First Baptist Church Hamilton is currently in a Sunday series of sermons regarding the modern family. What does your family look like? What does it mean to be a "typical" family? A "modern" family?
Statista.com says a typical American family has three people on average. The number of family households with children younger than 18 has decreased over the years, which shows a decline in the birth rate. That maybe even shows decline in the economic conditions of the U.S., Statista states.
There are 83.09 million families in the U.S., and 2.24 million marriages. (The number of U.S. families with a single mom is 15.4 million, and a single dad is 6.42 million.)
The average family (three people) has a median annual income of $72,707.
In 2018, there were about 61.24 million married couples living in the United States, according to Statista. In 1960, there were only 40.2 million married couples living in the U.S. But population growth means this is still a decline.
"The rate of marriage has decreased from 9.8 per 1,000 of the population in 1990 to 6.9 per 1,000 of the population in 2017," Statista says in its married couple report.
At last count, the divorce rate stood at 2.9 per 1,000 (in 2017). In 1992 that was 4.9 per 1,000. But the divorce rate is different: It's lower because of fewer folks getting married. Decrease marriages, decrease divorce.
Millennials are less likely to get married, which will keep the marriage rate on the decline. One of the reasons for fewer marriages among millennials?
Statista reports it is a decrease in religious affiliations. Other reasons include the lack of belief in lasting marriages and a higher number of unskilled men. (Women are less likely to depend on a man for trade and care.)
With this information in mind, let's look at the demographics of Christianity. In 1948, at least 69 percent of U.S. residents identified as Protestant. In 2018, that number has dramatically decreased to just 35 percent.
The U.S. has seen a significant decline in the number of Christians, and thus a decline in the number of people following God's call for marriage and family.
The landscape of relationships in America has shifted. According to the Pew Research Center, Americans are simply staying single longer — the median first-marriage age is 30 for men and 28 for women as of 2018 (a U.S. Census Bureau statistic). But youth is not the most affected group here: Divorce rates have soared among those 50 and older. For every 1,000 older adults, 10 are divorced (that's up from five in 1990). And among those 65 and older, the divorce rate has tripled since 1990.
The good news? Love stays at the top of the list of why Americans get married, according to Pew Research. It's not money, and it's not desperation. It's love! In fact, 9 in 10 Americans list it as their reason for marriage. It's ahead of companionship, financial stability and legal rights. That is something to celebrate!
Want to read what the Bible says about divorce? Here are some helpful passages.
“Now to the married I command, yet (not I, but the Lord): A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.” — 1 Corinthians 7:10-11
This week, Christian comedian John Crist performed at the Taft Theatre in downtown Cincinnati. Many folks who attend churches in the Tri-state went to see him. It was a hilarious performance with jokes that entertained and delighted. But Crist got serious for a moment and said this to the audience:
"Christians, can we not be so uptight? Read the end of the book. We already won."
That's how Crist justifies finding humor in everything: As Christians we should feel safe knowing the finality of our physical lives will be met with an eternity in Heaven. What a great comfort!
Patience: It is about feeling safe. We want to be dwelling in the Lord and filled with His peace. When we seek to be patient, we push aside the idea of easy promises: Patiently listening and waiting on His guidance is key to a healthy faith and relationship with God.
The world offers false hope. Christians must be smart enough to recognize it. In that moment of recognition is when the peace that passes understanding will be present.
Patient people know to rise above the chaos or struggle. Understanding how to have patience is key to stress management and can help keep our relationships from tearing apart.
Stop and think about things when you become impatient. Are you late to work and traffic has you stopped? Is someone talking too much and your mind is wandering? Maybe you are hungry? Dehydrated? Look for the solutions to the problem, and if there is no immediate solution ... take a deep breath. Pray. Control your thoughts. You will get through it.
Something else that pushes patience farther away: You must remember you cannot control people. If someone is doing something embarrassing or discouraging, are you feeling like it reflects on you? Think from outside of the situation: Are people looking at you? Or is it on that other person?
Again, pray it out. Do some deep breathing. Practice mindfulness to force the impatience out of your mind.
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. Be thankful."
Part of John 15 says, "Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you."
A branch can't bear fruit on its own ... it needs the vine. God is the vine and we are the branches: Both work together for good. Without one, the other cannot grow.
In John 15:16, the Lord says He chose you. You did not choose Him. You have been appointed to bear fruit. Our lives as Christians are His doing, and we are blessed to be chosen. This is a big choice as those who are called are to serve in His name and bring others to Christ. While you choose to accept Christ into your heart, He called you by name.
John 15: 5-8
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
Ash Wednesday is set for March 6. That marks the beginning of Lent: A time of repentance and fasting. These actions are in preparation for Easter and allow us to go through some self-examination and reflection.
"In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus their relationships on God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves to others," Pastor Dan Clemens writes in the Courier, a newsletter of First Baptist Church Hamilton.
Throughout Lenten, Sunday morning worship service sermons will focus on "God's Plan for the Family." On March 3, the lesson is called "Modern Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home." It will be followed by:
March 10: 1st Lent: Family is not First
March 17: 2nd Lent: Man and Woman at the Cross
March 24: 3rd Lent: Reclaiming Sexuality
March 31: 4th Lent: The Road to and from Divorce
April 7: 5th Lent: Parenting with the End in View
April 14: Palm Sunday: Family Tensions and Traumas
April 21: Easter: Free to Be Family
Pastor Dan writes: "May we commit this time to prepare for Easter, may our fast be to selfishness and giving more of ourselves to our primary relationships."
Read February's full "Daniel's Den" article here.
It's an idea put forth by Rachel Hollis, writer of "Girl, Wash Your Face": Pick your boulder. She recently spoke about this to a large group of Christians who are passionate business dreamers, saying:
The boulder is the ONE THING you should focus on for a season. The idea is this: We all do multiple things at the "good" level, but if we put our energy into just one thing, it would be great. Picture yourself throwing a handful of pebbles into a stream. It makes very little impact. But picture throwing a boulder into that stream. There's a ripple effect, and the landscape may even be impacted. It makes much larger movement.
Hollis suggests you take one thing you want to do and push all the others aside for one season. Focus only on getting that done. Back up even more and map out how you want to get there: Are you wanting to write a book? Have you been stuck in research phase and never actually started typing? Maybe you are wanting to open a store but don't know where to start. So you just keep the germ of the idea in your head but never move forward. Put aside the other things in your life (learn to say no, even when it's difficult), and focus on the boulder. Make the waves.
What's your boulder? What is the biggest project you want to start but because of the other little things in your life, you have not? Maybe you want to go back to school but don't have proper childcare. is it possible to get a better job, that leads to better hours, that leads to easier childcare? How far back in the process do you need to go to set yourself up for throwing that boulder?
Write things down. Turn off the devices, get the kids out of the house, put on only music without lyrics and start thinking. Focus. Don't drift: Write it down.
Next season, are you able to leave that boulder, and move a new one? Try not to revert to being a pebble thrower unless all the boulders are in the water.
The No. 1 song on Billboard's Hot Christian Songs chart for the week of Feb. 9, 2019 is "Who You Say I am" by Hillsong Worship. It's a song we've sang together several times while praising in the worship service at First Baptist Church Hamilton.
Why has the song exploded in popularity? Perhaps it's the reminder of a promise of freedom, and our place in Heaven as a reward for being devoted to the Lord while on Earth.
Here is a sample of some of the song's lyrics:
Who am I that the highest King would welcome me?
I was lost but He brought me in | Oh His love for me
Who the Son sets free, oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God, yes I am
Free at last, He has ransomed me | His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin Jesus died for me
Yes He died for me
Who the Son sets free, oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God, yes I am
In my Father’s house | There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God, yes I am
I am chosen — not forsaken, I am who You say I am
You are for me — not against me, I am who You say I am
Hillsong Worship has shared the heart behind the song.
It comes from John 8, which states that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. It was Jesus Christ who said, "Who the Son sets free, is free indeed."
Hillsong said it's a real declaration of identity and talks about how a salve has no place in the family. Once we're in God's family we all have an identity of freedom.
It's beginning to look a lot like ... February. And there's a lot of activity happening at First Baptist Church Hamilton. There is a Tuesday morning Bible study for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) from 9:45-11 a.m. Feb. 12 in Room 203 at the church. Childcare is provided. MOPS and MOMSNext have a monthly meeting coming up — 9:45-11:45 a.m. Feb. 19 in Room 200. Childcare is provided then, too.
Wednesdays are a big deal at FBCH:
• Dinner at 5:30 p.m. (for everyone)
• Kids — Awana, 6-7:30 p.m.
• Youth — First Student Ministries, 6-7:30 p.m.
• Adults — Bible study in Room 200, MOPS in Room 203 and Small Men's Group in the board room, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Also happening in February is a luncheon for our childcare workers. That's slated for Feb. 24 and we need folks to sign up here.
We also have a class for new folks called "belonging." That's on Feb. 10. Get info and sign up here.
Need more information? Surf this website or call the church: (513) 868-1412. There's also info on the church's Facebook page.
They were having church! That's what Pastor Dan Clemens said about a video he showed in Sunday's Modern Worship service. The video featured a performer from the popular musical movie, "The Greatest Showman." In it, Keala Settle, who plays a shy bearded lady who gains confidence when she joins the circus, is shy as a performer rehearsing with the cast and orchestra ahead of filming. While she is singing, "This is Me," Settle begins to walk about the room and really gain confidence in the rehearsal. She and her director talk about this experience at the beginning of the video (watch it here). It gets exciting in a way that praise and worship also gets exciting in church — the energy and connection of the people in the video was very real.
We are all created in God's image. Everyone. Genesis 1:26-27 says, "Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of heaven and over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."
And in Romans 5:12, the Bible reads: "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin,and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned."
James 3:9: "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness."
Who are you?
Anyone who has seen the children's film "Finding Nemo" has heard the phrase by Dory, "Just keep swimming." It's been turned into countless memes and said many times since the film's release.
Life is tough. We all have demands. We all have internal struggles such as anxiety, depression, fear, loneliness, boredom, and more. Maybe you have a job that's brought you down, but you can't leave it for money reasons. Or you have a family that makes you crazy. Or your body issues are overwhelming you with self-loathing. Maybe you have a life-altering illness or struggle with addictions.
Dory says it best: We're all swimming and we just have to keep on doing it. We all might be on different paths, but we're in the same stream.
God says that with Him, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)
His word is a light to our paths. (Psalm 119:105)
If we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will keep our paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
There are so many references in the Holy Bible about not fearing anything, walking in the right direction, and staying focused on Him. This will lighten our loads and make life more bearable. Christians have protection.
Getting this reminder that God has your back is a top reason for following a daily devotional plan, like what's available (for free!) on the YouVersion app. And starting your day with it will help you be reminded that God will make lemonade out of lemons.
Think of Him whispering, "Just keep swimming ... just keep swimming."