Family. It is one of the most powerful words in the world. Depending on your past, it will stir your heart warmly or will cause you pain. The older I get, the more important family becomes. So today, I want to share with you what it means to me to be in a family.

You need more than one family. You have your biological family. There are moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents and a crazy uncle or two. Yet, God works through your family lineage. When I was growing up, the King James Bible was the only one we used. You didn’t get very far into the Old Testament before you ran into some “begats”: “And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech” (Gen. 4:18, KJV). Yes, there was a lot of begat-ing going on, but when you get to Matthew 1:1-16, you see how all those begats led to the birth of Jesus. God uses biological families to accomplish His eternal purpose. And each birth is another link.

Not only do we have biological families, but we have extended families:  our school friends, our coworkers and those we know from various hobbies, including sports. I live in Oklahoma, where you have to declare your allegiance to either OU or OSU when you cross the state line. Oklahoma churches are never more divided than when these two teams play each other.

My favorite extended family consists of those who read these articles. Yes, we are family, and we meet each week on this page. We laugh, we cry, we tell funny stories and sometimes we even get around to sharing a biblical truth or two. We are connected by these words, and we are family.

But God has called us to a larger family: the Church. Did you know it’s a blended family? We all have the same Father but different mothers. When someone says they are a part of a blended family, I say, “I am too!”

The church is also an interracial family. The body of Christ consists of every tongue, every tribe and every nation. No matter what continent, city, town or village I am in, I can always find family. I might speak a different language; I might have a different skin color; I might have different customs and practices than the believers who live there, but in the end, we are family. Some of my best memories come from time spent with these family members.

The church is an eternal family. Your biological family members may not all spend eternity together, but for those who belong to the body of Christ, our family is for eternity.

Last week, I spent some time with my eternal family on a retreat to Red River, N.M. This particular group would never have gotten together if we didn’t have the same Father. Since we do, we are called to be brothers and sisters in Christ. On Wednesday, we took a four-wheeler jeep from Red River up the mountain to Goose Lake. It was eight miles of bumpety-bump-bump. We bounced around like popcorn until our backsides hurt, and we dreaded the ride back down.

There were eight of us, and another couple had joined us to fill the jeep. We found out they weren’t part of our eternal family, and a number of us shared with them about this family and what our heavenly Father is all about. The family of Christ is always trying to enlist others to be a part of our family. We also found out that both the man and the woman came from difficult families. They told stories of abuse and hurt. They were supposed to have been married already, and this week was going to be their honeymoon. But because of family difficulties, they didn’t get to have a wedding.

There on the mountain, part of our family surrounded them and prayed for them. They prayed for healing in the couple’s biological families; they prayed that this couple would become the family God has called them to be; and they prayed that they would become part of our family—the eternal one.

I said “family” was important to me, but it is really “families” who mean so much to me.  Each family meets a need in my life, but there is nothing like the family of God. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17a).

And yes, God doesn’t want just children but great, great, great, great-grandchildren. Who needs to hear about becoming part of our eternal family today?