North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose by Matt Dobson

In the Library of Congress, located in Washington, is a series of pictures showing the progress of civilization—agriculture, art, science, etc. But the first picture is of a man and woman dressed in skins and a robe and kneeling before a man-made altar. The beginning of progress and civilization is the family—the man, the woman, and the altar. I’m not going to suggest in this column I have the answers to all of America’s problems. But I will suggest the breakdown of a very critical element of our existence, namely the family, is at the root of many things that are troubling these United States; murder, juvenile delinquency, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse. All of which can be directly or indirectly related to the rapidly dissolving foundation of the Christian home.
Your family is your portion of heaven here on earth. At least this is the way it was meant to be. A family is a place where the principles of God are to be hammered on the anvil of everyday living. God will allow testing to come to you and the other family members you live with. It’s the family, although with different personalities, can choose to help one another and be unselfish. Scripture is consistent in promoting the needs of one’s family, even to the inclusion of your church family (Gal. 6:10).
When you give into others rather than self, be careful to not allow resentment to build. See others within your circle of love becoming stronger in their spirit and therefore being more able to help you when seasons of hardship come your way. I speak from first-hand knowledge of what can become of divorce. My own personal journey has allowed me to be passionate toward reconciliation if at all possible. I have been humbled and come to realize the importance of preserving and protecting the family unit at all costs. There’s no family without its past and present challenges. There’s no family where the children are not sometimes rebellious and unruly. And there will be times when others outside the family will interfere, tempt you, and try to distract from the love that should be nurtured. It’s during these times, when you are tempted to run away, you may wonder if your personal sacrifice is worth it. The family is a place of sacrifice. Without sacrifice there can be no family.
One of the greatest threats to the family is what I call the “Hungry Heart Syndrome”. It may be true your spouse lacks in affection, attention-giving, and attitudes that are positive. But don’t fall for the idea that a new man or woman will be the solution to all your problems. Many a marriage could have been saved if the husband and wife would have persevered a little bit longer. I firmly believe when a family, particularly the husband and wife, weather a storm; they can improve the closeness of their personal relationship. People give up too soon. I’ve known one side to pray with earnest for the other and when a breakthrough is about to happen—they quit and seek out what appears to be greener pastures. This is an unfortunate breakdown that happens all too often.
So, what’s the solution? In my personal experience, study of sociology, and in the many families I’ve tried to help—I’ve compiled 13 things I believe can help preserve the family unit and thus contribute to a more stable society: 1) Be the First to Yield. The home is a place of give and take. Stubbornness can quench the hope needed. If the other person is clueless, remember, wrongful acts bring their own punishment. 2) Live Within Your Means. The struggle to keep up with others brings discontent, tight-nerves, and quarrels. 3) Give a Soft Answer. It turns away wrath because it takes two to make a quarrel. 4) Lose Mistrust or Hostility. Treat one another with love and respect for their opinion. 5) Ask Yourself Questions: Am I contributing to family happiness or unhappiness? Am I a positive-thinker or negative-thinker? 6) Be Realistic. Don’t expect every family member to be perfect or even close to perfect. And don’t expect them to change at once. Someone has to start the change and long-held resentments can be reduced in a gradual way. 7) Don’t Grieve Over What Might Have Been. Only God knows the future and He wisely keeps it from us until the right time. Inner discontent comes by your being sure things would have been better “if”. 8) Don’t Rake Over Old Fires. We all make mistakes. Admit them. Ask forgiveness and be sure to give it. Old wounds can’t heal when opened over and over again. 9) Encourage Every Family Member to Be Their Positive Selves. Identity of personality is critical and can be shaped by love. This love can create a climate of goodwill that unifies even the greatest of differences. 10) Develop a Profound Reliance on God. A time-tested truth is families with religious faith tend to overcome challenges and meet situations, while families without it often have more difficulty. 11) Practice Personal Prayer Daily. When prayer becomes a group activity in the family; members grow closer in a deeper fellowship. 12) Keep Family Your Top Priority. No matter how much you like another person, let no one be preferred over your own family. Help and like others, but your own family should be the central core of your heart. 13) Let It All Begin With You. Be the positive-motivator in your own family. An upbeat spirit can help with even the darkest disappointments.
Try to put these 13 points to practice and you are sure to see a positive difference in yourself and in your family. See you at church on Sunday!
• This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Jan 13 2013. Filed under Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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