2 Billion Kids and Counting

Have you ever heard this old African proverb regarding kids?

"It takes a whole village to raise a child."

The idea here is that much more than just parental involvement is needed for children to grow up properly. You need, well, the whole village.

Unless, of course, your family is a village…like the ones that are featured on The Learning Channel that cause an instantaneous 'say wha???'

Like Jon and Kate Plus Eight, and I've heard a proposed reality show idea starring none other than Octomom…yeah, for sure let me know when that one comes out.

But the one that takes the whole enchilada has got to be 18 Kids and Counting. Yes, you have done your math correctly; there is a family/village in Arkansas consisting of mom, dad, and eighteen natural born siblings. To be specific:

It's official: The Duggars are a true pop culture phenomenon. With their regular appearances on national talk shows, their countless press clippings and their enormous online following, this 20-member family from Arkansas has all of America talking.

The patriarch and matriarch of this large-and still growing-group are former high school sweethearts, Jim Bob and Michelle. With values rooted in their strong personal faith, Jim Bob and Michelle firmly believe that every child is a gift to be cherished. After more than 20 years of marriage, the couple has received 18 gifts-ten boys and eight girls. With only two sets of twins among the 18 children, Michelle has been pregnant for 12 years of her life. Another vital piece of Duggar trivia is that each child's name begins with a "J"-Joshua, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jeremiah, Jedidiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, and baby Jordyn-Grace. (Source: www.tlc.discovery.com)

You really need a visual on this one:

Oh - and she's pregnant - so that's where the 'and counting' plays in - get it?

What is interesting is that the Duggar's had a miscarriage early on in their marriage which they decided was due to using birth control, so they decided to just let God give them as many children as He decided.

I'm guessing that you've picked up on the results of God's decision.

Can you imagine growing up in this household? I can picture the parents trying to round everyone up for dinner:

"Has anyone seen Jessa through Jackson anywhere?"

"No - but have you checked the lower four counties of Arkansas?"

And where do you keep all food, clothes, and household items? I'm sure their digs would make a super Wal-Mart pretty much look like a corner gas station.

But there would be some very cool benefits to being a Duggar as well - one of the biggest being the fact that you are constantly surrounded by family, and even after everyone is out of the house, you'll have siblings as long as you live.

I think you would always carry around this amazing feeling of belonging to something bigger than yourself, and you would know that no matter what, you have brothers and sisters to call on if you ever had a need.

Come to think of it, I do know that feeling. No, I didn't grow up with a boatload of siblings - just one actually. But in another (and just as real) sense, I have more brothers and sisters than I could ever count - some estimate more than 2 billion! I'm not talking about the brother/sisterhood of humanity - as cool as that is, it doesn't compare to this family:

As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. Someone told Jesus, "Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you."

 Jesus asked, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" Then he pointed to his disciples and said, "Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!" (Matthew 12:46-50).

Isn't that amazing? Jesus states plainly that those who follow God's will become spiritual siblings with Jesus and with each other. Of course the very first step in following God's will is to trust in Jesus for salvation and become a disciple. When you do, you are instantaneously and permanently adopted into the largest family in the universe - the family of God.

Think about it, in every corner of the planet and probably just down the street, you have family. And from my experience, even though our kin can be unkind at times, we still know we have each other's backs.

So maybe you're feeling a little distant or disconnected from your earthly mom, dad and sibs? The great news is that if you have trusted in Jesus as your only hope of salvation, there are literally millions of people out there across the globe who are your brothers and sisters in the deepest and most abiding sense of the word. You are joined by the blood of Jesus Christ, you share the same Holy Spirit living inside your soul, and your final destination will be in heaven forever.

So now you know about your posse… isn't it about time we cut back on watching other 'reality' families and start making ours the best we can? Go out and connect with a bro or sis today, and remember how awesome it is to be a part of the family of God!

Flashpoint: Ignite into Action

God's family needs to have the same qualification as the Learning Channel show - "and counting." In other words, God's household should be growing each and every day. Talk to your friends this week about what it's like to belong to a true and permanent family and share the gospel message that made this possible in the first place.

Accelerant: Feed the Fire

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:25-27).

Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11).

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? (James 3:9-11).

 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast (1 Peter 5:8-10).