It’s what pastors do. We reflect on what we preached. The tough side is to not be your biggest critic and yet, you still are. You ponder what you said and what you didn’t say. Monday is a chance to go over twitter and facebook to see some of the posts. Here’s a few from yesterday’s message “The Devil Made Me Do It”:
Part of the sermon-building process is being a steward of the time given. The old-school believer would say, “Don’t worry about time.” I think that’s the lazy pastors way of not being disciplined enough to carefully and prayerfully weight out what needs to be said in the appropriate time. Not only do we (pastors) need to be better with our studying, but we need to remember people’s attention span and retention ability is limited far less than we give our sermon-giving-abilities credit for. My goal is to give a “meal” to be able to enjoy and digest and not a smorgasbord that so fills an individual that he/she doesn’t know what they received.
I tend to over prepare leading into the weekend of a message. In saying that, there’s a lot left on the “cutting room floor” of my study. There are parts of the message that never get said or stated in our effort to be a good steward of my opportunity on Sunday. One part in particular continues to sit with me that I cannot let go of.
The devil doesn’t make us do anything. We make the choices. We choose to go the opposite direction and we love to shift the blame on others, including the devil, to escape having to take responsibility for our own actions. We hit hard the idea of flirting with our sin (Genesis 13). And as we continue to flirt with sin we rationalize what are doing (Genesis 14). That flows into us getting transformed by our decisions (Genesis 19) that ultimately leads to destruction (Genesis 19).
What has stuck with me is the effect of us as parents and how our flirting, rationalizing, and transforming can completely devastate our children. Further reading into the story of Lot reveals Lot living homeless in a cave with his daughters. He’s lost his wife. They’ve lost their husbands-to-be. Their plot: Get dad drunk and sleep with him to conceive children to preserve the bloodline.
Where would they get the idea that this is at all permissible? My only thought was that they learned it in the place where they resided for 10+ years: Sodom. I can’t imagine what they heard and/or saw in that city. But a father’s decision over a decade before became the foundation for the growth and maturity (or lack thereof) of his children.
Someone told me something years ago: What you do in moderation, your kids will do in excess.
Why did I stress getting closer to Jesus? More than just the personal effects that come, there is a parental reaction that happens to our children that produces a model for them to follow and pattern their lives after. Do all of our children make the best decisions when they hit graduation? Not at all. I wish it were the case. Our job as parents isn’t to make the decisions for them. Our job is to set them up to take the right paths. Our job is to point the way to Jesus. From the way we talk to our children and are affectionate with them to the atmosphere we have in our homes, we are providing opportunity to encourage or discourage our children to be followers of Christ.
Lot forgot that. Maybe he was seduced by the beauty of the land (Genesis 13:10-11). Maybe he was excited about getting out from underneath Abram’s authority and influence. But his move toward Sodom cost him everything. And this incestuous relationship ended up haunting Israel for years to come (Ammonites and Moabites).
This story hit me hard as a parent. It rocked my world and has drawn me to want to be closer to Christ than I have ever been. I need more of Him in my life because, well, I need him. I need his fullness to, daily, pour into my life. But beyond me, I have a marriage and a family to lead. And if I chose to go after Christ, I set my marriage and my family up to do the same. If I choose to flirt with “Sodom”, I am setting up my marriage and family for consequences that I cannot possibly fathom.
I don’t type this out to hang guilt on anyone’s shoulders. I do it to challenge every parent.
If you find yourself having moved toward “Sodom”, turn toward Jesus.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
As you do that, share the grace and mercy you’ve received with your family. Let your kids hear what Christ has done in your life and let them see you live it out in your home. It will mark their lives and set them up for success.
Remember: What you do in moderation, your kids will do in excess.
Thanks for letting me ramble…