The Face of Christianity: Extinct or Effective? Pts. 2-3 RePosted

NOTE: I received notice that some people didn’t receive the post I sent out on Monday night. After you read it, you may agree with me that perhaps someone doesn’t want the secret out. 😦  But we know the one who is within us is greater than the one that is of the world, don’t we? 🙂

(Note: I know you’ll be too busy to read anything next week. So, I’ve combined two parts of The Face of Christianity in today’s post. Sorry it’s a little long. If you’ll hang with me, I promise to make the next ones short.)

Last week, I left you with this question: Do we as Christians have workable solutions for hurting families who’ve “tried everything” to no avail? Or, have we become extinct in our effectiveness? Our Judeo-Christian values have served us well as the bedrock of our society. The question is, can we maintain them?

According to Tim LaHaye,”The family is the most important single factor in the molding of a human being. It either prepares him to reach for his ultimate destiny and fulfillment, or it cripples and inhibits him from attaining his original potential. When a society disregards its families, it suffers irreparable loss. If it disregards its families long enough, it passes into oblivion.” Spirit-Controlled Family Living

Every generation (including mine) faces the challenge of overcoming the ravages of what I call the three W’s. Worry, Waste and Wandering. We grandparents worry about our place in society and our role in our families. Parents worry about their children and their own ability to parent well. Many of us worry about the challenges of living in a seemingly out-of-control society.

Teenagers worry about their relationships, their image and yes, even their choices. One mother said her son’s excuse for smoking pot is because it’s the only thing that makes him feel better.

An alarming number of teenagers are choosing sex, alcohol and/or drugs to be popular and to feel good about themselves. However, the pseudo-fun and feelings don’t last. And their very demeanor exposes their guilt, worry and despair.

Is it possible these teenagers are as worried as their parents are? Many kids have lost their way. As a result, they’re sullen and uncommunicative. But they aren’t stupid. Surely, they would prefer not to worry over their future. They know they’re wasting their potential. And many of them are wandering further and further away from God and their parents. I wonder if it’s because they don’t know how to overcome their problems without losing themselves.

Adults have the same frustrations as teenagers. Don’t we? I worry about my image and my choices. I waste time when I know wasted time leads to wasted potential. And I sometimes wander away from the center of joy and peace that comes from an intimate relationship with God.

As Christians, what do we have to offer that is more rewarding, real and lasting than the alcohol, illicit sex or the pleasures of the world? We have the Holy Spirit. God’s spirit is the source of real love, true joy and lasting peace. The Holy Spirit is the source of our hope, direction and power. And it is our responsibility to share with our children how to appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. But are we doing it? Do we know how?

I remember worrying about our oldest daughter when she was a young teenager. She had become a Christian when she was nine. But then she turned 13. In time, she began to hang out with questionable friends. More than anything, I noticed her demeanor had changed from a happy, contented kid to a sullen, distant teenager.

Was this normal, I wondered. How could it be? I was pretty sure God’s desire for teenagers is the same as it is for us. That we love and walk closely to Him with a trusting heart. And then reality hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. It was as if God said to me, “You share the ministry of my Spirit with other people. You need to share this with your own children.”

How could we have missed this? How could my husband and I not have talked with our kids about the very truth that had revolutionized our lives? I could hardly wait to get alone with Mary Beth. I knew this was the answer.

When we got together, we read through a booklet called Have You Made the Wonderful Discovery of the Spirit-filled Life? It refers to three kinds of people. (See I Corinthians 2:14-3:3 NIV)

  1. The Natural Person (one who hasn’t received Christ and self is on the throne of the life)
  2. The Spiritual Person (one who has Christ on the throne of the life and is directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit)
  3. The Worldly (carnal) Person (one who has Christ in the life but lives in defeat because self is on the throne and he is trying to live the Christian life in his own strength)

We talked about the traits of the Spiritual Person, such as love, joy, peace, etc. And then we read about the Carnal Person who trusts in his own efforts to live the Christian life. We read

  • He is either uninformed about, or has forgotten God’s love, forgiveness and power.
  • He has an up-and-down spiritual experience.
  • He cannot understand himself—he wants to do what is right, but cannot.
  • He fails to draw on the power of the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life.

As we read those words, the expression on Mary Beth’s face changed. “Is that how your life’s been?” I asked. When she answered “Yes” we continued through the booklet. She prayed for God to forgive her sins and fill her with His Spirit. We talked further about “Spiritual Breathing,” which is an exercise in faith that enables us to experience God’s love and forgiveness on a moment-by-moment basis. How do we do this? By confessing our sins and surrendering the control of our lives to Christ.

I believe this was a turning point in Mary Beth’s relationship with God. Soon after that, she got involved with a Christian Coffee House sponsored by our church. Since then, we’ve made sure our children understand how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. When I lost my temper, even the youngest ones were quick to say, “Who’s on the throne, Mommy?”

I hasten to assure you our children were not perfect. But then, neither were we! We’ve had our challenges and trials, but the Holy Spirit keeps reminding us to call upon Him for forgiveness and to keep trusting Him to grow us up in our faith. And He’s still doing just that!

Billy Graham once said he believed 98% of Christians are leading defeated lives. Since I only shared a small portion of the booklet with you, I encourage you to order some for yourself. It’s a wonderful tool packed with biblical truth and relevant questions. With it, you can share the good news of the spirit-filled life with your family, as well as your friends.

I believe the ministry of the Holy Spirit is the best kept secret in Christendom. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the face of Christianity would let the secret out and spread it around the world?

You can order the Have You Made the Wonderful Discovery of the Spirit-Filled Life? booklet, or the newer version called Satisfied? Call 800-827-2788, the Campus Crusade for Christ Ministry Materials Division. Or go on line to www.campuscrusade.com

(Note: I’ll connect with you again in a couple of weeks. We’ll continue our pursuit to overcome the 3 W’s, Worry, Waste and Wandering. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!)

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Comments
2 Responses to “The Face of Christianity: Extinct or Effective? Pts. 2-3 RePosted”
  1. Who’s on the throne? What a great question to ask ourselves, and it’s so simple! I love your “spiritual breathing” and the moment-by-moment awareness of our need for His forgiveness. What a comfort to know that He is always there, ready and waiting to pour out His grace and mercy!

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