(This is a message by Pongo about home, family, and how we as parents and members of God’s family should operate. He makes some VERY good points, and we should all take his conclusions to heart. — Curly)
Novelist Tom Wolfe once made the statement, “You can’t go home again.” Now, I don’t often quote secular novelists, but this statement intrigues me.
To me, this is a statement regarding change. When I came to Minot last week, I couldn’t wait to see the house I grew up in, so many memories. It was a great house with lots of rooms and lots of hiding places. I can remember spending hours and hours as a kid playing in the dirt driveway with my matchbox cars. I can remember trying to find lost treasure in the carriage house out back that was loaded with years of unclaimed odds and ends from the former borders that had stayed there. I remember being able to listen to what was going on throughout the house via the heat registers in every room. That was home for me.
So I got my wish and we took a drive by the place that I had been raised and it looked so different. The flood had ruined everything and they had to strip it down to its frame to save it. My mom had to sell it for pennies on the dollar and she was happy to get that. Now it looks almost new. The carriage house is gone, the yard seems tinier and there are strange people living there, strange in that they aren’t family. Everything has changed. There is a lot of truth in Wolf’s statement.
But there is also a lot that he’s missing. I still get that same happy feeling when I’m heading to Minot. I get excited to see everyone again and when I am here, it feels good, almost like I had never left. When I walk into St. Marks, I instantly feel the warmth that I was blessed to feel for so many years as a child growing up. St. Marks and Minot will always be home to me.
Every person has that place that they call home. Some think of that place more fondly then others, but we all have a home. We all have that place that helped to shape who we are and what we do. So, today, I want to talk about going home.
God is a big advocate of having a home, in fact, He says that we should have 3 homes, our Christian home where we grow up, our Church home where we give up and our heavenly home where we end up.
Everyone wants to belong to a happy home. Everyone wants the love and companionship that is found when people truly love each other as God has designed them to do. To most people, their families are worth much more than all the silver and gold in the world.
But, sadly, this is not always the case. Today, many families are broken and in need of repair. Addictions, abuse and unfaithfulness have turned numerous homes into places we would just as soon forget. The devil attacks the home because he knows that’s where we’re most vulnerable.
A fierce battle is being waged in many homes throughout the world between our old nature and our new man. Many of these homes are filled with people who are uncertain about their eternity. They have no faith, so they think that being broken is just the way life is. They have yet to learn that, until the new man, that man that surrenders to God every day, is able to overcome the darkness, there can be no true happiness.
In many homes, honor has been sacrificed for sin. Deuteronomy 5:16 says, “‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” This used to be something that we stood for, but lately, it seems, that these are simply words in a book for too many people. Today, there are far too many family members focusing on themselves, willing to sacrifice the family for personal gain.
It seems strange to many of us that sacrifice could actually be a good thing. We equate this word with something that will eventually cost us down the line, it sounds too demanding, too costly. But sacrifice is absolutely indispensable in a family. Jesus said, “The way to live is to die and the way to have is to give.”
Matthew 16:25 makes this very point when Jesus tells us, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Sacrifice is integral in God’s family and also in our human familes.
When you’re tired or sick or feeling discouraged, there is no place like a loving home. It’s not the carpet or the furniture that we come home for at these times, it’s the love found in a willing ear or a gentle hug that we look forward to most. Why does it feel great for the soldier to get home baked cookies from their family? It’s not the flour or even the chocolate chips that make the cookies so great, it is the love that those cookies were made with. Why do family get-togethers like Thanksgiving and Christmas appeal to us? It’s not the food or the gifts, it’s the chance to share special moments with those we love.
What we need today is to strengthen our homes. How do we do that? We do that by including Christ. Where there is a father willing to teach his children about God, there is strength. Where there is a mother unashamed to be called a child of God, there is strength. Where there are children who live their lives as testimonies to their faith in God there is strength. Families today are missing out on the strength that only God can give them because they have taken God out of their homes.
And discipline has been frequently ignored. Parents want to be buddies rather than parents. A child of rebellion can rip the happiness out of a home and countless families treat this by trying to be their friend rather than their parent, giving them more freedoms and less discipline. Happiness is replaced with tears and frustration and parents don’t know where they went wrong.
The book of wisdom, Proverbs, can help many parents if they are willing to learn. Proverbs 1:8 – “Listen my son to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Proverbs 11:29 – “He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.” Proverbs 15:20 – “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.”
And we as parents should be willing to discipline ourselves. As Christian parents, we need to make Christ a priority in our homes. It is our responsibility to encourage our families with the firm foundation in faith that they need. Proverbs again, this time 22:6 “ Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Unless you want to be like those families who have fallen away from God, favoring the things of the world over the things of the spirit, you must take the time to train up your children in the way that they should go. If you don’t then the cycle we see in several families will have its way in yours.
Well, so far we have talked about our Christian homes, the homes we share with our immediate family, but what about our church homes? What similarities do we find there?
Strength in a church body does not come by accident. Like our Christian homes, they come about with solid teaching and a willingness to learn. The church at Jerusalem had it, the church in Corinth did not. For a church home to be most effective, they must follow certain steps.
First there must be plain preaching. 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; admonish, rebuke and exhort; with complete patience and teaching.”
Dr. Tom Wallace put it this way:
“I don’t believe I’ll ever forget my mother’s old proverb, “It’s not what you like that does you good.” That old rag soaked in kerosene and smeared with lard was miserable around your neck all night, but it got rid of that sore throat. I hated Castor oil but it did the trick. The medicine is not the only thing that is sugar-coated. The preaching is dainty and pretty now. Preachers ought to get fighting mad when some little old lady comes up after the message and says, “That was a nice little talk pastor.”
The strong church is not afraid to call a spade a spade or call sin what it is, a separation from God. Then and only then can the Gospel be proclaimed with all the beauty it deserves. If we know that Jesus Christ died for us but we don’t really understand the full depth of why, we shortchange both ourselves and God. We must bring out the full story so that we understand the picture.
A strong church is full of praying people. When Jesus needed strength, he went to be alone with His Father in prayer, sometimes making great sacrifices to do so. A strong home Church is one that believes in the power of prayer and lives out that belief in everything they do together. Our God is a God of communication. He longs to hear from us over and over again. It never gets tiring for Him. In fact, He gave His only Son just so we could have that privilege because he cannot be in communication with sin and it took the perfect sacrifice to make us to be free from sin in His eyes as He looks through the prism of His Son. A strong home church prays for each other out of love and respect for one another and for God.
And finally, a strong Home church is one that has its members working for the kingdom. They “All” were in one accord in the early church. They shared everything from riches to sorrows. They knew that you were either a missionary or a mission field. In the Bible, words like “go” “daily” “from house to house” and “they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ,” refer to the family members in the church, not the church itself.
My favorite section of Scripture can be found in Romans 10:13-15, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Strong church homes reach out to their neighbors in service and the Word. We were not put on this earth to serve ourselves but to serve each other. Membership in God’s church is a commitment to our neighbors.
I spoke of the Home church as the place we “give up.” I’m not talking about giving up on your dreams or goals in life, just the opposite. We should do our best to achieve all we can. But I am saying that the home church is where we learn to surrender our lives to Christ, the only kind of surrender that brings you freedom. It’s not about giving our lives to Christ, because it was never our life to give. It’s about giving up the fight for your lives by allowing God to direct you to those places he had planned for you from before you were born. A strong home church helps you to come in submission before God.
And finally we have our heavenly home where we all hope to end up. All we do should be included in our goal of one day spending eternity with God. Everything you do should be a ministry, done for the glory of God. Because one day, all believers will walk with God.
In this world, we as the saints of God are separated by geography and death and other things, but all that will be gone in glory. There will be no separation of the saints in heaven. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says ‘Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them (those that have died and went to be with the Lord) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.’ Someday we will be together with all the saints making our homes in heaven. Best of all, there will be no separation from the Savior in heaven. We shall be in the Savior’s presence. Like a beautiful bride on her wedding day we will meet our Savior in heaven before the throne of God. Heaven simply would not be heaven without Jesus.
We wait in eager anticipation for the day that there will be no more suffering, no more anger, no more sin. All that will have gone away because now we will be truly….. home.