People-rich

Psalm 68:6a

God sets the lonely in families

I'm not a proponent of the "prosperity gospel," but I do believe coming into God's family makes you rich. Allow me to explain...

This November, as I reflect on all that I have to be thankful for, I realize that I am unbelievably rich! I don't mean to brag, but I am definitely people-rich. I am constantly surrounded with wonderful people, and this reality is a direct result of being one of God's kids.

For starters, my actual blood relatives are amazing! I didn't do anything to deserve the great blessing of being born into a godly family, but this is my reality and my great joy! I get to live with and around people who are walking with the Lord in faith and love and obedience and being transformed more and more into His likeness. And when you have the benefit of being raised by people who were raised by people who were raised by people who all loved and served the Lord, you are keeping company with some pretty great folks! God's work of sanctification is transforming each heart and mind, and because of His gracious work our family gets better all the time! (Sanctification means that all the old people in our family are awesome and the rest of us are still works in progress... haha!)

I am very aware of the fact that I have been given an exceptional family. For example, sometimes I listen to my brother preach and I can hardly believe that I have his number in my phone and I could call him if I wanted to - and he might even answer! And it's not just my side of the family. Recently my husband's grandfather, W.D. James, went to be with the Lord. Attending his funeral and seeing the hundreds of people who were touched by his life and ministry as a pastor, I was filled with gratitude that I had married into such a godly heritage. Unbelievably, I now have not one but two huge families full of people who are slowly outgrowing their annoying tendencies and growing into grace and truth and the fruit that God's Spirit produces in our lives!

Family is God's idea, and like all of His ideas, it's really good. But, perhaps you are reading this and thinking, "That's so great for you, but for whatever reason God didn't bless me with that kind of family." And if that is you, then stay with me, because here is some wonderful news: If you are in Christ then you are in a big, beautiful, glorious family!

When you belong to the Heavenly Father, and you love what He loves, and you are about what He's about,

you will find brothers and sisters of faith everywhere!

I met Jessica when we were watching our sons train to be Ninjas :) She is from south Texas, she carries a machete under her driver's seat (because evidently that is how they roll in south Texas), she slaughters ducks in her backyard (again, Texans) and within 30 seconds of speaking with her I knew she was my sister. There is an unguarded joy and openness that radiates from people who love their Maker, and before we ever talked about God or faith or the Bible, I knew we were family.

I met Julia when she hired me to come and play music for a little get-together she was hosting in her school library. We talked for maybe 20 minutes, and within that time we had told each other some very deep things. We were "new" friends, but we had a common back story - we were both believers and we were both reading the same living words - and there was an unspoken understanding that our lives were about the same things. Julia is my family, and while I don't know every detail about her life, I know the most important ones. And so our friendship advanced much more quickly.

When my husband and I were flying to Ireland for our anniversary last summer, I spotted a man who, based on all stereotypes, looked like he had nothing in common with me. Then I spotted a large tattoo on his forearm that said "Lamb of God," and I thought, "Huh, that's my brother." And somehow, just knowing that we had extended family with us while traveling to a different part of the world was strangely comforting.

Of course, I don't really know if that man in the airport is my family because I am not speaking about all church attenders or religious people, I am speaking about individuals who have died to their old selves, who have been made alive in Christ, and who are being transformed daily into His image. These are our brothers and sisters. We don't earn our way into this wonderful community - we are adopted. And yet, once we are adopted by such a loving and generous Father, it is our desire and our great honor to resemble Him.

So how does the family of God work? It works like a regular, healthy (occasionally dysfunctional) family! We laugh together and cry together. We encourage each other and correct each other. We bring meals and sit in hospital corridors; we stand together at weddings and funerals. We help raise each other's kids, and we pray with and for one another. Family makes the good times more good and the bad times less bad. Do you have a family like this? If you do, give thanks - you are people-rich! If you don't, do you want to join ours?

John 1:12

But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God,

When you are in Christ, you are in the most wonderful family in the world. No matter where you live or travel you can find family members who are carrying within them the very Spirit of God Himself. The Spirit in us will recognize the Spirit in them, and while our day-to-day lives may look very different, our goals are the same; our eyes our on the same Prize. When we love the Father, we love what He loves and we are about what He is about, and those similarities far outweigh any social or political or economic differences.

My brothers and sisters, this November let us give thanks for all the ways that God's abundance has made us rich. Let us continue to invite people into this community of faith, for He has set the lonely in families, and I am oh-so-thankful for this wonderful gift.

Eph. 3:14-21

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

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