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Family Forever

 September 2011 

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Over the past few months I seem to be increasingly busy. I have been struggling to keep up with all the workload I have to do. Due to this, my family has decided to take on some of the organisation of this newsletter. Matthew has written this newsletter.

Matthew with nephew Israel Pyle

Newsletter by Matthew

At the beginning of October, our family shared in a church service. Dad briefly explained what we do as a family. We then each shared a short testimony about what the Quiet Times have done for us. Following this I preached a short message on why the family is so important. This is a brief run down of it.

The message began with Revelation 21:1-8, our great hope of being part of a family that will never end, and I highlighted verse 7 (ESV) "The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God, and he will be My son." So, here is this tremendous future that lies before us. We may never have been part of a real functional family on this earth. We may never have an inheritance down here. But there is available to us through Jesus our Saviour the greatest riches imaginable, that of Himself and His Father, the eternal Family. With some astonishment it says that God is going to come down and live with us in the new creation: "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God."

So, the Bible ends with this incredible picture of a family that will go on forever and never ever end. And why is that? Precisely, because it had no beginning. This is the family that always was and always will be. And I want to illustrate that:

Isaac, Priscilla and I teach a class of 6-7 year old students in a local primary school each week for half an hour. This is part of a nation wide program that has been teaching Christian education in New Zealand state schools for over 100 years. It's normally known as Bible in Schools. And we begin every year for the new class with the story of creation.

We have this big picture book on Creation we use for this. The book starts by saying 'a long time ago,' and it shows a picture of society a 100 years ago. And then 'a long time before that' and it shows this big, colorful picture of dinosaurs. And then 'a long long time before that,' and it shows this big black blank page. 'There was nothing...nothing at all,' the story says, 'except a marvelous maker." And there is this picture of someone planning how they will create the universe.

There is just one problem with the book, that it shows only one person, one marvelous maker. But we know that it was in fact three persons who created the universe, whom we call God - three persons who were already there, who always were and always would be. This was the family that had no beginning and would have no end. And so God made the whole universe and finished His creation by creating a family on earth, who would be a picture of the family that always was.

Despite this remarkable beginning it quickly went wrong. For one thing, this family was not the perfect family was it? Cain murdering his brother Abel does not really set the scene very well for the rest of the human race. So ugly was it that only 6 chapters into the story, God said He was sorry that He made man on the earth. Thank God it was not the end, that He revealed His great mercy in the midst of this terrible destruction to Noah's family who were still holding on to Him. And it is exactly the same calling to us as families today, to put our faith, hope, love and everything in Jesus.

So, let's examine this. The family unit has probably come under more attack in the past 50 years than any other period in human history. It has been torn to shreds through secular philosophy, religion, and an ever declining morality in a culture that has largely abandoned God. This culture has abandoned God's righteous way of life and His design for marriage, family and community.

And the worst thing is, that as the church, we have not been exempt from this, because we are no longer leading the way. The breakdown of the family in church life is almost as bad as the world around us. Divorce and solo parenthood within our ranks are the evidence of this. For decades now we have been seeing a steady decline of Christianity in the Western World, largely because we have not even been able to keep our own members, let alone bring in the lost.

Dad and Mum were deeply concerned by this and the unlikelihood of us growing up and going on in the faith when so many young people are now turning their backs on a God, whom they have never really known. They knew that was the key problem. So, this became the priority, that we must spend time with God everyday and allow Him to speak into out lives through the Scriptures. This was the beginnings of the Quiet Time sheets. It was just a simple thing we began to do, but it has had the most powerful effect of connecting us with Jesus.

And the second thing our parents did was to get us sharing as a family. This is what we still do, meeting together regularly and sharing what God has been speaking to us. It has kept the lines of communication open over the years when maybe otherwise we would have isolated ourselves and no longer listened to their guidance.

So, yes there is hope for you as a family or as an individual, and that hope is Jesus. He is the only hope in this generation for families to truly be what God intended them to be. And He is the only hope of us being part of that family that will go on forever.

Young people need to grow up knowing that Jesus is more valuable than anything else in this world. That despite all the struggles and challenges facing us in this world we must cling to Him. This world is passing away and the things that are in it, but there is a glorious future with a family that has had no beginning and will have no end - a family that has now been opened up for adoption.

I want to finish this newsletter with some of the closing words of the Bible, and the great invitation which should fill us all with joy. Revelation 22:17 and 20 (ESV):

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen.

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