LTAI #1 – Depression

Welcome to Central Church of Christ: Not a place, but a people called out by God to Show His Love, Tell His Story, and Be His Family. Today we begin a new message series from the Bible called, “Let’s Talk About It” exploring some of the common mental health struggles people, even Christians deal with, and how Christ through His Word can help.  Please turn to Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 19 as we prepare for today’s Let’s Talk About It Topic. 

Recommended Reading: Gary Collins – “Christian Counseling” 

“The Christian experience has three levels.  First there are “mountaintop days when everything is going well and the world looks bright.  These experiences are temporary: they can’t go on forever.  It is unrealistic to expect, as many people do, that we can spend life leaping from one mountain peak to another as if there were no plains or valleys in between.  Instead, most of life consists of “ordinary days” when we work at our usual tasks, neither elated nor depressed.  The, third, there are “dark days” when we trudge heavily through confusion, doubt, despair, and discouragement.  Sometimes these days string out into months or even years before we begin to experience a sense of relief and victory.  When they persist, dark days are days of depression.”
 

Elijah is a great case study about Depression – look at these symptoms!

* Fear – “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life….” 1 Kings 19:3

* Suicidal tendencies – “(Elijah) prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ 1 Kings 19:4

* Excessive tiredness – “Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep…” 1 Kings 19:5 slept for a couple of days… maybe longer

* Feelings of rejection – “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 1 Kings 19:10

* AND he experienced this depression for a long time – nearly 2 months

 

(1 Kings 19:5-6) an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 

 
(19:8) And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
 

In 1999 Duke University conducted a study of nearly 4000 older adults. One of their conclusions: “Attendance at a house of worship is related to lower rates of depression and anxiety.”

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990726070153.htm

 

Andrew Newberg, director of clinical nuclear medicine at the University of Pittsburgh used the SPECT technique and made an interesting discovery. Newberg studied the brains of religious individuals who either prayed or meditated. And his team found a dramatic increase in action in the front region of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex. The region is associated with judgment and empathy. The group also discovered decreased activity in a region of the brain known as the superior parietal lobe, which gives us our sense of “self.” The findings seem to indicate that people – while engaged in spiritual pursuits – felt a loss of self. Newberg says prayer and meditation have been shown to lower the risk of depression and heart disease and improve immune function.

http://www.andrewnewberg.com/research

 
(I Kings 19:13) “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 
 
(1 Kings 19:14) Elijah replied to God and said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
 
(1 Kings 19:18) “I have reserved seven thousand in Israel— all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”

JEWSIH HOPE – When our allied troops were making their way across Cologne Germany to cross Hitler’s forces, they came across a bombed out concentration camp building that had this inscription scrawled on a basement wall:

“I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.

I believe in love even when it is not shown.

And I believe in God even He doesn’t speak.”

 
“Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu … king over Israel, and anoint Elisha … to succeed you as prophet.” (I Kings 19:15-16)
 

Dr. Karl Menninger replied, “Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, find somebody in need, and help that person.” To overcome discouragement, “Don’t focus on yourself, get involved in the lives of other people.”

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_birthday_of_karl_menninger

 
Ways to help someone dealing with depression:
  • Give them rest
  • Find Church
  • Let them talk
  • Deal with false beliefs – Give Hope
  • Give them a mission
 

The Bible gives us an amazing glimpse into the soul of Jesus the night before he was crucified. Watch and learn from the way Jesus fought his strategic battle against despondency or depression.

  1. He chose some close friends to be with him. “Taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee” (Matthew 26:37).
  2. He opened his soul to them. He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (Matthew 26:38).
  3. He asked for their intercession and partnership in the battle. “Remain here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38).
  4. He poured out his heart to his Father in prayer. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39).
  5. He rested his soul in the sovereign wisdom of God. “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
  6. He fixed his eye on the glorious future grace that awaited him on the other side of the cross. “For the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

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Remember the Words of Jesus

Remember the words of Jesus in song here: https://youtu.be/cfN5N1kdgGk

They’ll know we are Christians by our love…


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Sermon Notes – M&T5

Meat & Tators #5 – Where’s the Beef? 

  1. In 1984-85 Wendy’s had a commercial running featuring a four foot eleven inch tall, gray haired old feisty Grandma named Clara Peller. If you remember the commercial Ms. Peller would walk up to the counter of the fast food restaurant with about a four inch hamburger patty on a 12 inch bun, slap the counter and loudly asked, Where’s the Beef? It became a national catch phrase that was used even in the presidential elections in 1984. The premise behind the ad was that there was no place except Wendy’s that you could get a hamburger with enough beef to satisfy your appetite. The expectation was that if you went to Wendy’s for your hamburger, you would not have to ask…Where’s the Beef!
Does our church leave people asking, “Where’s the Beef?”

Mark 10:35-45 .

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Unflattering List of People that God used! 

“Moses stuttered.

David’s armor didn’t fit.

Hosea’s wife was a prostitute.

Jacob was a liar.

David had an affair.

Solomon was too rich.

Abraham was too old.

David was too young.

Timothy had ulcers.

Peter was afraid of death.

Lazarus was dead.

John was self-righteous.

Jesus was too poor.

Naomi was a widow.

John Mark – rejected by Paul

Paul was a murderer.

So was Moses.

Jonah ran from God.

Miriam was a gossip & bigot

Gideon and Thomas both doubted.

Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal.

Elijah was burned out.

Martha was a worrywart.

Samson had long hair.

Noah got drunk.

And did I mention that Moses had a short fuse?

Hebrews 5:12-14

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

 

1 Corinthians 3:1-3

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?


42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.
 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:42-45

Tampa Bay.com ran an article some time back about street gangs. In it they told the story of a  preacher who was trying to reach out to the slum dwellers for Christ. “When he first moved into this neighborhood, as a refugee from Harvard, Rivers sought out a local drug dealer (to ask him why he was so successful in dragging people into his lifestyle)… and he gave Rivers, a Pentecostal, a lesson in why God was losing to gangs in the battle for the souls of inner city kids. “Selvin explained to us, ’I’m there when Johnny goes out for a loaf of bread for Mama. I’m there, you’re not. I win, you lose, It’s all about being there.’”

https://www.tampabay.com/archive/1998/07/28/street-ministries-can-save-kids/?outputType=amp

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!  – Philippians 2;5-8

Mark 8:34-37 – And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
 


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Finding God’s Beauty in the Ordinary

God’s glory is on full display today; look close at the geometric beauty of snowflakes on the bushes, truck tailgate, and minivan window that Topher shot this morning. AMAZING!
Gallery
 
“All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” – John 1:3

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Passing of former minister Brian Crow

Church family, it is bittersweet to share the passing of Brian Crow to his heavenly reward. Brian served as minister at Central Church of Christ from 1981 to 1991. The picture below is from his directory photo in 1989. We will send out a link to the obituary information when it is made available. We hope you all are having a safe and blessed Monday.

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Interview with Phlebotomist Paige Cobb

Interview with Phlebotomist Paige Cobb

Our blood drive today will have a wonderful phlebotomist on the bus, Paige Cobb! She’s a friend of Central Church of Christ and taught me a lot about giving blood. We still have a few spots to give available between 2-4pm at Central Church of Christ today. Give a gift from the heart this Valentine’s Day!


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VDay Blood Drive SIGN UP

We have plenty of slots open to give blood tomorrow at the church building from 12-4pm. Supplies are very low right this moment, and Covid-19 patients especially are benefiting from blood transfusions right now. Your gift of blood could literally be used to help save your neighbors’ life. What a great gift to give for Valentine’s Day! Just click here to sign up between 12pm-4pm.

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Sermon Notes – 02/07 – Commentators & Participators

Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:34-40

INTRO: It’s Super Bowl Sunday and boy do we have a lineup for you tonight at the big game!  Just in case you’re unfamiliar, I want to share with you who you can expect to be the most thrilled and excited about during the Superbowl CBS Gameplay!

      • Jim Nantz – In high school he was co-captain of the basketball team and golf team, going on to play golf for the University of Houston!  One of his famous commentator quotes is “Sometimes when you think you can’t, you can!” in the 1999 basketball championship game.  What’s better is his last name rhymes with pants!
      • Tracy Wolfson – Close to the action, she’ll be a sideline reporter. Her accolades include the extreme accomplishments of being selected to do sideline reports in the NCAA College hoops 2008 edition on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game consoles!
      • Evan Washburn – His noteworthy accomplishments are, he got married in 2014, and he played college Lacrosse!  At least there’s a goal in that game right?  It’s kindof like football!
      • Tony Romo – 14 seasons with the Dallas cowboys as quarterback where he played six post season games and won two of them! Needless to say, he’s never been in a SuperBowl position, but he sure would have liked to! 
      • Jay Feely – He played the game, was a least a PlaceKicker!  He sets the ball on a tee and gives it the boot!  He’s been traded to the Tampa Bay Storm, Falcons, Giants, Dolphins, Chiefs, Jets, Cardinals, and Da’ Bears.  Did you know he even did so well as to become a Pro Bowl alternate with the Giants in 2005! 
      • Gene Steratore – His occupation is as a rules analyst!  He came on the field as a referee in 2006, and 12 years later entered into retirement.  Now he’s come out of that retirement as a commentator just for you!
      • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Bowl_LV

WELCOME: To Central Church of Christ, not a place or a building, but a people called out for God’s purposes of Show His Love, Telling His Story, and Being His Family.  Today, we are in our fourth message about Meat & Tators. It all began when my son Ethan, decided not to his his french fries one day, but asked for a second hamburger instead.  Which got me to thinking, some of us lead a Christian life like the tators on the side, a life of fluffy filler, but no real substance. Too much of the fluffy stuff on the side makes the Christian life and the church bloated, gaining a lot of size, but no strength or health.  Don’t be like the tators on the side.

Love God and love your neighbor! (Matthew 22:37-38)

BACKGROUND on PHARISEES: After giving the greatest commands, Jesus talks to the Scribes and Pharisees, people who were more Commentators on the life of religion rather than participators in a life of faith!

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. – Matthew 23:2-3

There were about 6,000 Pharisees in that day, with many more who were followers but not full members of the group.  (Josephus – Antiquities of the Jews 17:42)

      • THE FIRST WOE

‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.’ Matthew 23:13

      • THE SECOND WOE

‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You devour widows’ houses and make long prayers just for show. This is why you will receive a harsher punishment.’ Matthew 23:14

      • THE THIRD WOE

‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. ‘Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.’ Matthew 23:15-22

5 When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. – Romans 8:5-8

 

Mark 7:8-9

8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!

      • THE FOURTH WOE

‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.’ Mathew 23:23-24

Micah 6:6-8

6 “With what shall I come before the Lord,

    and bow myself before God on high?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

    with calves a year old?

7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

8 He has told you, O man, what is good;

    and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

    and to walk humbly with your God?

      • THE FIFTH WOE

‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.’ Matthew 23:25-26

 

Clarksville TN – A one-of-a-kind sermon – Cleanliness Layer of Comfort

Throughout the week, Willie Lyle kept a small journal of what he was experiencing. These notes become the foundation for the sermon he delivered June 23 at Sango United Methodist Church, a sermon that caught the congregation off guard.

Only four people at the church knew what their new pastor was doing.

Early in the morning June 23, Willie Lyle lay under a tree on the church lawn covered in a big overcoat. He still had not shaved or combed his hair.

He wondered how many people would approach him and offer him food, invite him to sit inside an air-conditioned room, or just see how they could help. Twenty people spoke to him and offered some type of assistance.

The title of his sermon was The Least Used Parts of the Body, based on I Corinthians 12:12-15.

“Often the least used parts of the body are the ones that mean the most, like our heart and mind. We need to understand that there are no small or least used parts in the body of Christ,” Willie Lyle told the congregation that was started about 10 miles outside of downtown more than a century ago. “Too many of us only want to serve God one hour each week. That doesn’t cut it. That is not God’s plan.”

While he preached, his daughter-in-law cut his hair and his daughter helped shave off his scruffy beard. He changed shoes, and beneath the overcoat, he was wearing his Sunday clothes. He put on a tie and his suit coat, all the while continuing to preach his message.

Before the 200 people gathered that morning, he went from looking like a homeless person to the new pastor of the congregation.

“I wanted everybody to know what I had been through, what I had learned and the physical and emotional discomfort I experienced and that I am still dealing with. And I made sure to mention more than once that Christ was not comfortable on the cross.”

From <https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/24/pastor-homeless-experience/2583241/>

      • THE SIXTH WOE

‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but, on the inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.’ Matthew 23:27-28

DAVID’s HEART

1 Samuel 16:5-7 – 5 And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 

      • THE SEVENTH WOE

‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.’ And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So, you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!’ Matthew 23:29-32

These guys had been living life as a Tator, a Commentator for so long, they had no hope of ever getting in the game!

‘You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore, I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.’ Matthew 23:33-34

‘Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.’ Matthew 23:36

 

C.S. Lewis – “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”

 

Lion Witch & Wardrobe

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” – C.S. Lewis

 

Don’t be a TATOR!

Love God – Believe, Repent, Confess, Be Baptized

Love People – Live a Life of faith that blesses others!

It’s not always comfortable, but it is good!

 

 


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Blood Drive: Give a Gift From the Heart

VALENTINES DAY – Sunday, February 14th – 12pm to 4pm

Jesus lovingly gave His blood from his Heart to save our eternal lives.  We have an opportunity to give blood from our heart to save lives as well.  Many around Valentine’s Day will give gifts of love to others.  What will our gifts of love be?

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. One hundred ten pounds (110 lbs) and at least 16 years old makes you eligible to give blood.
  1. Tell at least two friends who may be eligible to give blood about our blood drive.  
  1. Three is the number of Upper Cumberland neighbors potentially saved by a volunteer donor’s unit of blood.  With at least 26 donor openings, our drive could potentially save 78 lives!

Revelation 1:5b-6  “To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father – to Him be glory and power forever and ever!  Amen.”

Whether you can give blood to help save physical life or not, you can encourage others toward the freeing blood of Jesus in the hopes that their eternal life might be saved.  Remember that blood given in this drive goes to support hospitals in the Upper Cumberland, literally loving your neighbors! 

Sign up at http://www.bloodassurance.org/CCOC


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Family Forte: Saving Society by Building Family Unity

by: Topher Wiles

A bizarre couplet of communications happened only moments apart this week, inspiring this article about family unity. I was walking to the Coffee Collective for a standard cup of joe when a 75-year-old friend texted me the following message.

“The country has never been this divided, even during the 60’s. I’m seeing long time friendships fray because of political differences, to the point of obscuring the true reasons for bonds that had lasted for years. Not too many things bother me, but this is disturbing for our children. Now is the time for all of us to appeal to better…”

Moments later, a 19-year-old barista was on break and shared, “Topher, what worries me most is that people are so often divided and mean to each other. It boils down to respect and taking time to understand people with a different point of view. The best thing you can do is be nice to people.”

Denny and Malee, I couldn’t agree more. Even though you both come from different backgrounds, perspectives, and generations, you both have voiced a true illness plaguing our society. The Pew Research Center backs your observations with statistics in a November 2020 piece titled, America is Exceptional in the Nature of it’s Political Divide.  Pew sums it all up saying, “America has rarely been as polarized as it is today.”  
https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/11/13/america-is-exceptional-in-the-nature-of-its-political-divide/

I believe the best changes that can be made in a person’s life start early with the first organization God ever created, the family.  The Wiles family is far from perfect in regard to divisions, squabbles, tiffs, and tears, yet we are actively promoting a few premises in our children’s lives to help them overcome the plague in this current generation. Here are a few ideas that work to build our Family Forte that may help yours as well.

  • Teach the idea of “Honor all people.” This mantra is more than a trite saying, it’s a way of life that needs to be repeated often, shouted from the rooftops, and shared with your children.  Most people don’t realize that this is a command handed down through the last 2000 years by one of the most prideful and impetuous disciples of Jesus. In the middle of a discussion about relationships between wives and husbands, slaves and masters, government and citizens, Peter says these direct words, “Honor everyone.” 1 Peter 2:17a. Jesus sets that exact precedent when he chides the religious elite for hypocrisy saying, “As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” Luke 6:31-33.  Purposely set this command as one of your primary family rules and remind your children of it often.
  • Display the positives and negatives of unity. Years ago my beautiful bride made a poster from a photograph of young Gabriel and Ethan walking down the road together holding hands. She captioned the bottom with “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brother’s dwell together in unity.” Psalm 133:1. Her goal was to remind our growing boys that the best moments of life come from their common bonds rather than their divisions. In contrast, whenever she questions the kids after a squabble, she has this perfect method for displaying the negatives of division. She asks, “Ethan, how does Clara feel right now? What emotion is on her face? What thoughts are running through her head?”  Invest time with your children in the midst of triumph and trial to reflect on the positive and negative displays that come from unity and division.  
  • Train Complementors, Not Competitors. Boys have this ingrained sense of aggression, competition, and war that starts ooze out of their pores at an early age fueling many fights in families.  When left unchecked it can build into unbridled resentment causing fissures in families many decades later. That innate childhood aggression can be good when turned the right direction, so Ashley and I redirected it. When they were young our boys were not allowed to wrestle, spar, or box with each other, but only with me.  The result was that Gabriel often used his height to attack my upper body while Ethan’s complementary shorter, stockier build to take out my legs! The boys learned the deep abiding truth that they are stronger together than apart. Today, in sporting events such as ping-pong, basketball, and tennis, we still teach them that their job in head-to-head play is to train each other for success against other opponents. Over time their play takes on a new complementary height when they realize they are complementary and not competitors.
  • Model unity at home. Parents, children will do what you do before they do what you say. Do your absolute best to be kind to your wife, in-laws, boss, and community leaders in all moments, especially inside the four walls of your home.  You can voice differing opinions and be strongly opposed to a platform without using inflammatory words or unkind actions.  Your children will see the union you have with others despite your differences and they will follow your example. When they see and seek unity, your family will be blessed for generations to come.  
It was Jesus who taught us a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. Mark 3:24. Our Lord didn’t direct us to lose our identity, forget our opinions, or quietly submit to every whim of society. Instead, Jesus modelled for us how to honor everyone and live together in unity despite the differences. Friends, the cure for our divisive illness was shared long ago and it is best administered through the family. May you be blessed with unity, peace, and family forte.
 

The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email, topherwiles@spartacoc.com, or through our website, www.christiscentral.org.


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