Tag Archives: family

Deuteronomy 25; The Family of the Unsandaled

I got stalled in my reading today at verse 10. Moses was talking to the Israelites about the rights of a young woman, widowed before she could have a child. Moses said the dead man’s brother was to marry her, have a child by her, and the child would be considered the extension of her first husband’s ancestral line.

If the living brother refused her, she could take him to court. If, even after the town’s elders talked to him, he still refused, the widow would bend down, remove her brother-in-law’s sandal, and spit in his face. He would be totally humiliated in front of the whole town as he held on to his stubborn disobedience.

So why wouldn’t he be identified as “The Unsandaled Man?” Why did Moses tell the people this man’s family would always be identified with his disobedience: The Family of the Unsandaled.

Jewish genealogy was so important to them, I wonder why a guy would set his children and grandchildren up to bear the tarnish his sin caused? How self-serving can a person be?

I went to the commentaries on my shelves, and even Matthew Henry had little to say on the subject. So I went to Google. Google has an opinion on just about anything. I wasn’t disappointed.

Well, a little disappointed. I found one pastor who said these verses in Deuteronomy support gay marriage. (sigh). But another pointed to Ruth and Boaz and the fact that Jesus came out of their union. Another pointed to the time the religious leaders tried to trip Jesus up by using this passage. But I couldn’t find an answer to my question concerning the family of the guilty man.

So I decided to pray. (Not proud of the order of my actions here today) I asked God if there was something He wanted me to know about this verse. I sat and thought about it, meditated on it, and I prayed again. And here is what I believe God would have me share:

We are all born into a family. We all carry a family name. We rub shoulders with the people in our community as part of an identifiable family. My sisters and I grew up as “The Zehner Girls.” And even though today most of us have different last names through marriage, we are still known to many as “The Zehner Girls.”

But there is another means of identification. And that has to do with character. I bet you know a “Family of the Unfaithful.” Or a “Family of the Liar.” Or a “Family of the Gossip.” What about “The Family of the Lazy?” “The Family of the Hot-Head,” or “The Family of the Drunk?”

Some people believe the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Maybe you also know “The Family of the Compassionate.” And a “Family of the Humble.” Do you know “The Family of the Dependable?”

The thing is, what you do and who you are in the community reflects on those dear ones in your home. Maybe you live like what you want is more important than they are. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself it’s your life, and they have nothing to do with your choices, or that your choices can’t hurt them. I think God would have us know differently.

Then I thought about another family with whom we identify. That’s our church family. When people look at your church family do they identify them as “The Church of the Faithful” because YOU are faithful? Do they recognize your fellowship as “The Church of the Generous” because of YOUR generosity? Are you known as “The Church of the Compassionate” as you reach out to the needy in your community? “Do they see you as “The Church of the Truth” because you live your life according to Scripture?

Like it or not, the world is judging your family, and your church, by how you live and the choices you make. I don’t want my legacy to be a slap in the face to my family. In fact, as I sit here and wonder about what I’d like that legacy to be, I would like us to be known as, “The Family That Looks Like Jesus.”

And if that’s my goal, I’ve got some praying, some searching of Scripture, some loving and serving to do in His Name.

I hope you will consider the title your family is known by, and what you’d like it to be. I’ll be praying for you.

Numbers 1-3; Family

We celebrated my niece’s wedding this past weekend with a reception at the local arts’ center. It was so beautiful and so fun to honor the love of her and my newest nephew. To add to the occasion, our family from Texas traveled the thousand mile journey to join us. I got to see my Texas niece’s daughter for the first time, and hug on my sister’s new husband and his daughter. 35 of our immediate family gathered together for brunch on Saturday, then had an Easter Egg hunt for the eight little ones in our lives.

The five “Zehner girls” were all together for the first time in five years. We followed each other around like sappy puppies. No one wanted to miss a moment of our time together. And having almost all their children and grandchildren with us was nothing short of amazing.

Maybe that’s why this morning, as I read these first chapters in the book of Numbers, I was impressed with the fact that God told the Israelites to camp, and travel with their families. Yes, they were all God’s children. But they were divided into family groups, numbered as family groups, went to war as family groups.

I’m thankful for my family group. I won’t pretend that everything has always been as it was this past weekend. There has been hurt, and anger, and separation. There have been times when there was little or no communication with some of us. But as I sat together with my sisters, laughing and remembering the good times, as I watched our children enjoying each other, someone said, “Thank you, Bob and Ginny.” Our parents gave us quite a gift in our forever friends.

Some of you may be experiencing brokenness in your family group. I don’t know your situation. But I would encourage you to do what you can to fix it. Reach out to that one with whom you are estranged. Confess. Forgive. Encourage. Family units seem to be important to God.

If you are a parent I would suggest that you would raise your children to be friends. Model the behavior with your own siblings that you want to see in your kids. People don’t believe that a house full of five girls could exist without fights. But we didn’t get away with fighting. We weren’t allowed to be mean to each other,  and our parents never thought it was funny if one of us would strike another or take another’s toy.

I, being the oldest, was never given authority over my younger sisters. I can’t remember ever being “in charge” when our parents weren’t home. (Oh, I might have thought I was in charge, but I don’t think that position was ever really given to me). We weren’t all forced to fit into a single mold. I never heard, “Why aren’t you more like your sister?”

Parenting is hard. But how you raise your children will have a lot to do with the relationships you have with them when they are adults. I’m loving the adult relationships I have with my nieces and nephews, and their spouses. And I love that the second generation of Zehners are friends with each other, too.

 

Jesus’ friends were concerned for His family, His mother, brothers, and sisters. Jesus told them that we who do God’s will are his family. Yet, when He was on the cross, He looked at Mary, His mother, and told John to take care of her. There was still that family connection.

So I believe the Bible teaches that families are important. They can be those people who love you best, hold you accountable, encourage, and challenge you.

I’m praying for yours.

June 4 – Phones and Ants

Proverbs 4-6

It’s baseball season. That makes me happy. I love the game. I love watching my nephew play on his traveling team. Watching my great-nephew play t-ball is a blast. And I always have the TV turned to the Cleveland Indians’ game whenever they are playing. What can I say? I’m a fan.

When I am at the ballpark, I’m there to watch the game. But as I look down the row of parents sitting in folding chairs behind the backstop, I am astounded at the number of heads that are bowed, eyes glued to the phones in their hands. Oh, they might look up when their kid is at bat. Well, most of the time.

It amazes me how often a TV camera will span the crowd at a professional ballgame, and you’ll see the same thing. The game is going on, but people are watching their phones. My thought is, stay home! Save yourself a couple hundred dollars and play that game or answer that all-important text while you’re sitting on your couch.

How often have you been driving and had to swerve to get out of the way of someone behind the wheel, eyes down, phone in hand?

I know it’s easy to get caught up in technology. Much of our communication is texting, our connection to the world is the internet. And, let’s face it. Some of those games are fun.

And addictive. A few months back I found myself in the middle of playing several games. I might look at the clock and notice I’d been playing for hours, and I never realized how long I’d been sitting. It came to the point where I deleted all but one game on my phone and iPad. I was beginning to become a sluggard.

Proverbs 6 tells us to learn a lesson from watching an ant. An ant is always working. An ant carries its own weight, and then some.

I feel God is asking us today if we are more like ants, or slugs? Are we missing out on family time (and I don’t mean just our physical presence)? Are we neglecting what God asks us to do? Do we steal away time with God in order to make it to the next level of that game, or to read every FB post, or answer every text about what your friend had for dinner?

Put down the phone. Pick up your kid. Or the Bible. Or the vacuum, the lawnmower, visit your neighbor, or… (you know what God has brought to your mind).

Time is something you will never get back. There are no do-overs. Is what is on your phone really that important?

April 6 – Safe Places

Judges 19-21

Where do you turn when you feel lost, or afraid, or overwhelmed by the circumstances of life? I hope you all can answer that question by saying you go directly to God in prayer.

But I’m talking in addition to that. When you get up off your knees, where do you go to feel safe? Who in your life represents that safe place we all need from time to time?

Judges 19 tells of a Jewish man traveling with his wife and servant. It was getting late in the day, and they were close to a town of non-Jewish people. The man decided to travel a bit further because he did not want to stay with foreigners. They went, instead, to Gibeah, a town of the tribe of Benjamin.

First of all, the travelers were ignored by their fellow Jews. No one offered to take them in until an old guy showed up and invited them into his home. Read the account for yourself. It’s horrible what happened.

Shouldn’t we be able to feel the safest with our families? Shouldn’t we be welcomed and cared for by those related to us? And shouldn’t the same be said for our churches?

This story made me think of those who have been hurt or betrayed by people in their homes, or in their churches. We probably all know someone who tells of mistreatment at the hands of those who they trusted to care for them. Maybe you have experienced that pain yourself.

If you describe your home as a Christian home, is it the one place on earth your children feel the most welcome, the safest, the best loved? Even when discipline is required?

Is your church fellowship warm and caring and forgiving? Or is there gossip and jealousy and pride running rampant? Do your members have reason to trust and support each other?

If there is hurt going on, don’t just stand by and let it happen. That makes you just as guilty as the one inflicting harm. Let’s put our homes and churches in order and set them as the standard for which everyone else strives.

Our Christian homes and our churches need to be the safest, most caring and loving places in the lives of our fellow Christians. And making that a reality is something you can do.

Dear God, I pray for all of us today as we take a look at our homes and our church fellowships. Convict those of us who are guilty of holding grudges, or having a mean temper, or who gossip, or are jealous… I pray that you will help us to repent, to speak up against mistreatment of our brothers and sisters, and to demand that our homes and churches be the safest place for a Christian to be. May You be glorified as we love one another like You love us.

March 6 – We Are Family

Numbers 26&27

These chapters in Numbers are about family. Moses was counting the men from each family because God was preparing them to receive their portion of the Promised Land.

Reading this certainly has me thinking about my family. I like being one of the “Zehner girls.” I am blessed to have been born into this particular family, even with all our imperfections. We were raised by parents who loved each other, and us. And we were encouraged to love the Lord.

However, the generations of Zehners before us were people who largely ignored God. Alcoholics, unfaithful spouses, kids from the wrong side of the tracks. So when a Zehner married a Kindinger, that ball stopped rolling.

Yes, I was blessed to be a part of this family, and my sisters and their children continue to be a blessing to me all these years later. But not everyone reading this blog has had the same experience as me. Some of you have been wounded by your family, and wear the scars of neglect and abuse.

So did my Dad. But I thank God he made different choices than other members of his family. So can you.

I worshiped this morning with people I love, none of whom is remotely related to a Zehner. I walked through those doors and was greeted by people glad to see me. I made it a point to say Hi to someone I hadn’t seen in a few weeks. And it was my pleasure to invite a woman visiting for the first time to sit with me. I sat there and shared the Lord’s Table with these dear people, sang hymns and songs of worship together with them, drank in the message about Jesus’ last days on this earth.

Here’s the thing. All of us, no matter to what family we were born, have an opportunity to belong to a family of believers. I hope you are a part of such a fellowship, loving and serving and worshiping and caring for each other.

Family is important in the Bible. Moses was preparing the people to enter the Promised Land. But they weren’t going solo. They were going together with their families.

I would encourage you to cherish those people in your home. And if you find yourself alone, I pray you will find a Bible believing fellowship where you can develop close relationships. Yes, we who know Christ as our Savior are members of the Church, the Kingdom of God. Everyone Moses counted that day were members of the Jewish nation, the children of God.

But they each had a smaller, more intimate identity, too. It’s called family.

I’m praying for yours.

Father, Thank you for coming up with the idea of “family.” Thank you for Bob and Ginny, Peggy, Kathy, Nancy, and Sally, my family. Such good memories. Such blessings yet today. Thank you for nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, all of whom I am privileged to love. And I thank you for my two church families. Bless those dear ones at Bellville Baptist Church in Ohio. Bless the Frederica Baptist Church family in Georgia. I love being a part of both of these fellowships of believers. I pray for those reading this blog who have been hurt by family members. I pray for those who have been hurt by church family members. God, I pray that you would heal and encourage each one. And, God, I pray that we all will find that family connection within our church walls. We want to enter that Promised Land shoulder to shoulder with people who love us, and who we love. And thank You for being the best Father ever. Above all, I love being Your child.

 

June 14

I Kings 15:32-34, 15-24, 16:1-34, 22:41-46; 2 Chronicles16:1-14, 20:31-34, 17:1-18:1

Israel and Judah were at war. The very family God led out of captivity with one miracle after another, the people who were provided for so amazingly during their desert wandering, the ones through whom God revealed himself to the world couldn’t make it last. Jealousy and power and idol worship were signs that these people had abandoned the God who had brought them there.

There were those who tried to lead the people back to God. Asa and his son Jehoshaphat were kings of Judah who sought God. Jehoshaphat even sent a missionary team to the cities in Judah, teaching the Jewish people God’s law once again. The surrounding nations noticed the power of God in the lives of the people of Judah and that nation enjoyed a time of peace during Jehoshaphat’s reign.

How is your family doing? I hope you haven’t followed Israel’s example and allowed jealousy or power or idol worship to cause a war among you and your loved ones.

How is your church family doing? Is there harmony in the pews or is there a little war going on behind the scenes?

We can learn from this Scripture today that serving God, keeping his Word alive in our lives bring peace. If there is trouble, remember that trouble comes when our focus begins to turn to anything other that God Himself. In our families. And in our churches.

I pray for peace in your life today.

February 26

Numbers 1-2

The first part of the book of Numbers is about family. Counting families. Positioning families. Recounting families.

I love my family. My sisters and I were so blessed to have the parents we had. They weren’t perfect, of course, but they loved us and raised us to love each other. We often comment that our parents gave us forever friends.

My sisters’ children were raised to be friends with each other, too. The relationship of ‘cousin’ is as strong and loving as ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ to them.

And now a new generation is among us. I am excited to see what God has in store for these little ones as well.

I know “family” means different things to different people. I hope you have precious memories of yours and that you enjoy precious relationships with them today.

If you don’t have your own flesh and blood family you are close to I hope you reach out to a church family or a group of Christian friends with whom you can let your hair down and just be yourself, knowing they are going to love you anyway!  God created us with a need for one another.

It has been said that one of the greatest gifts a father can give his children is to love their mother. Or mothers love their fathers. Parents, I know you know how blessed you are to have those children in your home. I pray that you will raise them to be friends with one another, to experience unconditional love, and to take pride in your family unit.

So as we read the book of Numbers together, let’s celebrate family. The verses can get tedious but in each verse is someone’s life. Someone’s mother or father, brother or sister. Real people with real hopes and dreams, struggles and grief.

Just like ours.