The purpose and power of Family Life

TEXTS: Genesis 1:26-28; Deuteronomy 6: 6-7, 20-25; Ephesians 5: 22-33; 6: 1-4

WORD STUDY: Merriam-Webster dictionary defines family as “a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head”. This is often known as a “household” and it is the basic form of family. Broadly speaking, a group of persons of common ancestry often known as a “clan” is also regarded as a family. These definitions agree with the Biblical definition of family in the New Testament. The Greek word (Gr: patria) “family” stands for: “lineage running back to some progenitor, ancestry”. God designed the family unit as the foundation of the wider society, and speaks to humanity from this perspective. Though salvation is a personal responsibility, but God also sees salvation from the family perspective. He desires the redemption of families as a whole. (See Exodus 12:23-27; Acts 16:28-34)

INTRODUCTION: The family is God’s ordained centre for the propagation of His divine purposes on earth. The family is the first training school of every child. Characters are formed and ethics and values imbibed which often lasts for a life-time. The family is the basic unit of the society and the most important part of the larger society. Family was not an invention of man, but God’s original plan. We do not choose our family; God chooses our family for reasons and purposes beyond us. We are encouraged to embrace our families and seek divine direction on how to fulfill God’s mandate on the family. Every family is important to God-even the dysfunctional ones. Remember, no family is beyond God’s redemption and transformation!

GOD DESIGNED FAMILY FOR THE FULFILLMENT OF HIS PURPOSE ONE EARTH- Genesis 1:26
God created man and placed him on earth to fulfill his purpose on earth
God desired the fellowship of men and women who are created in His image and likeness
The family is God’s original intention for the domination of the earth
The family is the foundation of God’s kingdom on earth

GOD DESIGNED FAMILY FOR THE PROPAGATION OF FUTURE GENERATION – Genesis 1: 28
The family unit is God’s ordained centre for generational expansion
The family unit is designed to be the custodian of God’s covenant and counsel for humanity.
The family as ordained by God is the centre for the inculcation and transmission of God’s purpose
The family under God is the greatest force for advancing God’s kingdom agenda on earth

GOD DESIGNED FAMILY FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE FUTURE GENERATION – Ephesians 6:1-4
God designed the family to provide protection to the vulnerable members of the society
God ordained the family as the teaching centre for the eternal counsel of God
Redemption was orchestrated and protected through the family unit (Mary and Joseph)

Written by Dr. Godwin & Blessing Ude

Freedom from Family Life traumas (pt. 4)

ACCEPT YOUR FAMILY AS A GIFT FROM GOD

Family trauma can lead to unhealthy assumptions about family and total rejection of the family life. Most young adults and even older adults today live in unhealthy relationships because of lack trust in true family relationship.

Believe in family as a Divine institution going through a process of restoration
Recognize that family members make mistakes and need to be forgiven
Pursue peace with all members of the family
Refuse to see your family as a curse, but a blessing
Believe that God can transform your family

SEEK THE HELP OF A QUALIFIED CHRISTIAN COUNSELLOR

Qualified Christian cousellors are trained to help you see your problems from a redemptive perspective. They will help you see the possibilities ahead of you which you may have considered impossible due to your present self-concept or awareness.

SEEK DELIVERANCE FOR REPETITIVE FAMILY TRAUMA

Most family traumas are generational. Often times, a particular type of trauma run in particular family line. In some cases, the individuals in these families found themselves helpless in the same situations that drowned their parents and grand-parents. This type of deep spiritual problems will require a deliverance prayer from someone gifted and experienced in the area of deliverance ministry.

ACCEPT JESUS AS YOUR LORD AND THE LORD OF YOUR FAMILY

The family that serves God together and pray together is the family that stays together under love and protection of the Lord. While Christian Families are not immune from family traumas, they stand better chances of easily overcoming the effects of family traumas.

CONCLUSION

Family is a beautiful institution designed by God to provide nurturing and protection for the people involved. The health of the future generation often depends on the health of the nuclear family. The society is often a product of what happens in the family. However, as Christians we must not let the failures in our family interactions to define us, because in Christ, we have a stronger family filled with unconditional love and acceptance.

No matter what you are currently experiencing as a result of family trauma, be assured, there is hope for you and your family.

Freedom from Family Life traumas (pt. 3)

FACTORS THAT FACILITATE FAMILY TRAUMAS

Lack of or poor communication skills
Lack of interpersonal skills
Lack of problem solving or coping skills
Lack of commitment to the family or relationship
Lack of headship or leadership in the family
Lack of stability (frequent relocations)

TRAUMAS AND EFFECTS ON THE FAMILY

Despair and frequents exhaustion
Frustration-this lead may lead to verbal abuse and violent behaviours in the family
Anger
Anxiety and depression
Feeling of helplessness and hopelessness
Physical withdrawal
Alcohol, drug abuse
Sexual abuse- including rape and incest
Sexual immorality
Manipulations and control of one another
Self-blame and counter-blames (blaming one another for every fault)
Lack of trust
Low self-esteem/poor self-image
Delinquency-especially in school works and social interactions
Decline in work efficiency
Emotional withdrawals
Separation and divorce
Physical illnesses
Phobia
Mental illnesses

HOW TO BE FREE FROM FAMILY TRAUMAS

DEALING WITH INNER WOUNDS

Family trauma can cause deep hurts and emotional wounds which can lead to bitterness and resentments. If these are not dealt with quickly, they can lead to a pattern of behavior which can become a stronghold that imprisons the individual.

Accept the fact that what happened has happened. It is gone!

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”- 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)

Learn to forgive and love

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”-Matthew 6:14 (NASB)

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”- Luke 6:27,28 (NASB)

Accept who you are Christ

“How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every blessing in heaven because we belong to Christ.
Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault—we who stand before him covered with his love.  His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to!”- Ephesians 1:3-5 (TLB)
Think and Focus on what is True and Holy

“And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.”- Philippians 4:8 (TLB)

Freedom from Family Life traumas (pt. 2)

COMMON PHASES OF RESPONSE TO TRAUMA

OUTCRY PHASE: The immediate response to a traumatic event may range from acute alarm (mild attack of fear, though very serious) to stunned inability to take in the meaning of the experience (leading to panic attack).

DENIAL PHASE: Following the initial shock, some people may experience denial lasting weeks or months before manifesting emotional responses to the trauma. Symptoms include: amnesia, numbness, sleep disturbances, somatic symptoms, frantic over-activity and withdrawal.

INTRUSIVE PHASE: This is characterized by experience of flash recollection of the trauma resulting in what can be described as sudden emergence of exaggerated startled responses, intrusive thoughts, and preoccupation, sleep and REM disturbances. This can lead to considerable anxiety and a fear of going insane. Most individuals will respond well to reassurances that these experiences are normal and transient.

WORKING THROUGH PHASE: During this phase, individuals examine meanings of the traumatic event and other associated events and memories. They mourn loses and injuries and consider new plans for coping with future.

COMPLETION PHASE: This phase is reached when the person recognize the impact of the trauma on their psyches, exhibit hopeful plans for the future and have resumed normal life, work, and leisure activities.

PATHOLOGICAL REACTIONS TO TRAUMA

MALDAPTIVE RESPONSES: This includes anxiety attacks, withdrawals, substance abuse, psychosomatic reactions, depression, psychoses and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
SELF-IMAGE DISTORTION: Identity impairment and poor self-image
RELATIONAL IMPAIRMENT: Moderate to severe impairment in family/marriage/sexual functioning, work/social functioning and spiritual functioning.

TRAUMAS OF FAMILY LIFE

This implies a family life filled with and producing conflict and destructive interpersonal behaviours and attitudes. This eventually becomes the reality of the nature of interactions experienced by members in such a family

SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF A HEALTHY FAMILY

Communicates and listens
Affirms and supports one another
Develops a sense of trust
Demonstrates respect toward one another
Has a sense of play and humour
Exhibits a sense of shared responsibility
Teaches the Truth on what is Wrong and what is Right
Has a strong sense of family virtues
Share a common Christian/Biblical Values
Spends time together in active interactions
Admits mistakes, seeks and received forgiveness
Supports one another in careers and calling.

STAGES IN FAMILY LIFE TRAUMAS

Marriage Adjustment- This occurs during the 1st to 5th year of marriage and may last longer
Separation which may lead to Divorce
Pressure of work or at work
Buying a property
Infertility
Pregnancy or birth complications
Arrival of new baby in the family
Raising children
Menopause
Unemployment
Debilitating illnesses such as mental illness (Alzheimer, Bipolar etc.)
Death in the family

Freedom from Family Life traumas (pt. 1)

DEFINITIONS

TRAUMA: “a very difficult or unpleasant experience that causes someone to have mental or emotional problems usually for a long time” –Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Broadly speaking, a trauma is usually the result of an event or disaster that has occurred and thereby producing a distressing state of mind in the individual concerned and evoking emotional responses and behavior that is not in keeping with the person’s normal behavior and responses.
Trauma can range from mild to severe!

EMOTIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA
Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless and vulnerable in a dangerous world.
Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized.

TRAUMA AND STAGES OF LIFE
Trauma can occur at any stage in an individual’s development.
1)Foetus in the womb
2)During birth
3)Puberty and Teenage
4)Adolescence
5)Adult
6)Menopause
7)Old Age
8)Death

FACTORS THAT CAN CAUSE EMOTIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMAS

1)Major illness-especially terminal illness (Malignant Cancer)
2)Accidents (Especially fatal accidents)
3)Severe Bullying (especially verbal and physical bullying at school)
4)Suddenly loss of job and financial crises
5)Abuse (Includes: domestic, sexual, verbal, emotional, physical etc)
6)Fear (Both known and unknown cause)
7)Bereavement (Loss of someone dear to you)
8)Sports injuries
9)Relationship break-ups (dumping and jumping)
10)Major surgery at the early part of life (especially first few weeks to months of birth)

EMOTIONAL TRAUMA PATHWAYS

1)It happened unexpectedly.
2)You were unprepared for it.
3)You felt powerless to prevent it.
4)It happened repeatedly.
5)Someone was intentionally cruel.
6)It happened in childhood.

How to identify and deal with the little foxes that spoil Marriages

When a marriage is consummated on any reason outside of the original Biblical purpose found in Matthew 19:4-6, that marriage will not stand the onslaught of the little foxes that attack every marriage relationship.

Below are some of the foxes that destroy the vineyard of marriage.

Fox#1: If there are tension or sharp responses to each other then there is most likely a fox of unresolved conflict lurking around.

Be sure to quickly resolve every conflict or disagreement as soon as you can. When an unresolved conflict lingers, it breeds tension and communication breakdown.

Fox#2: If you are quick to judge your spouse’s motives as to why they did or didn’t do something before asking them why, then there may be a fox of unforgivenes chewing at your heart.

Be sure to learn and know the details and motives before passing judgment. Don’t be quick to judge one another.

Fox#3: If you have not been purposeful in setting aside time alone together at home, or on regular date nights, then you should look more closely for the fox of neglect.
Be sure to have date nights planned, just both couples without children and job interference. This is how water and nourish your marital vineyard.

Fox#4: Maybe you find your mind constantly going to your job, even when you’re “off”, and it keeps you from being totally “there” for your spouse. You don’t look at them when they speak and you only listen to them halfway. This could be the fox of all work and no play.

Be sure to spend QUALITY time with your spouse. Focus on them while he/she speaks to you and give he/she undivided attention when communicating with each other.

Fox#5: The fox of idols of the heart can be much more difficult to catch. This is because our idols are the things that have not only caught our attention, but our affection. To discover them we must examine where our thoughts go when we have nothing else to think about? Or what do I want to do more than anything else with my free time? Just because we desire to do something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an idol, but it could be. The only way to know for sure is to ask God to help you discover this little fox. He will be faithful to help you see it.
Be sure not to allow anything immoral, obsessive and possessive to control your thoughts and emotions.

Fox#6:Lack of purpose or vision leads to a division. The couples are drawn apart and are moving i the opposite directions.

A couple should have a common purpose or try to discover one for themselves. A common purpose is the key to a longer fulfilled marital life.

Fox#7: Substance abuse-especially done secretly can wreak havoc to a marriage. It is the quickest way to betray the trust your spouse has on you.

Be sure to come clean with your spouse on your substance abuse or addiction. An understanding spouse may be your only chance of deliverance from the incapacitating power of substance abuse.

Fox#8: Family, friends, in-laws, ‘out-laws’ etc, may become intrusive in a marriage. If the intrusion is not properly handled, these can seriously affect any marriage.

Be sure to protect the culture, values, integrity and purpose of your marriage and family from any conflicting ones from anyone including your friends and families.

Fox#9: Lack of or too much money can cause a lot of problems in any marriage. The issue is poor management of the financial resources not really the money itself.

Be sure to live within a budget. Never spend more than you earn. Discuss financial management with professional financial counsellor.

Fox#10: Career-minded couples can spend their energy on their job with nothing left for their spouses. Career pursuits must not be esteemed above marital health.

Be sure not allow your job to control your marriage and your family. Plan your time properly and do not forget, home is where the heart should be!

Fox#11: Hyper-supernatural people use God and working for God as an excuse to abandon their marital obligations and family responsibilities. This is against Scriptures!

Be sure not to allow ministry, church or religious institutions to become your god! God never requires anyone to abandon his/her family for any religious reasons.

Fox#12: The wise saying: “familiarity breeds contempt” is true for marriages. Couples are too easily prone to ignore and take each for granted after many years of marriage. This is a little fox that can cause a huge rift and crisis if not checked.

Be sure to continually let your spouse realize he/she is the most important person in your life. Send a romantic text message, send encouraging emails, verbalize your love and randomly surprise each other with acts of love!

CONLUSION
While the list above is not exhaustive, the little foxes mentioned are the most common ones. Marriage is a work, just like a good vineyard-keeper, be sure not to allow these little foxes to intrude and destroy your blossoming vineyard. The more your vineyard blooms the easier it is to become the targets of these little foxes. Be watchful! Be unguided! Your adversary, the devil roams around seeking marriages to devours! Determine not to let the enemy win! May God bless your marriages, now and in the future for those hoping to get marries soon!

Written by Dr. Godwin & Blessing Ude

Understanding the little foxes that destroy Marriages

When a marriage is consummated on any reason outside of the original Biblical purpose found in Matthew 19:4-6, that marriage will not stand the onslaught of the little foxes that attack every marriage relationship.

Marriage is a privilege, a gift from God that allows us to reflect the love Christ has for the church. (Ephesians 5: 22-33)

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church [a]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she [b]respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33 NASB)

In our culture oftentimes the most important part of getting married is the wedding itself! Imagine if a vineyard owner spent all his time, attention and money on setting up a great vineyard only to neglect the vines after they’re in the ground? It would be foolish and a wasted investment.
A fox doesn’t come and only eat the fruit of the vine–they do much more damage. They like to gnaw on the trunk, dig holes around it and expose the roots. They don’t simply eat the grapes, they like to destroy the entire vine!

LITTLE FOXES THAT DESTROY MARRIAGE VINEYARDS

Fox #1: Unresolved conflict–this includes unforgiveness and anger
Fox #2: Uncharitable judgments–not thinking the best, but assuming the worst.
Fox #3: Neglect and selfishness
Fox #4: Busyness and lack of romantic gestures and adventures
Fox #5: Idols of the heart–video games, shopping, children, addicted to work, pornography, extra-marital online dating, pleasure, etc.
Fox #6: Lack of purpose
Fox #7: Various typed of substance abuse and addictions
Fox #8: External influences from family and friends
Fox #9: Poor management of finances
Fox #10: Career pursuits at the expense of family and marriage
Fox #11: Deceptive spirituality
Fox#12: Taking each other for granted

All of the above can cause lasting damage to the marriage if they aren’t caught and dealt with quickly. So how do we trap these little foxes? How do we recognize them in our own marriage?

Understanding Guilt pt. 2

SUBJECTIVE GUILT

This is the uncomfortable feeling of regret, remorse, shame, and self-condemnation that often comes when we have done or thought something that we feel is wrong, or failed to do something that should have been done. Often there is discouragement, anxiety, fear of punishment or rejection, self-condemnation, and a sense of isolation, all tied together as part of the guilt feeling.

They can stimulate us to change our behavior and seek forgiveness from God or from other human beings. But guilt feelings also can be destructive, inhibitory influences that make life miserable.

TYPES OF SUBJECTIVE GUILT FEELINGS

Appropriate Guilt Feelings: This is present when we have broken a law, disobey biblical teachings, or violated the dictates of our conscience and feel remorse in proportion to the seriousness of the act.

Inappropriate Guilt Feelings: These are out of proportion to the seriousness of the act.

All these show that guilt is pervasive and complex experience. It is important to always distinguish between objective and subjective guilt.

BIBLICAL TEACHING ABOUT GUILT

The Bible describes guilt in subjective terms. It is always refers to theological guilt. A person is guilty when he or she has broken God’s law. Biblical guilt and sin are often discussed together.

Biblical Examples

DAVID: Psalm 32

DAVID: Psalm 51

PAUL: Romans 7:18-25

HOW BELIEVERS SHOULD DEAL WITH SUBJECTIVE GUILT FEELING

It is true that the believer has no reason to have guilt feelings because Christ has paid for and forgiven our sins. Even so, we continue with mental self-punishment, dwelling on the guilt we feel over our sins or other actions.

We must not intentionally arouse guilt feeling in others in order to force them to change behaviours, prevent them from being proud, protect them from future sin, stimulate Christian growth or stimulate financial contribution. Unfortunately many teachers, parents, coaches and preachers do these.

Written by Dr. Godwin Ude

Understanding Guilt pt. 1

Guilt can be an emotionally painful experience, and it comes up repeatedly in counseling. People who are depressed, lonely, grieving, members of violent families, sexual immoral or abused person, alcoholic, terminally ill, or facing almost any problems often are plagued with guilt. Guilt has been described as the intersection of religion and psychology.

TYPES OF GUILT

1) OBJECTIVE GUILT

Objective guilt occurs when a law has been broken and the lawbreaker is guilty even though he/she may not feel guilty.

2) SUBJECTIVE GUILT

Subjective guilt refers to inner feelings of remorse and self-condemnation that comes because of our actions

OBJECTIVE GUILT

This can be divided into

Legal
Theological
Personal
Social guilt
LEGAL GUILT: This is the violation of society’s laws. For example, a person who steals from a store is legally guilty of theft, even if he or she is never caught and regardless of whether or not the person feels any remorse.

THEOLOGICAL GUILT: This involves a failure to obey the laws of God. The Bible describes divine standards for human behaviors. Often times we violate this standards.

Many psychiatrists and psychologists do not admit the existence of theological guilt. To do so would be to admit that there are absolute moral standards. If absolute standards exist, there must be a standard-setter, and that is God. For many, it is easier to believe that right and wrong are relative-dependent on one’s own experiences, training, and subjective values. This has great practical implication in counseling.

PERSONAL GUILT: Here the individual violates his or her own personal standards or resists the urgings of conscience. No laws have been broken, and neither has the guilty person disobeyed God. This is not illegal, immoral, or unbiblical but the person feels guilty nevertheless.

SOCIAL GUILT: This comes when we break an unwritten but socially accepted rule. If a person is rude, talk loudly in a quiet library, pushes into the front of the queue, no law has been broken and the offender may or may not feel guilty, nevertheless the person is guilty of violating social expectations of other people.

Written by Dr. Godwin Ude

Anxiety: Causes and effect pt. 2

PANICK ATTACKS and POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER: These are more serious anxiety. Often this is the anxiety that brings people to counselors.

PANICK attack involves sudden, often unexpected, rushes of intense fear accompanied by rapid heartbeat, trembling, and shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, or feelings of losing control. These attacks peak intensity within a few minutes and fade quickly after that. Many times they become associated with specific places or situations, such as being in a crowd, going to a dentist, riding in a car, or feeling trapped in a room. Because these attacks can be so scary and unpredictable, victims avoid the situations or places where the anxiety occurred in the past, lest they occur again.

POST-TRAUMATIC STREE DISORDER (PSTD) arises following intense stress, such as observing or experiencing events that involved death or great danger. These could include military conflict, rape, and involvement in a serious accident, kidnapping, a violent crime, prisoner abuse, or natural disasters, such as tornado or earthquake. Any of these can leave a lifelong legacy of anxiety.

For years after the trauma, some people have nightmares, irrational fears, depression, and loss of interest in activities that once were pleasant. For these people anxiety has become a way of life.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT ANXIETY?
The Bible views anxiety in two ways: as a healthy concern and as fret or worry.

ANXIETY IN THE FORM OF REALISTIC CONCERN: This is neither condemned nor forbidden. Paul wrote that he was anxious (that is worried) about the possibility of being beaten, cold, hungry or in danger, but he did experience anxiety (that is concern) about the welfare of the churches. This sincere care for others put a daily burden on the apostle and made Timothy ‘genuinely anxious’ (concerned and interested as well. (2Corinthians 11:27-28; Philippians 2: 20)

ANXIETY AS FRET AND WORRY: This appears to be what Jesus had in mind in the Sermon on the Mount. He taught that we should not worry about life’s basic needs, such as food and clothing. We have a Heavenly Father who knows that what we need and will provide. (Matthew 6:25-34) see also (1 Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6-7).
Anxiety as a fret or worry comes when we turn from God, shift the burdens of life on to ourselves, and show by our attitudes and actions that we alone are taking responsibility for handling problems. Instead of acknowledging God’s sovereignty and power, or determining to live for him and make his kingdom our primary concern, many of us slip into sinful self-reliance and preoccupation with our life pressures.
While it is OK to be responsible and handle our daily tasks, it is wrong, and unhealthy to be immobilized by excessive worry.

Impatience often accompanies anxiety, and anxious people want help in handling their pressures quickly. It can be very hard to wait for God’s perfect time schedule.

Written by Dr. Godwin Ude.

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