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Series: What's Right with the Family? (Week 2 of 3)
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
December 7, 2010

Woodrow Kroll: Different people, different ideas, different personalities--but we're all part of one family.

Tami Weissert: So how do we all fit together?

Woodrow Kroll: By God's design and we'll see that in today's study. Hi, I'm Woodrow Kroll.

Tami Weissert: I'm Tami Weissert.

Woodrow Kroll: And this is Back to the Bible.

Tami Weissert: Wood, when some of us think about our families and how different each member is from the other, it seems amazing that we can even be a family.

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, diversity is fun, right?

Tami Weissert: In a healthy family, it is fun because, no matter what, you always have that sense of acceptance and belonging. Wood, healthy families also have this little thing called "sibling rivalry."

Woodrow Kroll: Tell me about it!

Tami Weissert: I was actually hoping you would tell us about it. What is it and how do we come out of it alive?

Woodrow Kroll: It's a very natural thing. Sometimes it can get nasty, I know. Most of the time, it's just healthy family competition. Sibling rivalry can be a good thing if it pushes each of the children to strive for their best.

Tami Weissert: So sibling rivalry isn't all bad if we trust God to help us learn from it.

Woodrow Kroll: That's true and we survive it when we channel the energy that comes from sibling rivalry to the benefit of all the family. And if we don't, that's when it becomes personal and gets nasty.

Tami Weissert: God designed our families to be a safe place to learn about developing relationships. So let's find out how to capitalize on this. Here's Dr. Kroll with our Back to the Bible study.

Woodrow Kroll:  You know, God created us with such significant diversity, and there are two issues we need to talk about today: the diversity that occurs within the family, and how to capitalize on that diversity to make sure everybody--however different, diverse they are--everybody feels that they belong in the family.

Now, think about the world that God has created. Just look around you. In the world that God created, there are incredible amounts of variety: varieties of trees, varieties of animals, of minerals, landscapes.

Why would we be surprised if there were not equal varieties in our families? So, Mom and Dad are different. Your brothers and sisters are different from you. It's the diversity in the family that makes the family so interesting.

Today we want to think about how to use that diversity in a way that pleases God.

Now, first of all, let's talk about the diversity though.

Everybody in the family has to feel that they belong. They have to feel that there's a way that they can fit into the family. And by that I don't mean that there is a schematic drawing of what a family ought to be and every family has to fit into that schematic drawing, every member of the family.

There is not a mold that every family member has to fit into. Families are places of great creativity. And I think we stifle that creativity if we expect every kid in the family to be exactly like their father or like their mother--or like each other, which could even be worse.

You know, one of the jobs, I think, of a parent is to create the creativity--to give an opportunity for every child to be as creative as he or she wants to be.

If we throw a wet blanket on their creativity, we're probably going to squelch that creativity for the rest of their lives. So, the family needs to be a place where, if you have one oddball brother (God bless him), let him be an oddball brother. It's OK for him to be different from everybody else in the family.

Now, I'm not an art critic. But I remember one of our daughters, Tina, when she was about five or six years old, drew a picture. And it was a picture of a scene with a picket fence (she told me later on it was a picket fence; I didn't actually recognize it), but I was so proud of that picture I put it up on the wall and encouraged her art ability.

The fact of the matter is, she was not the artist in our family. Another daughter turned out to be our artist. But that kind of creativity, at that point I didn't know whether Tina would be the artist or not.

Tina is the communicator; she's the one who moves among people and makes everybody feel at home. Well, every family needs that as well. Every child needs to have an opportunity to be himself or herself in the family. Families are places where you don't have to fit into a mold.

But I also know from God's Word that families are places where you can express your creativity in different ways. Not everybody has to be the same; nor do they have to express their creativity the same way.

We have one son in my family. As I say, all my children are grown and gone now, so I can talk about them. But our one son, Tim, when he was five was assigned the top bunk of a bunk bed. And one day I remember hearing bloodcurdling screams coming from the other room, and his year-older-than-he sister Tracy came running in and said, "Tim broke his leg!"

Well, I went in to see. Tim actually didn't break his leg, but what I found out was this: At age five, from the top bunk, Tim believed he could fly! And he jumped off the bunk and flapped his arms and went crashing right to the floor.

Well, creativity can be dangerous at times, but you let children be themselves. You don't try to force that out of them--because that's exactly what God placed in them.

Families are places for trial and error. It's OK to make mistakes in the family because that's where your mistakes ought to be laughed at and corrected--not criticized and corrected. Tim wouldn't have gotten away with that if I were his employer--trying to fly from the top bunk--but I wasn't. I was his father, and he was five years old. So, he was learning things about life through his own system of creativity that I had to allow him to do.

And then families, I know from God's Word, families are laboratories for the development of human relationships.

Most of our interpersonal relationships and the ability to relate to one another come from the way we relate to mom and dad when we're kids, and the way we relate to our siblings.

Now, some of you are in families where dad is absent or maybe mom is absent; you may be an only child--and those relationships become much more difficult. They're not just family relationships. They're relationships with the extended family; they're relationships with people in the community around you. But learning relationships and how to enjoy relationships is not something that comes when you get to college and take Psychology 101.

Learning relationships and how to enjoy those relationships is learning how to get along as brothers and sisters. And where is there a better laboratory to get along with people than your own family? I mean, who is there who gets under your skin more than your brothers and sisters do?

So, the family becomes a place where individuality is valued because God created individuality. If you live in a family where individuality is stifled, maybe your creativity is to find ways to help others not stifle your creativity. I mean, be creative about that.

But God bless the family because the family is designed by God with diversity.

If God can create innumerable kinds of animals and plants and all these other things in the world around us, why can He not create innumerable kinds of people to be a part of our family?

Tami Weissert:  We're talking about family relationships today on Back to the Bible. Hi, I'm Tami Weissert along with Bible teacher, Woodrow Kroll.

Wood, we're talking about the differences between family members. Let's say we have a brother or maybe a sister who is sharp-tongued or maybe a little negative. How do we value that unique wiring that they have but yet at the same time not enable or encourage them in bad behavior?

Woodrow Kroll: I don't think you should tolerate that behavior but on the other hand, sometimes when you attempt to deal with a person who has a sharp tongue, you only sharpen the tongue more. What you need to do is be honest with them, be frank with them, be compassionate. Don't pretend that a problem doesn't exist. But you shouldn't see anything in the family as something so toxic that God can't fix it.

So if you have a brother or sister who's a bit sharp to you in the way they talk to you and other family members, frankly, just ask for the power of God to help make things better for them. Be honest with them. Be compassionate to them. But don't forget to pray because that's where the real power is.

Tami Weissert: That's true. It's one thing to value diversity in the family as an adult. But how do you teach young children how to value their brother's and sister's unique differences?

Woodrow Kroll: It's a challenge to be sure. And again, I think most parents learn how to channel energies to brothers and sisters and they learn to share. They learn to give equal TV time. They learn to tolerate--even enjoy each other. But it takes time. It takes perseverance. And as I say, it takes a lot of prayer, especially on behalf of the parents. It's not impossible but it is a challenge.

Tami Weissert: Wood, as a parent, let's say one of the parents is very athletic so they are skilled in that area. And then there are two children. One child is athletic, one is not. The tendency is to align yourself with the child who has your skill set even if that's not intentional; that just happens. How do you guard against that and valuing other skills besides what you have?

Woodrow Kroll: We have to be honest enough to recognize that we're different from one of our children, recognize that this could be a problem. And if we value both of our children or all of our children and they just happen to be different from us, we need to find ways to explore how they can benefit us and how perhaps our, as you use the example, our athletic ability, can benefit them. The thing we can't do is shut them out of our lives and show favoritism to another child.

Tami Weissert: Each person within a family is a unique individual. So with that much variety along with the busy schedules we keep, how does a family stick together? Dr. Kroll has some suggestions as we continue our study here on Back to the Bible.

Woodrow Kroll:  Now, every one of us looks for a time when we can kind of communicate to each other in the family. The problem is that families come and go. Isn't that true? Dad gets up at a certain time; Momma's up at a certain time; the kids are up only moments before they have to go to school--or if they're on their way to college and still living at home, only moments after they have to be in class.

But we're coming and going at different rates and different schedules. And now we have another problem: it's the microwave. It used to be families all sat down at mealtime together, and now everybody kind of gets their own thing and microwaves. They become the microwaveable family.

I hope that's not true in your case because I think mealtime is perhaps the very best time for you to show your family members that they belong, and for you to accept their creativity. It's important that families eat together--not necessarily what they eat as much as that gives us the opportunity to hear the horror stories of what happened that day. And you can actually listen to those horror stories. It also gives you the opportunity to laugh together.

And then the kids are going to go off and do their thing, and mom and dad are going to do their thing. But there needs to be a time in which the family is together so that you can communicate to your family: This is a place to belong. If you really mess up, you can still come home at night. If you do something really stupid, you can still come back to this house. This is the place to belong. And I think the mealtime is the best time to do that.

Here's a verse, Proverbs 15:17. You notice, in talking about the family, how often I go back to the Book of Proverbs because Proverbs is just such wonderful advice about everything--including how to raise parents and how to raise children.

Proverbs 15:17 (NKJV):

"Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
Than a fatted calf with hatred."

Translation: "When you sit down at mealtime, it doesn't matter much what's on the table; it matters more who's around the table."

To sit down at mealtime and have a wonderful feast and there to be hatred between the people sitting at the table, that's what causes, not only a dysfunctional family, but a really bad time at mealtime.

Mealtime is a great time to express your diversity, to allow people to show that they like some things and don't like some things.

You know, in your family, if you have brothers and sisters, one of them is going to like carrots and one of them isn't. One is going to like peas and one isn't. All of them are going to hate brussels sprouts.

It's always the same in almost every family. But dinnertime is a time for you to hear the funny things that happened that day or the tragedies that happened that day. This is a great time to minister to the hearts and the needs of one another. Don't let the microwave ruin your family. Make sure that you find a time--and I think mealtime is the best time to do that.

Remember Paul's words; make sure you find a time where you can affirm one another and hear their stories. Here's what Paul said to the Corinthians: "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything [that could be Dad], nor he who waters [that could be Mom], but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor." Now that's 1 Corinthians 3 (:5-8 NKJV).

The point there is that in the church there is significant diversity. Everybody has something to contribute to the church. Paul does one thing. Apollos does another thing. Peter does a third thing. And all the others do their own thing. The same thing is true in the family. If we don't accept diversity in the family, we destroy one of the great creations of God. We ought to encourage diversity without being judgmental over it.

In my family, each of my kids had differing abilities. They had differing educational abilities; they had differing artisan kind of abilities. And my role was to encourage their abilities, not point out their disabilities. That's what they had their brothers and sisters for. My role as a father is to encourage that diversity so that we can be one, just like the church is one.

God designed the family to depict something much more that father, mother, son and daughter. God designed our families to help us understand His family. See, the whole idea of God creating the Church is to have a Body by which God may relate Himself to as the Father. Your family is supposed to be a microcosm of what the Church is. So, the way families work are the way that the churches are supposed to be work and vice versa.

Now, if you look at families today--and there's great diversity, and there's also great disunity--is there any wonder, then, that it transfers right to the Church?

So, what we're looking at today in God's Word is why there is diversity and what we can do with that diversity.

We encourage it because diversity brings to the family something that unanimity does not bring. Unanimity simply means that everybody does the same thing the same way, you know. It's kind of like using chopsticks every night when you eat. Everybody picks up their food exactly the same way with exactly the same motions. That's not what God intends.

God intends for you and me to have the freedom to be ourselves in our family but also to have the freedom to know that we belong to that family--that we may be different from everybody else in the family, but we still belong. And what's true for the family is true for the Church.

Now, let me say this to you directly: You may not be a part of a family that operates this way. Your family may be totally dysfunctional. You may be the only Christian in your family. And so this kind of affirming that goes on, this kind of hearing your horror stories and sympathizing with them and laughing at the good things and sometimes the bad things that happen during the days of your life, that doesn't go on in your family. You don't even feel like you belong to a family today.

Well, I want to suggest to you that even if you don't feel like you belong to your own family, you can belong to God's family--that God takes the diversity of each of us and somehow He molds that diversity in His own family. But in order to feel that you belong, that you're a part of a family, you have to actually belong to God's family. And that's why Back to the Bible is here.

God has a family. It's a great big diverse family. But God's family is made up of all races; it's made up of all ethnic backgrounds; it's made up of all kinds of people. But these are people who come to grips with their sin.

And when we come to grips with our sin, we repent of our sin, we know that we've rebelled against God, we confess our need for a Savior and we also believe that Jesus is the only Savior we'll ever have--when you come to the point in your life when you invite Jesus into your life to become a part of God's family--then, even if your own personal blood relative family does not treat you the way you'd like to be treated, you know that you're a part of a much larger family than that.

You're part of the family of God.

But to become a part of the family of God, you have to do it in God's way. If you want to go to God's heaven, you have to go in God's way. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6, NIV).

Now, I would invite you today, regardless of your family situation at home, I would invite you to ask yourself, Are you really a member of God's family? Have you come to the point in your life where you've trusted what Jesus did at Calvary to be all that God requires to pay the penalty for your sin? And if you've done that, welcome to the family. But if you haven't done that, there's no better time than right now to do it.

Tami Weissert: Wood, for anyone out there who might not understand all that it means to be part of God's family, would you go through that for them?

Woodrow Kroll: Tami, nothing brings more joy than having a place to belong and the family is that place, especially God's family. The Bible depicts God as our heavenly Father. But you may not be enjoying that family relationship with Him because your sin is keeping you from that relationship.

The good news is this: Even though you can't do anything about that, God can--and He has. He sent Jesus, His only Son, to this earth. Jesus gave His live at Calvary and when He did, He paid the penalty for your sin and for my sin, too. That opened the way for you to be a part of God's family.

So what do you have to do as a result?

The Bible says that all you have to do is believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, believe that what Jesus accomplished at Calvary is all that God required to pay the penalty for your sin. Just trust Him. Ask Him to be your Savior. You can do it. You can do it right now. You can do it right where you are. Let us help.

Tami Weissert: If you'd like to talk to someone about what it means to be part of God's family, you can call us at 1-800-759-2425 and one of our staff will be happy to talk and pray with you.

Wood, if we could paint a picture of our listening family here at Back to the Bible, we could start to get an idea of just how diverse God's family is.

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, that's really a big family. And with the Internet, we've discovered even more of God's family. Just think about our Back to the Bible family. We have listeners in every state in the United States, every providence in Canada. In fact, we have listeners on every continent in the world. (I'm not sure about Antarctica but likely there too.)

Tami Weissert: Tomorrow, we'll return and we'll be talking about the generational differences within each family.

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, the generational family--multi generations within one family. The older generation acts as a passageway to the past. The younger ones give a gateway to the future. I think it's a great thing that they can all be in one family together.

Thanks to you for being part of our family here at Back to the Bible. We do so appreciate that. We appreciate your prayers. We also appreciate your gifts to this ministry.

Well, it's time for me to wind up for today, and before we go, I just want you to know what a privilege and an honor it is for me to be invited into your life every day to open God's Word and learn from it. Thank you. Without you, there'd be no reason for me to do what I do in my study or here in the studio. So thank you for being there from all of us here at Back to the Bible. We do appreciate you.

God bless you. I'm Woodrow Kroll. Have a good and godly day, for of what lasting value is a good day if it's not also a godly day?

Tami Weissert: Back to the Bible is sponsored by the Good News Broadcasting Association Incorporated.

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