Identity in Christ
Russell and Kim Lines
It’s now been twelve years since Kim and I had the opportunity of going through our first Married for Life course at a Leadership Training Weekend in Auckland. Five years later, we had the wonderful opportunity of stepping into the role of National Directors for New Zealand. We have also had the privilege of leading many MFL courses and LTW’s, our latest 14-week course finishing just last month. Once again, we saw God move in a powerful way as ten people (some of these children of couples in the group) gave their lives to Jesus Christ and start down the path of restoration for their marriages and families. Through this time, God has continued to work patiently in our own lives as he carefully cuts away all those things that are us and replaces them with His Son. I am so glad we have learned to trust Him, because many of these times have been painful and difficult, the latest of which we want to share with you now.
I don’t know how many times we have taught ‘life patterns.’ God has shown us many things we have had to deal with in this lesson, but overall my family pattern (Russell) has never fit the model that we have heard many others testify to and we have never known why. We wanted to believe that good Christian parents who remain together generally have happy Godly children that remain together and life’s a breeze. Very simply, I am the oldest of six children from a Christian home and Christian parents. All of us at some stage in our lives have made decisions to follow Christ; all except my youngest brother have seen and experienced destruction in every area of our lives. Although for Kim and me things have been difficult at times in our relationship, we believe that God has protected our marriage.
However, our business life financially has gone from one nightmare to the next no matter what we do to put things right. This has been the area that God has taught and stretched us so much. All my four older siblings have experienced many problems including immorality, adultery, a lesbian lifestyle, miscarriages, premature babies, and financial difficulties. In all of our struggles and battles, the destructive pattern we have experienced as a family has not touched my youngest brother. He has a happy marriage and a very successful business; it has always seemed that everything he touches is blessed. So you can see why we struggled to use my family history when teaching ‘life patterns’ as it did not seem to fit the teaching of MFL. That is until now!
How God Moved in Our Family
It was 3:00 AM when God woke me early one morning several months ago and said, “Meet me on prayer mountain.” This is a special hill on our land where I love spending time with my heavenly Father. It was a cold but beautifully clear night with a wonderful full moon. While in His presence, we talked about things and then God asked me if I wanted to be healed. I had recently had an accident and was preparing to go into the hospital for an operation so I thought this is what God was about to heal. So I said, “Yes.” Then God asked me to lie down and he would heal me. The grass was long and wet, but He just said, “If you want to be healed then lie down on the grass.” I have slowly learned to obey God over the years as He has given me many unexpected things to do.
So I lay down, spread eagle in long wet grass on the top of a hill in the middle of the night. No bolt from the blue or warm fuzzy feeling came. But I knew that I had been obedient to God. Things however were about to change forever! It was only a few days later it was made known to my family that the first five of us children have different fathers. Now many people grow up with this as part of their childhood but to have it dropped on you in an instant at fifty years of age was quite a shock.
A few days later when I went into the hospital for my operation, I had to fill in a form detailing family history. I found that I didn’t have any. I didn’t know who my father was and I would probably never know. (My Mum and Dad went home to be with the Lord about eighteen years ago.) We also knew through our ministry experience that there was a very powerful curse that had been operating in our lives unchecked for years. My Mum and Dad had lived a very worldly lifestyle. Unknown to us, Dad was unable to have any children and when I came along ten years after they were married, they were involved in a very lively party scene. Just prior to the birth of child number five (me), with their marriage about to collapse, my Mum contacted a deadly disease and was pronounced dead. But, miraculously she was revived! This was a wonderful opportunity for God to give her a little look at hell. So, when she was released from the hospital, she promptly gave her heart to Jesus Christ. It was three years later that my Dad gave his heart to the Lord, and then I had the incredible blessing at eleven years of age of living in a Christian home. One year later my youngest brother was born and I now know why Mum and Dad always called him their miracle baby; and why he is the only one who looks like my dad. God had blessed them with their own son.
Identity in Christ
You see the devil brought this revelation into our lives at one of the hardest times in my life. My health was poor. We were on the brink of losing everything and then to take away the only thing I had left - my identity. He even gave me a verse, “One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the congregation of the lord, even to the tenth generation” (Deut. 23:2.) It was at this point that Jesus tapped me on the shoulder and said to me, “Don’t worry they would not let me in either, and I have broken the curse!” I then knew my identity in a wonderful family was confirmed.
I also realized that like Jesus, I had the wonderful privilege of growing up with the most wonderful parents, like Mary and Joseph, who cared for me and loved me as his own son. Over the next couple of weeks, God walked us through some special steps with some close friends of ours as we saw this curse broken off our lives forever. So why did God wait fifty years to reveal this to me? I don’t have all the answers but I trust Him and I know He loves me and His timing is always perfect. As we move on into the future in this ministry, we have now experienced first hand what happens when children are born outside of a covenant marriage. We have also experienced first hand what happens to a family when Jesus Christ breaks the curse of the devil. It has been a privilege as God has used this latest challenge to bring about a transformation in our ‘life patterns’. In three months, it’s like being changed from a caterpillar into a butterfly. The change has been distinct and noticeable.
Let the Heavenly Father set you free – So who are you? Someone like I was, unsure who your Dad is? Well I can tell you, your Heavenly Father (my Dad) loves you so much and He wants you to walk in the ‘life patterns’ of the greatest family in the universe, free from every curse and lie of the devil. Are you a step mom or dad? Then I challenge you to be a Joseph and a Mary. Maybe you are no longer in your first marriage, for whatever reason. Our Heavenly Father wants you and your children to live in His peace and blessings. If you have not already done so, ask for His forgiveness and ask Him to break the curse. At this point He will enter into the very foundation of your covenant marriage, and you need never walk in the condemnation ever again.
I tell you this story in honor of my saved parents whom God gave me and pray that as you read it God will bless and encourage you in this wonderful ministry of seeing powerhouse Christian homes continuing to be built all over the world.
If you have a testimony to to share please e-mail it, with a photo if possible, to Murray Fookes