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Challenging Goals for Your Future: Challenging Family Goals 2 0f 4

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TEXT:  Psalm 127

TOPIC  CHALLENGING FAMILY GOALS

Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, Alabama

Sunday Morning, January 15, 2006   

Message adatped from Sermon by Dr. James Merritt  

This morning we’re continuing our series on Challenging Goals for Your Future.  Today I want to bring to you a message about the family, I am calling Challenging Family Goals.   

It is interesting that the Lord would lead me to this message at a time when the value of family is now more important to us than ever.  Few things on this earth are more important than family.  We all need to reevaluate our commitment to the priority of family in our lives. 

A wise man once said, “if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time!”  God is pleased when we plan ahead, and set goals that challenge us to improve our lives.  Jesus may have said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow,” but he didn’t say, “Don’t think or plan for tomorrow.”   

Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”  In other words, we can make our plans but we must still trust the Lord for the results.   

Remember the definitions we used a few weeks ago to explain what a goal is? 

1.      A Goal is a Statement of Faith.

2.      A Goal is Something I Believe God Can Do Through Me. 

When we say that a goal is a statement of faith I think about the scripture that says, “All things are possible with God.” 

When we say that a goal is something I believe God can do through me, I think about Philippians 4:13 that says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”   

Today we are going to talk about setting some important family goals, but before we do let me say just a few more things about the importance of goal setting itself. 

FOUR OBSERVATIONS @ GOALS 

Let me give you four quick observations about why setting goals is important:.

 1.      Setting Goals Establishes Priorities.      *            

*If you don’t establish your priorities, someone else will.  Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”  Matthew 6:33. 

Setting the right kind of goals establishes proper spiritual priorities that can be measured and monitored.  We are Kingdom people who ought to have Kingdom goals that are bigger than this world! 

2.      Setting Goals Enables Positive Results, not Regrets. 

When you hear a message like this chances are many of you begin to experience a certain measure of discomfort, maybe even guilt.  You feel badly that you have set personal goals before only to fail to ever reach them.   But if you don’t have a plan, if you don’t set goals, you are left with good intentions, remorse and regret.  Year after year can go by without ever accomplishing what you only dream about.  It’s amazing how many people have a problem in a certain area of life but are unwilling to come up with a plan to change.  You can spend your life regretting things you never achieved or you can start setting goals that challenge you to step across that line. 

3.      Goals are a Tool for Character Building. 

Setting goals is one of the most effective character building tools that God has gifted you with.  Setting goals teaches you discipline through delayed gratification.  Setting goals challenges us to achieve beyond ourselves.

4.      Goals are evidence that you are serious about your God-given Responsibilities. 

This is probably the most important reason to set goals.  Too many people today have bought into the belief that it’s okay to live only for today and refuse to accept responsibility for their lives.   For example, as a Father, I understand God has given me the primary responsibility for setting the agenda for my family.  I can either accept this responsibility or recognize the fact that someone else will do it for me. 

And I may not like the end results. Kind of like the man who ran into a drug store and asked the pharmacist if he had something to cure the hiccups. The pharmacist quickly filled a glass of water and threw it in the man's face. Needless to say the man was startled and somewhat upset. He said, "what did you do that for?" The pharmacist replied, "Well, you don't have the hiccups do you?" "No, but my wife, who’s out in the car still does." 

We live in a microwave culture, where instantly, with the flick of a switch, we want results or we want a cure. And we run here and there trying to find one remedy or another, one magical formula or another. I'm not going to give you any magical formulas that will magically turn your family into a model home."  I’m simply sharing with you some spiritual goals and some principals that might help all of us to improve our families."   

Psalm 127

1  Unless the Lord builds the house,

They labor in vain who build it;

Unless the Lord guards the city,

The watchman stays awake in vain.

2   It is vain for you to rise up early,

To sit up late,

To eat the bread of sorrows;

For so He gives His beloved sleep.

3    Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,

The fruit of the womb is a reward.

4  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,

So are the children of one’s youth.

5   Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;

They shall not be ashamed,

     But shall speak with their enemies in the gate. 

We all tend to use the word "family" as if we were always speaking of a father, a mother, and children. While that may be true for many of us, I want you to know that I am aware that there are many "families" where this is not the case. We have many single parents today, and I understand there is a unique dynamic involved in single parenting. There is also the unique dynamic of the "blended family" when a new family is formed from former families. There are many variations of what is considered the traditional family unit. Each has a specific set of opportunities and problems. But whatever the makeup of your family, you will find certain needs are held in common by all.  

JOKE: There was a tornado watch in a small town so this mother sent her 5 children off to the relatives in another town for safety. Shortly there after the children returned with a note from the relatives,"we’re returning your children, please send the tornado instead." I

'm not going to stand up here and tell you what a terrible mess the family is in although many families today look like a tornado has run through their lives.  I don't want to focus on how dysfunctional the family is today. I think we are all wanting to be better parents and to really work on our family. So this morning let’s look at the goals we can develop in our families to make them stronger.  

The Family Research Council is a coalition organized to study the strengths of families. This council is made up of researchers, psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, andcongressmen. They analyzed research on over 3,000 families and identified certain characteristics that were major qualities in strong families. They tried to look at whatworks, and then use it as a model for the National Family Strengths Council. 

The challenging family goals I want to offer this morning come from the strengths that the research determined were characteristics found in strong families.  

l. IMPROVE FAMILY COMMUNICATION.   

The first challenging goal for families is to work on communication. Communication is not just talking to your wife, husband or children, but it is listening to them. One of the major reasons people go to counselors is to have someone to listen to them. This doesn't mean that the strong families don't have conflict and arguments and a good fight now and then, but they fight fair. Family members need to have the abilityto share feelings openly and honestly without fear of rejection, without the fear of someone using what they say to criticize them.  Research shows that the average couple spends 17 minutes per week in communication. When you think about it, when was the last time you sat down and had a good talk with your wife or husband, something other than please pass the butter, or honey, do I have any clean underwear? 

2.  INCREASE FAMILY COMMITMENT.  

A family that grows together works on their commitment. The keystone to having a strong family is commitment, "I'm here for the long haul." That needs to constantly be affirmed to the children. Nothing will shape the kids more than knowing that mom and dad are committed to each other. Nothing provides children security and confidence as knowing that mom and dad are committed to each other, to the marriage, to the family. Dr. Armand Nicoli from Harvard observes that many in society today see the family as a necessary evil, you spend time with them because you have to, then you go back to work where you are really committed. And kids can see that.  

3. INCREASE FAMILY TOGETHERNESS.  

The family that grows together will spend time together. It may startle you to learn that parents in the U.S. spend less time with their children than parents of any other country in the world with the exception of England. And England is the only country that surpasses the U.S. in Juvenile crime. Even in Russia fathers spend 2-3 hours with their children. A study out of Boston has determined that fathers in this country spend on the average only 37 seconds per day with their children.  We have to be careful with that popular saying out there today that says, "its not the quantity of time, but the quality of time," that counts.  I’ve come to believe that this is a great cop out. We don't except that dichotomy anywhere else in life.

JOB ILLUSTRATION: Boss, tomorrow I'm only going to come in for 2 hours, but they are going to be two good hours – yeah, right!  We'd loose our job.

MEAL ILLUSTRATION: We starve ourselves for a fabulous steak meal and they bring you 2 ounces of the finest steak.  We need to have quantity time because those quality moments occur spontaneously when you spend a lot of time together. 

4.  IMPROVE FAMILY APPRECIATION.   

A great goal for families is to learn how to increase the value, or dignity of their family.  Each one is important, a valuable part of the whole.  Most families need to work on expressing appreciation. Not just thinking it, but expressing it.  Most individuals and members of families find it easier to crack on one another, be negative, or critical, or simply ignore expressing positive values they feel for one another.   

Did you know that poor self image is America’s number one social hangup among all age groupings?  Where do we get this?  We get it from our homes, our parents. If these two people do not recognize my intrinsic worth and tell me so, and if they do not affirm my gifts and potentials and then praise me for myself, if they don't think I have potential and don't appreciate my potential, then I will not realize that potential. The home should be a safe place where we teach each other, teach our children self esteem. Though it may go against our nature, expressing appreciation pulls out of a person what God has put in them.  

The final challenging family goal is one that surprised the researchers.  

5.  IMPLEMENT FAMILY WORSHIP.    

The research showed that strong families had a high degree of religious orientation. This is not to say that they all came from the same religious organization, but awareness ofthe need for spiritual commitment and values in the family. 

TRANSITION: This research affirms what the Bible tells us about the family. We need to understand how prominent the family is in God's Word.

Look back at Psalm 127. Psalm 127:1 begins with the foundation for the home.

It starts with the INCEPTION: YOU ARE IN A PARTNERSHIP with God.

It is a warning against the futility of trying to build a family yourself. We need God in our homes.  What does that mean? It means seeking God's teaching and God's principles for your family, but it also means seeking his principles and His truth for your life. When you areplugged into God's power through a personal relationship with Him, then you can experience growth and strength to its fullest in your family.  

READ Psalm 127:3-5 In this passage we read not only about the INCEPTION of the home, but we also read of the IMPACT of the home. 

We see that children are a gift and reward. Some of you are saying, "yea, but you don't know my kids! God doesn't waste children on parents. He knows the very kind to send you.  He gives them to you because he knows what you can do for them and what they can do for you! All too often we forget that our children are a gift. We forget the feelings of the delivery room, the feelings of love and expectancy. Especially when they reach the terrible twos and they are driving us up a wall. You know, instead of shopping for toys you begin to price cages. Then, when they turn five, anyone here have a five year old? You can always tell when there is a five year old in the house, you have to wash the bar of soap before you use it.  They are O.K. until they start heading into adolescence, about 12 or 13.

Sometimes you can have the neatest conversations with them then the next day its a squabble. Asquabble with an 11 year old is like being bitten to death by a duck. Then when they finally get old enough to live with, they want to move out and live with someone else.Then you present your beautiful daughter to her husband.  This beautiful, polished, exquisite specimen of a young woman. She has the elegance of a hand crafted Rolls Royce and you are giving her to marry a guy that reminds you of Guber Pyle, the garage mechanic on the Andy Griffith Show.  

CONCLUSION: I think it is exciting to be in a partnership with God in performing  probably the most significant thing I will ever do in my life, and that is growing a home. I'm in a partnership with God, its not the schools job to grow my family, it is not the churches job to grow family or to train my children, its my job in the home.

Think about this, the most important spiritual influence you will ever have on anyone as an adult, is your own family.  The average church has a child 1% of his time, the school has a child 16% of his time, the home has the child 83% of the time!  The home marks a child for life! 

In doing this all important job, I need to make sure that I'm not leaving God out of my family, or even out of my own personal life. He gives us the guidence, the counsel, thedirection, the strength, the support, but more importantly, the very foundation on which to build our family. He doesn't leave us alone, He is there for us. 

CLOSING JOKE: There was a little boy who was just a terror and his parents didn't know what to do with him. One day his mother bought him a bicycle, The father asked, "do you think that will help his behavior?" She answered,"I don't know, but at least it will spread it out a little."  

God is there as a partner, to spread out that task we all have in meeting our challenging family goals.  

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