Torch, Summer 1991

The Bible records a time when Joshua laid out a choice for the children of Israel , "Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve" (Joshua 24:14,15). Israel's history is marked by the blessing it received when it valued God above all else and the curse it suffered when it chose otherwise. Making God first in our lives translates into actions. If God is first, we will understand that He is King and we are His servants. What He says goes, no matter what. This certainly affects a host of choices we make, like where we live, what church we attend, what career we pursue, wfiom we marry, what we read and don 't read, what we look at and refuse to gaze upon, how we steward our bodies, what we give to the church and to charities, how we raise our kids, who our friends are, what clothes we wear, what music we listen to, etc. In other words, if we choose to make God most important in our lives, He is then our Lord. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment" (Matthew 22:37,38). The choices we make confirm or deny the reality of whether He is truly first or not. What is the result of choosing God as my highest value? First, we receive eternal life as we choose Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. Second, we gain His favor, blessing, and assistance as we choose what pleases Him. What should be the second highest value in our lives? God says, "YOU CHOOSE." I agree with Dr. Parr; it has to be family. It 's one of the only things we can take to heaven with us. The house can't go, neither can the car, nor the clothes. Our career path or As we choose to value our children highly and raise them after God's ways , we must be proactive. As parents we must stay as close to the Lord as we can so that He is not hindered in guiding us as we train our kids. My wife, Rebekah, and I read the Bible on a regular basis and memorize portions of it with our girls, Jennifer, Jessica, and Johanna. We pray as a family and point out the specific answers when they come, giving credit to God. We are faithful to church where we expose the children to the best preaching and teaching of the Word of God we can find. And we find ways we can minister to others with our family so that we do not become self– centered. We also appropriately shelter our children from the world ' s wicked lures until such time as they are discerning and able to judge for themselves right and wrong and make wise decisions. Solomon details the rewards of valuing our children in Proverbs 23:24,25 , "The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice." What should be the third highest value in our lives? God says, "YOU CHOOSE." I say it has to be ministry, and I appreciate Pat Warren who highlighted this challenge. Remember, I said family is one of the things we can take to heaven. We also can take with us the souls of those we have won to Christ and our record of earthly service which will earn us heavenly rewards. As my family and I choose to minister to others, we eagerly look for opportunities. As I drive to church I will remind my girls to look for ways God can speak to others through us. Maybe this will be accomplished through a word of encour– agement, gratefulness, or even admonition. Perhaps the Lord will direct one of us to a lonely person who will be warmed by a smile and listening ear. Opportunities for us outside of the church context have included ministry at an inner city What we choose to value makes all the difference in the world in our life direction and ultimate rewards or consequences. position at church will mean little in eternity because the worth of these things will be based on criteria other than just the possession of them. If my loved ones come to know the Lord, they will be in heaven with me. The primary person in my family that I must value is my wife. "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church" (Ephesians 5:28 , 29). As I choose to cherish my wife I am compelled to action. I date her. Yep, still do , after 21 years of marriage. We go out to dinner, I buy her flowers , I bring her little presents. I tell her I love her-often. I kiss her, even in front of the kids . Moreover, I listen to her and give worth to her counsel and cautions. I open her car door, help her lift heavy objects, and willingly eat her experiments in the kitchen. In fact , I still write her love letters and stick them under her pillow. And more.... What is the result of valuing our spouses so highly? She or he responds positively to our love, and we successfully meet the challenges of this life as a team. Read the stories of some of the greatest preachers in history and weep. They attempted to win the world for Christ and lost their children. How tragic. mission, turning babysitting into Bible school, and training our children to recite Scripture with dramatizing motions. Our girls recently did this before 10,000 people at a convention! After– wards many told of being encouraged to start memorizing Bible portions with their children. What an opportunity for ministry our three girls had! Jesus said, "... whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant" (Matthew 20:26, 27). The most important result of a life of ministry to others is glory to God. He in tum rewards us in this life and in eternity. God first, family second, ministry third. And these are only some of the many important things that God desires for us to value. With all of them, God says, "YOU CHOOSE." What we choose is what we value. What we value is what we will choose. What ARE the most important things in the world to YOU? •