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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

In honor of all of our Daddies, I have compiled a list of the top 12 Bible verses for Father’s Day.  If you are a Dad, or if you ever had a dad, I pray these verses will be a source of encouragement for you this week!

  1. Genesis 18:19 – “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”(NIV)
  2. Exodus 20:12 – “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”(NIV)
  3. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 – “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”(NIV)
  4. Joshua 24:15 – “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”(NIV)
  5. Psalm 103:13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; (NIV)
  6. Psalms 127:3-5 – “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.”(NIV)
  7. Proverbs 3:11-12 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke,because the LORD disciplines those he loves,as a father the son he delights in.(NIV)
  8. Proverbs 14:26 – “Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.”(NIV)
  9. Proverbs 23:24 The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. (NIV)
  10. Malachi 4:6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse. (NIV)
  11. Ephesians 6:1-2 – “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise”(NIV)
  12. Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (NIV)

May your Father’s Day and every day be filled with delight and honor in your family!

Links

Looking for Bible verses about God as our Father?  Click here for the Top 10 Bible Verses About Our Heavenly Father.

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What do you remember about Christmas?  No doubt, there are certain gifts or events that stick out as highlights, but the ingrained memories are found in the rhythms Christmas brings to our homes.

In our fast-paced, ever changing, highly disposable culture, we are finding fewer opportunities to establish family traditions.  Christmas, however, stands as an anchor, rich in heritage and overflowing with possibilities for every home to establish their unique pattern of memories.

Christmas traditions allow us to maintain a proper perspective on the meaning of this precious season, even in the madness of our holiday shopping and schedules.  Christmas traditions allow us to slow down and take a reflective pause, before we clutter our floors with ripped-up wrapping paper and empty boxes.  Christmas traditions allow you to give your children more than a gift each year, but a memory–a memory they, in turn, can pass on to their children.  Christmas traditions give your home a heritage.

It will be up to your family to determine which traditions you establish in your home, but I recommend you not neglect two basic essentials.  I encourage you to ensure that your Christmas traditions are designed to honor the gifts that are given at Christmas time.  First, honor the gift of Jesus every Christmas morning.  Before a single present is unwrapped, allow time for the Bible to be opened.  Read and remember the nativity story each Christmas morning.  Second, honor the gifts given to one another every Christmas.  Encourage your children to slow down, only allow one gift at a time to be opened, make sure appreciation is expressed to the giver of each gift, and do not allow anyone’s generosity to be lost in the mountains of wrapping paper accumulating in your living room.

The Christmas traditions of the von Atzigen house include:

  • We always wake up in our own home on Christmas morning.  We will travel all throughout the holidays, but Christmas morning is uninterrupted and undistracted.  It is our family moment.
  • Not a creature stirs before 7:00 a.m.  This builds anticipation and allows mom and dad to recover from their late night of “some assembly required.”  Too many Christmas mornings get lost in early unwrappings and the ensuing crabby sleepiness.  And the thundering of the herd as they break into our room at 7:00 has become a beautiful Christmas morning sound, as well!
  • The Christmas story comes before the gifts.  We circle up as a family to read the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20).  We follow the Christmas story by receiving Communion together.  We use a slice of bread and sparkling apple cider for our Christmas Communion elements, and we always drink from the finest stemware we have in the house.  We follow Communion with a chocolate mint as we remember Psalm 34:8 and “taste and see that the Lord is good!”
  • Finally, we make our way to the stockings and the gifts.  Mommy directs traffic as gifts are opened.  We make certain the giver of each gift is recognized and gifts are opened one at a time, as we pause with each present to celebrate the groovy things each person has received.

There are many more traditions you can establish, many more ways of making Christmas morning a worshipful experience.  I pray that your home will find a way to give more than great gifts this year — but, to establish great memories for a lifetime.

What about your family?  I would love to hear some of the special traditions you have established in your home to make the most of the beauty of Christmas.

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Have you ever dreamed about opening the mailbox and finding a check written to you for a large sum as an inheritance from some distant, never-met relative?  How about a British estate left to you by a long-lost great-uncle?

Those dreams may seem far-fetched, and probably are as far as your hopes of a mailbox treasure go.  But, you would be completely within reason to expect an inheritance of a different nature.

“A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous” (Proverbs 13:22).

While most people rightly tie this verse to the handling of personal finances, it should also be applied to spiritual inheritance.  Have you ever stopped to consider what was passed down to you from previous generations in the way of Godly heritages and foundations?  What did the people who came before you pray for, sow into, and work towards that you are now reaping the benefits of in your own life?  Perhaps more importantly, what are you praying for, sowing into, and working towards in order to leave a Godly inheritance for your grandchildren?

Our Bible heroes weren’t perfect, but quite a few of them did a good job of modeling what this could look like for us.  Abraham is known as “Father Abraham” because he sowed faith into future generations by believing God, and seeing that credited to him as righteousness (Galatians 3:6).  Esau sowed forgiveness of his brother into the heart of his nephew Joseph, and Joseph harvested those seeds with his own brothers a couple of decades later (Genesis 33 and 45).  King David was told by God that he could not build the temple, but he didn’t let that stop him from storing up everything needed for his son, Solomon, to do so (I Chronicles 22-29).

It’s usually pretty easy to find things that are wrong with our families; after all, they’re made up of imperfect people.  And it’s true that if generational baggage has been handed to you, you’d better go to the Lord and see those bags unpacked.  But, it’s also just as important to recognize the beautiful and the holy that God has been building in your family and learn to cooperate with Him to see that carried on to completion.  Your actions today could mean that those who follow after you get a spiritual “check in the mail.”

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A recap of the stages of marriage from last night’s Sweetheart Banquet.  It is important to know where you are at, but, more importantly, to know how to move forward.

The Honeymoon Stage:

  • A sweet time of enjoying being together
  • Easy to focus on what is good about the other person
  • Endorphins are released in the brain during this stage that create a feeling of being “high on love;” these endorphins last around 3 years from the onset of a new relationship
  • Very important to be honest during this stage and establish good communication skills

The “What Was I Thinking?” Stage:

  • Reality and disillusionment set in as we realize our spouse is not the perfect specimen we had convinced ourselves they were in the honeymoon stage
  • Other person’s negative habits and behavior patterns become uncomfortably clear
  • Very important to learn about problem solving, conflict management, and better communication during this stage

The Challenge Stage:

  • Life crises factor into this stage, causing the relationship to have to grow in order to accommodate hardships
  • One temptation during this stage is for one or both of the spouses to reflect back on past relationships with other people (often ones that remained shallow and untested), creating unrest and sometimes unfaithfulness
  • Very important to focus on improving the relationship and keeping open communication during this stage, as well as focusing on the good points of the relationship

The Crossroads Stage:

  • This stage comes at a point in the spouses’ lives where they are each asking themselves, “What do I do at this stage of my life?” and the answer to that question must involve the family unit as a whole
  • A big temptation during this stage is to try to force the other person to be different, instead of working to change your self
  • Very important to stay emotionally engaged with your spouse during this stage and to resist withdrawing

The Rebirth Stage:

  • The art of compromise has been learned by this stage, making conflicts last for short amounts of time and without intense emotional backlash
  • People who reach this stage are willing to give each other the benefit of the doubt
  • Couples learn to re-appreciate and re-love each other at this stage, making time together sweet

Marriage Links

 

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Yep!  It really is “National Marriage Week!”  Bet you didn’t even know that one existed!  But, the week of February 7-14 is set aside in our nation to invest in the fundamental building block of healthy families—good marriages.

Although there’s plenty of research that shows marriage does indeed help people become healthy, wealthy, and wise (see http://www.nationalmarriageweekusa.org/Marriage-Provides-Better-Health.htm for the statistics), by far the best case to be made for marriage is that it was God’s idea.  His ideas are quite unlike mine.  While I might have a good idea every so often (my wife says usually 1 out of 3), ALL of His ideas are good.  Every single one.  He never misses.  And if marriage was dreamed up in the heart of God, you can rest assured that it not only CAN work, but can work BEAUTIFULLY.

This week, I encourage you to check out the following resources to invest in your own marriage.  If you’re not married yourself, then pray for the marriages of the people in your life and consider sharing the info with them.  We need healthy marriages in our church family and in our city.  Let’s do what it takes to see them built!

Marriage Links

Podcast

“What Snuck In Through the Garden Door,” Pastor Eric’s message from February 2nd, will be available online soon!

On the Radar

Emmanuel Fellowship is now in TWO SERVICES. Our Sunday morning worship times are 9:00 and 11:00.  A pre-school nursery only is available during the 9:00 service, and full children’s ministry is offered in the 11:00 service.

Night of Worship – After being postponed last week due to weather, we’re starting Family Foundations month off with a bang this Wednesday, February 9th, with an object lesson, fun activities, and of course, food!  Parents, make sure you’re ready to party with your kids this week and come join us.

Sermon Series – Each Sunday, during the month of February, we will be looking at different aspects of healthy Family Foundations.  From marriage to parenting to grandparenting, there’s something for everyone.

Valentine’s Couple Dessert – We’re going to have an evening to remember at the church this Sunday, February 13th, at 7 pm.  Join us as we learn how to “Keep the Sweet in Sweethearts.”  Tickets are $5 per couple and are on sale now in the church foyer!  Childcare will be provided.

Youth Led Service – Our youth are going to get in on the action by blessing us with leading every aspect of our Sunday morning services on Sunday, February 20th.  You won’t want to miss this special time.

Kingdom Principles for Raising Children Seminar – All parents are invited to attend our parenting seminar, Sunday, February 27 at 6 pm and Monday, February 28 at 7 pm. Session 1 will cover how to discipline effectively and speak your child’s love language.  Session 2 will cover how to impart Godly principles into your child’s life.

Family Connection

Check out these resources to connect with our ministry to children and youth.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Blessed Be The Name” by Matt Redmand
  2. “Mighty to Save” by Chris Tomlin and Matt Redmand
  3. “Fire Fall Down” by Hillsong

(This song is our theme song for the month as we pray for God to come and fix the broken places in our families.  Take a listen to it.)

Sunday Preview

Join us next Sunday as we continue our Family Foundations Series!

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