Sacred Home: Challenge To Parents

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For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should teach them to their children, That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children. Psalm 78:5-6

As infected saints, parenting is a struggle. We know we don’t own our kids but are given stewardship over them by God.  Still, we are sinful adults training sinful children. Amazing, then, that God created mother and father roles as essential to raising children. Moms and dads play unique roles that, together, make a powerful partnership in leading their children. Both are crucial. God is gracious and can work through a single mom or dad, but a partnership between both parents gives the child the best chance of growing up in the ways of the Lord.

Here are a few ways this fleshes out:

1) Together, father and mother bring a combination of masculinity and femininity to the home that represents the fuller image of God. This lead to healthy children who best understand what male and female are meant to be within the design and will of God.

2) Spiritual neutrality in the home is nonsense. I have heard some parents say they don’t want to force their religion on their children. They want them to be free to make up their own mind. This is foolish thinking! If you bring your children up this way, they will likely be neutral with God, too. They will not follow God, but they will try not to offend him either. This leads to spiritual death.

3) One hour of Sunday school in a 168 hour week doesn’t cut it. If you are trusting in Sunday school to train up your child in the ways of God, you are going to need your child to move in with the teacher! One hour is not enough to sufficiently train them to be godly. The home is the training ground; the dad and mom are the primary teachers.

4) Dads are the spiritual thermometer in the home. If you want your wife and kids to follow God, to listen to His Word and practice what it says, then you have to lead the way. Most dads would like to leave the spiritual work to the moms, but that is not how God ordained it.

5) Set spiritual goals for your children, and work to see them reached. Setting goals makes you accountable before God to work toward them. It helps keep you from getting distracted by the many pitfalls of this world. It helps you not to focus in on good things to the neglect of the great things of God.

6) Take your kids on dates. I regularly take my daughter on daddy-daughter dates. I use this time to teach her how men should treat women. I know these times with me show her she is special. If she feels my love and attention she will not seek unhealthy attention from boys.  Moms, this works well with boys, too!

Parents, knowing the importance of our roles and the stewardship required of us, we need to be intentional about creating sacred moments for our children.  I am sure there are many other good habits that can be established in the home to foster spiritual growth within the family. Feel free to comment below and offer ideas you have heard of or practice.  ~ Dax

 

Don’t Look Inside Because I Don’t Like What I Will See

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“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”   Matthew 23:25-26

Real change requires a look inside. An infected saint knows this all too well. I have tried in every other way, but my own journey says in order to make lasting change in your life, it starts with an honest look at your insides.

What does it mean to change? You know God desires it. You know there are things hindering you that He wants removed. But if you are like me, the struggle is real, and change is extremely difficult. When you are forced to look within, you know something needs addressing. You know there is something dreadfully wrong. It creeps up when we are put on the spot or someone dislikes us or we feel foolish. Something in us feels really broken, and we want to quit thinking about it as quickly as possible. We make ourselves busy, or we shift our thinking so we don’t have to deal with the unpleasantry of the wound within.

When we take time to look on the inside, to go deeper than what is at surface level, we find that things are complicated. It only takes a moment to realize, while there are good things happening, we have a really long way to go. Our garden is not without weeds. We wish we were better than we are, but we are not. And what is the result of this? It brings strong feelings of shame to our life. Shame makes us want to hide. Sometimes, it can be strong enough to make us want to curl up in the fetal position, hide in the closet or run with all our might to escape.

We want to feel whole. We want to feel like things are good and in order. We don’t want to feel empty or rejected. We avoid it at all costs. Yet, without an honest look at what is going on inside, how can we ever really change? How can we ever become like Christ? How can we ever experience the joy that is ours in Him?

Looking inside brings real fear. We are not sure we can face it and make it. It requires loads of courage to investigate deeper into our soul. If we want to change, we have to face our own sin and insecurities. We can’t be like the Pharisees who put out an image to everyone that was not consistent with who they really were in their souls. We have to face the pain, the shame, the guilt, the weakness. We have to face it in confidence that Christ’s grace is greater than our sin. That He will not leave us exposed and condemned.

How do we receive this great grace? We face courageously the depth of our sinfulness and we repent. Repentance moves us from deceiving ourselves that everything is okay to trusting in Christ’s work. Repentance produces a growing strength and stability in our inner core. It produces a change of character. It is the Gospel at work in us.

Let your complacency be disrupted by looking within. Change can only happen when we are first unsettled at our core. When we take the time to face our demons and get the help we need. Once we do, change is possible with the work of Christ and the accountability and support of others. God wants to do a mighty work in you – so have the courage to trust Him as He reveals the depths of your soul to you and changes you from the inside out.

 

God, Where is My Burning Bush So I Can Believe?

I am truly an infected saint. I doubt that God exists more than I care to admit. I have preached through much of the Scriptures. I have been through more schooling than should be allowed. I have dedicated my life to following Christ. Yet, I have times of doubt. Times where I wonder if it is real. “Is there anything beyond this life?,” is a question that whispers to me sometimes.

Honestly, I don’t like living by faith. I can see your face right now. It’s a look of disappointment. A pastor that doesn’t want to live by faith?! Shame on you, Dax. Yet, I really would like to know by visible signs. Not just trust and hope. I’d like for the Spirit to descend like a dove from the clouds and talk to me.Or a burning bush to start speaking to me in a divine voice and tell me to remove my Nikes because I am on holy ground. I want to know God is really there, that Jesus really walked on water and was raised from the dead.

I have staked my life on a God I cannot see, touch, hear, or prove. The skeptics laugh and ridicule.  They are willing to bet their entire existence on the idea that He does not exist. As John Ortberg said in his book, Faith and Doubt, “If God is there, why doesn’t He make more noise?”

Most people in our world believe in God. The minority who doesn’t believe in a higher power might dismiss the majority view as a logical fallacy known as argumentum ad populum, or “appeal to the people” —  simply because many people believe something to be true doesn’t make it true. But my faith is not based on the masses’ belief. It doesn’t hurt or help my faith that many believe.

I have faith because His word has been tested in my life. I cannot deny my own experiences. My salvation experience was supernatural. In that moment in 1992, I became acutely aware of my frailty and smallness in this universe. God revealed His glory and grace. It was beyond compelling… it was transformative. God is always there as I have faith to look. I see His hand working. I recognize His intervention in my life. Faith has been my rock and refuge in an unpredictable and often cruel world.

I even praise Him for the times of doubt because God has used it to strengthen my faith. These moments of doubt remind me why my faith is so powerful in my life.

What about you? Do you feel shame when you doubt? You shouldn’t. Doubt is part of being human. God is bigger than our doubt. Some of the greatest spiritual moments in my life occurred when I came out of a valley of doubt. Doubt makes my faith stronger. It causes me to question things and to seek Truth more. I don’t need a sign to be strong in my belief. Didn’t work for Israel. Wouldn’t work for me.

God is not easily found by our senses because He wants us to come to Him in the right way. Like Israel of old, miraculous signs and wonders would just leave us feeling entitled and wanting more and more sensational showings by God. We wouldn’t be satisfied enough to be fully devoted to  Him. It is in faith that we find our strength and resolve. For “blessed are those who have not yet seen but still believe.” John 20:29.

Sometimes They Will Hate Us


“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”  Romans 1:21-23

Over the past few months, I have engaged in dialogue with those who deem themselves atheists. Consider there are two types of atheists you will encounter if you share your faith. There are atheists who don’t give any credence to faith but are not necessarily looking to proselytize Christians to their side. They do not believe in Jesus but can recognize benefits Christianity has in the world. There are also atheists who see it as their mission to attack Christianity.

This is the group I have encountered lately. They cannot stand the idea that Christians would “judge” them as someone needing to hear the Gospel. Filled with much pride, they despise being seen as a target of our evangelism. They get very defensive and spit out vile attacks. Why? Because they have to constantly defend their view. There can be no possibility they might be wrong. The very idea the Gospel is true is condemning, so they attack it vigorously. I have been called every name imaginable in trying to dialogue with them. They get personal quickly.  They hate easily.

But it’s not me they hate. It’s Jesus. Like Romans 1 predicted, they claim to be wise but are fools in their thinking. They are deceived.

Here are some things to consider if you find yourself speaking to those who attack your faith:

1) Don’t Get Defensive– As Christians, attacking back is not the answer. We have to give a solid defense of what we believe and not back down from the truth, but our conversation must be seasoned with grace and respect. I have failed in this often. It is hard to stay kind when being attacked.

2) God Will Have the Final Word- They will blaspheme God and insult Him with poisonous vile. God doesn’t need us to be His defender, though. When they attack God, don’t feel pressured to change their minds. I know all too well I cannot. I am confident God will have the final word. He will call all men to account. “‘Vengeance is mine,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

3) Your Calling is to Love– It’s easy to love someone who responds well to us. Not so easy when they attack us. Yet, God tells us to love those who persecute us. Our kindness reaps hot coals on their heads with hope it will lead to repentance. Love is the only  way. First Corinthians tells us love is patient and kind. They need to see that from us. When they do, we are a living display of the Gospel to them. One of the most loving acts you can do is pray for them by name. Lift them up to the Lord, and ask Him to move in their hearts. He alone can transform them.

When we share the faith, there are going to be those who attack us. We should not be surprised. Jesus was attacked and killed for speaking the truth. So were the apostles. We should expect no different when we are faithful to share. Let’s not hate those who speak against us but love them. Nor let fear or anything else shut our mouths from proclaiming the Gospel.  ~Dax

How To Deal With Difficult People

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For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3



Some people are, how should I say this, well they are… difficult to be around for us. We may work with them, go to church with them, see them at the ballpark, or might even be related to them. They have a special gift of annoying us. They make our blood pressure go up. We want to run from the room to get away from them. We might even want to punch them if we are honest!

Before we talk about “those” difficult people, we need to first look in the mirror at ourselves. Is it possible we can be difficult? If so it should immediately hit us here that the same grace we want from others we should extend to those we find difficult. We want people to be gracious to us even when it’s our fault. You better believe God demands we give that same grace to others.

What defines someone as difficult? A difficult person is someone who knows how to push our buttons, whether they know they are doing it or not. Their Facebook post annoys us. Every laugh is like nails on a chalkboard. They can be condescending, selfish, argumentative, or simply rude. We try to ignore them but instead it is like they are highlighted. They always find a way to get our attention. We know we are wrong to let it get under our skin but it still happens!

Jesus dealt with quite a few difficult people! When Jesus dealt with those people who were difficult, he never reacted with a sense that he was superior to them nor did he dismiss them out of pride. Superiority and dismissal can be subtle but don’t miss the harshness of the two. Both stem from pride. Most who have this attitude fail to see the very obvious sins in their life. They are annoyed by “difficult” people but many might see them as difficult! Ironic, huh? It just points to them not being self aware. And because they can be pretty harsh to those who they see as difficult, their friends are scared to be honest with them about their own annoying quirks. They don’t stand up because they don’t want to be tagged as one of those difficult people who get belittled.

Some of us are hypersensitive. We are easily annoyed. If that is you be careful. Be careful that you don’t surround yourself with like minded people who do the same thing. Or people who are scared to stand up to you and  agree with you so you will like them. They will justify you and join in as you speak condescendingly about those “difficult” people. Also be careful that you don’t start sentences with “I know I shouldn’t say this” or “I know I am wrong in what I am about to say.” Admitting it is wrong and then doing it does not make it better somehow. If you are hypersensitive then you are letting difficult people control you. Yep, they own you. They govern where you can sit, what groups you will be in, what ministries you will serve in.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was quite specific about dealing with difficult people in love and humility: “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:27–31). We must never give tit for tat: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

Watch out for pride. Don’t think so highly of yourself. What if instead you loved them like you loved yourself. What if you focuse din on those things that are healthy and beneficial about them? How would that change things?

This blog is most likely not a message you want to be confronted with but maybe it is exactly what Jesus wants you to hear today. Have the courage to check your spirit and repent of wrong attitude and hatefulness.

Last week of Jesus- Resurrection


And if Christ has not had been raised from the dead, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.   1 Corinthians 15:17
To be “in Christ” is the opposite of being “in sin.” To be in something means you get the benefit of it. To be “in Christ” means you receive grace, mercy, forgiveness, adoption, unconditional love, and eternal life. To be “in sins” means you receive shame, guilt, judgment, death, and ultimate condemnation.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead then his sacrifice was deficient. It was not powerful enough to remove sins once and for all. Our hope is in vain. The gospel is not good news but a false hope. It’s like someone telling us to fly and then not giving us wings to do so.

This is why Jesus appeared first to the apostles and then to 500 more. He wanted them to know that He had conquered death by rising from the dead and thus freeing them from the bondage of sin. This appearance by Christ is why the disciples were willing to give up their lives for Christ later on. As Paul stated, “To live is Christ; to die is gain.” Once you fix your gaze on the risen Christ you will not be the same.

Here are a few truths I take from the resurrection:

  • Resurrection promises me that I will one day have a resurrected body that I will have for eternity
  • Resurrection power is not just for the life to come but at work in me now.
  • Resurrection means that Jesus was the spotless lamb whose sacrifice was sufficient to cover all my sins.

I hope as you celebrate the resurrection of Jesus today that you are reminded that hope is not found in a job, bank account, beauty, or stuff. Hope is only found in a risen Christ.

Last Week of Jesus- Friday


4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, Yet he opened not his mouth; Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.   Isaiah 53:4-7

It’s Friday. Today we call Good Friday. We look forward to Fridays every week. The weekend is before us. Friday for Jesus would be the day he died. But it would not be a quick death; only after being mocked and ridiculed, beaten bloody to the point of being unrecognizable would He finally breathe His last. What seemed like a senseless death was anything but.

He bore a huge weight on the cross. The soldiers who put him up there couldn’t see it. The crowds who gathered around to mock Him or weep for Him were not able to see the burden either. The burden was much worse than the beatings or the spear in his side or the thorns digging into his forehead. The burden was my sin and yours. Not their sin but our sin. It was personal.

Jesus didn’t deserve to die. Should we have been on that cross? Nope. Not because we didn’t deserve it but because we couldn’t do anything significant with the burden. He who knew no sin became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. There is no salvation without the cross and it was Jesus who had to die.

Wonder of the cross…God expresses judgment upon sin & endures judgment against sin at the same time. David Platt

The crowds saw a man hanging on the cross. God saw a sin sacrifice. A sacrifice for sins once and for all. A sacrifice that would open the way for all men and women who believe to have eternal life. What Satan meant for evil this day, God would use to redeem the world.

You ever played that game as a kid where you like someone and you took a daisy and picked the petals off saying, “she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me….” Every drop of blood that fell to the ground from the body of Jesus said “He loves me, He loves me, He loves me.” The cross put on glorious display the love God has for His people. Every scar, every mocking voice, everything that happened on this day had an eternal purpose.

Today starts the most important three days in the world’s history. What happens this day and onward will change the world. The question really is can you personally read it and not be changed? God wants you to experience the realities of the cross everyday. He wants you to remember daily the sacrifice that was made for you. He wants you to be a person who gives grace and forgiveness freely because you were given those freely. He wants this story to change your life and to keep doing so. If you are a Christian you need this story as much as the lost soul. It is your hope. You need to be reminded of it daily.

A few things I challenge you to do today:

  • As you finish this please don’t go on to something else quickly. Take a moment to pray and thank God for loving you so much. You have no hope apart from Jesus. As gruesome as it was for Him to die on a cross, you needed Him to do so.
  • Tell someone today about why this day is significant to you. Interrupt their reality with the remarkable good news of Jesus.
  • Today, I choose to so identify with Christ that I see myself being crucified with Him. My life is His.  Will you make the same declaration for your life with me?