Posts

When God made male and female, did he do so with a purpose? In a world where such distinctions are forgotten, ignored, or neglected, what does it mean for men to be men and women to be women? Join us as we discuss these things in the world, the family, and the church.

Host: Rev. Willie Grills

Regular Guest: Rev. Adam Koontz

Episode: 115

Join our Facebook group Word Fitly Posting to discuss this episode or any other topic. Follow us on Twitter: @wordfitly. Send us a message: [email protected] Subscribe to the podcast: RSS Feed, iTunes, Spotify, or your favorite podcasting app.


Marriage is a perpetual source of joy and frustration in and outside the church. Today we look at how C.F.W. Walther discussed what makes a marriage and what unmakes a marriage, who should marry whom, and who shouldn’t be married at all. We delve into the relationship between marriage and the public good, especially how a minister’s marriage affects everything else in his life and his church.

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide
Regular Guest: Rev. Adam Koontz
Episode: 30

Join our Facebook group Word Fitly Posting to discuss this episode or any other topic.
Follow us on Twitter: @wordfitly
Send us a message: [email protected]
Subscribe to the podcast: RSS Feed, iTunes, Spotify, or your favorite podcasting app.

Date: March 3, 1935

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.Joshua 24:15

ONE of the happiest trends of these lean and disappointing years, a silver lining to the lowering clouds, is the unparalleled interest in the externals of the American home. Billions of dollars have been appropriated by our Government to protect home-owners and to help solve their mortgage problems; emergency measures have created huge funds for the repair and modernization of American dwellings; far-reaching programs are outlined to assist in the construction of new homes as well as in the clearance of slum districts, by which the squalor of overcrowded, disease-­breeding tenements may be eliminated.

Besides, we are in the midst of multiplied efforts designed to make the American home more attractive and the family environment more healthful and happy. Think of the outstanding efficiency of present-day construction; the home and garden clubs; our community planting and beautification projects; our housekeeping classes and domestic-arts courses; the study of family management and family finances as well as all the other emphasis on the improvement of the physical aspects of family life, and you will agree with me when I say that all this is without parallel or approach in our own history or in any other nation of the world.

It must come as a distinct shock to realize that with all the stress on home ownership, home improvement, home direction, we are witnessing evidence of a staggering indifference toward the moral and spiritual improvement of the family. While we have erected more commodious and pretentious houses, we have by no means always built happier, spiritually stronger homes. Too often our new architecture has rejected the Christian cornerstone; our efficiency apartments frequently are too crowded for Christ; our interior decorators are too apt to remove the fireplace motto “God Bless Our Home” and to substitute motifs from pagan love scenes and heathen immoralities. The family Bible, even in many so-called Christian homes, seems to belong to the last century; for the family altar has crumbled, and we are paying a prohibitive price for this neglect: the weakening of the home ties, the breakdown of marriage morality, the desecration of parenthood. Because this collapse has resulted in destroying much of home happiness, weakened our national fiber, and retarded the work of Christ in men’s hearts and lives, I ask you this afternoon to

BUILD THE FAMILY ALTAR

and to join me in pledging the resolution of Joshua: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

FAMILY HAPPINESS IN CHRIST-CENTERED HOMES

American homes should be dedicated to Christ and consecrated to His service through Christian faith and Christian lives, family Bible-reading and family prayer; for His abiding presence at any hearthside is Heaven’s pledge for peace and happiness. It can be shown on the basis of cold and impartial figures that altar-building, Scripture-seeking homes are shelters of happiness and havens of abiding peace. Families in which parents and children are true members of the Christian Church do not figure in the marital tragedies that clutter the nation’s courts of domestic relations. It can be demonstrated statistically that the divorce rate among church-members has been approximately only one-tenth as great as the rate for the entire nation and that in many divorces granted in church circles either husband or wife is not a member in good standing. Again, it can be proved that children in homes pervaded by the Spirit of God and strengthened by “the Word of His grace, which is able to build” the family up, have experienced the fulfilment of Christ’s promise: “Now are ye clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you”; for these children are normally not found among the moral delinquents that crowd our juvenile courts. I do not mean to imply that there can be no unhappiness in Christian homes; for even here sin, the everlasting millstone around humanity’s neck, tries to drown men and women in the sea of selfishness and in the rip-tides of their own passions. But I do say that the Christian home (and by that I mean the home in which, despite the turmoil and haste of our complicated modem lives, the Bible, our Savior, the Church, and the kingdom of God are continually held in prayerful esteem) will have a peace which the self-indulgent world cannot know; for Jesus hallows the relation between husband and wife and would make their mutual love as deep and self-­denying as that love wherewith He “loved the Church and gave Himself for it.”

Storms of financial distress may sweep down upon that home; long sieges of sickness may isolate it; tremors of terrifying disaster may shake its foundations; the paralysis of death may take its inevitable toll; yet if every member of that household pledges the resolution of our text: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” that home will have a spiritual basis on which abiding hope and permanent comfort can be built. It will have Christ and with Him the deep, unswerving faith in the guidance of God, which accepts even the most harrowing sorrows as evidences of Heaven’s higher guidance. The Christ-conscious family will esteem marriage as the divine institution which it is, ordained by God Himself for the bestowal of multiplied benedictions and happinesses. In the Christ-exalting family there will be an intensity and continuance of pure, self-­sacrificing love, which binds husband and wife together in devoted companionship as the better or worse of life’s destiny predominates. The Christ-centered family will thank God for the precious children that His bounty bestows upon them, and these children, brought up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” will love, honor, and obey their parents in unbroken devotion. And because for all this the Christ-controlled home has a spiritual basis in the acknowledgment of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ and in the pervading presence of His sustaining Spirit, the family altar becomes the potent symbol of domestic happiness, the divinely effective insurance against permanently wounded hearts and broken promises.

Think, by contrast, of the sorrow which must ultimately prevail in homes whose members obstinately refuse to serve Christ or in which an infidel parent or a worldly-minded child destroys the spiritual unity. The foreboding specter of ultimate separation must perpetually haunt the family in which there is no united desire to “serve the Lord.” An unbelieving husband may have his religion written in his wife’s name here on earth, but in heaven his own name must be written in the Book of Life. An indifferent mother may send her children to Sunday-school, yet herself remain away from church in disdainful aloofness; but her children’s faith will not rise up to secure for her a title to the heavenly mansions. If two cannot walk together in Christian faith on their earthly pilgrimage, they cannot enter their Father’s house above together. Heart-breaking in the very extreme is the mere suggestion of the thought that homes in which unbelief, wilful neglect of the Savior’s love, and studied indifference to His grace have prevailed will not see God or that homes in which there has been a divided loyalty to Christ may be divided in eternity.

Now, there are no substitutes for these ennobling influences of spiritual blessing in Christ. College courses on home economics, infant diet, and child psychology, as helpful as they may be, cannot raise the standard of home ethics and insure the attainment of happiness; but Christ can. And because some of you who are listening in today have tried to find home happiness by disregarding Christ’s renewing grace and have failed, because without Him misunderstandings and quarrels arise with fatal frequency, the Church declares without compromise or apology: The supreme requisite for happiness in American homes is the sin-forgiving, grace-imparting love of Jesus Christ and the reverent acknowledgment of these mercies in family prayer and hearthside devotion. The appeal of the hour is for the restoration of the family altar as evidence of the family faith. Solicitously does the Church ask its members to take time for joint prayer and common worship, to find time in the crowded domestic calendar for the invocation of the sanctifying Spirit, to make room, even in the most restricted dwelling, for a spiritual altar at which the family may worship and in common faith and love “serve the Lord.”

NATIONAL STRENGTH IN CHRIST-ENDOWED HOMES

We need Christ-endowed homes also for the support of honesty and decency and truth in this nation. Thirty-three centuries ago, when Joshua in his farewell message reaffirmed his loyalty, pledging himself and his house to the service of the Lord, his valedictory warnings showed the importance of the God-fearing home for the nation of his age. Today, in spite of the radical social changes, the basic truth remains that no country is stronger than its homes. They are the foundation upon which ultimately, under God, all hope for sound and solid progress must rest. Can you imagine what would happen if our towering sky-scrapers, instead of being pillared on bed-rock support, were to be built on swamp-lands or quicksands? what the consequences would be if the great irrigation dams of the West were not welded into the Rockies?

How short-sighted our present-day thought sometimes proves to be when we devote the overwhelming proportion of our energy and expenditure to projects that radiate no moral and spiritual influence upon the basic unit of all American improvement—the American home! What is it, after all, that our country needs? After you have enumerated the political and financial and social programs that clamor for recognition, let me ask you if, with a far greater imperativeness than all this, we do not need homes that fear God and love Christ; homes in which fathers live up to their divinely imposed responsibilities and mothers faithfully pursue their high and holy duties; homes in which children are taught to pray, to strive for pure, honest lives, to love and obey their parents, to cherish their country and its institutions, their Church and its teachings. A people may suffer financial collapse, even bankruptcy; yet if its homes preserve the golden standards of Christ’s faith and His creed, it may regain its stability. A country may be devastated by the ravages of war and starvation and epidemics; yet if its homes possess that buoyant Christian conviction, it can rebuild its ruins and recover its strength. No nation, whatever its wealth and influence in world affairs may be, has ever been able to tear the Almighty out of the hearts and homes of its people without witnessing the forebodings of approaching disaster. What, we may well ask, shall America be profited if it gain world-wide distinction in the modernization of its homes, if its people erect attractive dwelling-places, superefficient apartments, magnificent habitations,—and yet lose Christ? Israel’s greatest decline came, not when its people lived humbly in their cottages, “every man under his vine and under his fig-tree,” but when its jaded, world-worn aristocrats stretched themselves on ivory beds in their palatial chambers or when the citizens of Jerusalem pointed with pride to their ceiled houses and forgot the Temple of God, which lay in ruins. And because the domestic codes in the lavish roof-terraced apartments are no higher, and often much lower, than the morality in tenement basements, we must realize that a nation’s status before God is not gauged by its pretentious dwellings and that the moral worth of a home cannot be appraised by its location, its architecture, its size.

God does look graciously upon homes and hearts that pray, “Come, Lord Jesus,” and invoke His presence in the family circle. And one of the reasons why the tragedies that have engulfed our nation have not been more serious and far-reaching is that the Lord of Love, who would have spared even Sodom and Gomorrah had there been but ten God-fearing persons in these capitals of vice and depravity, has graciously looked down upon our homes from coast to coast that have raised beseeching hands and pleading voices to His high throne of mercy. Because strong homes make for strong people and happy family life for happy national life, let us strengthen the buttresses of American progress by introducing the family altar where it has never been established, restoring it where it has fallen into neglect, maintaining it where its blessings have already been experienced, and we shall have helped to advance and promote the welfare of our nation to a degree that far exceeds the sum total of all benefits accruing from widely discussed legislative and industrial projects.

Give to our homes fathers who recognize the responsibilities of precept and example in their divinely authorized leadership; mothers who are guided by the hallowed impulses of maternal love; children who, like the youthful Christ, are obedient to their parents and grow “in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” Endow their homes with the abiding presence of Christ and His unfailing counsel, invoked in family prayer, strengthened in family Scripture-reading, glorified in the hymns of family praise,—and homes that enjoy these benedictions, though they may make little appeal to the eye and in their modest dimensions attract only humble, unassuming souls, will be rich in radiant happiness.

May the Lord of the eternal mansions endow us with the faith that repeats Joshua’s resolution, with the fervor that puts this high resolve into daily practise, and with the blessings that fill our homes with heavenly radiance, the foregleam of the eternal homeland! Amen.

Published with the permission of The Maier Center, Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105.

Date: May 7, 1931

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord.Psalm 127:3

THIS week the nation pauses—and it does well in pausing—to observe its annual Child Health Week. Wherever childhood is neglected or retarded; wherever a people exposes its infants, as in China, drowns its baby girls, as in India, sells its offspring into slavery, as in Africa, or takes its children out of the home and socializes them in a Communist nursery as in Soviet Russia, there we have one of the major causes contributing to the sorrows and disasters that must inevitably overwhelm that nation. And because in our own country, as in every country, the history of tomorrow will be written by the youth of today, we ought to thank God with all the fervor of heart-deep gratitude that such intelligent and wide-spread interest is displayed in the proper development of America’s 35,000,000 children and that specialized attention is focused upon the ten million of these who for one reason or another, either because they are improperly nourished, because they are mentally or physically retarded, or because they are delinquent and offer behavior problems, need the special care of intelligent and loving watchfulness.

Yet, while laying this commendable stress on the physical well-being of our American boys and girls, we dare not be indifferent to the far greater concern of their spiritual welfare and the development of their souls. We want and we need healthy and happy children; but it is even more imperative for our domestic and national well-being to have morally healthy and spiritually happy children. So tonight, on the basis of this striking statement of the psalmist, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord,” let me emphasize some of the fundamental teachings of the Bible concerning childhood and show you that God looks to American fathers and mothers, present and future, for a profound appreciation of the privilege of parenthood and for a corresponding readiness to bring up their children, as required by the Scriptures, “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

A DIVINE HERITAGE—IN SPITE OF MODERN DISPARAGEMENT.

When our text calls children “an heritage of the Lord,” that is, the gift of love which a bountiful Father bequeaths to His sons and daughters, it takes an attitude toward childhood which is directly and determinedly opposed to much of modern thought. Today, in our era of diminished families, when the graduates of our select women’s colleges exclude themselves from motherhood and when all the modern theories for the looseness of the marriage relation are built up on the idea of childless families, children are frequently regarded as inconvenient restrictions and unnecessary hindrances in life. Only in this way can we explain the motive behind our steadily decreasing birth-rates and the corresponding diminution in the number of the fine large families so frequent a generation or two ago.

Now, I know that it has been only a few weeks since a large body of American churchmen gave to the press of the nation what is virtually an endorsement of birth control, as that term is popularly understood. But I would not want my hearers to think for a moment that this or any other similar disparagement of the divine gift of children and the nobility of parenthood settles the issue either from the point of view of morals or of Christianity. I like to hark back to that lone Friar of Wittenberg, standing before the assembled powers of Church and State four hundred years ago, declaring that Church Councils and Church Fathers have erred and made mistakes. In the same spirit I say tonight that, if that endorsement of birth control were signed by every church-body in the country, it would simply be a nation-wide misinterpretation (to put it mildly) of the plain statements and the emphatic spirit of the Word of God. For here is the very first command that God gave to the human race, the injunction issued to the first parents, but binding under normal conditions upon every subsequent husband and wife, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Here is the statement of our text, “Children are”—not nuisances, not the means of impoverishing their parents, not a sign of low and common family ideals, but, according to that Word that never made a mistake and that never will make a mistake—“an heritage of the Lord.” Here in the 128th Psalm is the description of the happy man, with his wife and children round about his table, as branches of the verdant olive-tree. Here in the 38th chapter of Genesis is the tragic sentence of displeasure pronounced and executed by God Himself upon a man who refused to accept the privilege of parenthood.

But I hear some one say that times have changed and that today the wilful limitation of offspring gives the only child in a family a far better chance in life than that child would enjoy if he had four or five brothers and sisters. I will not question the sincerity of this objection because people may be sincere and still be mistaken; but I will content myself merely with pointing out that God’s dispensations to His children are always for their benefit and blessing and that the child in the large family has the better chance in life according to the investigation of research workers at Yale University, according to the very definite proof in the Hall of Fame in New York, and in the long list of eminent men and women of America. The single child has patently labored under a disadvantage, while the boy or girl with brothers and sisters has found such relationship to be helpful and stimulating.

Again, some one objects that bringing children into the world takes its toll in a mother’s health and happiness and that therefore they can hardly be called “heritages” in the full sense of this term. But this, too, is just another of the modern perversions by which a selfish tendency tries to justify its selfishness. On the very contrary, when motherhood is deliberately and systematically avoided, by following methods that are despicable, no matter how exalted the endorsements may be which are placed, upon them by men of medicine and men of religion, there you have the direct origin of many of the physical failings of our day and of the weakening of the bodily constitution of many of our American women. And if you want to hear what God says about this, open your Bible at 1 Tim. 2, 15, and you will find the divine statement that women “shall be saved in child-bearing if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety”—and thus find their greatest happiness in life.

Some one else suggests that, when a mother is obliged to spend her time with her children, she is immediately cut off from all social and professional activities and that the pursuit of her career is restricted. Now, in this age of advanced feminism, when the line of demarcation that separates the activities and the habits and the pastimes of men from those of women is being obliterated by a steady and pernicious process, it will certainly sound puritanical and out of date to tell the women of our nation that, if the alternative that confronts them is either cradle or career, under normal circumstances they can serve their own interests, the happiness of their home, and the welfare of their communities best by mothering the precious mites of humanity that are given to them as the heritage of God. I say this without the slightest disparagement of the fine accomplishments in all walks of life that have been recorded by noble, talented, or self-sacrificing women in those isolated and exceptional instances, when Divine Providence has employed the extraordinary abilities of this wife or of that mother for far-reaching and constructive purposes. But in the usual conditions of the average home we must be guided by that evident principle of Scripture that woman’s highest glory, her field of sublimest distinction, lies not in the froth of human glory nor in the tinsel of social preeminence nor in the fading mirage of commercial or industrial distinctions, but in the privilege of being a faithful wife and a good, cheerful, loving mother of good, healthy, happy children. And next Sunday, when we bring our tributes to the mothers who gave us our lives, whose loving care protected us during the perils of infancy, and to whose prayers and intercession for our soul’s welfare we are inexpressibly indebted, all this is in direct harmony with that Scriptural picture of the happy Christian mother whose children “rise up to call her blessed.”

Here, then, is the fundamental attitude of the Scriptures toward children: They are the gift of God’s love, “an heritage of the Lord.” Remember this, you, the Hannahs and the Sarahs of modern life, to whom, in the unsearchable ways of God’s love it has not been given to cuddle on your breast a child of your own. Remember this in that fervent, effectual prayer that “availeth much,” so that, if it be the will of the Father, who “doeth all things well” and with whom “nothing is impossible,” you may be given this happiness. Remember it also when you behold a child, orphaned and bereft of the greatest human gift in life, a mother’s love. And as you think of the happiness that your affection, the warmth that your comfortable home, could extend to that child, may you hear the Savior, as He raises His arms in benediction, tell you: “Whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me.”

A DIVINE HERITAGE THAT MUST BE GUARDED.

Now, this priceless heritage must be guarded with the most vigilant and painstaking love. It will not be necessary for me tonight to emphasize that such concern embraces the bodily care and the physical growth of the children. For that is something that is instinctive, even in irrational creatures. You have all seen a mother robin feed and protect her fledglings and hover over them with chattering anxiety. You have all read of the maternal fury into which a lioness may be lashed when an approach is made toward her cubs. What a perversion of nature, then, when parents shirk the responsibilities of providing for their children because of avarice or lack of love for their own flesh and blood!

Neither must I speak at length on the parental duty to help children to advance mentally and socially. If it were possible to speak personally and individually to you fathers and mothers in my audience tonight, I am sure that you would tell me that you have high and hopeful plans for the development of your children. Arthur is to be an engineer. You are stinting yourselves on this pleasure and denying yourselves that enjoyment, so that Helen may remain at college. Even in this depression you are trying to make arrangements, so that little Henry can have a few weeks in a boys’ camp this summer. And the love behind all this is commendable, provided your interest in your children is not restricted to this, so that you neglect the one thing that is supremely needful and turn a deaf ear to the invitation of that gentle Savior who took the little ones into His divine arms and declared, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.” The apostolic admonition to modern parents in this twentieth century is still, “Bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” They, too, need the comfort and the blessing of knowing and believing that in Jesus they have an all-powerful and all-sufficient Savior, who removes their sins (and children have sins) and who guides them through life. They need to fold their tiny hands and bend their little knees and open their baby lips to pray to Him for forgiveness and strengthening and leadership, just as all of us—you in the care-free years of youth, you in the prime of an active, productive existence, and you who have passed the proverbial threescore and ten—need the cleansing, fortifying power of His blood.

But what a terrifying guilt those parents load upon themselves who refuse to regard their offspring as a heritage that must be brought back to God! We read that Jesus was sore displeased with those who tried to keep the little children away from Him. But how withering would be His displeasure today if He were visibly with us to speak to those fathers and mothers who are utterly unconcerned about the soul life of their children! They let them stand for an hour, if necessary, in those long queues that coil around city blocks and then lead into some cinema sophistication; they send them to dancing-school; they are solicitous about their dress and appearance; but when you speak of religious training in the home or in the Sunday­school, they are both uninformed and uninterested. To them the Savior says, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones.”

During the last twenty-four hours 7,000 children have been born in this country. Strenuous efforts are being made to give them the best advantages that any children have ever had. But will they be given the strengthening of the Christian religion? Will they be led to their God and Savior? Will they be regarded as heritages of the Lord? These are the questions which modern parents must answer before God. Remember that the right answer to these vital issues must be given in the home. If the Word of God does not reign there, if the parents are so preoccupied that there is no time for prayer, no room for the Bible, no thought of Christ, their children will very likely grow up indifferent to the claims which Jesus has upon their soul. But remember, too, that the right answer also includes the Christian education of our children outside of the home, in the Sunday-school and in the church.

To these two agencies the Church that I represent has added a third, the Christian parish-school, which gives the child his entire grammar-school education under pronouncedly Christian atmosphere and which takes the three conventional R’s and adds a fourth capital R, Religion, the happy, saving religion of Jesus Christ. Almost 80,000 of our children receive their daily instruction in over 1,300 day-schools erected and maintained by my Church. Probably there is a Christian day-school of this nation-wide system in your vicinity; it will welcome your child and regard it as a heritage of the Lord and, in leading it to Christ, prepare it not only for that intelligent Christian citizenship which our country so sorely needs, but also for the citizenship in heaven, which causes rejoicing among the angels. Amen.

Published with the permission of The Maier Center, Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105.

Date: October 23, 1930?

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.Joshua 24:15

NOT long ago a large newspaper in London offered a prize for the best definition of the word home. More than five thousand replies were received, offering as many different explanations of this momentous four-letter word, which brings up before our mind’s eye some of the noblest conceptions and some of the most treasured memories of which human thought is capable.

More than five thousand different interpretations of this short word home! Yet tonight, as we broadcast this radio message, dedicated to the youth of this North American Continent, a program that is financed and supported by that splendid young people’s organization, the Walther League, we should find indeed, if we could inquire, that the young men and young women of America are likewise divided on the question as to what constitutes a happy home. Take young people as you meet them in all parts of the land and ask them what their conception of an ideal home is, and you will receive many and varied answers. Some—and I fear a large number—will say, “My picture of an ideal home is one that does not feel the pinch of poverty and privation, a home in which there is plenty of money, which contains all the conveniences and attractions and comforts so essential to a happy and complete home.” Others will tell you, “Education and culture produce the ideal home. It is only when people are enlightened that they can attain to happiness in their family relations.” Still others will answer your question by saying, “Affection is the greatest contributory factor to any happy family. When husband and wife love each other, when children regard their parents, and parents regard their children, with affection and devotion, then you have everything that is necessary for happiness in the home.” And there will be those who say, “In addition to all this there must be religion, a creed of some kind. When a home has religion, it has the one power which can make it ideally happy.”

Yet these opinions, which you can read repeatedly in “uplift” magazines and find described in the apparently endless number of books that are being published on the question of the home, fall far short of giving the one and only correct description of a truly ideal home. Wealth is not essential to family felicity. You can go down to the hovels that rise in your city slums, and in some of those poverty-pinched families you will find more real happiness than in many of the aristocratic mansions in the exclusive residential sections, where perhaps a dissolute father, an unfaithful wife, or an ungrateful child has used the money that so many people today regard as essential to blast away every vestige of peace and love. Neither can education and culture alone produce a happy and helpful home-life; for a college degree is no charm against family troubles, as repeated instances in the divorce courts show, and the childless families of the intelligentsia in our country are not only working misery in such homes, but are weakening the physical, mental, and spiritual power of our nation. And love? It is true that there can be no real and full happiness without love; but affection alone cannot guarantee the continuance and growth of happiness in the home. Many a son and many a daughter has been ruined by too much love or by the wrong sort of affection. There must be something else combined with love to purify and strengthen it, something else indeed, if love is to have the right impulse and the right power.

SERVICE TO GOD IN CHRISTIAN FAITH MAKES A HAPPY HOME.

That something else is faith in Christ, the service of the Lord, to which Joshua pledges himself and his household in our text. Mark you, I insist upon Christian faith, because mere religion, any kind of creed, will never satisfy. Over in Africa there is plenty of religion in the kraals of the natives, but it is a religion that tells them to insure the happiness of their homes by murdering the little, helpless babes that are born as twins or by carrying their aged parents and grandparents out to the jungles and leaving them there as prey for man-eating lions. In our country likewise there are many homes in which there is a superabundance of some kind of religion, but the false kind, which permits a father to stand over the prostrate form of his child and refuse to call a physician because it is against his religion; or that vicious brand of religion parading under the name of Modernism,—although it is as old as the hills and the idolatry and immoral worship that was practised on the hills,—which preaches the weakening of the marriage relations, the illegitimate control of offspring, or other satanic delusions, which, if carried through, would spell complete disaster for our country.

If, then, our own home individually is to radiate happiness, if it is to be a haven of spiritual refuge for those who are sheltered within its walls, it must be dedicated to the service of the Lord, it must be pervaded with faith in Christ and with His renewing Spirit. I submit this tonight as a very definite principle, that the first and foremost requirement for the service of the Lord in the attainment of home happiness is the sincere conviction, firmly accepted by every member of the household (which, I pray God, may be in the hearts of all who are listening in tonight), that Jesus Christ is their personal Savior; that, recognizing fully and without any self-justifying reservations the sin and the selfishness, the greed and the envy, the baser impulses and desires that express themselves only too frequently in their lives, they come with contrite, yet trusting hearts to the never-failing, overflowing source of their soul’s redemption, the Cross, and thus consecrate themselves to the Lord’s service. I do not say that there cannot be a certain sort of happiness in the home-life of those who have not answered the charge of sin by pointing to the grace of Christ; but I do say that, just as the joy of life and the happiness of death is known to none but the Christian, so in our family relations there can be no hope of permanent, abiding, satisfying, spiritual happiness without the all-pervading faith in Jesus and without faithful ser­ vice to the Lord.

Now, this is not merely my personal opinion; it is the declaration of Him whose Word is the unalterable, unerring truth and who tells us, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” If you want to realize the absolute certainty of this statement, examine the evidence that crowds in upon us in this day and hour. Why is it that last year more than 200,000 decrees of divorce were issued in our own country? Why is it that our nation is being inundated by a flood-wave of juvenile crime and that our enlarged prisons are being filled with youthful criminals? Why is it that the police radios of our country daily broadcast the names of hundreds of missing young men and young women? Why is it that there is such a rude disregard of the requirements of purity and chastity on the part of young people that even newspaper writers are beginning to throw up their hands in horror? Is all this not finally to be traced to the ugly power of sin and to the fact that many homes, calloused and stolidly indifferent because of cold commercialism and endless pleasure-seeking, have crowded Him out who says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock”; that they have not emblazoned this truth in their innermost hearts, “Christ is the Head of this house, the unseen Guest at every meal, the silent Listener to every conversation”?

SERVICE TO GOD IN CHRISTIAN LIFE MAKES A HAPPY HOME.

But because the home should be the basic unit in our modern life, because the Church will never, humanly speaking, be able to rise above the home level, our American homes, blessed above all others, as they certainly are, should hearken to the words of the Savior and the words of His Scripture, which tell us how we must serve God in the daily, practical issues of our home-life. And while there is much that I could say to parents, especially to those who do not show the proper interest and concern as to where their sons and daughters are and what they are doing; while the Seattle Juvenile Court is undoubtedly right in saying that eighty-five per cent. of the young people brought before that court would have been spared this humiliation and disgrace “if the fathers and mothers of these children had safeguarded them with a reasonable amount of affectionate companionship,”—tonight I am speaking especially to young people, and it is to them particularly that I present the constructive suggestions which the Scriptures offer for the service of the Lord and the attainment of happiness in their present as well as in their future homes.

First of all, our young people are told to “obey their parents in all things”; and they are assured that “this is well-pleasing unto the Lord.” Any young man or young woman who knows that until the thirtieth year of His perfect manhood the divine Christ was subject to His earthly parents should also know and believe that through faith in this Jesus there is given to them the power to put into practise that love and devotion to which God has attached such importance that the commandment, “Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother” is the only injunction of the ten bearing a promise, “That it may be well with thee and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

Then, the Bible tells us that children are to love their parents, to “requite” them, that is, to repay their kindness; and again we are told, “That is good and acceptable before God.” It may be up to date for a young man to absent himself from his home until the early hours of the morning, enjoying the intimacies of automobile rides, late dinners, and amusements of a doubtful nature; but it is hard to see how this can be really enjoyable when a care-worn mother, who rarely has the pleasure of enjoying her son’s company, stays at home, forlorn, lonely, and anxious. It may be attractive for a young lady to blossom forth periodically in the latest style of dress; but it is an attraction of a very questionable kind when her father has been obliged to wear his clothing shiny and threadbare to enable her to keep pace with fashion’s demands. When young women spend most of their salary for personal adornment and for useless, but expensive luxuries and never think of the joy that a little gift of love and gratitude would bring to their mother’s heart; or when young men lavish no insignificant part of their salary upon the young lady of their choice for candy, flowers, and entertainment, without ever stopping to think that no father or mother ever grows too old to appreciate gifts of filial love with double gratitude; when young people show their attractive qualities outside of their homes and reserve their less amiable traits for the family circle,—they are guilty not only of a sad lack of consideration, but also of a plain disregard of the divine will.

No, every young man or young woman who has made the pilgrimage out to Calvary, has stood beneath the cross, and witnessed the deep devotion to His prostrate mother which the crucified Redeemer evinced when He cried out, “Son, behold thy mother,” “Woman, behold thy son”; all those in whose ears this thunder of the wrath of God has echoed, “The eye that mocketh at his father and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it,” all such do not need special days and outward celebrations and formalities to remind them of the love and devotion which, through the spirit and power of Jesus, they must extend to their parents.

And to both, Christian parents and Christian children, the Savior looks for a home-life that will be a constant expression of faith in His holy name and that will show the deeper meaning of Joshua’s promise, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Remember there can be no completely Christian home where the family altar has not been established and where the members of a household do not unite in prayer to God, beseeching Him for His comfort and courage and thanking Him for His immeasurable love and bounty. There is something missing in that home where the Book which claims to be, and which we believe to be, a “lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path” remains closed and sealed, where the Bible, with the solution which it offers for all the problems and perplexities of any household, is not read in the quiet devotions of the family circle. “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” The humble cottage that is pervaded with the spirit of the Lord Jesus means more in the sight of the just and holy God than the palatial mansions that have accommodations for everything that spells comfort for the body, but are too crowded for Him who provides for the eternal welfare of immortal souls.

Yes, a home where the story of the Cross finds its abode and the message that “there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” than the name of Jesus Christ, is heard and believed by the whole family, that home is indeed blessed and is endowed with the power that makes “Home, Sweet Home” more than a mere song—a blessed reality. In such a home, marriage is something high and holy, not a mere temporary arrangement, which may be discarded as soon as it proves inconvenient. In such a home both husband and wife realize the divine wisdom and love that prompted the all­wise Creator to tell all the generations of men, “Be fruitful and multiply”; children are regarded as the gift of God’s grace, as the objects of special care and affection, and there is no unwillingness to assume the responsibilities and duties of parenthood. In homes that are thus blessed the eternal Redeemer Himself is enthroned, and it is His Spirit of peace and helpfulness and love that can quiet the tempests that arise and adjust the misunderstandings that may crop out as long as human nature still asserts itself.

Give us young people who in the spirit of Jesus Christ will make Joshua’s resolution theirs and dedicate themselves to their Father’s service, and the dawn of a new and happier day will break upon our country, a day in which the home ties will be strengthened, the home influence increased, and the home blessings intensified, especially through the establishment of the family altar, through the uplifting power of family prayer and Scripture-reading. Even more, such young men and young women will be prepared to lay the right foundation when, following the command of God and the impulse of their nature, they enter married life and, taking Jesus with them as the Third in their covenant, build their own homes, where peace and love and comradeship help to make this life of ours as nearly worth living as it ever can be.

Their home may not attract the attention of men; it may not be noted for its luxurious appointments and facilities; but it will have another glory: it will have Christ, the blessed Redeemer Himself—Christ as the Guide and Counselor of husband and wife, Christ as the Guardian and Protector of all who dwell within that home; Christ to share in joy and happiness; Christ to soothe in sorrow and distress; Christ to receive the little children that are born to bless that home; Christ to wipe away the tears that come when a dear one is carried into the heavenly home; Christ first, Christ last, Christ forever uppermost! May this Savior be the crown and glory of all our homes! Amen.

Published with the permission of The Maier Center, Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105.