CHRISTIAN OR CHRIST-CENTERED?

family 2It is not enough to be a Christian home, especially in our culture. The only thing that is enough is to be a Christ-centered family.

THE DIFFERENCE

Now, you may be saying, “What’s the difference? I don’t see any difference.” Well, there really shouldn’t be a difference but unfortunately, in our culture today, the word Christian doesn’t mean what it used to mean. Some 80 percent or more of our culture says, “Oh, I’m a Christian, I mean, I’m not something else so I must be a Christian.” But you’d have to agree that 80-some-odd percent of our homes would not be called “Christ-centered” in the way we do life.

What is a Christ centered home? Jesus isn’t just a part of our life, HE IS OUR LIFE. We are fully devoted, following and serving and knowing, and bringing glory to him. In a cultural Christian home, in a home that’s Christian in name only, when there is a hard time, we just write somebody off. “Well, just screw them.” “Forgot them.” “We are not going to mess with them.” “Forgive them? I mean, after what they did, I would never forgive them. They’d have to come back to me, crawling on their hands and knees and then I’ll just make them pay for a little while.” And that’s normal. In a Christ-centered home though, we say, “What does Jesus teach us about how to do relationships?” And he said, “Blessed are the peace makers.”

IT DEPENDS ON YOU

Paul said something very complimentary in Romans 12:17-18 and verse 21. He said, “Do not repay evil for evil,” which is what everybody had been taught to do. Heth said “Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.” Now, here’s the power statement. He said, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,” what are you to do? He taught, you live a life at peace with everyone.

If you are thinking at this point that you know a lot of people who sure need to hear this, you have missed the point altogether. He says, you let God speak to YOU. As far as it depends on you, you do everything possible to live at peace. Then in verse 21, he said, “Do not be overcome by evil but instead,” we’re going to overcome evil with good. Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called children of God.

THE DECISION

So, do you want to be a Christian home or a Christ-centered family? Make the distinction one choice at a time.

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Decisions you make affect those traveling with you.

travel 2Every parent has been there. The trip ahead is long. The travel schedule is tight. You hit the road with a full tank, confident the plan you have crafted beats anything AAA could muster. But twenty minutes down the highway you hear a small, squeaky voice from the backseat. The artillery begins to bombard you. The questions.

Some you expected. Are we there yet? How much longer? Can we get something to eat?

The next barrage is unexpected. Who was the first person to decide to squeeze those things on a cow and drink whatever came out? Why does our dog get mad at us when we blow in his face but when we take him on a car ride he sticks his head out the window?

Every parent has been there. Questions from the backseat. You come to expect them. Every journey to a destination includes them. The same is true for the journey of faith.

Just like kids on a trip we get tired of the journey. We want to know when we can stop. We get tired of serving. We get tired of waiting. We get tired of the people we’re traveling with.

And we grumble. The Israelites did. They complained about the food, about the place they were traveling, and about their ‘driver’ Moses.

Grumbling does not set well with God. In fact, our grumbling can lead to our wandering. When offered the chance to leave Kadesh and enter the Promised Land, the Israelites listened to the fear-filled report from ten spies instead of the faith-full report of Joshua and Caleb.

Kadesh means “Spring of Decision” and it was time for one. They were in the right place to make the right decision. But the majority made the wrong one. The people wished they had died in the desert. So God told them they would get their wish. They would wander until the unbelieving generation  died out.

And they did. They wandered in the Wilderness for forty years. And their children were impacted by their decisions.

The decisions you make affect those around you, just like the decisions the Israelites made at Kadesh. You can decide to grumble or be thankful. You can decide to turn away from God or turn toward God. You can decide to wander without purpose through life or follow God’s vision for your life.

Just don’t forget that those in the backseat will be affected by your decisions.

How to know the will of God

Sometimes it is so clear. Other times it seems impossible to figure out. I am talking about God’s will in any given situation. What should I do or not do? What pleases Him and what disappoints Him? Does He want me to choose door one, two or three? Is it under lid one two or three? I wish His will were easier to figure out.

One time Paul, the Apostle, wanted to do some mission work in Asia, but the will of God was revealed clearly, “having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.” (Acts 16:6) How the Holy Spirit communicated God’s will, I do not know but it was a clear message.

So Paul then decided to turn to an area called Bithynia, and the response was the same, “the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” (Acts 16:7) Again, I have no idea how the Spirit revealed God’s will to Paul but it was again crystal clear.

In a third move God revealed just where he wanted Paul to go with His message.
“During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16:9-10)

Wouldn’t it be tremendous if God’s will for us was so clear, unmistakable, direct and understandable? Then maybe we would move into action as quickly as Paul did, but most of the time it is a struggle to know exactly what we should do, especially when it comes to crucial decisions in life or directions we are considering. Let me share with you very briefly the process I have developed in attempting to discern the will of God for any given situation. It is built on five key words.

COMMUNICATION
Communicate often with the Lord about your ideas, thoughts and plans. Lay it all out to Him and hide nothing. Talk to Him about it every day. Let him know how serious you are about discovering His direction and wishes for your life. Don’t hold anything back. Tell and talk about it all.

CONFIRMATION
Ask God to confirm your thoughts plans and directions in ways that are obvious that it is Him and not chance or coincidence. I believe that plans and desires that are pleasing to God will be confirmed by God in ways that only He could be responsible for. Look for confirmation.

CONSULTATION
Or maybe you can call it counsel. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Share your plans with some people that you trust and have shown sound spiritual judgment and ask for their honest response. And be willing to accept their insight. Make sure you seek out those who will be honest with you instead of those who will say just what you want to hear.

I believe this is the most difficult step to take. It involves other people in the decision making process. Many times we don’t want to know what other people think and we just do what we want to do. That is a set up for disappointment and failure. Bottom line, if you don’t want to consult spiritual advisors you don’t really want to know the best answer.

COST
Jesus said before you undertake a major direction first count the cost. That means not just the financial cost but the emotional, physical, spiritual, social as well as the cost to your family. Put it all out on the table and be nakedly honest about the price of it all, choosing as well as not choosing.

INCUBATION
Sorry, that’s not another “C” word but I didn’t have a good one to fit. I grew up on a chicken farm. Eggs, in order to hatch into baby chicks, had to go through an incubation period in which they were exposed to just the right conditions to birth the new chick. Major decisions need the same exposure time to these processes in order to settle on a decision that is pleasing to God. I guess what I am saying is, don’t rush the process. Give it time for God to reveal His direction in His time. Patiently wait.

So if you are looking for a quick fix on the will of God, I don’t have one. But I do have a process that I have learned to follow that has brought enormous direction to my life in a way that I believe is God directed. This process has saved me a lot of regret and second guessing when it comes to big decisions all because I gave the Lord plenty of time to reveal His will to me.