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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.          

Monday, November 14, 2016

DO YOU HUNGER & THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS? - IS THERE A HOME IN YOUR HOUSE? (LESSON 1)

DOES YOUR HOME HUNGER & 
THIRST FOR GOD?

Mt 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.


(CLICK TO WATCH SERMON 1)
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 HUNGERS AND THIRSTS FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS

Mt 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.            
         
I’d like to submit that there is a difference between a home and a house. Now, I know the definitions are very similar, but this isn’t a strange concept. Have you ever heard the proverb: “Home is where the heart is?” How many know that you can have a house, apartment, trailer, even a mansion, and not have a home in it? A house is just wood, shingles, carpet, paint, drywall, and stuff like that.
       
A home is where your heart is. It’s a place where you find peace, joy, love, and comfort. I’d like to ask you: Is There a Home In Your House?

How many of you would love to have a home in your house? How many want your homes and families to be blessed? Of course you do. We all would love to see our homes and families blessed.        
           
But when you look at families today, in general, the first word that DOES NOT come to your mind is the word blessed. Right? When we look at so many families today, rather than saying, "Man, they're really blessed. God’s favor is on their lives", we say: "Wow, they're really struggling. Their home is a mess. Their children are crazy. They can’t get a handle on their finances."
         
And admittedly, there are a lot more challenges today than there was in the past. There's the challenge of more and more blended families. You know what a blended family is, right? Men and women who’ve been married multiple times and have children with multiple spouses–they’re blended. This can be a blessing, but then you're raising your kids, her kids, and our kids and you both have exes living in Texas and it can get complicated.          
 
We see a record number of single parents today which can be so difficult when you're trying to support a family on one income and there's only one of to you carry all the load–and the discipline of raising the kids can be overwhelming at times.                 

Now, some of you may say, "But I'm a student. I don't have a family yet." Awesome! This is the best time to prepare your heart for future blessings. I would have given anything to have learned stuff like this before I got married. So, I believe it will speak to everyone.

And so what we're going to do is learn and apply several of the beatitudes from Jesus’ teachings in Matthew, chapter 5, to our homes. Jesus gave us 8 characteristics of those that are blessed! Let me tell you where we're going to go in this series. This week we’re going to deal with hungering and thirsting after righteousness.           

Week 2,"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." Does purity reign in your home?          

Week 3, "Blessed are the peace makers” ... not peace takers. Is there peace in your home?         

Week 4, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The godly home will be mocked and ridiculed. Can you take it?
    
We’re not going to worry about people talking about us. In fact, we're actually going to worry when people aren’t persecuting us because we're probably blending in.

You should just go ahead and bow your head and pray, “God, I want you to bless my home. I will do whatever you require of me to make that happen.” 
 
WHAT DOES YOUR HOME HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER?

Most people I know are not hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Don’t get me wrong. They will tell you they want more of God, but when you look at their home you can’t really tell it. A lot of the issues we have inside the church; a lot of the reason our services aren’t even higher than what they are is directly connected to our home lives. The reason you don’t pray for people in here; the reason some of you won’t pray around the altar; or pray for other people around the altar is prayer is not familiar to you. You don’t pray at home, so you don’t really know how to pray around here either. It kind of hard to hide prayerlessness. It sticks out like sore thumb.

So, here's a question that I want to ask all of you just for application, and I want to dare you to be really honest. Here's the question: In your home, what are you hungering for? In your life, with your friends, what are you pursuing? What matters most to you? 

I believe some of you, with integrity, could say, "We're striving to please God." And others would try to say that–We’re striving to please God–but if I asked your kids, they might say something entirely different. If I asked your children when they last saw you praying, what would they answer? If I asked them when they last saw you reading the Bible, what would they answer?           

Let's make it easy. In the last seven days–Sunday to Sunday; what would you be characterized as having pursued?  What did you hunger for this past week? 

1.MONEY AND FINANCIAL EASE? Do you work more to make more to waste more? At the end of the day, there’s not a whole lot of difference. You have more money, but you’re still in debt and miserable and slowly falling away from God. You don’t have time to train your children because you’re busy hungering and thirsting after possessions. Someone else will have to do that for you.

2. THE WHIM? I know a lot of people that you can't really keep up with what they're hungering and thirsting after. It will be one thing this week but something completely different next week. It just depends on what the latest whim is. Every week they get an ingenious idea, a new hobby, or a new project to start but never finish. If it's not rebuilding a hot rod truck, they're setting their eyes on becoming a mixed martial arts expert! It's always something and that something is so important they can't spend time with God or their family. It's the whim!

3. SPORTS? Folk have to get their children enrolled on the synchronized water polo cricket team. That’s what they hunger and thirst for. Every parent thinks their child is going pro in the four and under league! They teach their children that sports is more important than God and His house when they're out there cricketing during church time.

And if you're like most people in our culture today, you'd say over the last seven days you were pursuing something (or many things) above God.

How have we gotten so busy we’ve pushed God right out of our every day life? For some, if it wasn’t for Sunday, there’d be no God at all in their life. If it wasn’t for a one and a half hour service on Sunday, there’d be almost zero spirituality in their life; no other avenue to express their faith. Had you thought about it like that? That can’t be healthy. I wonder what would happen if you only ate natural food once a week for an hour and a half? Yep! You’d starve to death. And that’s what’s happening to a lot of people and their families spiritually. They don’t hunger and thirst for God, therefore they’re not filled; hence they are starving.

CHANGING YOUR APPETITE

So what do we do when we realize that we are hungering for the wrong things?  What do we do when we realize that we have an appetite for things that do not satisfy and are not best for us?  Well, we change our appetites.

I love SWEETS! I like sweets of all sorts. Cakes, pies, cookies, candy bars, banana pudding, brownies, milk shakes, ice cream of all flavors, buckeyes, peanut butter roll, etc ... Get the drift? I've lost weight, I've gained weight. Here's what I've learned on my journey: When I eat healthy I eventually stop craving sweets. I feel so good physically I don't want to eat anything unhealthy. Unfortunately, I eventually cave and go back to my old habits and then start over. Sad.  


You Can change your appetite. 

Here's the thing, if you start pursuing God, suddenly, you're going to see the benefits of walking by faith, being led by the Spirit of God, and being empowered by His presence. You'll start longing for more of Him. The junk food of this world which wasn't good for you and didn't satisfy you isn't going to be at the top of your cravings because you've developed a healthy appetite. You're hungering and thirsting for righteousness and you're fulfilled doing the will of God! It's a grand and glorious feeling!
 

WHY AREN’T OUR FAMILIES HUNGERING AND THIRSTING FOR GOD?
         
Why don't we see more of our homes having revival? Why is there no home in many people’s houses?

I hope you’ll allow me to share a few things that work and a few things that don't work when it comes to building a home centered around Christ.

Let’s start with what does not work. There are two things that do not work. The first thing is legalistic Christianity. The second thing is lukewarm Christianity.       


 1. LEGALISTIC CHRISTIANITY
   
Let me give you some examples. What is legalistic Christianity? That's when we reduce Christianity in our homes to a bunch of do's and don'ts, cans and can'ts, shoulds and shouldn'ts, oughts and ought not's.  "Don't do this and don't do that". "I can’t believe you did that. If you were a real Christian you’d always get it right." Rules and more rules!

Here’s the problem with legalistic Christianity:

RULES WITHOUT RELATIONSHIP LEAD TO REBELLION!              
   
Have you ever seen that? Have you ever noticed that pastors' kids are known as the wild ones? What's up with that? It's because rules without relationship lead to rebellion!


Have you ever met a family that basically made their children slaves to rules and restrictions without pouring quality time into them? How's they turn out? Did they became hellions when they hit 18? I've met several families like that. God, help the Lambs. 

Rules are necessary, but if it's merely rules without relationship, it's going to lead to rebellion. You're going to lose your children because legalistic Christianity never works. 
  
2.LUKEWARM CHRISTIANITY
   
The second thing that also doesn't work is Lukewarm Christianity. What is that? That's when we believe in God but we live half-hearted; it's cultural Christianity. It's basically Christian in name only, but no real passion for things that bring Glory to God. It is a prayerless, Bible-less church goer. I call them Churchians because they don't resemble victorious Christians.          
   
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR HOME IS A LUKEWARM CHRISTIAN HOME?

Well, I can’t really make that judgment for you, but here’s some indicators that would tell me our home was lukewarm:
 

1. Can you tell me the last time your family prayed together? I don't mean a “Rub a dub dub, thank God for this grub” type prayer. I mean really prayed together. If you can’t remember the last time, your house is probably lukewarm.

2. Can you tell me the last time you read the Bible with your family?
If not,  your house is probably lukewarm.
 
3. Can you remember the last time you testified about God to them?
If not, your house is probably lukewarm.
 
4. When was the last time you led them out of something harmful to their faith? Let me illustrate:


When you’re watching a movie and hear God’s name in vain about 30 times in the first 30 seconds and you say, “You know what? This isn’t going to fly in our house.” 

Or “You know, those people, we love them, but they’re not a very good influence on us. We're not hanging out with them any more!" 

Lukewarm houses don't do that.

JESUS TOLD THE LAODICEANS IF THEY WERE LUKEWARM HE'D VOMIT (SPUE) THEM OUT OF HIS MOUTH. (REVELATION 3:16)

 
Legalism and lukewarm Christianity never work! 


OK ... BUT WHAT DOES WORK? 

Here’s the statement:

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

In America, anyone can claim to be a Christian, right? Some statistics say over 80% of Americans profess Christianity, but just because someone claims Christianity doesn’t make them one.

Jesus isn't just a PART of our lives, He is the CENTER of our lives. Our home is characterized by being Christ centered. A Christ centered family is a sold out family. 


I love Psalm 63:1:

Ps 63:1 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
   
YOU are my God! I will seek you early! My soul thirsts for you! Not just in good times, but even in dry and thirsty places where we can’t find water!

WE'RE NOT JUST A CHRISTIAN FAMILY, WE'RE A CHRIST-CENTERED HOME!
 
We need husbands that thirst for God! We need wives that thirst for God. We need children that thirst for God! We need families that thirst for God!
    


What do you thirst for instead of God? What are you teaching your children to thirst for instead of God and His Kingdom? Money? Sports? A vehicle? A job? Popularity? A career? If you're not pouring God into them, you're pouring something into them.

WE MUST CREATE A PROPER APPETITE IN OUR HOMES!

HOW DO WE DO THAT?

By helping our families see God as: 1) LOVING; 2) APPROACHABLE; and 3) INVOLVED.

God is lovable. He loves you. God is approachable. You can go to Him any time for anything and everything. And God is involved in every area of your life. God is involved in what you do, where you go, what you watch, what you read, what you listen to, what you say, how you act, and how you present ourselves. God has a say so in everything.


3 WAYS TO CREATE A HUNGER AND THIRST FOR GOD
 
A 17 year old girl named Mandy was asked what she, as a teenager, would suggest to parents as being a healthy environment in the home. She said:   

"You should create an environment where your kids want to have discussions about God so it's not something they feel like they have to do, but something they want to do."

So, how do you do it you? You say, "I don't even know where to start." Let me make it as simple as I can and give you three ways to create a hunger and thirst for God. 

1. GOING TO INVOLVE GOD IN DAILY CONVERSATIONS

When we're talking about anything, we're going to involve God in our daily conversations. And this may seem kind of weird to you, but it's really simple.

You're driving along outside, beautiful sunset on the way to the store, you might say, "Wow! That's awesome." Not anymore. Now, you’re going to say, "Wow, look at the sunrise that God has blessed us with." And you're simply showing that God is a part of your conversation.          

And you do this in your marriage, instead of saying, "Wife, I don't know what to do. What do you think we should do?” You say, "I wonder what God wants us to do? Let’s pray about this." And so, in your marriage, you are reminding yourself you are not just a Christian home, you are a Christ centered home. You involve God in your conversations.          

For years and years, I've told my kids over and over again, "Look at how God has blessed us. You get to be part of a church that's making a difference around the world. Look at how He’s blessed our family."

 
If you want to create a hunger and thirst for righteousness in your family, you will have to:




2. MAKE CHURCH A NON-
NEGOTIABLE PART OF YOUR LIFE 



If you're a Christ centered home, guess what you do? You make worshiping God your priority, you make it something that is non-negotiable. Taking a couple hours a week to honor the Creator and Sustainer of this universe with the household of faith shouldn't be an option. Tell your family, "We're going to go to church, period." And then stick with it.

Here's why going to church faithfully is important:

"A study disclosed that if both Mom and Dad attend church regularly, 72% of their children remain faithful. If only Dad, 55% remain faithful. If only Mom, 15%. If neither attended regularly, only 6% remain faithful." 
 
The Lambs are going to church when the doors are open. It's part of who we are. How about you? Wonderful! We will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We will engage in fellowship with other believers faithfully. 

Some of you that come when you want, hit and miss ... you need to remember that your children are watching. There’s almost zero chance that your children are going to serve God and become a member of your church when you’re only committed half the time. You’re teaching them by your actions. What does your family thirst for?     

The third thing you must do is:      

3. SHOW HOW SEEKING AND RECEIVING GOD IS FUN       

Serving God is fun. Let’s get real here! Do your children believe serving God is fun? Or do they see you complaining about life, about church, the people, and life in general? Are you happy? Are you miserable in your house? Do your children see you enjoying God? Do they see you excited about the Word? Our children need to see us having fun serving God.

Both of my daughters read at least two chapters of the Bible every night. Ariel has been through the whole Bible at least once and the New Testament several times. Eden has completed the New Testament and is now close to being finished with the Old Testament, too. Josiah will soon be starting his journey through the Bible. People are like, "Wow, how do you get your 12 and 15 year old daughters to do that? How do you get them to serve God like they do?"          

I never have to ask them to do it. It's not really a rule. They don’t have to read the Bible. It's just a part of our family culture. If we can spend time engaged in secular entertainment, we can spend time with God and His Word. They have seen their mom pray and read the Word. They have seen their dad do it nearly everyday of their life. And so, it's just what we do. And we’re turning that up even higher right now! It's part of our culture. We do it because serving God and diving into His Word is enjoyable.          


YOU "CAN" DO THIS!
 

Now, you say, "Okay. 'Rah, Rah, Pastor Lamb.” Good for you, your little home schooled, cute family. You don't live in the real world. We could never have that."

Listen to me. You can have what God wants you to have if you will pursue God ... period. But you say, "You don't know how messed up we are. You don't know how bad it is. I mean, I'm trying to keep my 14-year-old off drugs, you know? You have no idea." 

Listen to me and listen to me carefully. You can have what God wants you to have if you pursue him. Don't give me excuses. Either you believe God or you don’t.


YOU CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST! (PHP 4:13)          

Gentlemen, get up off your backsides and lead. Lead toward a Christ centered culture. Lead toward it! You say, "Hey, I don't even know where to start." Yes, you do. I’ve made it as simple as I can.

Can you show your family it's a blessing to serve God? Yes, you can. 


Can you gather them in the living room, read the Bible to them and then pray over them each day? Yes, you can! 

Can you make church a priority? Yes, you can. 

Can you involve God in your conversations? Yes, you can.

You don’t have to be a pastor or home school your children to create that kind of culture. But you’ve got to love God with all your heart!  

I love what Joshua said in Joshua 24:15:  He said, "...if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

There it is! You have to choose today. Right now! This moment. You choose this day. Are you going to be a Christian home in name only, blending in like the culture, or are you going to be a Christ centered home? You make the choice today because blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled!

Is there a home in your house? If not, get thirsty! Get hungry!