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Creating a Christ Centered Home

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Creating a Christ Centered Home

Joshua 24:14-27

January 29th, 2006

Every child goes through a stage when the favorite word is "no." "Terrible twos," it's called.

"Darling, dearest child," we say, "would you please stop smearing peanut butter on the cat?" Quick as a flash, back comes the answer: "No! No! No!"

However long that stage lasts, it is still too long. But hot on its heels is another developmental stage -- the "me want" stage. Unfortunately, this fixation seems to last a little longer than the "no" stage -- like from age 2® until about 106. "Me want" is the cornerstone of our consumer culture. Because we are never satisfied, never satiated, the marketplace can always expand.

Postmodern culture has done an emphatically good job at leaving the "no" stage far behind. Technological advances have helped us come to the point where we don't have to say "no." We don't have to accept boundaries and limitations, or to pick and choose. We don't want to "give up" anything or "lose" one thing. "We want" it all, and we've come up with ingenious ways to make that dream a reality.

Want to live in some beautiful, remote, pristine area and yet still be able to make a living? Postmoderns do it all the time -- filling rustic isolated cabins with their PC's, faxes, home copiers, CD-ROM hookups, and perching a satellite dish out back in the garden. Want to diversify our career track? For postmoderns that's practically a requirement -- combining professional training with personal interests, we come up with "specialties" (or should we redefine them as "generalities") like agronomist/poet/eco-philosopher, or playwright/social worker/urban landscaper, or software designer/artist/architect.

Both/and is the preference of postmodernism, not either/or. We resent the word "no" and so find ourselves taking on more and more commitments, while refusing to ever let go of the old ones. Obviously, none of this is inherently bad. Postmodern culture offers great opportunities for personal freedom and creativity. It can encourage both a historical sense and a futuristic bent. It can allow us to see and appreciate tremendous diversities of thought while revealing the underlying similarities that bind so many ideas together.

But for all its benefits, the postmodern commitment to "me want," and its refusal to take "no" for an answer, can also lead to moral and ethical fuzziness, to the wrong-headed notion that one answer is always just as good as another. Postmodern Christians must be able to witness to others that issues are not always gray. Sometimes things really are good or bad, right or wrong. Sometimes the answer is "no."

ÿ    God desires conversion not just adhesion

ÿ    Conversion is marked by a changed heart and mind and is evidenced by saying Yes to God and No to other things.

ÿ    Adherents don't turn away from anything. They just add to an already full and hectic life.

Six Yes and No’s for Christ Centered Living

1.      Revere the Lord. (Hold in the highest regard.)

14 “Now therefore revere the Lord,

Joshua 24:14 (NRSV)

28Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather be afraid of God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell.

Matthew 10:28 (TEV)

--Oswald Chambers in The Highest Good, cited in Christianity Today, February 9, 1998, 78

The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.

7 Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Only fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 1:7 (TEV)

2.      Serve the Lord and Him alone.

and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness;

Joshua 24:14 (NRSV)

10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ”

Mathew 4:10 (NRSV)

3.      Be sincere in our service.

and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness;

Joshua 24:14 (NRSV)

The Reader's Digest recently reported the following recorded message on a department store answering machine: "If you are calling to place an order, press 5. If you are calling to register a complaint, press 304-9783726434 398712. Have a good day."

 18 Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.

1 John 3:18

-Ralph Marston, The Daily Motivator,
January 4, 1997.

We must live with hope, yet we cannot live by hope. It is fine to hope for the best. That, however, is not enough. We cannot merely hope; we must take action.

It is sad how many things are tolerated in the hope that they will improve. Hoping for the best won't do anything. Working and taking action, with hope in your heart, will bring about results. That's a powerful combination. Hope works in your favor only as long as it is accompanied by action and commitment.

4.      Be faithful in our service

and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness;

Joshua 24:14 (NRSV)

Which will it be? Lip Service or Life Service?

Alexander Irvine wrote a novel called My Lady of the Chimney Corner. The heroine of the novel goes to a mourning neighbor, and comforting her, puts her hand on her head and says:

God takes a hand whenever he can find it and just does what he likes with it. Sometimes he takes a bishop's hand and lays it on a child's head in benediction. And then he takes the hand of a doctor to relieve the pain, the hand of a mother to guide a child. And sometimes he takes the hand of a poor old creature like me to give comfort to a neighbor. But they're all hands touched by his Spirit, and his Spirit's everywhere lookin' for hands to use.

24 But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.

Acts 20:24 (NRSV)

5.      Put away “old god’s

put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:14 (NRSV)

--Donald Hinze, To Give and Give Again (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1990).

America has a voracious appetite for material gain and goods and continues to devise ever-higher standards of living and to demand greater quantities of consumer goods. Greed, even on the small scale practiced by average Americans, generates enormous destructive powers. . . . Does anyone question that for First World people of privilege, that is, most Americans, the sacred mission has become the acquisition of money and accumulation of assets? Private profit is the goal more cherished than public good. The quest for money and possessions is as fervent, personal and private, as a religious endeavor.... Money and material things become the graven images of our idolatry.

“21 Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.”

1 John 5:21 (NLT)

Consultant and author Bill Easum has exposed just how difficult it is for us to give up our family-as-idol. He asks clergy, "What are your non-negotiables?" "What won't you sacrifice, even for God?" Among those who have specifically answered a call to a lifetime of service, there is one portion of their lives usually designated as "off limits" to God or anyone else - their families.

Clergy will gladly give up the lure of a larger salary, a more prestigious position, private comforts and even personal safety, for the sake of serving Christ. But time with family, space for family, the security of their families are all issues that raise red flags. Strange, how men and women who willingly entrust their own lives to God with confidence, aren't willing to trust the Creator of the universe to watch over their loved ones. But when we idolize our families, we try to take them out of God's care, somehow convinced that we can do a better job ourselves.

6.      Choose whom you will serve.

15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:15 (NRSV)

19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live! 20 Choose to love the Lord your God and to obey him and commit yourself to him, for he is your life. Then you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NLT)

Read the rest of Joshua 24

For Joshua, he marked the occasion by setting up a stone under a tree – a physical reminder of the choice the people were making.  The reality is that choice was to be lived out in a physical way each day – and so it is for us as well.

Today, we want to give you the opportunity to make that same choice.  Up front, on the communion table, is a container holding rocks.  If you choose today to make Christ the center of you home by Revering Him, Serving Him sincerely and faithfully, by putting away anything that tries to take His place as number one in your life, than we invite you to come forward and to take one of these stones.  Their small enough you can keep it in your pocket or put it on your desk or at your kitchen sink – anywhere you might be reminded of this choice.

 

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