Summary: Message setting the foundation of where I believe God wants us to go this year - strengthening the family of God and individual families.

2010 – “The Year of the Family”

1 John 4:7-12, 19-21

January 3, 2010

Me: Just a warning here: the introductory portion of the message today is going to be longer than normal, because I want to lay a bit of a foundation for what I want us to look at today from God’s Word.

But I also want to assure you that the whole message isn’t going to be longer than normal, okay?

I want to tell you a story of something that happened shortly after Dani was born.

We lived in Colorado Springs, CO at the time, and the elevation of Colorado Springs is actually higher than Denver, the mile-high city.

Because of the altitude, many babies born in that area are born with jaundice, which is basically a condition where you have too many red blood cells, and if you don’t take care of it, it can have some rather major medical consequences.

Well, Dani had jaundice, and they sent us home from the hospital with an incubator-looking thing with fluorescent lights on it.

The lights were designed to help draw out the extra red blood cells and bring them down to a normal level.

The doctor who took care of Dani had one explicit instruction: leave her in there at all times except when changing her diaper or feeding her. Leave her in there so the lights can do their work. They can’t do their work if you’re taking her out all the time.

So we did. I stayed up with her, as she laid under those lights and she had these nifty eye-shade things.

And the poor little girl cried most of the night. Even after just being fed and changed. She cried and cried and cried. It broke my heart because I couldn’t hold her and comfort her, because the doctor said to leave her in there unless she was being fed or changed.

The next day a nurse came to do a blood test on Dani to see if her levels were down. During her visit, Debra mentioned that I had stayed up and that Dani cried most of the night – and that I couldn’t hold her.

Then the nurse said, “Well, I don’t know your philosophy of child-rearing, but crying is the only way babies communicate and if she was crying, then you should have taken her out to hold her.” (or words to that effect.)

I have never come so close to punching a woman, either before or after that day.

I was following the instructions of the doctor, and now I was being criticized for it. This lady thought I was being a poor father. And that hurt.

I don’t think any dad wants to be considered a bad dad. The health of my child reflected on me as a dad.

We: And it’s not just the health of our child that reflects on our job as parents.

It’s also how they get along, isn’t it?

When we come across a family filled with kids who yell and kick and hit each other, we don’t just think that those kids are naughty, we wonder why mom and dad let this stuff happen.

And I don’t mean just the occasional stuff that all siblings go through once in a while. I mean when it’s a constant characteristic of that family, that’s when it’s a problem.

If someone had to break up a fight between you and your sibling, they didn’t just give you a talking to. They took you to your parents. Why? Because it’s the parents’ job to help you get along.

Bickering children reflect badly on the parents.

And you know what else? I think that fighting children hurt their parents’ hearts. Because no parent wants to see their children hating and hurting each other.

On the other hand, healthy children and healthy relationships within the family reflect well on Mom and Dad, don’t they?

We think that the parents have done a good job when the kids get along.

And this blesses the parents’ hearts.

Let me tell you another story involving Dani.

A couple summers ago we went to pick up Dani from her service at Rainbow Bible Ranch.

They had a rodeo that showcases what the kids learned about riding horses and such during the week, then a meal, and then a service that showcases what the kids learned about Jesus and living for Him during the week.

During the service, the director, Larry Reinhold, the director, asked me to pray. But he didn’t just ask me to pray.

He talked about how great of a counselor Dani is, and how she loves Jesus, and all sorts of other whatnot, and then he said, “You can tell a lot about the parents by looking at their kids.”

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