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Monday, December 12, 2016

40 DAY FAST STARTING JANUARY 1st

FASTING

(CLICK TO WATCH LESSON ON FASTING)

I can't believe how quickly this year has flown by. We're 19 days away from our yearly 40 day fast. I'm not sure who is going to join me this year, but I'd like to encourage those that are to start praying about it and meditating on it every day starting now. It will be here before you know it. One major component of completing a successful 40 day fast is being mentally prepared for it.

Anyone that wants to take the journey with me (even if it isn't the whole 40 days) can shoot me a private message. We can go into this together and hold each other accountable. I'm thinking about blogging/vlogging this year's fast to encourage others to fast and also to educate you (through my transparent blog entries) on the process. I'm still praying about that part.

We need revival! Prayer and fasting are still the answer to having a move of God!

 Peace. Love. Hope.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR PERSECUTION? IS THERE A HOME IN YOUR HOUSE? (PART 4)

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR PERSECUTION?


Mt 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

(CLICK TO WATCH SERMON 4)

If you’ve not read or watched the prior three messages, we're looking at the teaching of Jesus in Matthew, chapter five, specifically, a small section that we call the “Beatitudes”. The word Beatitude simply means: blessedness. The eight Beatitudes are simply eight different qualities of those who would be blessed. Although Jesus was talking to everyone, we're applying His teaching to our homes. 

Is there a home in your house?

Although over 70% of Americans profess Christianity, we would not consider over 70% of American homes to be Christ-centered. When I think of most American homes, I’m not thinking, “Man, they're really blessed. They’ve got a home that hungers and thirsts after righteousness." "They’ve got a pure home." "They’ve got a peaceful home." "They've got a blessed marriage." "Their kids are godly.” It’s sad, but true. Because of this we're asking God to teach us to live according to His Word so He can bless our homes.          

Let's repeat our key thought for this series:

WE ARE NOT JUST A CHRISTIAN HOME; WE ARE A CHRIST-CENTERED FAMILY. 

“What's the difference?” Unfortunately, today, the word Christian doesn't mean what it used to mean. In fact, where I live, to be a Christian is almost a default decision. Most people, if you asked them what religion they are, they’d be like, “Well, you know, I guess I'm a Christian. I'm not anything else so I must be a Christian.” This is what I would call a “Cultural Christian”; folk that are Christian in name only. Folk that say they are Christian but if you look at their homes you wouldn’t know it.   

We’re not just a “Christian” house; we’re a Christ-centered home. Jesus isn’t just a PART of our lives, He IS our lives. And if this is true, there will be evidence to those who know you. Our values will be different from the world's. The way we raise our children will be different.
The way we treat people will be different. The way we use our resources, time, and money will be different because Jesus isn't just a part of our lives, He is our lives.

Our key thought in this lesson is:  

IF YOU ARE A CHRIST-CENTERED FAMILY, YOU WILL BE PERSECUTED.

Well, faaantastic! I know that's exactly what you wanted to hear. There’s nothing like an uplifting message about people treating you like trash to make you feel good. I hear you, but it's true. If you are a Christ-centered family, people will mock and make fun of you (or worse) because that's what happens when you are Christ centered.          

I don't know what form the persecution will come to your house, but for us it plays out in many different ways. Whether it be someone mocking us for home schooling our children; or talking down to us because we dress modestly and in a gender distinctive manner; or when we’re looked at like we’re stupid because we don’t give our little ones complete access to the internet through a cell phone or Facebook; or when we’re left out of people’s plans because they’re afraid to do what they’re doing around us, persecution comes at us in many forms. 

In Message 1, we discussed “Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled”.  If you are hungering and thirsting for righteousness in an unrighteous world, people are going to laugh at you, they're going to mock you.
          
In Message 2, we discussed “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” If you're trying to live with a pure heart in a world that idolizes impurity, people are going to mock you.          

In Message 3, we discussed “Blessed are the peace makers for they'll be called children of God.” If someone strikes you on one cheek and you turn the other cheek, or you go the extra mile, or you forgive that which seems unforgivable, people don’t know what to do with that. They think you’re weird. Some will treat you like a doormat; like you’re stupid.

And Jesus said very clearly in the 8th and final Beatitude, Matthew 5:10, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

This teaching is against our nature:

Mt 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.


What exactly does that mean: Blessed are you when you're persecuted for right living, for doing the right thing? “Pastor, we know you're going to be persecuted because you're a preacher and ... you're kind of weird, too. You've pretty much got it coming.” Ok. But the reality is you don't have to be a preacher to be persecuted.           


 CAIN & ABEL: The very first illustration of persecution in the Bible between Cain and Abel wasn't because Abel was preaching to Cain. The reason Cain was angry is because Abel was living the right way. He was doing the right thing and Cain wasn't. Cain’s sin convicted him and he felt angry, perhaps even at himself, and he lashed out and killed his own brother. Not because his brother did wrong, but because his brother did right. Cain was convicted by Abel’s righteousness.          
 

A Christ-centered family has different values; those values will bring persecution.Maybe you're a teenager or a young adult and you think, “I'm going to honor God with sexual purity.  I'm not going to have sex until I'm married.” And all your friends are like, “You're an idiot. That's the stupidest thing.  Who would give that up?” And they're going to make fun of you. “Blessed are you when people persecute you for righteousness sake.” Maybe you're not going to go to certain movies that all your friends are going to. Why? Because there's a little bit of dog doo in the brownies. Remember that illustration? I’ve seen parents ridiculed when they wouldn’t put their children in certain sports leagues because it would cause them to miss church. But they're mocked because they’re teaching their children to put God first in their lives?!?!

When you’re Christ-centered you say, “I'm not going to do this even though everybody else is.” When they make fun of you–yours is the kingdom of heaven!

So that raises the question:  How do we prepare our families for persecution?  How do we prepare them to have roots in Christ so deep they can handle the inevitable persecution that will come?    
 
HOW DO WE HANDLE PERSECUTION?

Let’s look at three things I pray will build your faith. How do we prepare our families for persecution?
   
1. TEACH THEM TO EXPECT PERSECUTION
 
Paul told Timothy:

2Ti 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Paul said everyone will suffer persecution. If you want to follow Christ, you will be persecuted. If your family is Christ-centered, you will be different, and people won't understand. They will criticize you.
   
2Co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.


When your family is separate from this world, you’ll be criticized. It's a part of following Christ.

If you're raising kids you need to teach them, as followers of Christ, they will be persecuted. You need to introduce them to small and almost controlled doses of persecution when they're young.          

Let me give you a personal illustration of what I’m talking about:
   
Our children have never been trick-or-treating and never will. Now, I don’t have anything against dressing your kids up, knocking on doors, and getting free candy. And again, if that’s what you do in your home, that’s your business.  


But as a dad, I read and researched the ORIGINS OF HALLOWEEN. (Do your own research). and discovered that the vast majority of the customs surrounding it originate from the Celtic Festival of Samhain (the Pagan Day of the Dead). 

April and I made a decision that we weren't going to participate in Halloween. It has been an awesome opportunity to tell our kids, “The Lambs are going to be different.” And we’ve been criticized over that decision. Some family members don't understand. Some friends don't understand. Even this year, I had a dear friend throw some shade at us. Don't get me wrong, I didn't really care ... I'm just making a point here. We're not trying to draw a line in the sand about trick or treating. I didn’t go to the pulpit and try to cram it down the people's throats. What we were trying to do is plant the value in our children that we're different and that, unfortunately, we will be persecuted for it.          

So that’s us. I don’t know what it will look like in your life, but whatever God convicts you to do, teach your kids early. Teach them to expect it. Teach them that we're Christ-centered and people will make fun of us.  


PERSECUTION IS GETTING WORSE IN AMERICA: The reason this is so important–and you need to hear this–the persecution in our country has been relatively light, but is increasing every single day. There is tremendous growing hostility towards Christianity and Christ's values. You better learn to stand strong and teach your children to stand strong because the heat is going to increase. They need to have their roots planted deeply in Christ. They will be persecuted.

Jesus made it clear in:

Joh 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.


Jesus said, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” We need to teach our families to expect it.          

2. TEACH THEM TO ENDURE PERSECUTION

The second thing we teach our children to do is to endure persecution. Paul told the Corinthians:

1Co 4:12 ... being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

When we’re persecuted, we bear it! We don't whine about it. We don't gripe about it. “Waah! I got de-friended on Facebook because I'm a Christian. I just can't suffer anymore.” We don't do that. We endure persecution. I want to remind you, respectfully, that the persecution we endure in this country is incredibly light to what goes on around the world. The real truth is most of us don’t know what it means to be persecuted for Jesus’ sake. We are persecuted for our big mouths, attitudes, and actions, but not for our righteousness.  So let us practice dealing with what little persecution we have now in order to handle the persecution that is coming upon this country.
   
When people mock you for deciding to work less, live in a smaller house, drive used cars, and have fewer possessions, so you can spend more time with your family, go to church more, and work for God, just endure it. So when people make fun of you because you have different values ... just take it. Endure it with a smile on your face. You’ll be blessed by God and it’s far greater to have the favor of God than the favor of men!

When you endure persecution the right way something amazing happens. God does something inside of you. When you endure persecution, your spiritual roots grow deeper. In fact, when you endure persecution, your intimacy with Christ increases, your spiritual resolve is strengthened.          
 
I went into the ministry full-time in 2000. I caught a lot of flack. I was hammered at every corner. Of course, being raised in this neck of the woods, I was surrounded by people who didn’t put a premium on the Bible and ministry, so they persecuted me for that decision. They called me lazy. They said I wasn’t a provider for my wife--I was worse than an infidel. There were times that we had nothing-not a single penny and no food in the cabinets. People were saying I had thousands of dollars that I stole from poor widows. People I loved dearly persecuted me. They cut me to the bone. I cried myself to sleep more times than I can count.          

But you know what that did? It deepened my faith in Christ. It solidified the decision. It helped me to understand that I wasn't living for the approval of others, but I was living for the approval of God, and it did something inside of me. He supplied our needs. Miracle after miracle after miracle. When He was done I didn’t care what any one thought.   

If you haven't been persecuted in a while, I'm telling you, it's almost a disadvantage. And I would almost say the fact there is little persecution where we live, it almost puts us at a spiritual disadvantage because all through history, when the church is persecuted, the church becomes stronger. There's a sense of unity. There's passion and boldness! It weeds out those who don't really mean it and it strengthens those who do making them become more effective.          

I’d like to share a great principal with you: 

WHERE FAMILY IDENTITY IS STRONG, PEER PRESSURE IS WEAK. WHERE FAMILY IDENTITY IS WEAK, PEER PRESSURE IS STRONG. 

Parents, this is so important to know as you're raising your kids. 

Where there is a deep-grounded spiritual identity-when your children know you are Christ followers-you’re going to be persecuted and that's okay. You are on a mission. You have a calling. You are living for something higher than the lower things of this world. When you truly believe that, there'll be a strong family identity and all the peer pressure your kids (or even you) are facing, won’t be as strong because they have a purpose, identity, and values.          
   
When’s there’s no solid security in Christ and their faith, there is no real family identity, no mission, no purpose, no higher calling. Life is reduced to the pursuit of things.

WE'RE NOT JUST A CHRISTIAN FAMILY IN NAME ONLY, WE'RE CHRIST CENTERED!

1. EXPECT PERSECUTION; 2. ENDURE PERSECUTION AND THIRDLY ...

3. YOU HAVE TO EMBRACE PERSECUTION

But you don't just endure persecution, you have to embrace it. You thank God that you get to suffer in some small way like Jesus did!

PETER– Peter was talking to a group of Christians that were suffering and being persecuted beyond anything that our little safe world of a thousand triggers can imagine. In fact, one of the things they would do to Christians that wouldn't renounce the name of Christ was put them in the center of a coliseum, in front of huge crowds, and release lions that would devour them. Peter was talking to them in 1Peter 4:12:  

1Pe 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

1Pe 4:16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

When you’re persecuted; when you suffer for Christ’s name ... Glorify God!
   
Blessed are you when people make fun of you because you walk away from a business deal that was very profitable, but you realized it was slightly unethical. Blessed are you when you tell that Jake leg to take hike. You’re living for Jesus and don’t have to time to throw your purity away. 

Some of you right now, you feel like you must be doing something wrong because you've got opposition all around you. Someone may even say, “Hey, how's that God thing going for you now,” when all hell's breaking loose in your life.

Let me remind you that things may be going wrong, not because you're doing something wrong, but because you're doing something right. Blessed are you when you are persecuted for righteousness sake.  This is a spiritual battle and it's very real!          

We’ve had to explain to our children that there are people that hate me, hate our church, and hate them because they’re my children. I have explained to them that there are people that call me a false teacher and a heretic. They don't understand our Christian philosophy and truly hate and despise us. I explain to them that every now and then, there's some really unstable person that would rather me not do what I do, and will do whatever it takes to keep me from doing what I do. They understand persecution. They also understand that it’s coming their way too.

They’ve learned to love people that they know have talked about us. They have a strong sense of identity in Christ.

So here’s the deal: Don't ever worry when your family is being persecuted for righteousness; the only time you should worry is when you're NOT BEING PERSECUTED. If you're not being persecuted, let me say it as lovingly as I can: YOU JUST MIGHT BE A CHRISTIAN FAMILY IN NAME ONLY.     
 
What is our family about? Ball games? Work? Houses and cars?       
We're supposed to be about Jesus, His kingdom, His purpose, His glory, and making a difference in this world! And you need to know, when you're about Him, you will be persecuted. If everything goes okay, and there's no spiritual opposition, if you never meet the devil head on, you may be walking the same direction as him. When you're walking toward God there's always spiritual opposition. Blessed are you when you are persecuted for righteousness sake.

So what do we do? EXPECT IT. Persecution happens. You ENDURE IT. You take persecution like a man of God, like a woman of God. You don't strike back, you don't get angry, you don't get defensive, you just love and love and love and love. Blessed are the meek, blessed are the humble, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the peace makers, blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God. 

You are not just going to settle for being a blend-in, average, cultural-Christian family. God has called you to something more. We are Christ centered in all we do because we are created for His glory. God bless this home! I want a home in my house! 

"Lord, I want this home to  make a difference eternally for Your name’s sake."

Thursday, November 24, 2016

10 WAYS TO WIN THE WINTER WARFARE (DEALING WITH DEPRESSION IN THE HOLIDAY SEASON)

Ps 74:17 Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: 
thou hast made summer and winter.

It's almost winter time! That's good for some and bad for others. Let me ask you this: How do you deal with winter? How do you deal with the winter holidays (Thanksgiving & Christmas)? While some are laughing and rejoicing are you secretly suffocating inside? Are you trying to find the silver lining, but having a hard time doing so? If so, you're not alone.

I can remember how funny winter time was in Florida. If the weather dropped down below 50 degrees folk got crazy. Many of them have NEVER seen snow! If it snows an 1/8 of an inch they render it a state of emergency. Why? They’re not prepared! Here in Kentucky, when the snow is a foot deep, we’re in parking lots doing donuts, in the back yard having snow ball fights, making snow cream, and doing penguin rolls. Not in Florida! They’re hiding out in the warmth of their houses. 

So why are so many Floridians afraid to drive on the roads when it snows? They aren’t prepared. They have very little salt, salt trucks, and snow plows. Preparation is really the difference between Florida and Kentucky. But hey! Let's be fair about it. They almost never get snow, so it would be prodigal of them to spend millions on something they don't need. Maybe.

Seasons change and very few people actually “like” winter-even here in Kentucky. Leaves are falling, things are dying, and there's an unhealthy amount of depression afflicting people. Why does this happen? Why is there such a war with depression during this time of year? Much of it is a lack of preparation of the mind.

Here are 10 practical reasons:

1. SAD: You may have what's called Seasonal Affective Disorder ... or SAD. (YES! THAT'S REALLY A THING!) The condition is marked by the onset of depression during the late fall and early winter months, when less natural sunlight is available. It's thought to occur when daily body rhythms become out-of-sync because of the reduced sunlight.

2. YOU’RE NOT MOVING AROUND ENOUGH: It's cold outside, so it's easy to curl up on the couch and do nothing. Exercise and motion helps you physically and mentally. 

3. YOU WORRY ABOUT MONEY DUE TO THE COMMERCIALIZATION OF CHRISTMAS: In American culture, Christmas is more accurately spelled X-mas because there's very little Christ in it. If Christmas is about Christ, if He's the reason for the season, try to refocus your family to celebrate His birth. If you're broke, use this year to teach your children some life principles. "Hey, we're broke this year. I'm really sorry. I wish we could have bought you more, but this is the way real life is. This has been a difficult year, but we're going to be OK. It's about Jesus and we're going to truly celebrate Him. We're going to spend more time together. We're going to play board games, listen to Christmas music, and watch some classic Christmas movies." 

Please, don't tell people you're not having Christmas when you can't buy your children a thousand dollars worth of presents. You're basically telling your children that Jesus has nothing to do with Christmas. We are motivated by Christian culture, not American culture.

4. OVERWHELMED WITH FAMILY OBLIGATIONS, OVER SCHEDULED: This can be a very busy time of year. Everyone wants you to help them do something. Family dinners pile up. You have friends and family pulling you all over the place and you're running out of time to do your own thing. You have to learn how to say, "NO". You only have so much time to give. Don't overwhelm yourself trying to be everything to everyone.

5. YOU’RE NOT EATING RIGHT: Trust me: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. Most of us eat like pigs all the time, but it gets worse this time of year. Our bodies weren't made to deal with the stuff we're eating. Please, do some research on this subject. Eating affects your moods! Eating healthy may not be as fun, but it will go a long way to helping you fight depression.  

6. FEELING LEFT OUT: You may not have a large family. Holidays may be a very lonely time for you. I understand. Please, instead of clinging to self-pity and seclusion (which will only worsen your loneliness), push yourself to go out and attend holiday gatherings. I’m sure there are lots you can choose from, such as those held by your close friends and family, your church, the community you live in, in school, or at work. Next, let your close friends know how you're feeling-they can't read your mind. They would love to have you drop by for a little while. You receive not because you ask not! You could also volunteer at a homeless shelter or food pantry. You'd be shocked how therapeutic giving to and blessing other people can be. 

7. NOSTALGIA OF THE PAST: Many of you have spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas with a family member that is now celebrating their holidays in heaven.  Perhaps you've gone through a divorce and you're now separated from your children. These scenarios are devastating. Nothing or no one can take the place of those people and the precious memories you created with them. Don't be afraid to talk about your deceased loved one to a friend. Cry if you need to. Do something special to remember them. They want you to be happy. Do your best to honor that desire. Regardless of what has separated your family unit, as hard as it will be, you should try to make new traditions.

8. LACK OF SLEEP: It is an absolute fact, a lack of sleep will turn your world upside down. It will affect you physically, mentally,  emotionally, spiritually. You need to take time to rest. Please, research the affects of sleep deprivation. 
  
9. YOU BECOME A HERMIT, COOPED UP ALL THE TIME: When it gets cold outside, some people stop leaving their houses. This is very unhealthy. You're looking at the same things, the same people, you're breathing the same air, getting no exercise, etc. This is often a side effect of depression and can be tied to many of the other points I've made here. Do yourself a favor ... GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!
   
10. UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS (EVERY THING MUST BE PERFECT): Be realistic! Things never work out the way you wish they would. We all want things to be perfect, but they never are. When you expect perfection in everything, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Take a deep breath and chill. Things happen, but it's going to be alright.  
                                   
Your attitude will determine your altitude. If you can’t think right, you can’t be right.

Pr 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...


I have listed 10 practical things to look for, but the most important thing you can do during this holiday season is pray. Prayer not only changes things ... prayer changes you! God loves you and wants you to be happy. Let His life flow into your heart and have a merry Christmas this year!

Peace. Love. Hope.
David Lamb

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

ARE YOU A PEACEMAKER? - IS THERE A HOME IN YOUR HOUSE? (PART 3)

 ARE YOU A PEACEMAKER?

Mt 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: 
for they shall be called the children of God.

(CLICK TO WATCH SERMON 3)

Today, we're in the third week of a four-week teaching series entitled, “Is There a Home In Your House?” We’re using 4 of Jesus’ 8 Beatitudes found in Matthew, chapter 5. The word beatitude simply means: blessedness. So the beatitudes are 8 ways that we can be blessed!

We know Jesus was speaking to everyone, but we’re applying them to our homes because, honestly, many homes today are not as blessed as God would want them to be.          

The first week we looked at the Beatitude, “Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness...” Last week, we looked at the very powerful words, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Next week, we will conclude this series with Jesus’ 8th beatitude, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake ...”          

Today, I want to talk about peace in the home. Jesus said:

Mt 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

PEACE MAKERS VS. PEACE KEEPERS




Most people’s homes are not characterized as homes of peace.  Instead, most are characterized by conflict, tension, and strife. I believe God has something far better for us! He wants our homes to be characterized as homes of peace.          

Now, some of you might say, “Okay, you're talking to me.  My home's got a lot of dysfunction in it, but most of it's not my fault.”

The reality is most families have someone in it that is a little psycho, someone that is very difficult to deal with. Think about it! Even if they don’t live in your house, somewhere in your family, there’s someone that a little dysfunctional and is always causing drama. 



Relationships are challenging. I find it amazing how easily people can slip into dysfunctional cycles in their relationships.

Let me illustrate: Me and my boys have a slugfest basically every other night. Every now and then, in the heat of the battle, they’ll push me over to the edge of the bed. When I realize that I’m getting ready to fall off, I get a firm hold on whichever is closest. That way, when I fall off, they go with me. Depending who lands on who determines who ends up hurt the most. We immediately jump up and do it again.

I see this every day in the real world. People in relationships, pushing each other over the edge, grabbing a hold of each other, falling together, landing on each, hurting each other, then saying ... “Let’s do this again.”

It’s a little crazy. Wouldn’t you agree?

I’ve said it many times, there are some relationships that need to be ended. There are some people that need to be cut out of your life. But here’s the bottom-line, there are some people in our lives that we can’t cut out of our life. Like your children ... Right?

Nothing is more difficult than having friction and chaos in your home. I don't know what that means for you. Maybe it’s a mother or mother-in-law standing over your shoulder telling you how to raise your kids. Maybe it’s a child that’s always disrespectful. “Don’t make me pull over!” “Don’t make me count to 3! One. Two. Two and a quarter. Two and a half. Two and three quarters. Two and four fifths. Two and nine tenths.”


After five minutes of counting to three and nothing happening, you head to the bathroom and scream, “Calgon, take me away.”

Maybe, you’re the kid or a teenager that’s thinking, “My parents will never trust me and they're always breathing down my neck. They're so controlling. They’re always yelling at and counting to 3.”          

You might be in a blended home and you're trying to raise your kids, and her kids, and our rids, and there's ex's involved, and it's so incredibly complicated.  And you wonder, “How could there ever be peace with all these moving parts?” Some of you, you might be at a place where you, to this day, have not forgiven your mom or your dad for something that happened years and years ago.          

Let’s read: 
Mt 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

One of the Hebrew words for peace is “Shalom”. For many years it has been a well known greeting. Peace in the Hebrew means a lot more than it does in the English language. It means more than just having an absence of pain and chaos. It also implies the presence of goodness and grace. So peace isn’t just the absence of war, it’s contentment.

When Jesus said this every one was shocked. The beatitude were very counter-cultural statements because everyone there had been raised with the mind set “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” If you steal from me, I steal from you. You hurt me, I hurt you. Jesus was telling us there is a higher calling for those that want to follow Him.          

Please note, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peace makers.” He didn’t say, “Blessed are the peace takers” nor did He say, “Blessed are the peace keepers.” And there's a big difference between a peace MAKER and a peace KEEPER. For years, I have been a peace keeper, but, lately, God is teaching me to be a peace maker.          

WHAT IS A PEACE KEEPER?
Peace keepers often avoid conflict to keep the peace. Peace keepers, trying to keep the peace, work around issues, not through the issues. So we get to the place where we're just trying to make truces or just get along. We get together at family dinners; we smile and act like everything is great although we know there's tension behind the scenes. We hide it the best we can because we want peace throughout the meal. We don’t want any fighting.

When we do this, everything builds up. It’s like a pressure cooker. You hold it in for so long you eventually explode. That’s not a blessed life. That’s a miserable life. That’s a peace keeper, not a peace maker.



    
“Blessed are the peace makers.” What will a peace a maker do? A peace maker will embrace conflict to make peace. We're not going to work around the issues, we'll work on the issues; we'll work through them.  And with the help of the Prince of Peace, Jesus, I believe there can be peace in your homes.          

This brings us to our key thought for this series: 
WE ARE NOT JUST A CHRISTIAN HOUSE BUT, WE ARE A CHRIST-CENTERED HOME.

I know there SHOULDN’T be a difference in the two phrases, but, unfortunately, in our culture the word Christian doesn't mean what it used to mean. More than 70% of Americans will say they’re Christians, but do you believe 70% of Americans have a Christ-centered home? Me neither.         

What is a Christ-centered home? Jesus isn't just a part of our life; He is our life.

In a cultural Christian home–in a home that's Christian in name only–when hard times come, they just write people off. “Well, forget them. They’re a bunch of idiots anyway.”

“You want me to forgive them? After what they did? I will never forgive them.” And I guess that's normal for most people, but in a Christ-centered home we say, “What does Jesus teach us about how to do relationships?”

He said, “Blessed are the peace makers.”          

Paul said something very complimentary in Romans 12:17-18 and verse 21. 

Romans 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.


We are told to live peaceably with all men, but the implication is this won’t always be easy. We are to live peaceably if it is possible. There are some people that won’t let you have peace with them. That is why Paul said, “As much as lieth in you”. You can’t control what others do, but you can control what you do. Are you doing everything in your power to live peaceably with those around you?

Paul really drives the point home in verse 21:

Rom 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
 
Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called children of God.          

WHAT IS A PEACE MAKER?

I’d like to submit three things that peace makers do.

1. TELL THE TRUTH
   
   
Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
   
The Christ-centered home speaks the truth in love. Please, note, it doesn't say to “Yell the truth in love.” We are to speak the truth in love. But how?


2. SPEAK THE TRUTH DURING TIMES OF NON-CONFLICT

When you and your spouse are in the middle of a heated fight, it probably isn’t the best time to bring up new subjects. You should work on issues during non-combative times.          

3. CONFRONT THE ISSUE, NOT THE PERSON
           
Something I have noticed husbands and wives do many times is embarrass each other in public.  Unfortunately, I have done that to April in the past. I hope it’s a been a long, long time ago. But I would correct her in front of people and I’d do it in a way that was humiliating. Sometimes I was even right. She never tried to argue with me in front of people. She never railed back in public, but, later, in private, she would tell me that it bothered her. It took me a little while, but I finally caught on. I’m not saying it never happens now, but I catch myself immediately. 

Issues need to be dealt with in times of non-conflict and the issues need to be attacked, not the person.

Had my wife been a peace keeper and not a peace maker, we would have never gotten past that hurdle. She didn’t let me walk all over her. She brought it up, but she did it the right way. As Christ-centered people, we tell the truth in love. We love them enough not to work around the issues, but to work through the issues.          

I’d like to list a couple little statements that might be helpful to you to give you an examples of what you could say when trying to be a peace maker:

1. When you don't listen to me, I don't feel like you value me. 
2.This is how I feel when you do this...
3. When you lie to me about something really insignificant, I find it difficult to trust you ...
4. When you continue to check your phone at the dinner table, the rest of us feel devalued.
   
4. PEACE MAKERS ALSO APOLOGIZE WHEN THEY'RE WRONG

Jas 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.

I cannot stress this enough. When you sin against each other, you must repent! You must confess! You must ask for forgiveness. You should then pray together. Can you imagine how incredibly different our relationships would be if we owned our own sins, confessed them, and then prayed together?  Peace makers apologize when they're wrong.          

5. PEACE MAKERS ADMIT TO SPECIFIC ACTIONS WITHOUT EXCUSES

We admit to specific actions.  We say, “Here is what I did wrong,” and no excuses. You don't dare say, “Well, sorry I looked at something that was inappropriate, but if you'd been meeting my needs, you wouldn't have driven me to do that.” That's not an apology! That is pathetic.

“I'm sorry you got your feelings hurt, but you don’t have to be a big baby.” That's not an apology.

WE APOLOGIZE FOR SPECIFICS WITHOUT SHIFTING THE BLAME

“I am so sorry that I belittled you in front of your friends. I have no excuse for that; that was wrong.” 

“I am really sorry I didn't consider you. I should have called when I was late. I can see why you're so worried.” 
 
“I am sorry I raised my voice at you like that; that was disrespectful. Please forgive me.” 

“I'm sorry that I dropped the cat to see if he'd land on four legs. He did, but I should’ve known better than do it from the fourth floor balcony.”


REMORSE AND REPENTANCE ARE VERY DIFFERENT!


MOST PEOPLE STOP WITH REMORSE.

REMORSE LOOKS LIKE THIS: “I'm sorry we're having a hard time.” “I'm sorry you got your feelings hurt.” “And I'm sorry you misunderstood me.” That's remorse. 


REPENTANCE LOOKS LIKE THIS: “I was wrong. I sinned. I'm sorry. There’s no excuse for what I said. Will you forgive me?”


And when you sin, don't stop with “I'm sorry.”


“I'M SORRY” IS FOR MISTAKES; “WILL YOU FORGIVE ME” IS FOR SIN


“I'm sorry I left the toilet lid up.” That's a mistake. “Will you forgive me for deceiving you?” Now, that’s a sin.

Don’t fail to ask for forgiveness.


Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called Children of God.


This may be difficult, but we're not just a Christian family, we're not just Christian in name only. We are a Christ-centered home! A Christ-centered home is a home that isn’t just absent conflict; a Christ-centered home is full of love and grace and forgiveness. A Christ-centered home has peace makers in it.


Peacemakers tell the truth and peace makers apologize. Peace makers also:


6. LET THINGS GO!


I want to be careful right here. Because, for a lot of you, there is a tremendous amount of pain in your heart. Some of you may be thinking, “Well, you know ... you've got your little preacher life, your little preacher problems, but in the real world where I’m at, you don't know what I've been through.”


It’s true. I may not have been through some of the things you've been through, but I do understand betrayal and I understand that betrayal is very difficult to forgive. I also understand that unforgiveness for past pains will affect your home and relationships today.


Some of you have been betrayed by spouses. They committed adultery, maybe even multiple times, and you think, “How can I forgive them?” Some of you have had people you trusted with all your heart lie, deceive you, and leave you in a hard place. You’re now having difficulty forgiving.


There are several in this house that had someone in your family that was supposed to protect you from those around you, but they did not. For some of you, the protector was actually the perpetrator that took advantage of you and abused you. I hear you when you say,“How in the world do I forgive that? I don't even want to forgive. I get pleasure from hating them.”          


I'm not going to tell you it's easy, but I will tell you it's doable. And if we’re going to have Christ-centered homes, we are going to have to forgive. If you want a blessed life, if you want your heart to experience peace, love, and joy ... you will have to let things go.

But how?


Col 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.


How do we forgive that which seems unforgivable? Paul said, “We forgive as the Lord has forgiven us.”


Has the lord forgiven you of a lot of sins?  Man, I don't know about you but he's forgiven me of a lot.  Has the Lord forgiven you freely even though you did not deserve it and couldn't earn it?  And that's how we're called to forgive, to freely forgive as we've been forgiven. That's what Christ-centered homes do.          


ILLUSTRATION – I’ll try to be careful about what I’m getting ready to say. But there was a time when my mom and I just couldn’t get it together. We couldn’t have a moment together where we didn’t argue and leave angry and hurt at each. Most of it was my fault. We’ve decided a lot of our problems were stemmed from being so much alike. Often we fought when we were actually saying the same thing. I didn’t want that friction to be between us. I had children that needed their grandmother. I realized I had to make some changes. We’ve done much repenting and God has done a work in our lives.

If you don’t remember another thing I say today, remember this: FAMILY IS WORTH IT. Husbands and wives carrying bitterness between them. Fathers and sons. Mothers and daughters. Brothers and sisters. We’ve said some things; we’ve done some things; we’ve acted some kind stupid way, but FAMILY IS WORTH IT.


 




Can I tighten this on down? Can I preach the words of Jesus?


Mt 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.


We call ourselves Christian, but we don’t act like it. If we're followers of Jesus when someone strikes us on one cheek, we turn the other one. When someone asks for our shirt, we give them our coat as well.


 What we don't do is when marriage gets tough, just walk out, saying, “Forget you. I'll pack my stuff. You take yours. I give up. I'm not happy.”


What we don't do is write our children off. We don't walk away from our in-laws, saying, “You're annoying.” Of course they're annoying. You'll be an in-law one day and you'll be annoying too. We don't walk away from family; we don't cut family out. FAMILY IS WORTH IT          
   
We forgive as we've been forgiven. We show mercy as we've been shown mercy. And while we're at it, if we're followers of Jesus, family isn't just blood. Family goes beyond that into the body of Christ. And when we act like Christ and forgive, and show mercy, and make peace with those around us ... we are called Children of God.           


I've got five children. Guess what? They all look a little bit like me. Those who are lucky look more like April than me, but they all look a little bit like me. When we make peace; when we do everything possible to live at peace with others; when we are hurt yet freely forgive, guess who we look like? We look like our Heavenly Father, created in His image, conformed to the likeness of His Son.


Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called Children of God.

WE AREN'T JUST A CULTURAL CHRISTIAN FAMILY; WE ARE A CHRIST-CENTERED FAMILY.

Hear it and never forget it:  FAMILY IS WORTH IT. If we're going to call ourselves followers of Christ, we're going to honor him in loving the way He has loved us. 

Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called Children of God.          

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

DO YOU HAVE A PURE HOME? - IS THERE A HOME IN THIS HOUSE (LESSON 2)


(CLICK TO WATCH SERMON)
THANK YOU FOR VISITING AWAKENED NOW! I want to share a four-week sermon series with you I'm preaching this month entitled: "Is There a Home In Your House?" 


If you (or someone you know) are sincerely seeking help for your marriage and your relationship with your children, please, study and share these four messages.



A BLESSED HOME IS A PURE HOME

Mt 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
   
What we're doing in this four-week teaching series is we are looking at what's known as the beatitudes. That simply comes from a Latin word which means Blessedness. In Matthew, chapter 5, Jesus showed us 8 different characteristics of those who are blessed.          

Last week, we looked at "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness." Next week, we're going to see that "Peace makers are blessed." In our homes today, we have a lot of people that are peace takers; not peace makers. In our fourth week, we're going to see that those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake are blessed.

PURITY IN OUR HOMES (PURE IN HEART)

How many want a blessed home? Yes! Me too! So let’s apply another beatitude to our home. Whatcha say?

Mt 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

A blessed home is a pure home! I want a home that is pure! I want a home that is more than Christian in name, I want a Christ-centered home!

I don’t think the number one descriptive word we’d use for most American homes is “pure”. That’s understandable in the world, but a Christian's home should be pure.


1. PURITY ROBBED

Who's ever been robbed before?

We been stolen from several times. A camera. Money. When we were in Florida, we lived in area where we were surrounded by gangs. They robbed us blind. Stole everything that wasn’t nailed down. A lawn mower motor. The wheels and tires right off our vehicle. It was crazy.          

Having your house broken into is very common these days. People have no respect for anyone. Because of the very real possibility of having someone come into my home, I now own a few regulators, fire sticks. No one is going to hurt my family without me at least trying to defend them. Amen?

But what's interesting in our culture today is people are applauded for protecting their kids physically, but make fun of you when you try to protect them morally and spiritually. Even in the church, perhaps even here right now, some of you think I’m a decent man for protecting my children, but you think I’m going overboard for wanting to protect the purity of my children’s hearts.

Just as I have been robbed physically, I believe we have a spiritual enemy who wants to rob our families of their purity, to break in, to kill, steal and destroy their innocence and their trust (John 10:10). And Jesus gave us a very specific beatitude in Matthew, Chapter 5, verse 8, that deals with this.          

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."

The word heart in the Greek language is the word cardio. We get our word cardiac from that word. Jesus was using this as a metaphor. He wasn't saying, "Blessed are those that have a pure four-chambered organ that pumps blood through the veins.” He was using it as a metaphor to describe the emotions, feelings, and the inner self.        
     
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God!

Today, everyone thinks everyone has a “good heart”. "Oh, she's got a good heart.” “He's got a good heart." Young, single, girls dating a guy, "Oh, he's not a Christian, but he's got a good heart." No, he's unemployed, lives in his van down by the river and smokes weed for breakfast. "But, oh, he's got a good heart." The reality is it's simply not true of any of us. And let me show you in scripture.

FOLLOW YOUR HEART?

Here's the bottom-line: WITHOUT CHRIST THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PURE HEART!

Without Christ doing heart surgery on us there is no such thing, in any of us, as a pure or a good heart.  In fact, Jeremiah said in:

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.


The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. It is beyond cure. It lies to us and it deceives us. Who can understand it? God says, "I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, I examine the mind." The heart is deceitful above all things. That’s some indictment. You say you have a good heart? You say someone else has a good heart? God said their heart is wicked!         

In fact, in Ephesians 4, verse 18 and 19, the Apostle Paul said something really profound to the believers in Ephesus.  He said this of those who were Gentiles, who had drifted from their faith, who were nonbelievers.  He said:

Eph 4:18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
 
Paul said their understanding is darkened and they're separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the blindness of their hearts.
You ever walk out of a lighted place into a very dark place? The darkness just kind of smothers you. You’re staggering around; groping, reaching for something to grab a hold of. But slowly, but surely, your eyes began to adjust to the dark.        

Could it be that our homes, our families, that we love so much are separated from the life of Christ because we've been darkened in our understanding?

Could it be that we’ve gotten so sucked up into the culture of this world that we’re like the Israelites? We’ve lived in Egypt so long we walking like Egyptians, talking like Egyptians, doing what Egyptians are doing, but because every one else is doing it we now think it’s ok? Have we allowed impurities into our families and don't even know it?

In verse 19, Paul said they’d lost something. They had lost all sensitivity. They've given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity. 

I don’t know of two verses that better describe our culture today. Having lost all sensitivity, our culture is giving itself over to all sorts of sensuality and indulging in every kind of impurity.          

We love our families, we want to protect them, we want to guard our marriages, we want to protect the next generation. We would NEVER do anything like give our little babies poison. "Yo, Little X-man. Here's a bottle of poison, drink this baby". We would never do that. We would never tell our kids to go swimming in a pool full of acid. Right?

Yet we'll send our 15-year-old daughters on a car date with some hairy-legged, hormone raging boy that we've never met. That happens all the time. We'll give our children unlimited access to a mobile device where they can get into anything and everything, where they can live in their own world, building relationships with hundreds of people that we don’t even know. And folks call that absolutely normal?!?!


We’ve got to make some changes in our lives and in our homes! What's going to be different in our lives? Well, if you missed last week, we had a key thought that I want to revisit, and we will in the weeks to come. You may remember it, but we're going to have a mind shift, a different way of thinking. And here's what we're going to be:  
WE ARE NOT MERELY A CHRISTIAN FAMILY; WE ARE A CHRIST-CENTERED HOME!

Over 80% of America claim to be Christian. Millions of people “profess” to be Christian, but Jesus isn’t the center of their life. Jesus isn’t just a part of my life, He is my life.

CREATING A CULTURE OF PURITY

Jesus wants to be the center of our family! He wants to be the center of our children’s lives!

"How can a young person stay on the path of purity?" Man, if you've got kids or if you're a young person, that's a great question to ask. How in the world, with all the temptations in this world, can you stay on the path of purity? How can I help my child stay on the path to purity?

Ps 119:9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.


Read and apply the Bible to your life is the first place to start!

The vast majority of Americans make all of the decisions the same way and they give everyone the same advice: "Hey, just follow your heart. Follow your heart, man. You've got a good heart. Only God can judge you, bro! Follow your heart." Listen to me: That's the stupidest advice you could give anybody. Don't follow your heart; your heart is deceitful.          

I've seen so many married couples in my marriage counseling who followed their heart right out of marriage into adultery. Why? Because her heart said, "He's hot." "His heart (and nose) said, "She smells good."

Don't follow your heart.  How can a young person keep their way pure? The Psalmist said, "By taking heed to the Word of God; by living it out every day."          

Here's what I'm going to do:

Ps 119:10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. 

I've applied that verse and translated it toward my family.

SINGLE FOLK! Now, for those of you that aren't married and don't have a family right now, you're kind of kicking back, going, "Yeah, Lamb, sock it to them because it doesn't matter to me because I don't have a family yet so I can do whatever I want and then later on, I'll get things right. I mean, right now I can sleep with who I want, I can drink what I want, I can smoke what I want, I can watch what I want. I can say what I want, I can do I what."  "I can hang out with"--man, that sounds like a rap song--"because, I'll get it right later on when it matters, I mean, later on when I have a family." LISTEN TO ME ... What you do today matters tomorrow!

YOU DON'T BUILD A LIFE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS ON A FOUNDATION OF SIN.

The old timers said, “IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE REAPING, THEN CHANGE THE SOWING.”

IF YOU WANT A HARVEST OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IN YOUR FAMILY LATER, YOU HAD BETTER PLANT SEEDS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IN THE GROUND TODAY. 
 
3 WAYS TO CREATE A CULTURE OF PURITY IN OUR HOMES
   
So let's do this:  Let's acknowledge that just perhaps, in our homes, our eyes have grown accustomed to the darkness, our hearts have been hardened, and we don't even see the ways that we've let impurity become a part of our lives. How can we go against the flow, not just as a Christian home, but as a Christ-centered home, truly wanting to raise a generation that puts Christ first and honors Him in every way? How can we practically create a culture of purity in our homes?
   
And I can give you lots of different thoughts, but I only want to give you three today. Because the first thing we need to understand is it's not going to happen by accident. Right? Someone shout, “Intentional”! You're not going to just get married, raise kids, and then 20 years later be able to say, "Praise the Lord! My children are holy. I don't know how it happened. I only went to church a few times a month. I hardly ever prayed with them. I hardly every read the Bible to them. I let them do anything they wanted to, I let them go any where they wanted, I let them say and wear anything they wanted to, but, WOW,  they are all pure. What an accident." It's got going to happen so let's get intentional.              

As family, you don’t go to bed a blunder and wake up a wonder.

Three thoughts: 
   
1. GET YOUR OWN HEART RIGHT. Let's start there. Whoever you are, get your heart right! Parents, get your heart right. And I don't care if you're 18 or 88, I believe you set the tone in the relationships around you. You set the tone and no matter where you are you lead toward purity.          
       
Pr 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
       
In fact, Solomon told us in Proverbs 4:23, that above everything else: "Guard your heart because everything you do comes from it." Guard your heart. How do we judge what is right and wrong?
       
"LET YOUR CONSCIENCE BE YOUR GUIDE." Now, I’m a strong believer that the conscience, when pure, is an incredible guide. But the problem is the Bible teaches that our consciences can actually be seared, scarred, calloused, numb, without feeling. In other words, we can't trust our consciences for everything because, like our hearts, we can deceive ourselves so easily.          
       
Hollywood has a way of desensitizing you. You’re watching War Room today and a Rated-R movie tomorrow. You started out letting God guide you, but before it's over you're watching movies with your children that uses expletive language, even using God's name in vain, but it doesn't really bother you.   
       
I dare say all of us have been deceived in one way or another at some point in our lives. If there's conversations that I have that are impure, I want God to help me recognize it and convict me. If I'm thinking things that are impure for me, I want Jesus to convict me. If I'm allowing things in my home that are impure, God, convict me. Show me. If I've got relationships or friendships that take me down more than I bring them up, Lord, show me. If I'm being entertained by things that are wrong to you, God, show me. God, help me get my heart right first.
       
2. REACH FOR THE HEART. When you're working with your children, REACH FOR THE HEART. Most of us, we parent toward our children’s actions. In other words, all we want is the behavior to be right, but we forget to focus on the heart.
   
I like what God said to Samuel about David’s brother Eliab, when Samuel was sent to anoint David as King:
   
1Sa 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
         
In fact, Jesus was a fanatic about the heart. In the Old Testament, Scripture teaches, "Don't murder." But what did Jesus teach? He talked to the heart. He said, "Hey, don't even be angry without a cause. If you've hated, you've committed murder in your heart."          
       
The Law spoke to our behavior, "Don't commit adultery." But Jesus taught to the heart. He said, "If you look lustfully at a woman, you've already committed adultery with her in your heart." 
       
He hammered the Pharisees who had the outward behavior right. I mean, we've got to tip our hats to them and say, "You boys did it." On the outside, they looked good. He said, "The problem is the outside of your cup and dish is clean but inside, where the heart is filthy." 

Think about this: Where do you eat from? You eat from the inside of the bowl or plate. The inside is most important. So, when we're working with our kids,
     
WE DON'T WANT TO JUST SETTLE FOR OUTWARD SUBMISSION WHEN THERE'S STILL INWARD REBELLION IN OUR CHILDREN’S HEARTS!
              
And if you have a couple of kids, I can guarantee you've done it. One kid does something to the other kid and you say, "Go apologize." "Fine.  [Stomp, stomp, stomp], "I'm sorry you got your feelings hurt, you stupid, big baby." Okay? Now, they did what you asked, but is their heart right? No!
       
So we need to push them toward having a right heart. Not just right actions, but a right heart.

I've watched parents scream and yell at their children all day, every day. They creating problems. They yell because the child has caused them an inconvenience. They yell because they don't love them enough to stop what they're doing and minister to them with love and patience.
       
"Well, you can't go to the party." "Fine!" [bam]. "I hate you Mom!" Is that okay? Of course not! Parent ... you can allow pride to take over and shoot to make them never tell you that again, or you do what you are called by God to do and find out “why” they said that.
       
RIGHT ACTIONS COME OUT OF A RIGHT HEART. If they get their heart right, their actions will be right.
                 
Why do you think when kids turn 18 and leave home, they go crazy? Because they've been conforming outwardly, but their hearts want to do their own thing. So, we have to parent to the heart. We're working toward purity of the heart. 
     
3. WE'RE GOING TO PURSUE PERFECT PURITY OF THE HEART
                  
Now, if I haven't offended you or made you uncomfortable yet, or raised the standard yet, the third point is for you.  Okay?
       
First thing is we're going to get our own heart right.
Second thing is we're going to parent to the heart.
         
And number three, which is most important, in our homes as we want to be Christ-centered homes, we're going to pursue perfect purity of the heart.
       
The reason I chose the word "pursue" is because we can't achieve it on our own, but with the help of the power of God, we're going to pursue perfect purity. Why perfect purity? Isn't that raising the standard a little high? Because anything less than perfect purity is not purity. We're going to pursue perfect purity of the heart in our homes.   
       
I can guarantee you that we will fail at times, many times, but we, as a church, are going to commit to the pursuit of perfect purity in our lives and in our homes!      
       
In Ephesians 5:3, Paul said:
       
Eph 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
           
This Scripture doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to say the word fornication or speak to your children about it. That’s what I was told this text means, but that’s wrong.
   
He was saying, "But among you that are saved there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality among you–not even a hint.”
       
POP QUIZ: Let me ask you some questions. Would committing adultery with four people be a hint of sexual immorality? Yes or no? The answer is YES. Would sleeping with 75 percent of the people you date before you're married be a hint of sexual immorality? Yes or no? Yes. Would just looking lustfully at images on a screen, breaking our wife's heart, would that be considered a hint of sexual immorality? Yes. If some hot girl walks by, you're in the gym, and you start worshiping God for what you just saw, "Glory to God on high. Thank you, God, for such beauty.  Mm-mm." Would that be a hint of sexual immorality? According to Jesus, it actually would be. "Not even a hint." We're pursuing perfect purity in our homes. 
        
The question is: HOW MUCH IMPURITY DO YOU WANT TO LET IN?

I like the story I heard recently about a 12 years old kid who wanted to see a pretty rough PG-13 movie. Mom said, "No."
       
The kid said, "Oh, there's not a lot of bad stuff in it." The mom said, "Fine. First, I'm going to make you some brownies." The kid was pumped. She went out in the yard, got a little bit of spoonful of dog poop, mixed them in the brownies, made the brownies, and said, "Here you go. But before you eat them, you need to know there's just a little bit of poop in the brownies."          
       
"I'm not eating that.  That's gross that's gross."          
       
She said, "No, no, no. There's just a little bit of poop in the brownies, just like there's a little bit of bad stuff in your movie."
 
        
My daughters are 15 & 12. I love them very much. I will love them no matter what they do. Dad has their backs in the good and the bad. As of today, they’ve never even kissed a boy. They told me they aren’t planning to do so. We don’t do the American dating game in our home. Date this cat for a week, then that one, then this one, then that one. As of today, they have decided they are waiting for HIM. There’s just one for them and there’s no reason for them to be giving pieces of their heart away to every guy they think is cute. Now, you see how uncomfortable that made you feel? I’ve been amazed at the people that act like that decision is weird or cultic. “Aww .... little holy holy Lamb family. You just wait.” You’re right. We’ll see. I have five children. All five of them are free willed moral agents that will have to make wise and holy decisions.
   
First of all, there is something wrong with someone that looks down on other people for wanting to promote holiness and righteousness in their homes. Secondly, my daughters don’t care what people think. They see how stupid the immature, boyfriend/girlfriend game is AND DON’T WANT ANY PART OF IT. Thirdly, you should pray for us. You should pray for me and April. You should be praying for my sons and daughters that they don’t make the same mistakes that others have made. We aren’t flowing with American dating culture. We are trying to have a Christ centered home! We are trying to direct our children in the paths of righteousness!

I don’t know how this will all pan out. But we have to try!
    

America, by and large, doesn’t care about the Bible. But it should be very different in a Christian home. We are pursuing a Christ-centered home. Our standard needs to be higher than the average God hater in this country. Beyonce will not be my children’s role model. Kanye will not be my children’s role model.
   
We must raise the standard in our homes! If you aim low, you’re probably going to hit low. If you aim high,  you're going to hit a lot higher than if you shoot low. What's your standard going to be? Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. You may not like how the Lamb family does things. You may not like the things I said about how we’re raising our children. But as of today, I see God all over my daughters. I see God using them as they sing under the anointing of the Holy Ghost. I see God answering their prayers. I also see the hand of God on my sons. It’s really the most important thing to us.

How important is raising godly children to you? Will you commit to raising the standard of God even higher in your home?      

WE MUST CHANGE OUR APPETITES!
   
If you will pursue purity, you will see God in every area of your life!
   
Now, some of you are going to go, "Well, great for your little virgin girls. But oh, I've jacked it up big time. My heart is obviously messed up, and I've done things that are wrong, and I'm so far off."  Listen, I relate more to you than I do to my daughters because that's my story. I messed up more than you could ever imagine. My heart is deceitful above all things. That's why I lean on the Word of God.          
   
Eze 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
   
God says, "I'm not going to just ask you to make your own heart better." He says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you, and I will remove from you your old heart of stone."
   
Some of you, your heart has grown hardened.
        
Listen, if you're offended today, if you're pushing back, could it be that your heart has grown hard? "I will give you a new heart and remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."          
   
Because there is a standard of righteousness we cannot achieve on our own; it takes the power and goodness of our God through Jesus Christ. And when we seek Him and know Him, we're not just a Christian family, we're a Christ-centered home. And suddenly, the standard rises and the Power of God gives us a new heart and we are different. "Blessed are the pure in heart." 

God, helps us be pure in heart so we can see you like we've never seen you before. 

"Father, we pray today, your Holy Spirit would do heart surgery in all of our lives."

PEACE. LOVE. HOPE.