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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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The Forever Family

"Where's home for you?" a man asked a fellow-traveler on a train. "Wherever she is," came the reply, as the man pointed at his wife. In spite of a lot of bad press and negative criticism, many marriages and homes are healthy and happy and provide a place of love, nurture, acceptance, help and encouragement for the husbands, wives, sons and daughters who make them  up. For millions of people marriage is magnificent and has provided them a soul mate that will last for a lifetime. And for many sons and daughters home is the closest thing to having a slice of Heaven on earth. But far from being perfect,family life can also bring frustration. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, "There is no such thing as fun for the whole family" (Reader's Digest, 4/01, p.36). For many families the fun, if there ever was any, has long since fizzled.  Millions of people in modem America now know for themselves what Jesus meant when He said in Mark 3:25, "If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand." Homes in America have fallen victim to a whole host of pathologies and problems ranging from adultery to abuse to abandonment. Somewhere along the way for many, the American dream has become a nightmare. What started out with promise of " happily ever after" has turned into "happy never after." Devotion and delight deteriorated until it ended in disillusionment and divorce: And then there are the sons and daughters who for various reasons may find themselves feeling misunderstood, unappreciated, unloved, and outside the family's favor.

How can life ever be fun again for people whose family has fractured, even if they remain together under the same roof? I don't have all the answers. But if your family has fractured, or if it is still together but doesn't appreciate you or perhaps does not share your faith, take heart in this - even Jesus had family problems! Mark 3:21 tells us "His own people ... went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, 'He is out of His mind.'" Jesus' family didn't understand or support His devotion to God. Later, when His mother and brothers called to Him as He sat with His disciples inside a house, Jesus said, " 'Who is My mother or brothers?' And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him and said, 'Here are My mother and brothers! For whosoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother" (3:31-35). Families on earth are often fractured by divorce, disappointment and discouragement, and all families will eventually be fractured by death. But Jesus has a family that will last forever, and He wants you in it! It is a family bound not by blood but by the will of God. Are you in Jesus' forever family?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ