2012 is bearing down on us! We’ve got less than three days left in 2011. The ball is being prepared in Times Square as we speak…
How’s it been? What was 2011 like for you? A year to remember or year to forget? What was your focus in 2011? What did you really want to accomplish? Did you get it done? Were you successful? Did you fail? Is the “jury still out?”
There is much I could say in answer to all of these questions…but, I’ll keep them to myself, because I would prefer for you to think as I’m thinking now. In light of these questions, I’ll ask one more question:
What’s going to be your focus in 2012?
Could it be to :
Make more money?
Get a promotion?
Get a new job?
Ultimately, I’ve made up my mind on what my focus will be. It’s simply this:
Adding people to the Kingdom of God. Making more Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
That’s it! That’s the overriding them and goal for my life in 2012. And here’s the deal…it’s got to start in my home. I’ve got to make disciples of my children while I’m making disciples of others. Many get this messed up. They either ONLY make disciples of their children and couldn’t care less about discipling anyone else or getting involved in anyone else’s life OR they seek make disciples of everyone EXCEPT their children.
So, I believe that the balance is to make disciples of others while I’m making disciples of my own children. It’s both. Now please don’t misunderstand me…the first priority must be to the home and the children that comprise the home…but, we can’t be isolationists and mutually exclusive.
In this post I’ll briefly discuss what the Bible teaches about making disciples in the home. In the first verse of Psalm 127, we are told: Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
The Lord God must build the house and Jesus Christ must be the rock foundation on which we build that house. A house is not built overnight. It takes months and in some cases, years to build a home and that’s why we must not think that we can “complete the job” and then move on to discipling others. It must be done simultaneously or in essence we are very selfish people and just care about “our own.”
So, we realize that our children are built and developed over many years of teaching and training. So, just how are we building the lives of our children? What are we building into their lives? Fathers, particularly, must answer these questions and with prayerful introspection. Why? Because it’s our job to lead in the home in the spiritual discipline and nurturing of our children (Ephesians 6:4).
Philip Lancaster in his book, Family Man, Family Leader, says:
Those of us who live in modern America (and similar lands) live in a giant slum, speaking in terms of the condition of our family life. The physical houses are, for the most part, structurally sound and reasonably attractive on the outside, but the families that inhabit them have deteriorated over the years to the point where they are barely holding together, if they are at all. Even the best of them are only a shell of what families once were, since the members of the household have little meaningful life together, and they are not fulfilling the callings God has given fathers, mothers, and children. They are badly in need of restoration.
These are sobering words, yet true. We must honestly look at our lives and our schedules as we enter a new year (2012) and ask ourselves what our houses look like from a foundational level. Are we trying to cover and hide cracks with a façade of religion or are they strongly built on the Word of God? Will we make the necessary repairs that lead to strength and growth in our families.
As a pastor, I sometimes look at the world and ask myself, “How can we fix our churches and ultimately this nation and repair all of these families?” Lancaster shares an encouraging answer to this daunting question:
The need is utterly overwhelming when viewed overall. But the solution is well within reach when viewed from the standpoint of each household. A father doesn’t have to fix the whole society; he just has to fix his own family. And here is the amazing and hopeful thing about God’s national rebuilding plan: the renewal strategy that is within the reach of each father—making changes in his own home—is the strategy that will have the greatest overall effect for the kingdom of God. As each of us sees to our own little sphere of dominion, our own families, the combined effect will be renewed communities, churches, and nations. (Emphasis his)
My heart almost skips a beat when I read those words because of what could happen if we decide to get serious and make the necessary changes in our homes. The great puritan churchman, Richard Baxter preached reformation in the 1600’s. Still today, his words ring true. Baxter wrote:
You are not likely to see any general reformation, till you procure family reformation. Some little religion there may be here and there; but while it is confined to single persons, and is not promoted in families, it will not prosper, nor promise future increase.
The reality is unless we radically change the way we view the role of the family in the church and the home, we will not see an end to the systematic decimation of both institutions. We will either win the culture back one family at a time or we will lose the culture one family at a time. It is that simple. Either way you look at it, spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the key.
What will be your focus in 2012? Let’s work for the kingdom and let it begin in our homes and stretch throughout the world, as we go and make disciples of all nations. Let’s begin seeing our jobs and income…our money…our time…our talents as simply tools the Lord Jesus has given us to use for His kingdom…not ours. Amen?
Happy New Year!