing you can do is what’s in God’s best interest for your family.
It may be difficult knowing there’s someone in your family who doesn’t love the Lord and desire to deepen their relationship with you, but keep praying for them, loving them, speaking truth to them, and holding them up to God’s high biblical expectations.
Lord willing, they will one day soon come to better appreciate the awesomeness of God and recognize their need for Him.
I also recommend you all carefully answer the final questions in today’s LifeWork. Those answers will help everyone in the family recognize the important areas in their lives where they need to follow Christ better.
So, let’s end on a high note.
I am excited that, Lord willing, there will be members of your family who want to take the next step in their discipleship. And I’m excited imagining your family helping each other mature, reconcile, and grow closer together.
There will be bumps and rough patches, disappointment and sin, but God has a plan to work through that to His glory and your good. So, embrace those opportunities to reconcile.
And don’t forget that the TLP Counselors would love to hear about the growth in your family or provide specialized help.
As always, please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets.
And I look forward to reconnecting with you in December as we start Season 25!
We plan to dedicate the whole season to 12 Biblical Parenting Essentials.
We’ll see you then!
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