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When Christ is in the home

11 May


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“A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” {33} “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. {34} Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! {35} Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”” (Mark 3:32-35) 

When the first Christians were made part of the New Testament church, begun on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, they knew hardly anything of Jesus and nothing at all of the “church (God’s family).” Yet, immediately, they were thrust into a fellowship of other believers – a radical, consuming community which supplanted every other loyalty.

They “devoted themselves” to meeting with a relative strangers (Acts 2:42). They sold their possessions to support one another (Acts 4). They met daily with their new friends to worship and commune in each other’s homes (Acts 2:46). They even rejoiced together when suffering persecution and ridicule!

All this had a revolutionary impact on the families, businesses, and friendships of these first Christians. Old loyalties were exchanged for new ones. The church became almost overnight the primary “reference group” for its members.

In the New Testament, the church commands the primary allegiance of disciples. No other group of people is allowed to take precedence over God’s people.jesusinthehome

Even family ties were subordinated to the family of God. Families of origin were put at risk and even broken: (Mark 10:29-30)  “”I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel {30} will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.”

All that mattered in the 1st Century was being in Christ.  “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:26-29)

In her best-seller, What Is a Family?, Edith Schaeffer devotes her longest chapter to the idea that a family is a perpetual relay of truth.  A place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.  Where character traits are sculptured under the watchful eyes of moms and dads.  Where steel-strong fibers are woven into the fabric of inner constitution. The relay place.  A race with a hundred batons.

  • Determination.  “Stick with it, regardless.”      
  • Honesty.  “Speak and live the truth – always.”            
  • Responsibility.  “Be dependable, be trustworthy.”      
  • Thoughtfulness.  “Think of others before yourself.”  
  • Confidentiality.  “Don’t tell secrets.  Seal your lips.”   
  • Punctuality.  “Be on time.”      
  • Self-control.  “When under stress, stay calm.”            
  • Patience.  “Fight irriatability.  Be willing to wait.”       
  • Purity.  “Reject anything that lowers your standards.”
  • Compassion.  “When another hurts, feel it with him.”            
  • Diligence.  “Work hard.  Tough it out.”

 And how is this done?  Over the long haul, believe me.  This race is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  There are no 50-yard dash courses on character building.  Relays require right timing and smooth handoffs – practiced around the track hour after hour when nobody is looking.  And where is this practice track? Where is this place where rough edges cannot remain hidden, must not be left untouched?  Inside your own front door.  The home is God’s built-in training facility.

Marriage and parenthood call for faith of the most radical sort.  The Devil cannot bear to see married people agree well with each other.

Most would agree that the major contributing factor to the crime, violence, moral decay, and social upheaval in our society is the breakdown of the family.

Many couples in my generation need to learn that a happy home is not having a good paying job, a mortgage of $100,+, a brand new car every five years, trying to keep up with everyone else.  Home is really a state of mind; ideally, it is a created situation where two people who love each other are committed to one another’s well being, living in harmony, love, forbearance, and consideration.

The all-knowing and all-powerful God (who created, established, ordained, and instituted the home and who created its members) has provided a manual; a perfect plan for the home.  He has given us divine guidelines for daily living in the home. We must in humility, look to God for strength, trusting that He has the answers. We need to daily pray to God with one another for assistance and then have the courage of our convictions to apply these Biblical principles.

When there is continual strife and unrest between family members, someone is likely not applying Biblical principles pertaining to the home.  When one refuses to talk to the other, or refuses to forgive, or is stubbornly selfish, Biblical principles are again being refused and rejected.

There are at least two primary joys of a Christian home: First there  is the joy of knowing that someone cares for you.God cares for me (John 3:16) and there is not a greater self-esteem builder in the world. God created us with the desire to feel wanted, important, and necessary.  He created the home to aid in fulfilling the need to feel needed!

In the Christian home, the husband and wife have said to one another, “I care so much for you that I  selected you from all others to share my life.”  Likewise, our children should be convinced that we care for them!

Second, there is the joy of knowing that there is someone I can depend upon! A great joy to know this – standing together in good times and bad. Children need to know there is someone they can depend on when the trials of life come knocking.

Being able to depend upon someone is described in the word “commitment.” In a proper home situation there is someone to whom I am committed and who is committed to me.

A question asked by many people in the 1990’s is a complex and deeply felt one: is it possible to have a Christ centered home in today’s world of trouble and sin?

Recent studies have listed many issues with which parents must cope today: finances (the cost of bearing, clothing, feeding, entertaining and educating children is the greatest in our history); working mothers (for the first time, a majority of American mothers hold jobs out-side the home, many out of necessity rather than desire; drugs, divorce, alcohol, crime, runaways, and abuse.

More than 1.6 million couples were divorced last year. Drugs and alcohol are on the rise among youngsters. The second leading cause of death between ages 14-24 is now suicide, and one child in nine can expect to appear in juvenile court before he turns 18.

A newspaper columnist who was disturbed by the rising suicide rate among teenagers blamed this trend on the loss of “the extended family.”  She said that most of today’s youngsters do not possess a sense of belonging.  They never felt close to a grandfather who went fishing with them, a grandmother who rode down a hill with them on a sled, an uncle who entertained them with tall tales, or an unmarried aunt who, when substituting for mother, washed their faces so vigorously that it felt like she was peeling off the skin.

The loss of the “extended family” is a serious matter. However, the causes for teenage suicide lie deeper.  Many parents leave God out of their thinking entirely.  They become so pleasure-oriented or success-minded that they all but ignore their children.  Others disobey God’s law through infidelity, breaking up homes and leaving children with only one parent – and many emotional scars.  Indeed, the deepest need of our children is not merely the extended family, it is God made real to them through the extended family.

It might be of comfort to realize that the world has always been a difficult place in which Christians must live. It has always been opposed to God’s values and God’s will. 

We might also be encouraged to remember a story recorded in 2 Chronicles 20, which shows a situation similar to the one we face today. Jehoshaphat had some men before him reporting the approach of a vast army, one the size of which his army could not defeat. 

He inquired of the Lord his future and God’s answer is recorded for us in 2 Chronicles 20:15-17: “He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusa-lem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jeru-salem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'””

A truly Christian home is a place where sinners live; but it is also a place where the members of that home admit this fact and understand the problem, know what to do about it, and as a result grow by grace. 

It is important that this environment be in place so all members of the family will have a loving, graceful, safe, and warm place in which to grow. It’s vital that we treat each other in the same way Jesus treated His 12 apostles. 

As they stumbled and fell and made mistakes, he was patient with them because of one simple point: He knew they were not yet what they would become. We need to “be patient, God’s not finished with me yet!

Let’s look in detail for a moment at three significant items that make all the difference in the world; (as they are discussed, think of the atmosphere or environment which these will create in the home):

christ head in the homeChristians admit their sins.

Because they know the Bible says that no Christian is ever perfect in this life, they are free to admit their sins: 1 John 1:8-10: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

What does it mean to you to know that your boss, parents, etc., can admit when they make a mistake and acknowledge sin? What response do you give to this kind of person? What kind of response is given to the person who thinks they are perfect, who acts like they never do wrong?

Christians are able to acknowledge the fact and, in time, learn to anticipate and prepare for sin. Christians, of all persons, should never rely upon rationalizations, excuses or blameshifting to try to euphemize their sins.

Because they can admit their sins, there can also be a certain amount of openness, honesty, and relaxation about the relationships that Christians sustain to one another, especially at home. Christians can pour their time and energies into the endeavor to replace sinful patterns with Biblical patterns of life.

Rather than wasting time minimizing or denying the fact of sin, Christians can concentrate on dealing with sin.

Christians know what to do about their sins.

Because they have the Bible as the standard of faith and practice, Christians not only know why problems occur in the home, but they know what to do about them!  Is any sin too big for God? Can any sin be overcome in a loving, forgiving environment? We need to realize that each person in the Bible who stands before us a “great men and women of faith” are average people with sin in their life, which God helped remove.

Christians progress out of their sins.

Where there is spiritual life, there also will be spiritual growth. No Christian may remain the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  A fundamental presupposition of the Christian faith is that there will be growth out of sin into righteousness. Where there is Bible study, prayer and the fellowship of the saints, the Spirit of God will be at work to
produce His fruit.

The Christian home, then, is a place where sinful persons face the problems of a sinful world. Yet, they face them together with God and His resources, which are all centered in Christ. Sinners live in the Christian home, but the sinless Savior lives there too! “That is what makes the difference!

No one can better understand and repair a product than its creator. This is doubly true with regard to the home. God not only planned and designed the home itself, but he actually formed man and woman, its component parts.

How futile and how vain to seek everywhere but with God for balm and remedy when homes weaken and deteriorate! The Bible also tells us that our homes should be happy places and goes on to show us how to have them. Our homes can be happy and successful if we use spiritual principles and sound judgment in their formation and development.

What purposes shall we try to achieve in our homes?  The first purpose is the personal development of each family member. This is not to say that one should view his home selfishly and think only in terms of what he can get out of it himself. Each family member experiences personal growth and receives a sense of genuine fulfillment by giving of himself in order to build a happy home.

The second purpose involves the accomplishment of certain social functions of the home. The primary social function is to provide a special companionship for each member of the family. To feel alone and
unloved is one of the emptiest feelings on earth. But we must also prepare each member to be part of the larger group of society.

But the third purpose reaches into eternity: we must work toward achieving the spiritual development of the family members. We must never forget that marriage and the home is primarily a spiritual relationship.

We should daily be reminded of the question asked by Jesus in one of his most penetrating sermons, recorded for us in Matthew 16:26-27: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.”

What qualities of character do we need to possess and demonstrate in our homes in order to fulfill these purposes? Generally speaking, the development of Christian character is the single most important factor in achieving a successful home. The two marriage partners must desire success in their home, and genuine love is absolutely necessary! Each member of the family must take their differences into account and strive to communicate their feelings to each other.

There is a rising chorus in the world telling us that the American family is not beyond hope. Sociologist Theodore Caplow of the University of Virginia observes that while many Americans think the family is about to collapse, this whole idea is largely a myth fostered by the media.

Repeated surveys show that Americans have more, not less, solid relationships with family members than a generation ago! Certainly, since the events of September 11, 2001 and the terrorist attacks on our country, we are spending more time with family, looking at our value system, and turning to God as a country! How healthy are our families? Medical checkups are recommended today for good physical health. What if your family went in for a checkup? How would you do? What would be some of the tests the experts would run?

We might have the attitude a well-known politician had some years back: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” What he meant was that things that seem to work well should be left alone.

We may feel that way about marriage. But there are several good reasons to get that checkup: Things might not be going as well as we think. Some married couples have been totally surprised to discover their mates were not at all happy. By the time they discovered something was wrong, it was too late.

There is a tendency in marriage for a movement in one direction to increase geometrically as time passes. Spouses who are drifting apart because of annoying little habits begin to blame each other for the creeping separation. As time passes, the tendency increases and becomes more difficult to reverse.

There is always the opportunity to make good relationships even better. If your family is happy, you may still discover something about yourself that will make for improvement. If accomplished athletes and artists still spend hours improving their skills, it is certainly possible that the best marriages can be further strengthened.

Even if your family is strong, there are predictable crisis in almost all families. Sonya Rhodes and Josleen Wilson in Surviving Family Life explore seven crisis living together. These include early marital adjustments, the birth of children, changes as children enter adolescence and later leave home, and caring for three generations under one roof. With preventative care, these challenges can become opportunities for
growth.

The family needs regular checkups because relationships are never static. We either grow together or we grow apart. A marriage may reach its full potential at the very beginning and then begin to decline.

How To Do Your Checkup
Does your family have a central value system? Long before our society began to build marriages on the insecure foundation of romance, there were stable marital relationships.

When the Book of Genesis describes marriage as leaving father and mother, cleaving to one’s spouse, and two people becoming “one flesh,” it points to an irrevocable act. In a biblically based marriage, each person says, “I am with you, no matter what may happen.”

Such a marriage proceeds not only from the heart but also from the mind. These promises cannot be made lightly or kept carelessly. This marriage is based both on love and fidelity. And faithfulness depends upon having a central value system.

 The book of Proverbs has 209 of its 915 verses– almost one-fourth –dedicated to instruction about rearing children, for instance. Consider just a few of them and think of the time parents should spend analyzing and putting into practice these concepts.

Proverbs 8:32-36: “”Now then, my sons, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. “Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.””

Proverbs 10:5: “He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a dis-graceful son.”

Proverbs 12:1: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.”

Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

The book tells parents to warn their children against the dangers of sexual experimentation, violence, drunkenness, bad language, criminal behavior, financial mismanagement, and disrespect for parents.

Strong buildings rest on solid foundations. Healthy families respond when they have a central value system that responds to a higher authority. If a family is deeply committed to Jesus Christ, they enjoy enormous ad-vantages over the family with no spiritual dimension.

Persons who do not know or even recognize the existence and authority of God are not motivated to accept God’s standard for marriage and the family or for anything else. They do not have the new nature or inner resources to fully follow those standards even if they wanted to.

We are drowning in a sea of marriage information today. A book on sex and marriage, whether from a secular or Christian viewpoint, is sure to sell. Many purportedly Christian books are as preoccupied with and indelicate about sex as their secular counterparts. Marriage conferences, seminars, and counselors  abound—some of which may be solidly scriptural and well presented. But apart from a believer’s being filled with the Holy Spirit and applying the ever-sufficient Word of God, even the best advice will produce only superficial and temporary benefit, because the heart will not be rightly motivated or empowered.
On the other hand, when we are filled with the Spirit and thus are controlled in divine truth, we are divinely directed to do what is pleasing to God, because His Spirit controls our attitudes and relationships.

 James said, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?” (James 4:1). Conflicts in the church, in the home, and in marriage always result from hearts that are directed by the self rather than by the Spirit of God. When self insists on  its own rights, opinions, and goals, harmony and peace are precluded.

The self-centered life is always in a battle for the top, and pushes others down as it climbs up in pride. The Spirit-centered life, on the other hand, is directed toward lowliness, toward subservience, and it lifts others up as it descends in humility.

Any society that has taken either the obvious nature of women or the Word of God into consideration has fashioned its best laws in line with His. Laws against murder find their source in the Ten commandments —just as do laws against stealing, adultery, perjury, and so on. The wife’s submission to her husband is a divine principle that has been reflected to some degree in the legal codes of most societies.

For the past several hundred years western society has been bombarded with the humanistic, egalitarian, sexless, classless philosophy that was the dominant force behind the French Revolution. The blurring and even total removal of all human distinctions continues to be masterminded by Satan so as to undermine legitimate, God-ordained authority in every realm of human activity—in government, the family, the school, and even in the church.

Child/Parent Relationship

Cornell University’s Urie Bronfenbrenner cites nine specific changes that have taken place during the past generation which have increasingly separated children and youth from the world of adults, especially the adults in their own families:

1. Fathers’ vocational choices which remove them from the home for lengthy periods of time

2. An increase in the number of working mothers

3. A critical escalation in the divorce rate

4. A rapid increase in single-parent families

5. A steady decline in the extended family

6. The evolution of the physical environment of the home (family rooms, playrooms and master bedrooms)

7. The replacement of adults by the peer group

8. The isolation of children from the work world

9. The insulation of schools from the rest of society

This last factor has caused Bronfenbrenner to describe the current U.S. educational system as “one of the most potent breeding grounds for alienation in American society.” When he wrote these words in 1974, this trend toward isolation was in full swing, and it has not been significantly checked since that time.

With one in four young people now indicating that they have never had a meaningful conversation with their father, is it any wonder that 76 percent of the 1,200 teens surveyed in USA Today actually want their parents to spend more time with them?

Andree Alieon Brooks, a New York Times journalist, in her eye-opening book Children of Fast-Track Parents, describes her interviews with scores of children and parents who seemed to “have it all”: “If there was one theme that constantly emerged from my conversations with the children it was a surprising undercurrent of aloneness—feelings of isolation from peers as well as parents despite their busy lives.”

Family members gave one another compliments and sincere demonstrations of approval. They tried to make the others feel appreciated and good about themselves.

A healthy family:

1. communicates and listens

2. affirms and supports one another

3. teaches respect for others

4. develops a sense of trust

5. has a sense of play and humor

6. exhibits a sense of shared responsibility

7. teaches a sense of right and wrong

8. has a strong sense of family in which rituals and traditions abound

9. has a balance of interaction among members

10. has a shared religious core

11. respects the privacy of one another

12. values service to others

13. fosters family table time and conversation

14. shares leisure time

15. admits to and seeks help with problems.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Encouragement

 

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