(Excerpted from Home Sweet Home: Creating a Joyful Home Atmosphere; available in paperback or on CD)
[I]f you have gone through the last session and can honestly say that you have repented and have a desire to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord—for yourself personally, for your home and family, and for all the purposes of God that will be fulfilled as a result—now you must understand why. Our salvation is not a gift that we selfishly hold. It’s the outpouring of God’s grace that must be shared. Whether we multiply it two times, five times, or ten times, is irrelevant; but if we are not sharing the truth and the love of God consistently with others in our circle of influence, we misunderstand our role in living life for the glory of God. . . .
In contemplating how my life measured up to God’s standard of holiness and how well I embraced the vision of glorifying God, I knew that I, once again, fell miserably short. As I said in the last session, I did many things in His name, and although not all of it was of my own making or in my own strength, I really did not have an adequate understanding of what it was that God wanted from me. He didn’t just want my works and my “doings,” He simply wanted my complete surrender so that He could lead me in living a victorious life and use me as He wanted, for His glory.
My husband, Marc, explains it like this in his book, Keys to Kingdom Expansion (available as a free ebook on our site, www.valuesdrivenfamily.com):
Why do so many people join the Reserves? Is it love for country, commitment to defend freedom, chivalry and public service, a sense of duty and sacrifice? Certainly many do join for such noble reasons; however, numerous other young men and women simply join for the benefits, such as college tuition and other signing bonuses. It may not sound very nice to say it, but let’s be honest—if they would serve without the benefits, would the government even offer them? Absolutely not! However, the government knows that to entice a sufficient reserve force, the benefits are necessary.
When those who have signed up with selfish motivations are deployed to the front lines of battle, do you suppose they really want to be there? When they signed the dotted line, we can only wonder if they really counted the cost. Is college tuition a fair trade for the ultimate sacrifice? Without a commitment to the vision (freedom) and the mission (defend and protect), no amount of compensation is worth dying for; but with a sense of duty, honor, and sacrifice—no price is too high. In fact, dedicated soldiers yearn for the front lines.
We can see a fitting analogy. Numerous believers have joined the kingdom “reserves” based on the benefits. They wanted freedom from the penalty of sin and a free ticket to heaven. They may even believe signing comes with others benefits such as health and wealth. Sometimes they reluctantly sign up, almost as if they are doing their recruiter a favor. However, do they really know what they are signing?
Do they know that they are asked to surrender everything to God for the mission? They are told to end all other allegiances: to the world, sin, wealth, pleasures of life, self, the flesh, family, possessions, and to be prepared to even give their very life for the cause. When they sign, they give up all personal rights and privileges. They must obey all orders. In fact, their failure to comply makes them a traitor, and subject to judgment. They not only fail to promote the cause, they hinder it by serving the enemy’s commander.
Do we present the truth and the necessity of counting the cost? Do those in our camps know that when they signed up, we were not at peacetime, but in the throes of battle? We are at war. The enemy has not let up. Why have we? Why are all our troops AWOL? Where are their commanders? Are we AWOL, too?
Recognize that we are at war. Millions are dying without salvation. The main reason is that we recruit our reserves, but don’t give them deployment orders. Even when American soldiers sign for selfish reasons, they still receive the same training as those who sign with more noble intent. They learn the art of warfare alongside the visionaries. And when they are deployed, they are ready to fight with valor and precision. Whether from false motives or true, they are on the mission.
We must learn from this analogy. I don’t care why or how these reserves joined our ranks. However, they need to know that we are at war NOW, and receive their training and deployment immediately. They must be shown the vision by our leadership. But, for them to catch the vision and get on mission, we must recognize we are at war as well, and be willing to count the cost.
Let me ask you—or rather, answer the Lord: have you counted the cost? Would you give up your possessions for Christ? Your comfort? Your freedom? Your wealth? What about your pride? Would you give up your home? What about your family? Now it’s getting tougher. Would you surrender your title? Your pleasures? Your fears? Your hurts? Your sin? What about your very life?
Ok, if you’re still with me, you can rest assured that God does not want you to sacrifice everything on this list right now. There is a better picture of what He wants from you. Just get a blank piece of paper. Now sign on the bottom. He will simply fill in what He wants you to give when He needs it of you. Will you sign the blank piece of paper?
Until we are ready to sign this document, we are not fit to serve in His Kingdom. Signing this document will lay the foundation for His service, and qualify us to train the reserves for the mission. The reserves will not follow us into battle until we take the flag and run headlong through the incoming fire. Reflect upon this.
When I sincerely “counted the cost of being a disciple” (as we are challenged by Jesus in Luke 14) I knew that, although I had prayed a prayer and said I wanted to serve God, I was not prepared to give up everything. I wanted to do the things that seemed good to me; I wanted to hold on to my comforts, my possessions, the security of the world and its systems, my children, my life…and even the less-obvious things like the secret hurts that somehow justified my sins and the selfishness that led to so much of my frustration. Yet, Jesus says, “any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
So, I urge you to count the cost and examine yourself. Could you—or did you—sign the “blank piece of paper? Would you be willing to give up your marriage if it served God’s purposes? How about your precious children? Your home and its comforts? Would you willingly undergo persecution, as so many in the world now do? Torture, inhuman treatment, even death? It’s easy to give intellectual assent to these things, but what if God really asked it of you? Examine your heart.
Can you give up the things that come between you and God? Perhaps it’s the bad habits of eating which are really your way of trying to control situations, instead of walking in the Spirit and allowing God to lead. Maybe it’s the petty irritations that you accumulate against the children or your inability to forgive their childish misbehaviors, so that you eventually rage against them in anger. Or it’s past hurts that you stubbornly cling to because by them it’s easy to excuse your present sin. I suggest these things because I know about them–I have struggled with them, too. And in all honesty, I had to say that signing the blank piece of paper was more difficult than praying that little, private prayer I prayed twelve years ago in the church pew. However, this is a necessary first step if you are going to take the next step, which is the Spiritual Inventory. You must first clean the house, as we talked about in the last session, and then transfer authority of everything to God, which effectively locks the door against satan and sin. All for God’s glory! And, yes, you will most certainly experience a “ripple effect” in the atmosphere of your home as you commit (or re-commit) yourself to glorifying God.
Post-script to this session–this is a neat email that I received from someone who had listened to the audio series:
“You must be a kindred spirit because I personally related to
almost every struggle you spoke about in the 4 sessions I listened to.
Thank you for being faithful to share your journey with others, like
me! Now I know I need to sign the dotted line at the end of the blank
piece of paper. After 11 years of being born-again, I finally know
what I’m missing. :)”
I pray that each one of us as women would continually invest in our own spiritual health and well-being so that we can have the joyful and peaceful home atmosphere that God intends for us!
(Excerpted from Home Sweet Home: Creating a Joyful Home Atmosphere)
I once heard taught that “The woman sets the tone for the home,” and I believe that this is, in large part, true. Though a husband’s leadership affects much and children’s behaviors are unpredictable, it is how we, as women, respond to these things that dictates what our home atmosphere will ultimately be like. We are the managers of the home and usually the primary caregivers, teachers, and trainers for our children. It is our domain! So of course, we have a great deal of influence on the atmosphere of our home. For this reason, you will notice that in this [seminar series…or paperback book, coming soon!] we will focus on ourselves, as wives and mothers. …
A joyful home all comes down to attitude, and most especially OURS! Whether our house is messy or clean, we determine how we will respond. When our children are whiny, will we encourage them lovingly? If they have misbehaved, will we correct them gently? If our husbands aren’t taking the leadership role that we’d like them to, will we harbor resentment or seek to build them up in love, submitting to them as unto the Lord? I want to emphasize that attitude is a choice—and the Bible says,
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)
Is your attitude like that of Jesus? Do you willingly humble yourself to receive from God’s hand whatever HE has ordained for your day? Personally, I was more prone to planning my own schedule and then refusing to bend to the work of the Holy Spirit in changing it—or I would give in, but with complaints and frustration. I had my own ideas about how the house “should” look or how the children “should” behave…but God’s standards for these external things often differed from my own. Eventually, God showed me that, very often, the heart of my bad attitude was my own pride and desire for control. And James 4:6 tells us that God actively opposes the proud, but gives His grace to the humble. No wonder I felt like (and often said!) that getting things done around the house was like pulling teeth! I was seriously missing out on the grace of God, which He gives us to make us able to do His will.