Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1Co 9:24-27 ESV)
Dear friends….PLEASE hear my heart for a moment. No…don’t just hear it; read the below and then seek to hear the heart of Christ to make sure I haven’t lost my mind. :)
Ok. In keeping with the recent messages on spiritual warfare, honestly, I’m really sick of the devil. I’m really, really tired of seeing Christian families in bondage and not knowing how to fight. I’m not talking about screaming at demons; I’m talking about the daily things we must do to live without so much drama so we can focus on winning lost people and discipling our children and a dying world.
So, as I’m prone to do, I have a list for you below. But this isn’t just any old list in my opinion. This is the list I use in my own life. This is the list I use when I am subtly trying to get to the bottom of why someone is struggling. This is the list I use because after 14 years of ministry and ALMOST WITHOUT FAIL, married folks, singles folks, and young folks who are Christians but don’t participate in much of the below…now hear this…are SET UP for deception!
Deception? “Isn’t that a bit strong pastor” you ask? NO! SPIRITUAL DECEPTION. Without a passionate commitment to the below I’ve seen all sorts of things. People turn inward and become selfish, blame others for their problems and rebel against spiritual authority, lose their joy and zest for life, fall into temptations and sin, struggle with money, don’t have a sense of God’s direction, choose the wrong friends and indulge in life-destroying actions, and many times, lose their relationships. Yes…it’s that bad. I’ve seen it time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time again! Maybe you have too.
There is nothing on this list that is earth-shattering or that requires a seminary degree or that is just for “mature Christians.” In fact, there is nothing here that you probably didn’t know already! If you attend CRCC services, you’ve likely heard each item mentioned repeatedly. BUT, each one is SO important! It’s just a shame that we go through so much at the hands of the devil when the answer is the full armor of God! “The List” is just a practical way of saying “put on God’s Armor, and keep it on.” You ready for “The List?” :)
(Note: every item on “The List” applies to marrieds AND singles. In the case of singles, substitute a MATURE, same-sex accountability partner as necessary.)
1. Pray with and for one another as a family...daily! This includes worship!
2. Study Scripture as a family and as individuals…daily! This also includes reading “the right” books!
3. Go to church together as a family and actually DO what is taught! This includes serving too!
4. Do a God-honoring budget together and live by it every month! This includes getting out of debt and staying out!
5. Give! Not just your time either…I’m talking about giving money.
6. Pray specifically for the lost and for people in other countries! This has a huge effect on your heart!
7. Be hospitable; open your home to others and be willing to go to others’ homes for fellowship! And I’m not talking about gossip sessions or just “hanging out” with people who demonstrate no Kingdom fruit. I’m talking about Christ-honoring fellowship and an attempt to engage in real discipleship! (Can somebody say “Let’s not forget about Care Group fellowship!??)
8. Share your faith and disciple others! It’s amazing how inward we can turn when we aren’t pursuing the Master’s priorities!
9. Teach your children (or grandchildren or children in whose life you have authority) the Word! If passionately pursued, this one element completely changes a household!
10. Live holy with accountability! Refuse to allow sin in your life, whether it comes through other people, the TV, the internet, or your cell phone!
There it is friends: The List. Each one of these items is powerful all by itself. So much so, that over the next few months, the ministers and I will be doing blog posts on each item, explaining it a bit more and encouraging you to dig in on it, so keep an eye on my blog. But taken together, The List builds an almost impenetrable life against the snares of the Enemy, and if spread to others, helps Change the World. We’ll still fail and have tough times, but those committed to “The List” don’t have the big swings…the WAY UP and WAY DOWN emotional mess and the HUGE backslide that creeps in, cripples families and weakens churches.
Pray about this… PLEASE!