Well this is
one of the most exciting mornings of my life because I have
an opportunity to share with you my thoughts as I near my
80th birthday and the thoughts are Love - Family Style.
It’s an amazing thing what revisionisms have been
introduced to our culture in the United States in my lifetime.
It is an amazing thing how people who claim great academic
expertise are able to rewrite the history of a man like
George Washington, pick out the worst and highlight that.
How they’re able to pick out principles that they
interpret are operating in people like Abraham Lincoln.
And they write revisionism and they take the heroic element
out of his lifestyle. We are living in a half century of
enormous revisionism, where people can attack a person like
Jesus Christ and without knowledge, without accurateness
and without truthfulness, rewrite His history, become lets
say a married man with kids. This is an astonishing thing
this thing called revisionism. I am a psych major but also
a history major and that’s why I feel strongly about
how tragic this can be and how professional experts can
get by with it, appearing on the leading talk shows, writing
a new book which will attract attention because of this
shock power, leaving impressions that are most untrue about
historical characters. I am anti-revisionism, as it becomes
a movement more then a real honest intelligent pursuit.
And we see it in culture, we see moral revisionism, where
suddenly something that has always been classified as wrong
in the Judaic Christian religion, and we’re talking
about thousands of years here, not only Christianity.
We are seeing
revisionism in the definition of the word family, and that’s
what concerns me this morning. You know what is a family?
Well its being rewritten, the definition of a community
of people who have an affection for each other can be called
quote a family. And then we come in with words, adjectives
like nuclear family, which mean different things to different
persons. I’m calling for a recognition of the classic,
not the fashionable standard of what a family really is,
because it’s impacted by a revisionism of the word
love. The word love always meant something very profound,
very deep, very significant that produced character, and
behavioral factors in life that produce, nobility and courage
Love is being
rewritten. For some I don’t need to tell you this,
you know, you can carry that point on in discussing it with
your friend as you leave the church this morning. The word
love is being redefined in a downward style to match the
wishes of the people who don’t want to yield to higher
talking about love, family style. The family has been undergoing
enormous challenges. Remember the concept, classic concept
of the family is a male and a female that get married and
have children and raise them in the faith. The classic concept
of the family is that like it or not; I didn’t make
it up, its history, starting with the Jewish faith, they
introduced it. It was strong, it was powerful. Like it or
not, it embraced Christianity because Christianity is a
Jewish faith with Christ as Savior added to the New Testament.
style; its different. You know the challenges to the family
started early in the last century and interestingly enough
it started in Marxism. Carl Marx wanted to impose communism
in the world. He saw capitalism as the enemy. He saw two
major cultural institutions that had to be destroyed. One
was the family, and the other was corporate structures.
And the two went together. How could you, weaken the family
corporations. Corporations; Carl Marx day, were controlled
by families. You know the names of the families; they’re
power names in this country. The whole concept of nepotism,
believe it or not, was coined by Carl Marx, saying ‘can’t
have families controlling corporations.’ And every
corporation had enough problems with families that even
the non-Marx-is were to fall for nepotism too swiftly, without
actually judging what could be the result. And many a corporation,
if you study the history, suffered failure when they weren’t
allowed to have their children in corporate positions. Never
hit the church. In the history of the church there has never
been a principle or a rule that you can’t have children
of a church succeed the pastor, interesting.
And there are forces in our secular society today, even
in churches that are really anti-family. I’m not going
there, but check it out. There are anti-forces that would
down play a husband and a wife, who marry, make love, have
children, raise those kids, and love them till death. Love
family style. Something else. In my lifetime, Elton Trueblood,
the great late professor of philosophy at Earlham College,
created a concept called small groups. I knew him; I was
when that thing was happening. And small groups were introduced
to create a family style small community. Good small groups
have Love – Family Style, What is that? That’s
openness, its honesty; it’s establishing your own
principles and not going by culture. It means you’re
not just another family, you are a special family. We raised
our kids that way, and I’m proud of where they all
are today, and all of my 18 grandchildren, that know the
Ten Commandments, go to church and Sunday school every week.
I’m proud of all of them; it’s a faith, family.
But we taught them, our family is not going to be like the
families maybe across the street or next-door, or the families
of some of your friends; we’re different.
Boy did I learn
that; we succeeded. One day years ago, Bobby was, I called
him Bobby then, Robert was I think maybe five years old,
maybe four. We had the most distinguished religious clergy
man in our whole denomination, a Dr. Howard Hageman, come
to see what this Schuller was doing here in California,
we were being talked about. So the president came out to
check us out, and he was an esteemed professor at the seminary
and a very powerful man. So we were going to drive him to
see the little church that we were trying to get started,
and I ran out of gas so I said well its not far to a gas
station, I know that. I’ll walk and get a gallon.
So I went and down, left the car, left Howard Hageman in
there with Bobby sitting in the car, when Howard pulled
out a pack of cigarettes, which was perfectly legal in the
Dutch Reformed Church. He lit the cigarette. Now I’d
been telling Bobby cigarettes are terrible. They’re
awful. He said why? I said well they’ll bring you
a disease. He said what kind of a disease. I said you wouldn’t
understand but let me tell you it’s the worst disease
in the world. Really?
Now, I tried
to program him against tobacco. Now I’m out of the
car, Howard Hageman lights up a cigarette, blows out the
smoke and little Bobby looks at him and says, and I know
this because my wife was in the back seat. He said, “you
shouldn’t do that.” Oh? Oh? Dr. Hageman said.
Why not? Bobby said, “Well, it’s dangerous.”
Oh really? What’s the danger? And Bobby said you’ll
get a disease.” Oh really? What disease? And Bobby
said, “Worst disease in the world.” And what
is that? Dr. Hageman says. And Bobby said, “Diarrhea.”
Well, every family sets their own principles, their own
little moralities, and that’s something every family
has to come back to today. Think about the effects of life.
Think about the values that you have. Be slow to just welcome
them because they’re now culturally acceptable or
they’re culturally in. Family, love family style?
It’s built on a solid foundation. Ethics. Morality.
And faith. That’s it. Ethics, morality and faith.
And it’s based strongly on history. If something ever
became historical you can be sure there were some reasons
why people had to deny themselves pleasures. Yeah. Something
right with them. And they’re dangerous. But you haven’t
probably calculated. And you don’t want to comment
on it because it’s not socially in. Love – family
style; its love with character.
Well, you know,
I want you to take away a few things and I want you this
morning to just see how you can live that family style love.
First of all understand you have to be alert. I’m
going to give you some words to carry with you. Be aware
that a family is one institution that never keeps score.
Sheila is our eldest child. You know what? I expect that
I spent more on her than on any other of the five kids.
She’s been around longer. She’s the oldest.
We had a child that suffered a terrible accident and lost
a leg and medical care was something else. But none of the
other kids said, “Oh you’re spending a lot of
money on Carol.” Nobody said that, nobody thought
that. You don’t even think of that. In a family, you
don’t keep score. In a family, forgiveness is not
something you can permanently set aside but when Christ
is Lord, you come back to how can we deal with this hurt
that we’ve experienced, maybe one against another.
I was raised
in a family, they were God fearing people, mom and dad and
they were married until death parted them because that’s
the traditional family, till death us do part. It’s
not the cultural thing today but that’s where I was
raised. And I saw them raise their voices, I heard them
shouting at each other but they never split. And I learned
something from that, when you get into a conflict, you don’t
split, you hang in there, you work at it, you never give
in to negative forces. They will come to any institution,
to any relationship, but you don’t give in to them.
You don’t keep score. You don’t pass judgment.
The focus is on encouraging. You encourage each other and
you look for how they need help, when they need help, so
you’re alert, and you help them. It’s not easy
and there were times in my life, in my ministry here, where
I would come home and my brain was just saturated by insecurities,
how would we be able to pay the steel bill for this thing,
wow. I’d come home, there in the kitchen would be
the kids, and my wife making super, “hi daddy”,
be appreciative. Look for something that you can actually
complement them on, thank them for. Make thank you the in
word in your family. That’s what life family love
is like, and be affirmative. That means complement them,
build up their self-esteem, don’t ever put them down.
I love that story, it happened in this Paris opera house
many years ago but the great conductor, the house was packed,
and before the concert started, the announcer came on stage
and said we’re very sorry to have to tell you that
tonight the esteemed conductor is ill and is unable to be
with us. But we found a wonderful young conductor who will
be handling the concert tonight, thank you very much. The
stranger came on, played the orchestra. The first number
there wasn’t a single hand that applauded. There was
silence. It was embarrassing until in a third balcony, a
little boy stood up and shouted, “I think you’re
doing great daddy,” and the house broke down into
applause, inspired by that little guy. That’s love,
family style, wow. Be alert, listen to them, hear what they’re
saying. Be appreciative, say thank you. Be affirmative,
focus on encouragement.
And finally be
the best that you can be under the circumstances. And with
that, I’m thinking of oh fathers who are the second
fathers those kids have known in the home. In some cases
the third father they’ve known in their home. And
I’m thinking of stepfathers. A lot of fathers today
are stepfathers, and that can create, as many of you know,
some serious problems. But I have a relative; I think she
would probably be a grand niece. All I know is her first
name is Shauna. All I know is that her mother had a very
painful divorce early in marriage, and then she married
again. He was the kind of character that was consumed by
love, family style. He was alert, he was affirmative, he
was appreciative, and he was always there. And she fell
in love with him, like she, he was her daddy, and he fell
in love with her like she was her daughter. And not long
ago, he got called up as a reserve, and he’s in Iraq
and then his daughter would write him, I wish you could
be here for my graduation. And of course he told her he
could not do that. But he tried his hardest and only I think
three or four days before her graduation, her momma, that’s
my relative, got a secret call from him. He said I didn’t
give up and my commander has said I can take off to the
graduation of Shauna, but don’t tell her, I want to
surprise her. Maybe I can even make it for the graduation
exercise, but if not I’m going to hope to make it
at the party at the house.
And at graduation,
when the graduating was happening, his plane was landing
in Minneapolis. And to get to the other town in Minnesota
he’d have to rent a car, which he did. And it took
a few hours and he knew he missed the graduation, but he
knew what time the party was at the house. Down the block
came the rented car, couldn’t find a parking space.
Finally way down there he found a place. He was still in
his army uniform from Iraq. He hadn’t had time to
change or anything, and he came running down the sidewalk
as fast as he could, and her grandpa, standing there welcoming
people, said to her, “Shauna look, here comes your
daddy,” and she saw him and burst out running to meet
him. They fell into each other arms.
Love - family style. I salute you; pass it on, with a hundreds
of thousands of years to come in Christ’ name, Amen.