HOME: In the
Gen. 2:23-24, Eccl. 12:13-14, Psalm 127:1
Except for my wife, I've never
told this story to anyone; probably because it scares me
to death to think about. While we were missionaries in Portugal,
we joined in the highly acclaimed Thanksgiving celebration
for our mission, which was made up of all IMB missionaries
in Portugal. One year, we met at the home of one of our
colleagues in southern Portugal. Their house was on a hill.
Just beyond the house was a significant drop-off of some
30 feet or so, at the bottom of which were train tracks,
lots of rocks, fossils, shells, and a scattering of trees.
Most of the missionaries had younger children and many of
them asked me to go with them down to the tracks. I was
ready for a walk and gladly took them.
In order to get to the area
to which they wanted to go, we had to climb down a steep,
rocky embankment. Once down there, we had a solid wall of
rock at our backs, train tracks just a few feet away, and
a hilly area on the other side of the tracks. We had a lot
of fun looking at fossils, shells, and just messin' around.
We even followed the train tracks around the sharp curve
and saw that about 100' away it became a bridge, without
handrails, that suspended the trains over a deep canyon,
the bottom of which was home to a winding river. The kids,
of course, asked if we could go out there and look down.
"No way," I said; letting the wind out of their
sails…or the steam out of their engines, in keeping with
Our time there took me back
many years to my days as a boy in southern Arkansas. I lived
with my parents in a neighborhood on the edge of town that
was nestled in the woods. Fewer than 100 yards through the
woods were train tracks. My friends and I used to go there
and do all kinds of dangerous, and unwise, things. We jumped
on and rode the slower moving trains, we climbed all over
the stopped trains, and we enjoyed putting our ears on the
tracks and listening to the vibrations that indicated that
a train, though out of sight, would be arriving soon. When
we heard a certain vibration, that was our cue to put rocks
and pennies and other small objects on the tracks that we
wanted smashed by the iron wheels of the train.
Back in Portugal, I was awakened
from my daydream by an almost unnoticeable and undetectable
vibration in the tracks that threw me into an instinctive
mode of survival in which I had not operated for decades.
Because of the sharp curve in the tracks and the high rock
wall, no one could see or hear the train coming. Though
the area was dangerous, no horn blared from the train. I
instinctively hollered at the top of my lungs, "Run!!!!"
as I began grabbing kids off the tracks and running myself.
I was terrified.
Almost in slow motion, I suddenly
saw the front of that train round the bend and I prayed
to God that I had acted quickly enough. "Did anyone
get their foot caught in the tracks and fall in front of
the train?" I wondered. It all happened so quickly
that even if a child were trapped, I could not have helped
him. "Did everyone make it off in time? Why didn't
the engineer sound his horn?"
I hollered silently in my mind.
I looked to my left and then to my right and counted kids.
I thought they were all there. In our wanderings, I had
not thought anything about the fact that we had ceased our
amazement at the bridge and had wandered back to looking
for "treasures" on and around the tracks.
Now, in a matter of seconds,
we all stood motionless with our backs to the rocky wall
as a speeding train whizzed by just a couple of feet from
our noses. Once the train passed, no one moved. Absolute
terror was inscribed upon every face. All the treasures
they had gathered and left on the tracks were demolished…gone…
destroyed. As quickly as the train appeared, it vanished.
But the aftermath of devastation was all too real. Yes,
everyone made it off the tracks, but this missionary would
never be the same.
As I recounted that experience,
I found that it provided for me a picture of our nation
today. Without warning and without permission, over the
last century, the train of tolerance, the laissez-faire
express, has sped through the American home and has left
unimaginable devastation in its path. The crisis of home
today is far beyond epidemic. Every value once viewed as
a basic building block for the home is seen now as optional
and is usually rejected. "Anything goes" is an
overused expression, but it accurately describes that which
is used for building homes today.
Once, homes were built with
the strong building blocks of commitment, faith, courage,
hope, peace, love, joy, and forgiveness. Today's building
blocks are weak and without substance and we see homes crumbling
all around us. The pervasive postmodern mindset has insured
places of prominence for relative, subjective truth. The
dependence on and acceptance of absolutes is now seen as
out of fashion and out of date. Political correctness may
be correct for some, but not for those seeking to build
God-honoring homes on the sure foundation of God's absolute
The enemy knows that the most
important foundational element for our nation is our homes.
If he can destroy them, he can destroy America. Sadly, as
goes the home, so goes the nation. Sadder still is the fact
that, as goes the home, so goes the church.
It's time to wake up, my friend.
The warning horn is sounding and the future of the home
has been weighed in the balance and has been found wanting.
And though we've seen cracks in the foundation of the American
home for decades, the cracks of divorce and violence and
pornography and hatred and unforgiveness, the largest and
most destructive "crack," the one crack big enough
to destroy the home as we know it, is becoming more threatening
by the day: that of redefining marriage and the family;
remaking the home in man's image instead of God's. If lawmakers
succeed in doing that, I believe it will be to the home
what abortion has been to the family; a fissure of devastating
proportions. "History shows that if any society wants
to survive, it must uphold, strengthen, and continue to
build upon the biblical" institution of the home.1
So we know the home is in trouble.
Not long ago, John and Linda Dollar of Beverly Hills, FL,
were arrested for punishing their children by beating them
with hammers, submitting them to electric shock, and pulling
out their toenails with pliers. The home is going under.
Many Christian's homes have come up for their last breath,
too. Why? Two reasons.
First, they have neglected
God's blueprint for the home as found in His word. Second,
they are in trouble, in part, because the church has not
been the strong voice it should have been over the past
few decades. Instead, not wanting to offend the general
populous, the church at large has sought, not to be in the
world, but to be like the world.
Many denominations have aligned
themselves with the agendas of those who would tame the
church, censor the church, or even bring the church down.
The church over the decades should, instead, have been a
voice telling believers that God's will is not that they
model their homes after the world's homes; God's will is
that believers build their homes on the sure foundation
of His Word.
Over the next few weeks, we're
going to learn from God's Word what He says the Christian
home should look like. I will not hold up as a standard
the homes you see on "Everybody Loves Raymond,"
"King of the Hill," "The Simpson's,"
or even "7th Heaven." No, the standard I will
hold high is that of God's Word because it's the only standard
that works and the only one that matters.
Whatever we choose to do in
designing and redesigning our homes over these weeks, we
will arrive together at the end of "Home. Works."
understanding that doing life together as God's family
really does work and will work for us if we choose to implement
His plan and appropriate His principles. So, let's get started.
Next time we'll consider: Home: God's Big Idea!
1 Ministering to 21st Century Families,