I’ve been working on the sermon for tomorrow night and I’m convinced that all of us struggle with priorities. I’m teaching from the book of Philippians and I love this book because in it we get a real simple view of life. Paul nails it when he tells us the priority in life.
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.
See those words in italics? Paul says ONLY let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel. Is that true of our lives. Truly the priority of life is one word:
Too simplistic? Sorry if it seems that way, but it’s the truth. Jesus is the LIFE! Without Jesus there is no life. Everything was created by Him and for Him. But, is He a priority for our lives? I don’t know.
I remember growing up and going to church and just treating Jesus as an “add on.” He’s just someone who you need in your toolbox in case there is a problem. Ultimately, you’ve got to have Him to go to heaven, so you better get saved and stay out of Hell. And that’s how most people view Jesus. They “get saved” when they are a kid by praying a “sinner’s prayer” and walking an aisle. They get baptized and presto…that’s it. Now go on your merry way and live life. Go chase the American Dream and play sports, make good grades, have girlfriends and boyfriends, go to the prom, go to college, get a job, make money, get married, have kids, save for college and then your retirement and then finish off life in a rocking chair on a porch. Yep…that’s the American Dream and there’s nothing spiritual or eternal about it. It’s all about the here and now. It’s all about security, comfort and ease now. The kingdom? Who’s kingdom? God’s? No… I’ll choose this kingdom…down here…right now. I’ll take the next 50 years over the next 5 million in heaven.
Therefore, most people are so busy chasing the American Dream that by the time they slow down long enough to check their priorities, it’s often too late to do anything about it. I think about all the families I have counseled through the years who lament the fact, “If I only knew then what I know now. I would have done things differently with my kids.” Truth is… The majority of you reading this blog have it figured out, (whatever that means :)), already. In other words, you have your priorities straight and you ARE seeking to put the things of God first. But, you are few and far between. Even in our churches many families live just like the world and chase what the world is chasing. If you didn’t know any better, you couldn’t tell the difference except for the fact that they might come to church on Sunday for a couple of hours.
Sometimes people ask me if I get frustrated? The answer is, “Yes.” I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. At times I feel like I’m spitting in the wind. I preach and teach and preach and teach and preach and teach, and yet I see very little difference in how “Christian families” are living versus others. I write books about “Raising Christ-centered Young Adults” and “Biblical Relationships” and very few people seem to know anything about what’s inside them. I watch families see their kids go down the same paths they (as parents) did and then they lament the heartbreak in their kids lives (after the fact). I feel like saying, “Hey…Don’t you know I’ve been sounding the warning alarm for years! What part are you missing? You know Matthew 6:33, ‘Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.'”
You know, maybe it shouldn’t bother me, but if you were doing your job day in and day out and week in and week out and you saw very little difference, wouldn’t it bother you a bit? I bet it would and if you cared, it should. Am I frustrated to the point of being upset? Nope. Honestly I’m not. I don’t want you to get the impression that I am. Truthfully, I got over those feelings a long time ago. I totally get what I am. I’m a seed sower. I’m not responsible for the harvest. I just put the Gospel out there the best I know how and allow the Holy Spirit to do the rest. So, there’s a relief in knowing that I work hard and prepare hard and try to do the best I can to encourage and teach and train and then I just choose to rest in the knowledge that I serve an audience of One.
Maybe you feel this way too? Maybe you have been dealing with someone at work or in your family that just “doesn’t get it.” Well, don’t be discouraged. The Holy Spirit has to drive the train. We are just riding in the passenger cars with our heads out the windows sowing seed. So, I’ll keep on keeping on and I am SO grateful to do so, I rejoice in the knowledge that some get it and seek to walk the narrow way. I am totally stoked to know that some people and some families will choose to take the road less travelled and place a priority on the things of God. They’ll choose to face the persecution and endure the ridicule that comes with walking that narrow way. For you see, it’s those little victories that keep you pressing on and moving forward with a vigor and excitement (which I have). And the same is true of you. Don’t lose heart and don’t give up.
By the way, if you are reading this and your priorities are centered on things that aren’t “eternal,” and you aren’t intentional in how you are making eternal investments in your children, then take a look at this below. It’s going to be in our bulletin on Sunday:
Making the Investment in Our Children
We all know raising children is hard! It is a difficult, time-consuming and often thankless job. Yet, the Bible teaches that children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127). They are indeed a reward from him. Our life is a race and we must realize the investment that must be made if we are going to pass to our children the baton of faith in Jesus Christ.
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:5-7
The Scripture tells us we must be talking about the Lord consistently and constantly to our children. We do this when we are sitting together and talking about the Lord and his commands. Watching TV or a movie together doesn’t qualify. That’s not teaching time. That’s entertainment time. There must be times where the Scriptures are read and discussed in our homes and we can slow down and focus.
Yet, there is a price to be paid to get everyone’s schedules together and place a priority on conversation, discussion and the study of the Word of God. Often this means a “downsizing” of our lives to make time for the things of God. This means a priority must be given to the things of God over the American Dream and even over sports and academics. We must care more about our kids making God’s team than making some other “team.”
If you do make the decision to pay the price and truly come together as a family, then you may wonder where to begin. First, you begin by coming together physically in the same room. This can be in the den, kitchen or even someone’s bedroom. A great place to have devotion time is around the dinner table. By the way, if you seldom have supper at a table, you are most likely over-scheduled. Second, you must schedule it in your week or it won’t happen. Third, don’t preach a sermon. Just read Scripture and talk about it. This is simply a back and forth conversation. Act it out. Make it fun. You can also simply use my “Daily Devotions.” They are online at the church website: www.mpbc.ws. Remember, the time you spend will depend on the age and maturity of the children in your home.
Think about what a typical week looks like in your home. Think about last week for instance or the week before. What did you do each night during the past two weeks? How did you spend your time? Were you on the go every night? Were you home much? What needs to change? What price are you willing to pay to make the eternal investments into your children? (From Pastor Kevin’s Book: ROP, Raising Christ-Centered Young Adults, Energion Publications, 2012)
Want to see a few pictures from the past week? Homeschool time. Clara reading to Charlotte as Andrew looks on.
Josh is on deployment in Key West, Florida. I’ll be taking Katy to the airport on Thursday in Charlotte for her and Charlotte to go be with him. We are so grateful to the wonderful man who bought the tickets to bless my girls. You know who you are! Thank you!
It’s been a joy having Katy and Charlotte with us for a few days. Charlotte is eating her first baby food…
Can you tell we love this little girl?
Here’s Andrew whacking a board with his foot. Better watch out for this dude!
Hey…need a couple of laughs?
Gotta love it!