Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
THE ENCOURAGEMENT PROJECT
You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our behavior to you believers; for you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. I Thessalonians 2:10-12
Good morning Prayer Team!
For the next few reflections, we will be discussing encouragement and our families. Family is both a gift and a challenge. Through family we get the close, intimate and permanent relationships that we all crave and need. We also get some permanent and sometimes deep-seeded challenges and conflicts.
Father Larry Richards, a Roman Catholic Priest, speaker and writer, has made an acronym of the word “FAMILY” that I would like to share with you today.
F is for faith and forgiveness. The number one thing that parents are called to do is to get their children to heaven. This is done by the way you live and the example you set. You must lead your children to Christ. Pray as a family, read the bible as a family, attend church as a family. Both mothers and fathers must be involved in the building of the faith.
We must have forgiveness in the family. The people you love the most can hurt you the most. In order to keep the relationships moving forward is to offer and accept forgiveness. The Lord’s Prayer demands it of us to forgive. What better place to start than in your own family.
A is for affirmation. In our families we must build each other up. Offer a kind word of encouragement each day to your family members. No one has ever gotten hurt from too much praise, but every minute, a kid dies inside from lack of it. In a family we must know that we are loved as I am, not as I should be.
M is for making memories. This happens when we spend time with each other. Have dinner at least once a week at the table. Do not watch TV during dinner. Limit technology at the table. Ask questions, even silly ones, to get your kids talking. Laughter in the family and at the table creates memories your family will always remember. This is the ultimate “insurance policy” for making memories in the family.
I is for intimacy. This is not only a physical description, but one of the soul. “In to me see” – This is going beyond the external and seeing what is inside. We must ask of our family members – how are you? And minister to their needs. Respect, trust, vulnerability are all precursors to intimacy. Intimacy is based on unconditional love and is the ultimate goal of every close family relationship.
L is for love. Love is not a feeling, it is a commitment! It is an action that you would give your life for your family members. You must show that you love them and tell them that you love them. Our family members need to hear this EVERY SINGLE DAY. In John 15:9, Jesus said to His disciples, “As the father loved Me, I also have loved you.” We might strive to express Christ-like love for our family members.
Y it’s all about you, meaning it’s all about the needs of our family members. Our posture with our family members needs to be: How can I put your needs in front of my own? How can I serve you? We must put God first, family second, and ourselves third.
Father Larry, in a CD speech entitled “The Family” not only spoke on this acronym, but challenged listeners to do a homework assignment, which is, write a letter to your family members telling them that you love them and why. Kids should write a letter to each parent. Parents should write a letter to each child. And spouses should write a letter to each other. For additional motivation, he suggested that we should imagine that we will not be alive tomorrow, so we should write the letter today. Though he says that at least 50% of people reading this won’t do it, he says that those who do won’t have any regrets.
He concluded his presentation by encouraging people to tell the people you love that you love them every day. Live every day so that everyone—especially your family—will know that you love them because you’ve told them. You have to show them AND tell them.
Lord, thank You for my family. Thank you for (my spouse, children, parents, cousins, fill in the names of all of your family here). Help me to forge strong relationships with each of them. Help us to express love freely and joyfully. Help us through difficult times. Help us to love each other more and more each day. Help us to express that in both words and actions. Build our faith, help us express affirmation, inspire us to make memories, help us to express intimacy, deepen our love, and help us serve one another. Amen.
Write a letter to your family members today.
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Photo credit: Philadelphia Church of God
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