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Keeping Family First

July 4, 2019

Not long ago, I was vacationing along the panhandle of Florida. It was a picturesque day. The sun was beaming and I could hear the foamy waves lapping on the shore as I lay my head back. Soon, I began to doze. I had been asleep for no more than 10 minutes when I was awakened by the sound of shuffling feet. As my eyes adjusted to the bright sunlight, I could see that everyone on the beach was gathering their belongings and heading into the building. I couldn’t understand why everyone was dashing away from such a beautiful Florida day until that first single drop of water landed on my forehead. Looking up, I found myself staring into the face of a dark, menacing storm cloud. It soon began to pour.

If you have ever visited the State of Florida, you can relate to that story. Without warning, rain clouds will appear out of nowhere, releasing a downpour for a short period of time and then disappear as quickly as they came. But they always leave a mark.

Likewise, a storm can appear without warning in the home. They may not produce precipitation, but they are often violent, vicious, and visible storms that can destroy a marriage, devastate children or demolish a family. You see, every house has a climate and it is either a constructive climate or a destructive climate. It is an environment where the family is either being built up or torn down.

The climate inside your home is something that Jesus was greatly concerned about because that very climate is what weatherproofs your family from the storms of life. At the conclusion of His greatest sermon, He tells a story of two home-builders. He says, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27 NASB)

So, two men build two houses. Jesus calls one man “wise” and the other man “foolish.” Upon each house, rain beats, floods rush in, winds blow and storms batter. When the storm is over, one house is left standing and one has fallen. Jesus is teaching that the most important part of building a home is not what you build or how you build but where you build. Don’t you agree that a cottage on a rock is better off than a mansion on a swamp?

There is a true story about a builder who developed a sub-division of glamorous, expensive, and exclusive homes in Canada. This happened several years ago, and these homes sold for over $250,000 each. On the outside, it was a beautiful neighborhood, but winter painted a different picture. Snow fell, winds blew and, one-by-one, those houses began to literally collapse and sink into deep holes.

As you might expect, the government authorities came out and, after questioning the developer, found something truly unbelievable. Instead of preparing the homesites and laying proper foundations, the builder had cut corners and put up houses as quickly as he could. What he didn’t know is that he had built an entire sub-division on an abandoned garbage dump!

Similarly, Jesus tells the story of two men who each built a home. The difference between the house that fell and the one that stood was neither the builder, not the materials used to construct the homes. The difference was the foundation that each home was built upon.

If you had walked by the houses Jesus spoke about just before the storm, you probably wouldn’t have noticed a difference from the outside. The probably looked a lot alike. In the same way, the houses in the neighborhoods we live in are probably not much different on the outside either. The houses have an exterior made of brick or siding. They have a roof over the top, wooden doors at the front and shutters next to all the windows. From the outside, they all look the same.

Yet, we know that on the inside, those homes can be vastly different. Inside these houses are families that win and families that fail. You might find a family that is surviving or a family that is gasping for its last breath. The doors may open to reveal a family that loves each other or one that hates each other. In one house, you might find a marriage that will last until death, while in the next house there is a marriage that won’t make it to another day. Though the houses look the same on the outside, their interiors can be incredibly different.

Jesus’ story helps shed light on what goes on inside our own homes. Notice that both houses in the parable were hit by a storm. Even though one resident was a godly, wise person and the other was a worldly fool, it made no difference. The rain fell. Jesus tells us that every home faces pressures and problems. The rain represents pressure from above; the flood represents pressure from below; the wind represents pressure from around. Neither the rain, nor flood, nor wind ever take the time or courtesy to determine whether or not it is coming against a godly home or not. In fact, the Bible is very clear about this when it says that “it rains on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)

The rains of adversity fall on all of our homes at one time or another, whether just or unjust. The floods of misery rise against the homes of the just and the unjust. The winds of heartache beat against the homes of the just and the unjust. Whether you are a family that follows Christ or not, whether your family is surrendered to His Lordship or not, storms and stresses are going to come to your home. You will have tensions in your relationships. Spouses will not always get along with each other and parents will not always get along with their children.

Have you ever seen a skyscraper being constructed? If you ever have, you might have noticed that for the first several months of the project, all the workers do is make a big hole in the ground. There is no concrete or steel, just an enormously deep, gigantic hole. The reason they start with the hole is that to build a tall building like a skyscraper, you have to begin far below the surface. To build a mammoth building, you’ve got to dig down deep until a strong foundation can be built that will support that skyscraper.

This is exactly what we must do with our homes, our marriages and our families. We have to secure a strong foundation. That is what secures your home when storms come your way. With a proper foundation, your family can stand together through any financial, marital, physical or emotional storm that rains down upon it.

Protect Your Family Through Personal Communication

According to a recent study, in an average week, a father will spend just seven minutes with his children in one-on-one conversation. The study also showed that in that same week, a husband and wife will spend just 27 minutes in one-on-one conversation. Even though we say spending time with each other is important, the reason it isn’t prioritized is that it is not urgent to us. You may be reading this and thinking, “We just don’t have enough time!” But an equally revealing study tells us that children watch an average of seven hours of television per day, and adults watch between four and six hours per week.

Dr. John Bachcom said, “With the appearance of the two-bathroom home, Americans forgot how to cooperate. With the appearance of the two-car family, we forgot how to associate. With the coming of the two television home, we forgot how to communicate.” I think Dr. Bachcom hits the nail on the head. Communication is a lost art among families in America. The warden in Cool Hand Luke could have been speaking about the American family when he said, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

Now, I understand that communication is not always easy. It isn’t in my house and it isn’t in yours. Communication is difficult for two reasons: first, the husband and wife are vastly different. As a popular book (and best-selling author) suggests, one is from Venus and the other is from Mars. Secondly, parents and children are vastly different as well. In my own home, I sometimes feel like I am on AM and my children are on FM. Because you are so different, the possibility that you will be misunderstood or that you will misunderstand increases greatly.

According to one family counselor, everything that one spouse says to another carries more than one message. Each communication includes what you mean, what you are actually saying, what your spouse actually hears, what your spouse thinks he or she hears, what your spouse says about what you said, and what you think your spouse said about what you said. It reminds me of the husband who said to his wife, “I know you believe and understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” That hurts my head just to process!

Additionally, many of us have problems communicating with our children. Perhaps we forget that children don’t want to be lectured- they want to be heard as well. Communication is a two-way process; it involves both speaking AND listening. This is why one of the greatest gifts that parents and spouses can give to the family is the gift of listening. When you listen, you are communicating several important messages:

  • You are important to me
  • Your opinion is valuable to me
  • I don’t know what is going on in your heart
  • I want to hear what you have to say
  • I want to know how you feel
  • I love you enough to keep my mouth shut and my ears open

If you are a man reading this, take note. The number one complaint women have about men is that they do not listen. It’s no wonder why so many extramarital affairs begin with a conversation! Women love to talk and, if we don’t listen, they will find someone who will. What does this mean? It means turning off the ballgame, not looking at your watch, not interrupting her problems with your “solutions” and giving her encouragement instead of pat answers. If you simply begin listening to your spouse, you will be taking a big step toward affair-proofing your marriage.

Best-selling author, Max Lucado, recalls eating almost every meal at home when he was growing up. Today, it’s just the opposite. Max said, “When we tell our kids it is time for dinner, they go to the garage instead of the kitchen.” Maybe you can’t make time for a family dinner with roundtable discussions every night, but make sure that you make time each week for meaningful communication with your spouse and children.

Protecting Your Family Through Moral Consistency

Remember the destruction of the second home in Jesus’ parable: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:26-27, NASB) Jesus tells about the danger in hearing the words of Jesus, but not acting on them. Do you want to protect your family? Live a morally consistent life. Be a doer of the word and not a hearer only! (James 1:22)

If you are a parent, remember that it is not enough to know what is right, you have to do what is right. It isn’t enough to read the Bible, you must obey it. It isn’t enough to go to church, you have to be the church. You must live out your faith within your family.

I am sure everyone reading this has heard of the singer Madonna. A few years ago, when Madonna had her baby, a reporter asked her what kind of religious training she was going to provide. She said, “I am baptizing her Catholic. There are things about Catholicism that I disagree with, but there are a lot of things I am still intrigued by. I still go to church and light candles. The church provides a kind of sanctuary and a sense of community. I would rather represent the Bible to my daughter as ‘some very interesting stories you can learn from’ rather than ‘this is the rule.’” Madonna said she wanted to do what Jesus is warning against. Madonna was going to teach her child about what is in the Bible, but she is not going to teach her to obey the Bible.

You may remember the old saying, “Do what I say, not what I do.” Do you know why I never said that to my children when they were young? Because children are going to do what you do. They couldn’t care less about what you say to do if you do not live it out yourself. Before you tell another person what they should be, you have to be what you should be. If you want a strong family, set the example with moral consistency.

Protect Your Family Through Spiritual Commitment

The Psalmist writes, “Without the help of the Lord, it is useless to build a home.” (Psalm 127:1, CEV) The difference between the two houses mentioned in our story seems minor, but it is major. It is not just the lot in the neighborhood, it is the Lord of their lives. Both men heard God’s Word, but only one heeded it. Both knew right, but only one did what was right. The difference between having a weak family and a strong family is knowing, believing and obeying God’s Word.

The true foundation of the family is not material or financial—it is spiritual. If you are building a family apart from God’s Word, you are wasting your time. Eventually, the storms of life or the storms of death will blow your home away. That is why it is so important to bring your children to church. The likelihood of a child staying in church once he reaches adulthood is 80% if the father has modeled faithful participation in church. When you model spiritual commitment, you secure a foundation for your family that will outlast even your own life.

Even the Supreme Court understands the importance of a strong family. In 1885, in the case of Murphy v. Ramsey, the Supreme Court of the United States said, “Certainly, no legislation can be supposed more wholesome and necessary in the founding of a free, self-governing commonwealth…than that which seeks to establish it on the basis of the idea of the family as consisting in springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holiest state of matrimony; [The family is] the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization.”

The Supreme Court said that the foundation of a nation is the home. Jesus said that the foundation of the home is the Word of God. We know that the foundation of the Word of God is the Son of God. That is why any family built on Jesus Christ can withstand any storm.

Lift your eyes up and welcome the rain.

Bible Reference

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
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