We are are going to use the teachings of Jesus, specifically from the book of Matthew, to help families to create environments where a home can be "blessed". Matthew lays out the Beattitudes, which is the baseline for Craig's series. "We are going to use a number of these principles to bless our homes. Next week, we are going to look at 'Blessed are the pure at heart, for they shall see God'...Most of our homes would not be characterized by purity but rather by impurity. In week 3, we will cover 'Blessed are the peacemakers'...Often we have homes where there are 'peace takers'. In week 4, we will look at 'Blessed are those who are persecuted for (Christ's) sake'....We need to stand out in this world."
Much of the series, for Craig, is going to require him to be largely transparent. He will commit to share what happens in his own home. "But we are sooo far from perfect", he admits. It sometimes surprises people when the pastor's family isn't perfect! One day his daughter was in class and all the kids were talking about how their parents were always yelling at them. His daughter said, "my daddy doesn't yell at us" and the teacher thought, "well there you go. Of course the pastor doesn't yell at his kids". But then Craig's daughter continued, "they yell at each other every day, but they don't really yell at us" (!!)
None of us are perfect, but we are being perfected by the power of God. In Matthew 5:6, we read, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for you will be filled". So many homes are not filled with that that matters most. Rather, homes fill themselves with other things in an attempt to be fulfilled. In your home, what do you hunger for? What are you pursuing? What matters most to you? Some of us might say, "we are here to please God", but then what would our kids say if we asked them? Some people might say they are trying to relax, to have fun or to be liked. "Image management" is a priority for some families. For others, it could be just the wind; more money, a bigger house, the smartest kids, the most athletic kids...
If you're like most people and if you're really honest, you might admit that you are not hungering for righteousness. So, what do we do when we realize that we don't have an appetite for righteousness? We change our appetite!! How many people love pizza? It's hugely popular but not very good for us on a regular basis. At one point, Craig, changed his diet from too much pizza to fish, chicken, vegetables and fruits. After a couple of months eating like this, he decided one night to eat pizza and it made him sick. Why? because his appetite had changed! Pizza no longer satisfied him. This is what it's like when we pursue God! After we begin to feed our minds with the purity of God, we have not appetite for what is impure.
However, even if we change our appetite by pursuing God, we should first be aware of what DOES NOT work with our faith; legalism and lukewarm Christianity!
Legalism doesn't work because this is when we change Christianity to a bunch of rules that are way too many for us to keep. Rules without relationship lead to rebellion. This is why some pastors have rebellious kids. The kids know about the life style but early on, lack the relationship and become rebellious.
Lukewarm Christianity is when we believe in God, but don't have a real passion that brings glory to Him. How do we know if we're a lukewarm family of faith? "The way I know the temperature of my family's faith is when I think of the last time we prayed as a family". If we haven't talked about faith at the dinner table, chances are we are lukewarm. If I am not leading my family out of circumstances that are not consistent with our faith, like inappropriate music, inappropriate television shows or events, chances are we are lukewarm. If the family is not reaching out in the community to help others, chances are we are lukewarm.
What DOES work to change our appetite when pursing God? As a family, we should not just be a christian family. Instead, we should think of ourselves as more of a Christ-centered home. Unfortunately, many people can call themselves christian families, but they are often NOT Christ-centered homes. Right? We can all say we are ducks, but that doesn't make us ducks.
David explains this Psalms 63:1, "You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water...David does not look for God when it is just convenient for him. If we were to edit this verse and apply to our families it might sound like this;
You God are our God. Earnestly we seek You. We thirst for You. Our whole family longs for you.
What else is there to pursue, truly? Popularity? "Oh popularity, you are my God!" Or, "Oh championship of the soccer league...! Oohh new car..., my rump longs for your car seat warmers and a good ride." This sounds ridiculous, but this is the way many families live and we wonder why they are so empty.
As a leader, teach your home to see God as loving, approachable and involved.
This past week Craig had to travel and beforehand, his daughter Mandy came in to his bedroom. She wanted to talk, but he was busy. Working on this sermon, Craig asked her what she would give as advice to another family to have a Christ -centered home. Mandy replied, "You should create an environment where you kids want to have discussions about God so it's not something they feel they have to do but something they want to do." It was no surprise, when later that night, Mandy came back in and asked Craig to pray for her future! But the Groeschel's had long ago committed to a Christ-centered home. So, if this isn't the culture in our own homes, how do we do this especially now when our kids are older?
1. Involve God in daily conversations. This may start out by just seeing a beautiful sunrise. If we comment on it, glorify God in our comment. If there is a conflict, remind yourself and everyone that God is the resolver of conflict. Remind our family daily of their godly blessings. Craig's 12-year-old son, Sam, was talking to his friend recently and pointed out to his friend how God had blessed him with various things in his life. Craig realized that pointing this out to his own family was spilling out into the community through his kids.
2. Make church a non-negotiable. faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God. Surround your family with the fellowship of believers. It then becomes something that they want to pursue and something they want to be a part of.
3. Show how seeking and serving God is FUN. Craig's family has "popcorn prayer time". They sit together in a room, eat popcorn and pray for people and things that need prayer. In the mornings, when Craig gets up, he will see his kids studying the Word and it is a blessing to him. How did they start doing this? They saw their parents do it and now they do it!
We don't have to tell our kids how to be good if we are pursuing the one who is good. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.
These things may sound very rough to do and totally counter intuitive because of all the problems in your home. But if we commit, we can do it! Can you make seeking God Fun? Yes!! Can you make church non-negotiable? Yes!! Can you involve God in conversations? Yess!!
Joshua 24:!5 says, "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
You choose this DAY. You choose THIS day. You choose THIS DAY. Then your home will be blessed.