Sermon delivered January 11, 1997

by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road SDA Church, McDonald, TN

A Tame Place in the Jungle of Life

Now I want you to be thinking about the Christian home. We're thinking about the tame place in the jungle of life here today.

Did you know that the Golden Gate Bridge, that huge huge bridge is built right over the San Andreas fault, that big earthquake fault line that stretches through California? That bridge goes over that fault. Did you know that? Whoever built that thing should have thought of that. But they did think of it. Do you know the secret of why that bridge stands? Let me tell you about the secret of the bridge.

    Here's how it survives:
  1. It is flexible. It's built so that its center span can flex twenty feet from either direction. That is great flexibility. That's one secret to its durability.
  2. By design, every part of that bridge -- from its concrete roadway, to its steel railings, to its cross beams -- to its cables: all parts of that is supported by two great central towers. It is inevitably related from one welded joint to the other up through the vast cable system to two great towers and two great land anchor piers. The towers bear most of the weight, and they are deeply imbedded into the rock foundation beneath the sea. In other words, the bridge is totally anchored with its foundation. The twin secrets are---- Flexibility and Foundation.

That's like a family: A mom and dad, twin towers of strength providing the family with a great foundation, bending at times to keep family members together. Both mom and dad must be deeply imbedded in Jesus Christ the Rock of Ages. And if you are, those twin secrets of flexibility and foundation will carry your family through. And I think that every mom and dad need to do a little bending at times, but they need to be rooted in our Savior, Jesus Christ. If you're rooted in Jesus Christ you offspring can pass safely from this world to the next world over that bridge of family.

PSALM 127:1 "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain..." So there's another secret. Secret number 3 of happy families. Not only flexible, not only founded on the Rock, built by God Himself. Make sure that God is your builder. God is a great rich builder. God build bridges today. Invite Jesus into your home. Jesus will make your home into an Angel Motel....a place where the angels love to dwell.

There's a lot in the Bible about the Christian family, the Christian home. ( See: Psalm 128:1-6 Good wife and her husband)

I want to ask you a question. Does it really matter that we have good Christian parents, good Christian homes? Does it really matter? I want you to look at one of the most interesting and revealing proofs of this fact: The Edwards family and the Jukes family. They both lived in the New England states.

The Edwards Family: Jonathan Edwards was part of the third generation of this family. He was an outstanding Christian revival preacher who became president of Princeton University. A researcher followed up on the Edwards family from this beginning couple all down through their various line. There were 1,394 descendants at the time of this survey. They found that 13 of those descendants became college presidents, 65 became professors, 60 became prominent lawyers, 32 of them were noted authors, 90 became physicians, 200 of them became ministers of the Gospel, and 300 became good, honest farmers. A great family!

And then you take Max Jukes. He was the very opposite, the antithesis of Mr. Edwards. He was very notorious as a crook; Without principle or character. He married a very licentious and wicked woman in the year 1677. The life histories of the 903 of his offspring showed that he spawned 300 delinquents: they never finished school, 145 were confirmed drunkards, 90 of the were prostitutes, 285 had an "evil disease" (syphilis and gonorrhea), and over 100 of those descendants spent a combined total of 1300 years in prison. What a difference a family makes! It was estimated that the crimes and care of that one family cost the state of New York over three million dollars -- while the Edwards family never cost the government a single penny -- instead they made contributions of incalculable worth. I believe that good parents make a difference in a family. If you have good parents, praise the Lord. If you are parents or about to become parents or you're going to become parents some day or maybe grandparents, you need to make sure that you provide the best legacy possible for your family.

Most of the time proper parenting is rewarded. Now this doesn't mean that good parents are always going to have good children or that bad parents are always going to have bad children. But it does mean that we have a legacy as families. If you have a home where the Bible is taught, prayer is offered, where Jesus Christ is first in that home, that will make a difference. Keep those children in that home.

We are all familiar with Proverbs 22:6-- "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." You train him to be a bad person and when he's old he will still be a bad person. So train him right.

Come over here to II TIMOTHY 1:5-- Paul writing to the young Timothy, and he was commending Timothy for something very special. "I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded now lives in you also." So first of all grandmother, Lois, and then mother, Eunice, and then finally Timothy. One generation to another...We pass along our values. Make sure you are person of eternal values. That Christ is your central structure.

They say that a Triangle is the strongest shape, but much stronger than that is the Family Circle. A family where most are Christians is a powerful factor in the outcome of our life. Each influences and helps the other.

Families are sort of like a flock of geese. The other day I noticed a flock of geese heading south. I think those birds are so smart. We probably should have taken a lesson from them and gone there ourselves. They were headed south. Geese don't fly in a big crowd like blackbirds do. They fly in a "V" formation. Those things are organized. And the flock I saw had the typical "V" shape. They were all flying along behind their leader. As each goose flaps its wings it creates an uplift for the bird following behind. He gets the advantage of that updraft. By flying in this "V" pattern the whole flock can fly 71% more flying range than if each flew alone. That's why geese can outdistance eagles. Maybe the goose should have been our American bird instead of the bald eagle. Geese go farther than eagles because they help each other. Because of that mutual assistance. And that's what families need to have. We need to be helping each other.

Families who share a common faith can go further and get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of each other. Geese can fly much further than the great American Eagle! Because of mutual help.

That is why God put each of us in a Family. If your family is headed for heaven, make sure you travel there together. If your family isn't headed for heaven then you need to join another family. It will be easier on everybody. This McDonald Road Family is headed for heaven. This is your family.

Whenever a goose gets out of line, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone, and quickly gets back into formation. If we have as much sense as a goose we will stay in formation with those who are headed where we want to go.

When the lead goose gets tired it rotates back into line and another goose flies at the lead point. Each of them takes a turn being the leader. Each of your children needs to be a leader. Each of you need to take turns. That's a good thing to do. This is good training for leadership. Each helping the other.

Geese in formation constantly honk their horns. This is to encourage each other. Families can be an awesome strength in encouraging each other along the path to heaven. Each member of the family needs encouragement: They don't need to be picked on. As you and your child are walking down the hallway toward the bedroom or the kitchen and you pass, don't pick on your child and say, "Did you brush your teeth. I don't think you did that." Give your child a complement on something. Complement your child, your wife, your husband see if they don't grow.

When one goose gets sick or wounded and it can't keep up with the flock or it dying or something, two geese drop down with it to help and protect him. They stay with the goose until it is either able to fly again or dies. Then they launch out on their own with another formation as it passes by. How many lessons we can get from the geese. If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other no matter what. We need a family, don't we. We need a group that has a destination. You get with that group.

I appreciate my grandmothers. I lived in a little town up in Indiana, Hartford City. Both of my grandmother right there in the same town. All attending church every Sabbath. Fortunately we were in the right church. We were in the church that keeps the Bible Sabbath. I praise the Lord at being born into a family that's headed the right direction. All of my Christian uncle and aunts and cousins were there. You talk about peer pressure to attend church, we had the correct peer pressure. This is your family here. Now we don't have families like that any more. We've moved away. We have a very mobile society.

We are a nation of nomads and gypsies. How many of you today are living in this home town where you were born? We move away! So what do we do when we move away? You need to join a church family, then, that is going to heaven, is going the proper direction, and you need to be a part of that family. We move a lot.

And since so many of us have wheels underneath our suitcases, and our homes, it is doubly vital that we have some spiritual roots. My wife has a lot of plants in our house on the widow sills. I've noticed that very few of those plants get very big. But when I go outdoors ... We took a trip one time out west and saw these huge redwood trees. They don't grow in little transportable pots. They stay in the same place. They send those roots down and some of those trees get 200 feet high. I think the record is 365 feet! One tree. They stay put. They send their roots down. They grow. They're connected. They're nourished. They're fruitful. And that's how we can be in Jesus Christ.

With Jesus in your family your home will be a sunshine factory. It's not going to be a place where there will be shadows. You marry somebody that's not a Christian, you associate with non- Christians, you'll have a home where the shadows are never lifted. A healthy family has certain qualities and characteristics, so I'm going to mention about ten of them.

    A Healthy Family has certain qualities:
  1. Caring. Helping each other. Building bridges instead of walls. Belong to a caring church and community.
  2. Respectful. Your children respect you and you respect your children. Are people free to express their own opinions?
  3. Convictional. The family has a lot of convictions, strong opinions about things, and freedom to express those values. Is your family committed to eternal values? Do you have Christ driven convictions? The Christian family has eternal values.
  4. Flexible. Of course! Are you willing to change your mind? Are you willing to be flexible? Or are you just a stone wall?
  5. Conversational. Good families, you see them chit-chatting. You see them talking to each other. They're not afraid to talk. They love to talk to each other. They love being near each other. Do you talk warmly to those in your family? Do you linger here at church and talk in the lobby? Or do you just pass them by?
  6. Responsible. Every family member has responsibilities. If you are in a church, and you're a member of, let's say, McDonald Road Church, and the nominating committee calls and you say, "I don't want any offices in the church this year." You're not going to be as sting at the end of that year in all probability. By just opting out, by just being a spectator you won't be as strong as if you get in there and roll up your sleeves, get busy, accept a responsibility. And that's the same in our Christian families.
  7. Involved. Every family needs to be involved in mutual activity: boating or whatever it is. Mutual projects, mutual goals and aspirations.
  8. Realistic. We need to be realistic: have realistic expectations of your children, of each other
  9. CHRIST-CENTERED. Our family must be Christ-centered. Jesus first. Do you pray together? Is the Bible your family manual? LOVING. A good family will be loving. They will be huggers. They will be friendly to each other. They will love being around each other. They will hear audible, sincere, clear words that you love them. Hug each other.
  10. -- Better Families Bulletin, March 1994, Vol. 18:3.

The home is the bottom line of society. The home is the forge where character is created. It is the crucible in the mother furnace where elemental stamina and nobility are formed. The home is the proving grounds where we face tests that prepare us for life's trials. It is the source of capital from which we may pay life's bills when they come due. The Christian home is the anvil upon which our convictions are hammered out.

Come over here to the methods on how to get this type of family in Deut. 11. There are some very key elements listed here. This is perhaps the biggest idea source of how you can develop Christian principles for your family of any place that I know. Notice the verbs as we read some of these verses. Deuteronomy 11:18. Here's what God say we can do to instill religious principles into our lives. Verse 18- "FIX these words of mine in your hearts and minds; TIE them as symbols on your hands and BIND them on your foreheads. 19- TEACH them to your children, TALKing about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20- WRITE them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates" (Here are six concrete active ideas on how you can develop a better family. (Fix, tie, bind, teach, talk, write)). Now why? Verse 21- "so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth." As long as eternal life. If you want eternal life, if you want your family on the road that leads to heaven then here are six wonderful things that you can do to build that into your family. I think we need to do all we can in the Seventh-day Adventist Church to strengthen our home, because the home is the bottom line of society. The home is the forge where character is created in this nation. It is the crucible of the furnace where elemental stamina and nobility are formed. The home is the proving ground on which we face and prove our selves in the trials of life. The home is the source of capital from which we may pay life's bills when they come due. The home is the anvil upon which Christian character is hammered out. We need a Christian home. See also- Proverbs 3:1-8

Before my own children came into this world I prayed, "O God, I don't know what my kids will ever remember me for. I don't really care if they ever remember me as a well-known preacher. But Lord, help them to remember me as a father who loved them."

Judges 13:8- when Samson was born his father prayed to God: "O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born."

Before ever a child is born, we need to pray, "Lord, help me, give me wisdom to know how to bring up my child." Before my own children were born, I prayed, "Lord, I don't want to be remembered by my children as some famous preacher, I'll never become that. I'll never become some great person. I want to be remembered as their daddy that loved them." And that's how I want to be remembered.

Only God can instruct parents in their Christian duties. That is why mothers and Fathers need to be in prayer. Be on line with God. He will down load heavenly wisdom appropriate to your problems. Jesus will transform your home. A happy home is actually an early heaven.

God makes a wonderful promise that includes a prediction in it. Notice MALACHI 4:6-- "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."

In the last days God says that the hearts of some fathers will be turned where they do not belong, so He's going to send spirit of Elijah to come and accomplish that. So here's a prediction that in the last days there will be a lot of fatherless homes out there, a lot of delinquent dads. And God says He will turn their hearts. Today we live in a society without fathers. We have a lot of single parent homes and most of those are headed by some mother who is trying to make ends meet. Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of our age. The rise of single parent households is a fulfillment of this prediction.

As a result we have a sharp rise in teen-age pregnancies, the growth of gangs, and widespread use of drugs with its violence. What we need is to have these father get back in the home. We need men who are willing to be a Christian father. But God says that in the last days He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children. And then notice what the Word says is next to happen: The hearts of the children will turn to their fathers. The burden is on fathers. If you want the children to warm up to you then you must take the initiative and be what you should be to them. How many men here want to reconsecrate your life to Jesus? How many women? How many children---raise your hands just now.

Decide right now in the words of Joshua that..."As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15

As Jesus is about to come, I think we're living in the last days, it's time that fathers and mothers be all that they can be for Jesus Christ, be rooted, your are the two towers holding up the bridge, be rooted and grounded in the Rock of Ages, Jesus. Build your life on Jesus and then your bridge to eternity will be ready for your children to walk over* Allow Jesus to come in and make your home an oasis in the Desert of Stress. Every day invite Jesus into your home and your heart. The constant presence of Jesus will make your home a tame place in the wild jungle of this life.

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