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At my Thanksgiving meal - a deviled egg with a surprise - a sliced jalapeno pepper on top!

For young children and their parents, the season from Thanksgiving to Christmas is magical, especially if the family gathers with relatives or travels to interesting destinations. Imagine the fun of a vacation in the Rockies or a visit to Disney World. A low cost camping trip is always memorable. Nothing beats a holiday family meal, exchanging gifts, or the unbridled play of little cousins. The squeals of laughter from children at play is the best music in the world!

A pastor was very successful at planting new churches. I saw how he often led his flock in activities that involved outdoor gatherings, games for kids, music, and picnics at parks. He told me, "Food, fun, and fellowship is what church is all about." He would preach the gospel of Christ, then provide venues for social connection. His churches grew and thrived.

He had proven, that for those people whose lives had been disrupted by sin and hurt by rejection, the church could become a substitute family. People need real kinship. People need the gospel. Rightly understood, the gospel includes so much more here and now, not just heaven. I've said that if there were no heaven or no hell, I would still follow Jesus because it is the best way to live!

For some adults, holidays are a time of loneliness and unhappy memories. Family members are in jail. Broken relationships leave a trail of wreckage. Which category are you in this season? In my experience, knowing God (and knowing his word) bring blessings.

My wife and I recently enjoyed a visit with old friends. We have a long history with this Christian couple. We've shared housing twice, each time when the other was in a work crisis. Not too many people can say that about their friends. We concluded our conversation with mutual prayer and we shared the Lord's cup of blessing. The sense of being family was strong. Although not related by DNA, we are related by the love of God.

The bond of love that knits our lives to other people is something that needs to be guarded. The virtue of Christ indwelling believers is what enables us to lay down our lives in acts of steadfast love and sharing. The more I think about it, the more it seems that the words "covenant" and "family" are synonymous. The grace that delivers us from sin can bring us into membership with fellow believers. The core of the church is not like a family - it is a family.

The natural family - a mom, dad, and kids - is the greatest source of delight in the world. Nothing can replace the family. Parents can't be replaced by school or government. The family's end-product - developing wholesome, responsible human beings - takes about 20 years. Along the way, patience is the greatest virtue. Training a child takes wisdom and discipline applied in a setting of unconditional love. While education involves a classroom, training requires a relationship. In that relationship, someone is in charge - the parent. Someone is required to be obedient - the child.

Every child deserves a happy home. That doesn't mean they get to have their own way all the time. A friend of mine who is a Christian counselor once told me that training a puppy to be obedient is like raising kids. The happiest dogs have boundaries. Likewise, happy children know they are loved because they have healthy boundaries. A watchful adult is present. Someone must be in charge during the years when children can't yet control themselves.

-- Ron Wood is a writer and minister. Email him at wood.stone.ron@gmail.com or visit www.touchedbygrace.org. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 11/28/2018

Print Headline: Fall Holidays

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