Why are families so important? What spiritual parallels are we to learn? If we focus on strengthening our families this summer, we will be a blessing to ourselves, to our community, to our neighbors, to our country, to our church and ultimately to our God.
Summertime was June 21, 22 or 23, depending on whose calendar you look at, but most take June 21 to be summer. Summertime means schools' out and what does that mean for young people? It means freedom. It means you are out of school for a while and you have lots of leisure time and lots of time for vacation, for sports activities, for summer camp — by the way a number of our young people just came back from Summer Camp and from what I understand, I think Fiona Meeker received the outstanding award there, so we certainly are proud of her, representing our congregation — I found that out from talking to one of the councillors, she didn't tell me, and I certainly want to welcome them back — but it means camps, it means barbeques, it means longer evenings, and more time to enjoy the outdoors and more time to enjoy each other. Summertime means family time.
I can remember the first vacation we ever went on — in fact I think it was the only vacation that we went on as a family. My parents weren't very wealthy and my dad worked a lot and we managed to go to Wildwood, New Jersey, and that was that just the best time in the world to jump in to that car and all of us to go on the Pennsylvania Turnpike where you can go fifty miles an hour and nobody is going to interfere because it is limited access highway. You could go twenty, thirty, sixty miles without an exit and you are driving along and we just thought that was the best thing in the world. My dad, my Mom, my brother Dave, myself, my grandmother and my aunt, all in the car and it was the best time in the world. We stayed in a little rental house and in that rental house we ate all the time. We thought we were on a beachfront property. We had to walk several blocks to get to the beach but that was O.K. It was fun. It was being together and it was seeing my parents in a different light.
Summertime means family time and I truly hope that we will all take advantage of it because what is happening to the family today is awful. The very building block of society is disintegrating. I looked up on the internet last night and I found three documents. One is entitled: "Fathers for life"; another was entitled: "Divorce" — the divorcemagazine.com; the other one is on runaway teens. They are all filled with statistics about the degeneration of the family. The one: "Fathers for life" is crying out and saying we need to do something about this because fathers are leaving their families and when there are fatherless families. ..
Let me read this to you:
"90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
63% percent of all youth-suicides are from fatherless homes.
85% of all children that exhibit behavioural disorders come from fatherless homes.
80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes.
71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
85% of all youths sitting in prison grew up in a fatherless home.
Nearly two out of every five children in America do not live with their fathers."
It is incredible. It talks about how much more likely they are to experience difficulties. I am not going to bore you with a lot of stats — just to share with you that children under 18 years of age - living with just one parent in the year 1998 - twenty million children live with only one parent. That is 28% of all the children."
Let me read you another quote: "71% of high school dropouts and well over 50% of teen mothers come from fatherless homes." And this one on runaways: "Overall runaways statistics: One in seven kids between the ages of 10 and 18 run away at some point and there are 1 million to 3 million runaway and homeless kids living on the streets." It talked about: "In 1999 an estimated 1,682,900 youth had a runaway episode", and it said "most runaways are those who are older teens" — 68%, because they are more mobile now and a lot of them move far more than fifty miles away.
What is wrong with our families? Families are disintegrating but this sermon is not just about families for young people because I know we don't have a lot of young families in here, we have some. It is for all of us because it is also about relationships. As we have more opportunity to spend, whether they are family reunions with those who are older, where we are gathered together — I'll share with you:
I have a cousin, he is my first cousin, and he sent some pictures to my sister Pam who forwarded them on to me. Here they were: his daughter, who is my second cousin, is a captain in the air force, and what is her picture of? Her and Prince Faisal, the younger brother of King Abdullah of Jordan. And there is a picture of her standing there with him — this was her third trip over there and he knew who she was - and she got to go up. She was taking picture of this multi-national air force show that they had, a show-get together over in Jordan, and she was over there as a captain. She is a captain in the air force and I didn't know that. She is a captain in the U.S. air force and here she was going up in a F16 so she could take pictures of other F16's, four of them flying, each one with a different insignia on the tail of the plane. And then she said to her surprise her Jordanian pilot decided to give her a thrill and so he pulled 7G's climbing straight up. She said she was pinned to her seat with her chin on her chest and she said she didn't see a thing when he pulled her all the way up there and then brought her back down again. But here was a picture of her with Prince Faisal who has met her several times over there. So, her father wrote me back — I told him: Congratulations, I saw the pictures — and he said: We need to get together. We need to have a family reunion. And we do. We all do need to have closeness with out families.
What is a family, anyway? There are several definitions of a family. Here is one from Social Structure of George Murdock. He says: "The family is a social group characterized by common residence, economic co-operation and reproduction." The United States Census Bureau considers this the family: "A group of two or more people related by blood, marriage or adoption and residing together."
Let me give you a more complete definition of that. This comes from an old Plain Truth article, back in 1977, but I like the definition. "A family is a mobile, strung-together with invisible threads. Delicate, easily broken at first, growing stronger through the years, in danger of being worn thin at times but strengthened again with special care. A family blended, balanced, growing, changing, never static, moving with the breath of wind. Babies, children, young people, mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles held in the balanced framework by the invisible threads of love, memories, trust, loyalty, compassion, kindness, in honour preferring each other, depending on each other, looking to each other for help, giving each other help, picking each other up, suffering long with each others faults, understanding each other more and more and hoping all things, enduring all things, never failing." A beautiful definition of a family.
There are many kinds of families. Whole list of ones that you can name, such as: nuclear family, single parent family, three generation family, middle aged or old couple family, institutional family, foster family, kin-network family, commune family, monogamous and commune family, group marriage, unmarried parent-child family, unmarried couple-and-child family and homosexual couple and family. And there are probably more to add to that list because that list is not so recent.
How important is the family anyway? How important is it that we pay any attention to the family as we have opportunity this summer? Page 37 of this book on "The Family" by a Royal Canadian author who wrote it for the Royal Bank of Canada personnel — later on put it in a book. I'll just read this quote, page 37: "No social institution is more essential for the human race than is the home." Did we hear that? "No social institution is more important to the human race than is the home. Here it is that we learn to be human. Forms of national government, of come-and-gone kingdoms, republics, dictatorships, all had their day in decline, but the family made up of father, mother and children" see, they see the family as what they call the nuclear family, "endures, because it is the basic social, political and economic unit."
Isn't that what God says in Malachi? That if we don't turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers, I am going to come and smite this earth with a curse because there is nothing left! And believe me our world wants to tear apart the family. Satan the devil hates the family because what is God trying to do? Bringing many sons and daughters into His family and Satan the devil hates the concept of family. Summertime will give us a wonderful opportunity. So, how important is the family?
Vital. Vital to the health of our nation; vital to our own health; vital to the health of our children; vital to the health of our community, ourselves, our Church.
Some principles that we may utilize this summer and in life to grow together and strengthen our families or our relationships with others:
I want to quote "Why the family?" from this article that I have from the Plain Truth magazine — "Why the family?" "Family services association of America has identified six major functions of all families that they should possess as a common denominator. In brief they are:
For reproduction, transmit all the family's special heritage and culture.
The provision of physical security and protection." So to provide protection, to provide reproduction.
"The achievement of enduring and deep emotional satisfactions." Social and spiritual development — in that same line.
"Development of socially desirable character traits or moral and ethical standards." We will see as we go along, it is only in the family that children learn about this. It is only in the family that they learn the rights and the wrongs.
"The maintenance of order; the distribution of money and the various tasks." They learn to do tasks; they learn how to handle money; they learn how to be responsible.
"The development of sound relationships between family members and the outside community."
That's "Why the family?"
I would like to share with you a couple of quotes just to show you the effect that family can have on people. This is called the "Jukes family" — I have used this quote before so you may be familiar with it. "There has been a careful research in the history of one criminal family, known as the Jukes." I don't think we have anybody in the Church — if we do, I am sorry you are a good guy, you came out of it.
"It is conspicuous as a long record of pauperism and profligacy, imbecility, insanity, prostitution and drunkenness. A total of twelve hundred descendants have been traced of this prolific family tree. Four hundred of these were physically self-wrecked; three hundred-and-ten were professional paupers or beggars; hundred-and-thirty were convicted criminals; sixty were habitual thieves and pickpockets and seven were murderers. While out of the whole twelve hundred only twenty ever learned a trade and half of them owed it to a stay in the state prison." That is one family — what it bestowed upon its descendants.
Now here is another family: Jonathan Edwards. "Jonathan Edwards was the son of a godly home." People who do not belong to our Church do not understand all the godly doctrines and teachings but many of them have good principles by which they have learned to live. Jonathan Edwards — "His father was a preacher and before him his mothers' father. Trace the history of the offspring of this godly man and here is what you will find: More than four hundred of them had been traced. They include fourteen college presidents; one hundred professors; one hundred of them have been ministers of the gospel, missionaries, theological teachers; more than one hundred of them were lawyers and judges. Out of the whole number sixty have been doctors and as many more authors of high rank or editors of journals. In fact, almost every conspicuous American industry has had as its promoters, one or more of the offspring of the Edwards stock since the remote ancestor was married in the closing half of the seventeenth century."
What does the family mean? The family means example. The family is like doing a play or making a movie, every day. In that movie children play certain rolls. Family members play certain rolls. Some of them have learned to be in those rolls for the rest of their lives. They never knew that they could change them; they never knew that they could step out. Let's take a look at these seven principles so that we may learn as we spend more time with our children this summer; as we spend more time with out families this summer. Perhaps for you it is spending time with your parents. Perhaps it is understanding and learning about them more. Perhaps it is understanding and spending more time with your wife. Perhaps it is getting together to go on a vacation. Whatever it is, these seven principles will help you a lot.
Principle #1 - Understanding:
Everybody likes it when they are understood. When you are talking to someone and you are going down a certain path and they are going down another and they summarize what you have just been saying and they summarize it wrong, how did you feel? They didn't hear me! They didn't listen! They don't understand! When they do understand your face lights up like a bright light bulb because they do understand.
Understanding is so vital — To understand peoples desires, their needs, their wants, their likes, their dislikes and to understand that each one in the family is different. Are you different from some of your siblings or are you exactly the same? We are all different because we are all unique. Each one of us is unique. You are not exactly the same. Now we have twins and you can even have identical twins — they are not exactly alike. They are close but they are not exactly alike. Each is different and in the family it takes time and effort to understand those differences and what they say in French: Viva la difference. To appreciate people for whom they are and in the family it is vital. It is important to understand each one's needs and as you spend time with each other you get to see those needs. You get to sense those needs and you get to feel what those people are going through. You get to appreciate them more. Understanding is so vital.
Let me read you a quote, page 31: "The home is a place for gladness" — this book on "The Family", "It isn't enough to feed and clothe children and send them off to school. They need some poetry in their lives, some inspiration. If parents have been effective in coping with the ills of the family they are equally obligated to show joy on joyous occasions; to think smiling thoughts as the background of their actions." Do you like going home? Is a home a place of refuge? Is home a place of joy? When you think of going home, what do you think of? When I used to go home in the early days I smelt fresh baked bread; I smelled the garlic in the oil cooking as my Mom was getting food ready. There are certain things that you still remember about going home and did you like going home? I liked going home. I liked going home better than I liked going to my buddy's place; better than I liked going to my friends places because I knew when I went home I was safe and I knew when I went home it was going to be fun. That is an atmosphere and attitude we have to kind of create in understanding our kids, understanding our families, too.
He says: 'There are few gifts that one can give to another as rich as friendly understanding." 1 Corinthians 9:19 1 Corinthians 9:19For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant to all, that I might gain the more.
American King James Version×- This attitude is illustrated by the apostle Paul as he reached out to many different types of individuals in the city of Corinth.
1 Corinthians 9:19 1 Corinthians 9:19For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant to all, that I might gain the more.
American King James Version×— For though I am free from all men, because God has made him free from any obligation to them and service to them in the sense of being subservient to their will, yet I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;
My whole purpose, he says, is to gain people. My whole purpose is to understand them, is to reach them and part of reaching them is to understand where they are coming from.
V.20 — and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; I tried to look at it from their perspective and in our families we have to look at it from our children's perspective.
Do you ever think of birth order factor, that the firstborn is going to be different from the second-born? Sometimes firstborns are not really firstborns. Sometimes they are second-born and I don't know how they know that but some stats indicate that if there has been a miscarriage and then the first child born is really not the firstborn. It is the first born alive and sometimes they act like a second born. Sometimes they act like a third born and you have to understand children are not all going to be the same.
You have to understand your parents, children. They are not all going to be the same. We all think every body's family is exactly like ours. I did for years. Everybody does things the way we do. Everybody is like us. No, everybody is not like us. We all have different habits and different rules and different qualities but to the Jews he tried to understand where they were coming from that I might gain the Jews. His whole point was gain. In families, what do we want to gain? We want to gain closeness. What do we want to gain? We want to gain unity. What do we want to gain? We want to gain love, we want to gain togetherness — let's move forward together.
V.20 - ....to those who are under the law, as under the law that I might win those who are under the law;
I try to understand those who are sinners; I try to understand those who are having difficulties. I try to reach them. I try to understand. There is a way of a young person that is different from the way of an older person. Sometimes we older people look on our young people and judge them according to our standards. Sometimes we expect them to be like us and they are not like us.
We always expect morality, fine morals from all of us but style, manner? Hey, they are young people. You are only going that way once and all you have to do is remember when you were child. I remember sitting in some of the admission meetings in Ambassador College and as we grew older here is what some of them say: Young people seem to look younger every year. I said: They are younger every year because you are older every year! They always seemed to look younger every year — they are younger! You are older! The point is: you don't recognize that because you still feel young inside and I think that is something we all have to learn to relate and especially in the family. It is very important. It is very important to enjoy life. God says He has given us a wife — husband and wife should live together joyfully, Ecclesiastes 9:9 Ecclesiastes 9:9Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of the life of your vanity, which he has given you under the sun, all the days of your vanity: for that is your portion in this life, and in your labor which you take under the sun.
American King James Version×— I am not going to turn there.
Let's look at 1 Corinthians 13:11 1 Corinthians 13:11When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
American King James Version×- Listening to each other is a great way to learn about each other; Observing each other is a great way to understand each other. Seeking and asking questions and listening to the answers are a great way to understand each other.
1 Corinthians 13:11 1 Corinthians 13:11When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
American King James Version×— When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; - but when you are an adult it is important to try to listen for that child. Listen for the child, not listen for the adult, but for the child — When I was a child ..... I thought like a child, he said. I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
We have to understand where people are coming from and when parents get very old they start to become childlike again and then you have to start understanding them as a child. Young people have to start understanding their parents as children. I want to read you a couple of quotes.
"My favourite child" from Pastor Story File — May '86. "My favourite child: Every mother has a favourite child. She cannot help it. She is only human. I have mine, the child for whom I feel special closeness, with whom I share my love that no one else could possibly understand. My favourite child is the one who is too sick to eat ice-cream on his birthday party, who had measles at Christmas, who wore leg-braces to bed because he toed in, who had a fever in the middle of the night, the asthma attack - the child in my arms at the emergency ward. My favourite child spent holidays alone away from the family, was stranded after the game with a gas tank on empty, lost his money for his class ring. My favourite child is the one who messed up at the piano recital, misspelled 'committee' at the spelling bee, ran the wrong way with the football, had his bike stolen because he was careless. My favourite child is the one I punished for lying, grounded for insensitivity to other peoples' feelings and informed that he was a royal pain to the entire family. My favourite child slams doors in frustration, cried when she didn't think I saw her, withdrew and said she couldn't talk to me. My favourite child always needed a haircut, had hair that wouldn't curl, no date for Saturday nights, a car that cost $600 to fix. My favourite child was selfish, immature, bad-tempered and self-centered. He was vulnerable, lonely, unsure of what he was doing in the world and quite wonderful. All mothers have their favourite child. It is always the same one - the one who needs you at the moment - who needs you for whatever reason: to cling to, to shout at, to hurt, to hug, to flatter, to reverse the charges to, to unload on, and mostly just to be there."
We have to have as we understand each other — will understand what those needs are and will be able to help. Principle number one is be understanding.
Principle #2 - Respect:
Respect is a two-way street. We will feel respect if we give respect. If we give no respect we will not get it. We will get fear, we will not get respect. Respect has to be earned; respect is not a given. Respect in the family means you feel respected too and little children should feel respected by their parents — not brushed aside, not pushed away and saying: well, when you get old enough then I will deal with you. Children feel and children know if they are liked. They know. They know if you like them and they know if you don't. You can't hide it. They just feel it. It is important to respect.
Honour all — Honour for the different trades that we have; honour the person for what they do; honour the person for the talents that they have; honour the person and hold them in high esteem because of what they have: Value, valuing them. Seeing personality differences is alright; understanding for who they are; giving them the choice; helping them learn to make choices is respecting them.
What would you like to have? Let's take you out and we are going to buy you anything you want. O.K., Feast time - You can have $3. What do you want?
I think I would like to buy that.
No, you don't want that.
I think I would like to buy that.
No, you don't want that either.
O.K. Dad, you pick it out for me.
Give them choice, help them to understand, help them to make choices. Respect their right to make a choice. Respect their right to be the person that they want to be as you guide them and help them certainly. Give them choices as much as they are able in life.
I will read you a story in a minute about Thomas Edison, what he said about his Mom's respect for him in spite of the differences that he had. As we understand that person, now we respect them for those differences.
Respect the individuality of each person. Each person has got to find their way in life and each person has got to be themselves and they have to make the best out of who they are in life. Parents, help children to find out who they are. That is what parents are there for. What is this child good at? Give them advice and expose them to lots of activities. Find out where they are good. Not all of them are going to be the same way.
My uncle Sammy was an all-American basketball player. He had a son who was taller than he was — firstborn — he wasn't a good basketball player. He liked mechanics. What a disappointment, initially, and then he had a daughter and then he had another son who made University of Pittsburgh basketball team and played on their first team as a senior. He wasn't quite as good as his dad, who was an all-American.
We can't make our kids be what we want them to be. We have to let them become who they are and if we respect them we will respect their right of choice and we will try to guide them and help them to make wise choices but we will still respect them. In families it is important to respect each other and not provoke. Boy, parents can provoke. Oftentimes do I see an older child provoking the younger one and I always tell my granddaughter, who is five years older than her brother, you can always get the best of him because you are older than he is. You can out-reason him; you can outsmart him, you can out-connive him, but one day he is going to be bigger than you and he is going to realize what you did to him! Right now you can out-connive him, you can out-smart him, you can out-do everything but you have to respect each other and it is important in the family to respect.
I remember going out and seeing my dad play volleyball at picnics. You know what? He seemed so tall to me. He was only 5'11 ½". I am 5'9". He always seemed so tall to me when I was a little kid. Boy, dad is playing volleyball! Outings, as you spend time with each other, you come to value what that person can do because I never knew that my dad could play volleyball until we went to picnics because he was working most of the time. He was a good volleyball player. He was a good bowler. I'd go see him doing the bowling with his group. He wasn't the greatest bowler but he certainly wasn't the worst I saw. He did a good job of bowling and that made me feel proud of him. That respect that we can have — it grows when we spend time with each other and understand each other and appreciate what we see in each other.
Thomas Edison said this because his mother respected him. His mother respected his individuality. He said: "I did not have my mother long but she cast over me an influence which has lasted all my life. The good effects of her early training I can never loose. If it had not been for her appreciation and her faith in me at a critical time in my experience I should never likely have become an inventor. I was always a careless boy and with a mother of a different mental calibre", in other words a mother who didn't respect him because she saw this carelessness — You are just such a careless kid, you will never amount to anything — well, that would have made him real successful wouldn't it? "I was always a careless boy and with a mother of a different mental calibre I should have turned out badly but her firmness, her sweetness, her goodness were potent powers to keep me in the right path. My mother was the making of me. The memory of her will always be a blessing to me."
Why? Because she respected her son; she saw him; she knew who he was; she understood him; she respected his differences and she encouraged him through that.
What a blessing.
Principle #3 - Learning:
In the family we can learn new skills and we can have new experiences. Why can we learn new skills and new experiences in the family? Because it is safe. They won't laugh at me. They won't put me down if I don't make this or don't do this well. I used to always be scared to see my dad come to any of my baseball games because, what if I make a mistake here. He was O.K. with it. He was always appreciative and never yelled at me, never hollered at me if I made a mistake. It was wonderful to know he was there — just to know his support. I have played basketball — we just lived across the street from the school and he could have walked across anytime and I used to think he snucked in and I didn't see him there because I was playing on the court and I didn't see the audience which was a distance away and I never knew if he came or didn't sometimes. You say, well, you never know but I don't think they ever came to any of my games but I would never get discouraged by him. I was safe to do things within the family and with the family.
We learn; we learn what each other can do; we learn each others ways; we certainly can learn from each from other. Titus 2: 7 -We all have a pattern. It is good for parents to notice that pattern, what are their kids good at. Paul is writing to Titus:
Titus 2:7 Titus 2:7In all things showing yourself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing soundness, gravity, sincerity,
American King James Version×— In all things showing yourself a pattern of good works: and kids have a pattern. They do certain things in certain ways. It is what they are good at and what they are not good at and that is what parents have to understand and learn about their children and certainly tolerate each others opinions and learn from each other. Can we learn from our children? Can we learn from their wonderful attitudes and examples because sometimes they are so pure?
Oh, they come back and say: I hate this boy.
The next day you ask: Whom did you play with today?
You told me yesterday that you hated him.
Yes, but I forgave him. We are O.K. now.
We can learn from our children. We can learn to have an attitude in life that is upbeat and positive. If it is dreaming — we can learn from them — they have big dreams, don't they?
Oh, I am going to be this and I am going to have a horse in my backyard.
Oh yes, I hate to shatter your dreams but your yard is not big enough to have a horse
in it. A horse and you in the backyard? You are not going to give it much exercise there and you are going to be doing a lot of shovelling in a very small space so it is not really a great place — but they dream.
We need to dream. We need to look ahead and see. We can learn from each other and we can listen to each other. Listen to your children when they come and let them tell you about their day at school. Again that goes eating meals together especially dinner time. You know what happens when you are eating a meal? You are really enjoying it. Your taste buds are really enjoying it; your stomach is feeling just nice and full and you are nice and mellow and you can talk about anything and your guard is down; you are not on the defence and you are letting things out. That is what wonderful about mealtime, dinner time. Children get a chance to talk to you. You are sitting. You are in one place. You are all around this table. It is a great time instead of: Well, you take your family there and you go upstairs and I am going up into the workshop and I am going to sit in the easy chair, and nobody is together. It is a great time for learning about each other.
Along with learning we should be training our children. We should teach them. We should teach them the right ways of life. We should also teach them rules and regulations and we will see that in a moment. We need to share with our children the way that they need to go and help them go that particular direction and to remember our children are like sponges.
Listen to this one: "One day as a young mother and her kindergarten son were driving down the street the inquisitive little boy asked a revealing question: Mommy, why do idiots only come out when daddy drives?"
Another "little boy asked his mother where he came from and also where she had come from as a baby. His mother gave him a tale about a beautiful white-feathered bird. The boy ran to the next room and asked his grandmother the same question and received a variation on the bird-story. He then scampered outside to his playmate with the comment: Do you know there hasn't been a normal birth in our family for three generations? "
Teach your children. Teach them sound principles. Teach them the truth - the truth will make them free. The truth will help them grow up. In your family you should be able to deal with truth.
Oh, let's hide this from Uncle Jack.
I don't want to tell aunt Bessie that.
Why are you so closed with everything? Teach children to understand themselves. Teach children to get in touch with their feelings and their thoughts. Teach them the godly way.
Matthew 18:1 Matthew 18:1At the same time came the disciples to Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
American King James Version×to 4 tells we can also learn from our children. Let's look at that:
Matthew 18:1 Matthew 18:1At the same time came the disciples to Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
American King James Version×At the same time came the disciples to Jesus and said: Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?
V.2 — And Jesus called a little child to him, and set him in the midst of them,
V.3 — And said, Verily I say to you, except you become converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Can we learn from our children? Yes, we can. Sometimes they can teach us a lot of lessons about life because as we get older we get kind of slyer, we know how to deal with things in a way that is not necessarily straight up like they do. We become more complicated - they are simple. We learn from them as we look at them and as we listen to them and we can ask them some things: what they knew, what they learn.
Again, crazy making is telling your children: This is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you, as you wave the big paddle over their behind. This is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you. A little child has a hard time believing that. If you send them double messages you could make them crazy. There is induced schizophrenia and there is also schizophrenia that happens because of how the person is wired. Parents who send their children lots of double messages, in which case there are two ways that can go, and children sitting there trying to grasp: This is going to hurt Dad more that me? It is not going to hurt when he whacks me? How is that going to hurt? How is that going to hurt him? Learning — learn from each other. Look at each other's skills and appreciate what each other has.
Principle # 4 - Loyalty:
Loyalty to each other — Ecclesiastes 7:1 Ecclesiastes 7:1A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.
American King James Version×talks about a good name. We are all given a good name; it is our parents' name — that is a good name. It is good enough. It came from them.
Ecclesiastes 7:1 Ecclesiastes 7:1A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.
American King James Version×- A good name is better than precious ointment;
Oh, he's so and so's son; Oh, you are so and so's daughter. Oh, I didn't know that. When they know so and so and so and so has been a good example and he has passed it on to you, he has handed you the baton for the family. How are you carrying that baton? What will people think about your family name as a result of seeing you? Will they think of it as good or will it be tarnished by our carrying it forward?
I want to read to you a story about loyalty — a beautiful story about a dog named Greyfriar's Bobby. "Near Greyfriar's church yard in Edinburgh, Scotland, stands a memorial fountain and statue erected in honour of a little Skye terrier named Greyfriar's Bobby. For fourteen years after his master had passed away in 1858, Bobby guarded the grave in this churchyard day and night. He would leave only for an hour at a time to visit his two friends: the restaurateur who fed him and the Sexton who had built a shelter for him on the spot where he kept his lonely vigil. One day they found Bobby lying across the grave dead and in tribute to his life-long loyalty and devotion they buried him beside his master." Now that is a dog and many people feel animals, if you've had them for a long time, are like members of the family, and there is an example of loyalty.
Let me read you another one: This man wrote to his mother every day. "Every day was Mother's Day: Richard Burdon, British secretary of war and Lord High chancellor, wrote a letter to his mother every day for 48 years. Every day beginning in 1877 when his father died continuing until 1925 when his mother died at the age of 100 years and 6 weeks. He never missed writing her a letter, not a single day."
I don't know that God expects that kind of loyalty from us, but it is admirable. Are you loyal to your family? Do you write and call and keep in contact with and encourage and uplift and take out to dinner occasionally or visit or whatever — send a gift to or send flowers to your family? Are they important enough to you? Loyalty.
Psalms 127:3-5 Psalms 127:3-5  See, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
 Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
American King James Version×You won't be afraid in the gate if you have your family around. Psalm 127 — I always think of the Cartwright's when I think of this verse: Adam and Hoss and little Joe and Ben. Ponderosa it is called now, or Bonanza or what it used to be, but Psalms 127 — to see them all riding up together was pretty powerful.
Psalms 127:3 Psalms 127:3See, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
American King James Version×Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
V.4 — As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
V.5 — Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
When you have your children and your family on your side, backing and supporting, encouraging and helping, that makes you do almost anything. You feel like you can conquer the world because they are with you. They are solidly behind you. They are there to encourage you and stand with you. That is loyalty in the family. Family loyalty needs to be built by children seeing us keep our promises to them and they will keep their promises to us.
Principle #5 - Love each other:
Families need to show each other hugs, kisses, appropriate display of love and affection one to another. It is so important. Page 59 of "Family' — let me read this to you: "Good families do not just happen but are result of unselfishness, good temper, forgiveness and humour. A family needs two parents qualified to make a home that will meet the minimum standards of normal life. Community surroundings that make it possible for parents to do their duty and a vital alliance between the family, church, school, political system and all cultural opportunities. Parents are responsible for giving their children security and protection but that is not enough. There needs to be harmony in the home, affection and a sense of beauty. Children do not love their parents because they are their parents, but because they are lovable. Children do not learn principally by preaching" — you need to love people; you need to show more love — if they don't see it in the home, they are not going to know how. "They absorb the standards we live by rather than those we talk about."
So they need to see that love being shown within the family so that they may grow up to be loving young people. Children need to be taught and shown the way of love. They need to also be able to express their feelings. They need to be taught to be able to speak about their feelings.
I feel angry when somebody breaks my toys.
I feel angry that my cousin Bobby came over and broke my toys.
Well, you are right to be angry, but what do we do about that? We will try and fix the toy. You don't get mad and throw it across the room or throw it at Bobby.
You have to teach them.
Titus 2:4 Titus 2:4That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
American King James Version×That they (older women) may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
And of course most women love more easily than men do. Men need to also learn to love because love will cover a multitude of sins as Proverbs 10:12 Proverbs 10:12Hatred stirs up strifes: but love covers all sins.
American King James Version×— we read that. Reach out to your children; love them; care about them; let them know. Reach out to your parents. Let them know you love them. Hey Dad, I need a hug tonight. I need a hug.
Anything wrong with that? Dad, I need a hug from you. Maybe your Dad is not real affectionate. Hey Dad, I need a hug. I want to give you a hug tonight. Most people will not refuse that if you are motivated to do it.
There is a pastor's story from 1986: "Every night when the mother tucked her daughter into bed the little girl said, Mommy, your hair is beautiful. I love your hair. Mommy your eyes are beautiful. I love your eyes. Mommy your face is beautiful. I love your face but Mommy, your arms are ugly. I cannot love your arms. One night when the mother was tucking in the little girl, she told her daughter that once when her daughter was a tiny baby there had been a fire and the mother had reached through the flames and lifted and delivered the little child to safety. The little girl was quiet for a minute and she said: Mommy, your hair is beautiful, I love it. Your eyes and face are beautiful, I love them but Mommy your arms are the most beautiful of them all. I love them the best."
Children can love and share that love with us and it is very touching and it is very moving. Husbands and wives who aren't afraid to display an appropriate amount of love in front of their children help their children feel good and secure. Daddy loves Mom! Wow! They may not know that. Here's the money; here's food; here's the bills — and that is all they see during the day. They don't see Dad love Mom. Does Dad show Mom any affection? And again, I am talking appropriate — not some wrong display of affection, but a loving display. Parents need to show it. The idea of kiss-insurance may seem frivolous but Sir Edward Brown, a conservative MP of Bath, England, declared: "Every man ought to kiss his wife before going to work. Why? Industrial psychologists find that a man who kisses his wife in the morning runs less risk of an accident than the 'brute' who leaves without so much as a 'so long dear'". Kissing keeps you from having accidents! So even if you don't love her, kiss her anyway! It will save you accidents! We hope you love her too.
Principle #6 - Direction:
We need to prod each other. Children and parents need to prod each other. Prod each other toward the goals in life, to help each other set whatever goals there may be in life, whatever direction it might be — you want to train them up; you want to help them in the discipline.
Children have to be taught the difference between right and wrong.
V.2 — Honour your father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; V.3 — That it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.
V.4 — And, you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition — the discipline — of the Lord.
We have a responsibility to help them realize their potential. Help them understand.
Physically help them reach their goals in this life, but more than that, parents have a responsibility and children too, to help their parents stay on the right way. Parents you get into the wrong spirit, the wrong attitude — children can help them. Children can help them out of that too.
So, as family members we need to be helping our children. We need to be helping them to set the proper goals, to look ahead in the future; to look ahead to something that is beyond this life; a vision of the future. Help them see what is good — what is good for them. Help them seek the Kingdom of God. Teach them; show them; correct them; instruct them.
Let me read pages 17 and 18 of "In the Family": "In a family there are always present without being obnoxious, the curbs and controls that constitute the essence of good government. Discipline is necessary. Not primarily for its contribution to family harmony but it must also be learned as a quality essential in all walks of life."
Young people need to learn that people are going to say to them "no". When they are driving too fast the police officer who happens to be there with radar, he is going to stop them and say: No! You can't do that. He is not going reason with them: Now you know, if you just take your foot off the gas and go a little bit slower. Parents try to reason with their children too much. It is right or wrong. As they get older, yes, then you reason more. Little kids don't understand reasoning, they just say: I sure got away with that one. I don't know what Dad said but I nodded my head the right way and he let me off. You have to teach children; you have to show them.
"Discipline without love begets resentment. It comes from people who love them. It is a devoted and skilful blending of the two: discipline and love, that develops children into adults, able to cope with the environment and self-reliance, self-mastery and courage. Is it ever necessary to take the velvet glove off the iron fist? Indeed, it may be. Honeyed words are not always the best means to instruct and to guide. A pat on the back does not always substitute for a strong push."
So again, teaching your children, teaching them the godly principles, teaching them the right principles of life and helping them to look to that which is beyond. Help them to develop their future. Help them to prepare for their future in this life and also in the life of the World Tomorrow.
So principle #6 is direction: Help provide direction. Prod each other, encourage each other, correct each other when it is necessary — certainly parents doing the correcting. Kids can do the correcting by their example to their parents.
Principle #7 - Involve God in your family:
God loves families. Do you ever think about how many times He talks about families? How He talks about the family of Abraham, the children of Israel, He calls them: the families of the earth. In the end time all the families of the earth are going to come up to worship in Jerusalem.
Psalms 127:1 Psalms 127:1Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.
American King James Version×Except the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.
Unless God is there, unless God is a part of it — and God does love the family. Children need to hear parents talking: Son, pray for me as I go on this trip. I'll be going, please pray for me. Maybe even little kids — dad is going to be gone for a couple of days, three days on this trip: Please pray for me for safety. That tells that child you value them and you value their prayers. You point them to God. You teach them about the godly way. Show your kids that service is a good habit. I think Mr. Angelou was mentioning about his aunt and how she wanted to do things for other people.
1 Corinthians 16:15 1 Corinthians 16:15I beseech you, brothers, (you know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
American King James Version×How is your family known? I beseech you, brethren, (you know the house —or the family — of Stephanas, that it is the firstfuits of Achaia, how they are among the first ones who came into the church, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
They have an addiction but it is not some type of drug-addiction, it is not a substance-addiction, it is an addiction to serving people. Do your children see you serving? Look at my dad. Look at my mom, They serve, they are interested in others, they care about others. We send very powerful messages by what we do.
In addition to that, Deuteronomy 4:9-10 Deuteronomy 4:9-10  Only take heed to yourself, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life: but teach them your sons, and your sons' sons;
 Specially the day that you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.
American King James Version×tells us that we need to be speaking about God's way of life to them: in the daytime, when we get up, when we sit down, at night time, teach them to our children.
Deut. 4:9 — Only take heed to yourself, and keep your soul diligently, less you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and less they depart from your heart all the days of your life: but teach them to your sons, and your sons' sons; V.10 — Specially the day that you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.
Deut 6:7 — And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit - the judgments and statutes and laws of God, ways of God — when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Talk about them. Teach your children of God. Teach them how important God is. Let them see you pray for breakfast, lunch and dinner when you are together. Let them see you as a praying man or a praying mom. Let them, somehow or another, look for you in the house, not that you are trying it, and they open the door: Oh, there is mom on her knees in the bedroom or there is dad on his knees in the study. I've heard more than one person say: My dad was a praying man. I know my dad was a praying man. Not that he tried to show it, but that he was. They saw that in their dads and their moms.
Involve God in your family. God loves families. Invite Him in; invite Him to be there. Invite your children to know of Him and to know that He is important. Remember what Joshua said? He said: As for me and my house, we will serve the Eternal. He didn't just say: As for me. He said:
Joshua 24:15 Joshua 24:15And if it seem evil to you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
American King James Version×— ... as for me and my house, we will serve the Eternal.
I want to share with you what Douglas MacArthur said. He wrote this quote:
"Build me a son - Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory. Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds, a son that will know You, and that to know himself is the foundational stone of knowledge. Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high. A son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men, one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past. And after all these things are his, add I pray You, a sense of humour so that he may be not always serious yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom and the meekness of true strength, then I, his father, will dare to whisper: I have not lived in vain."
So as this summer we have more time, more family time, more reunions, more barbeques, more sporting events, more outings — as we have the opportunity, we have more time for these family outings, let's remember to use these seven principles of understanding, respect, learning, loyalty, love and God-involvement. God does love families. He says that if we do His commandments we will live long upon the earth and He says that the family who follows God commandments, God will bless their children to a thousand generations. Deuteronomy 7:9 Deuteronomy 7:9Know therefore that the LORD your God, he is God, the faithful God, which keeps covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;
American King James Version×.
I want to read you two quick quotes as I conclude; "Home without a house. A young service man and his family were living in a hotel near a military base he was temporary assigned. One day his little girl was playing house in the lobby when a lady asked solicitously: 'Isn't it too bad you don't have a home?' 'Oh, we do', the child answered. 'We just don't have a house to put it in yet'". Wherever dad and mom were is home to her.
God has given us an opportunity to strengthen our families this summer and in life and by doing so, we will be a blessing to ourselves, to our community, to our family, to our neighbours, to our country, to our church and ultimately to our God.