My wife and I get addicted to television shows. We don’t watch much TV when it’s on, we pretty much just watch shows on Netflix and if we happen to catch something as we’re flipping through the channels. So right now the shows that Alicia and I are keeping up with are Bones and LOST (yes I know we’re a little behind the times but there have all 6 seasons on Netflix!). However, one night I came home from a meeting at church and found my wife crafting and watching a show that included men decked out in camouflage and talking in deep southern accents.
My immediate questions to my wife was, “What are you watching?”, because for a girl who loves the Food Network and shows like “Say Yes to the Dress” and “What Not to Wear” this show was a little out of her realm. I wrote the show off and didn’t really give it a second thought, until we caught a marathon on A&E. We started watching this show that featured a family in Louisiana who turned making duck calls into a million dollar industry. Just in case you have never seen this show, I want to give you a little sample I wanted to post a clip from the show:
Now I could easily say that I watch this show as research. I use a lot of television analogies when I speak, in an effort to relate to our students. Some people may not totally understand this philosophy, but if there is anything that I can do (within reason) to help a message hit home, I will do it. However, to say that I watch this for research would be more lying than truth. See I watch this show because it is funny. I also watch this show because it has amazing family values.
The idea behind this show is to follow a family who works together. If you have ever been around a family owned and operated business, then you know that it has various complications. When someone does something wrong you can’t simply fire them because they are related to you. On this show, when an order doesn’t get made in time it is a brother, uncle, or another family member who is the person to blame. Confrontation is hard, but family confrontation is that much harder.
The thing that made me fall in love with this show was not the confrontation or the silliness of watching 4 grown men try to catch frogs at night, but the way they end each show. As much confrontation as each episode brings, this family is closer than most. At the end of most episodes you see the family (Grandparents to grandchildren) eating a meal together and praying together at the table. Honestly, I pray that there would be more families like the Robertson clan of Duck Dynasty.
I want not just to build good kids but to build godly kids and godly families. As the saying goes, “A family who prays together, stays together.” I would encourage you to watch Duck Dynasty with your family because it is one quality family program. I also pray that God raises up more families like this one that both struggles and prays together.
We all know the Bible talks about family. That’s a given. Today I just wanted to share with you a few passages that have stood out to me recently about family. They are all found in the book of Psalms within less than 20 chapters of each other.
“Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones. Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.” – Psalm 127
How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the LORD has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.” – Psalm 133
May our sons flourish in their youth like well-nurtured plants. May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace. May our barns be filled with crops of every kind. May the flocks in our fields multiply by the thousands, even tens of thousands, and may our oxen be loaded down with produce. May there be no enemy breaking through our walls, no going into captivity, no cries of alarm in our town squares. Yes, joyful are those who live like this! Joyful indeed are those whose God is the LORD.” – Psalm 144:12-15
As you can see, there are some powerful words that the Psalmists use about the how a family will flourish. Simply put, your family will flourish if it is grounded in God. I also bolded 3 key phrases – one from each passage. There are certainly other points to be gleaned from these chapters, but these are the 3 I want you to remember.
1. Unless God is your family’s foundation, then everything you do is pointless. This passage goes on to talk about the blessing of having children. Most people today are cautious about not having too many kids because they can be such a handful. Yes, they can be. And I’m not saying I want to have 10 kids myself. But children are God’s personal blessings! No matter how many or how few children you do or will have, all your work may be in vain. That is, unless you make God (the whole Trinity) the foundation and center of everything you do. Any other way will not succeed in the long run.
2. Spend your time cultivating a close and healthy family. Not every family will be picture-perfect like Swiss Family Robinson, the Brady Bunch, or Leave it to Beaver. That’s not what I’m saying, and I seriously doubt that’s what the writer of Psalm 133 was trying to communicate. The passage simply indicates that it is wonderful and pleasant when brothers are at peace. This stands true for your whole family. The thing is, such a family culture doesn’t come out of nowhere. You have to work at it hard! And you may not see fruits of this for years. Even the best of parents can have kids that “go astray”. Do the best you can to be intentional about cultivating such a culture, and let God take care of the rest. Sometimes family is all you’ve got.
3. Pray for strong sons and beautiful daughters. I don’t mean this physically. Sure, physically strong sons and beautiful daughters are nice, but not all boys are built to be the next World’s Strongest Man and not all girls are going to be the next Top Model (I wouldn’t want my future daughter(s) to be a model to begin with.. modesty is too important!). All that physical stuff is beside the point. I mean to pray that your sons are spiritual rocks – powerful leaders – in their generation, and pray that your daughters be the epitome of the Proverbs 31 woman. Pray that your children will grow up to be wise adults, not just good kids. Pray that they will exceed your personal spiritual growth one day. Pray that they do extraordinary things for God! This certainly won’t be easy either. In fact, the beginning of this chapter David is prayer for deliverance, and by the end he’s asking for peace for the next generation. You will have to fight for your children to have a healthy environment in which to grow, especially given today’s culture. Start by praying for them!
There are certainly countless principles, techniques, and ideas that could be offered up concerning godly families. I truly believe that these three principles are foundational and will guide you in that direction. What other Scriptural family principles are a must (comment below)?
Your ministry is only going to be as effective as your prayer life. I could end this post right there, but I know that every one of you reading this would probably feel somewhat slighted that I only put that much effort into this post. However, the reality of that statement is beyond true, it’s imperative!
Our student ministry at Lewisburg Alliance is currently going through a series called “My Resolution” and the goal of this series is to teach our student how to live out their faith practically through spiritual disciplines. We started the series at the beginning of January by challenging how our students pray, and we wanted to change our students’ mentality from consumerist prayer to reliant prayer. Each week we went through a letter of the acrostic ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). Where I think many ministries fail is not necessarily in their teaching, but in their lack of application and opportunities. We have called this series a “practice and play series,” which simply means that we were going to teach the students how to do something and then allow them to put it into play.
This past Sunday night, our students got to “play.” My students leaders, adult leaders, and myself decided to set up prayer stations for a prayer night, and for the second week in a row I was just blown away by how God is changing the hearts and lives of our students. We set up 19 stations which included:
- Our Community
- The Media
- Our Peers
- Our Schools
- Our Families
- Church Leaders
- Our Country
- Our Burdens
- Future Careers
- Encouragement Notes (Mostly for church members)
- A Station for Our Compassion Child
- Our Missionaries
- The Names of God
- Our Reflection to the World
- Our Relationships (Friends, Family, Peers)
Our leaders arrived two hours before Youth Group and we began setting up our stations, lighting, and sound for each room. Our students and leaders brough their station stuff and it was so neat to see what they had thought up. Our purity station had a wedding dress, our media station had a an X-Box and computer with various websites, and we had a bulletin board where students could put names of their peers that they wanted to see saved.
Normally our time starts in the gym but we directed our students to go straight up to the youth room where the lights we dim and we had quiet music playing. We dismissed our students to go to stations and we gave them an hour to go at their own pace. As our students left with their small groups I went off on my own to pray before I started going to the stations myself. As I walked around I saw the hearts of students who have come a long way. As I looked at our students on their face praying at a station I couldn’t help but feel like a proud father of 20 something students. Not only did students pray at the stations but I found students praying with other students off to the side, beyond the stations! I even found myself at the family station praying for Alicia and I’s future kids with tears in my eyes. Our students had practiced and now they were playing like superstars, like when Lebron and Wade are clicking on all cylinders.
I honestly don’t know what I expected to see come from last night but I know that my expectations were definitely exceeded! I would challenge you to analyze your payer life because like I said from the get go, “Your ministry is only as successful as your prayer life.” Allow prayer in your ministry to change both you and your students’ lives.