The Family Circle

Leslie Diestelkamp
Rochelle, Illinois

Many contractors advertise themselves as 'Home builders" but you and I know they are only using those words accomodatively. Oh yes, they build houses - good houses - bigger and nicer than ever before. And, when a house is finished they put up a "For sale" sign and invite you to look around. And Leslie Diestelkamp what do you see? Rooms, rooms, with windows, doors, closets, cabinets, fixtures, Appliances and carpets, curtains, drapes, beds, tables, sofas, etc. They call it a "model home." But really it is not a home at all until there are clothes in the closets, dishes in the kitchen, towels in the bath room and food in the refrigerator. It isn't home until somebody hangs his bat there.

Bruce Barton said, "Many a man who pays rent all his life owns his own home. And many a family successfully saved for a home only to find itself at last with nothing but a house."

So my plea today is not simply for "Home" but for better homes. And I do not plead for houses filled with men and women and boys and girls, but I plead for peaceful households and for genuine family circles.

I plead for better homes, for stronger family circles, for the sake of America. Someone said, "The strength of a nation .... is in the intelligent and well-ordered homes of the people." And today, as never before, America needs strengthening-not with greater armies and navies, not with greater airplanes and armaments, not with greater social security or improved balance of trade, but we need strengthening in national morality, in political honesty in diplomatic integrity and in social and judicial justice. This kind of strength cannot be legislated or decreed. It must come from the homes of America.

I do not plead for houses of luxury or furnishings of style for our young people, for these "things" may, to a great degree, be part and parcel of the trouble and turmoil that surrounds what ought to be a place of peace and an association of joyfulness. We don't need better beds for our old backbones, better food for our children, better rugs for our feet or better clothes for our bodies, but we do need better family relationships -- more harmony between husbands and wives and more real companionship between parents and children. We don't need more bed rooms and bathrooms, more family rooms and dens; we don't need more cars to drive and more garages to shelter them, but we do need more time to work and play together, more life to share together, and less -- much less-- of trouble to fear together.

For A Better Church

I plead for homes-for better homes-for the sake of the church. Henry Drummond said, "The family circle is the supreme conductor of Christianity. Bad homes are a blight upon the cause of Christ. And I do not speak of bad houses, decaying, unpainted and crumbling. These really do no harm at all to God's church. But bad morals in the family, strife and discord under one roof, irreverence and disobedience, these indeed bring shame to Christ. I do not speak of bad neighborhoods, but of ungodly households. I do not speak of bad schools but of bad children and bad parents, who determine the quality of any place.

And I remind you that if the homes are bad, the church cannot be good. The real glory that belongs to God because of the very existence of the church (Eph. 3:10, 21) will be virtually invisible to the world if the families in that church are unholy.

If we love the church, we will have to show our love around the dinner table as well as around the communion table.

For More Secure Souls

I plead for homes-for better homes--for the sake of souls--for the sake of your soul and mine and for the sake of his soul and hers. Of course, Christ is the Savior of our souls, but the blood he shed is figuratively dried up by the cold indifference and the complete unconcern for spiritual values in so many homes. The gospel is God's power to save, but it is rendered altogether ineffective by the counter influence of worldliness, greed, lust and covetousness that usually pervades the family circle and that often even prevents the existence of a family circle.

Let none of us suppose that our religion can be turned on and off when we go in and out of the meeting house door, hut rather let us be fully aware of the importance of spirituality at home. The obligations as well as the privileges of the family begin with marriage. If the family is to be happy, providing a wholesome household, the marriage must be right from betrothal to the death bed.

1. Both parties must have a scriptural right to the marriage - Mt. 5:32.

2. They must both enter the marriage determined to leave others and to cleave to each other - Eph. 5:31.

3. Each must unreservedly give himself or herself to the other - 1 Cor. 7:5.

4. Each must love the other as he or she loves self - Eph. 5:28.

5. Each must determine to keep the marriage intact for life - Rom. 7:1, 2.

If the marriage is right, then the family has a good start and with proper nurture the home can become a real sanctuary - a place of refuge for troubled husbands, frustrated wives, distressed children and insecure old people.

Home must provide incentives for life, and the power of home influence needs to be purposely planned and pursued. This will include the proper and wise allocation of our time, talent and energy. Someone said, "When you give an hour of your time, you give an hour of your life." If today's parents can see the need of giving some of their life for their children, then let them begin by giving some time.

A little boy tugged on his father's sleeve. Almost without noticing what he was doing, the father gave the boy some candy. Again the boy tugged on the sleeve. And the father, quite abstractly, gave some money. But again the boy tugged. In exasperation the father said, "I gave you candy and money, what else do you want?" "I want you" the boy replied.

Almost any man and woman can have a baby, but it takes dedication to be a real father or a real mother. So today I plead with the parents to realize the great opportunity that lies before them. You are certainly making character at your house -- good or bad character, depending upon quality of home your house shelters.

I took a piece of plastic clay

and gently fashioned it one day;

and as my fingers pressed it still,

it moved and yielded to my will.

I came again when days were past;

the bit of clay was hard at last.

The form I gave it still it bore,

But I could change that form no more.

I took a piece of living clay

And gently formed it day by day,

And molded with my power and art

A young child's soft and yielding heart.

I came again when days were gone;

It was a man I looked upon.

He still that early impress wore,

And I could change it never more.

-author unknown.

So, today I must plead for parents who will realize that they are the sheep and the children are the lambs, and "The lambs will follow the sheep, you know." I plead for parents who will take time to know their own children and to be known of them. Our affluent society and our very highly socialized culture will take care of your children for you, physically, even if you neglect them, but only you can provide the spiritual care they must have to save their souls.

So I must plead for fathers who will be like Joshua, who said, "Me and my house, we will serve the Lord," and who will be like Corneliu8 of whom it was said that he feared God with all his house.

And I must plead for mothers like Hannah, who gave her son to the Lord while he was yet an infant so that he would serve God all of his life. Let the mothers truly accept their God-given role and let them live up to the high ideal that humanity has always visualized at the very mention of the word, "mother."

Remember, the home, the family circle, if you please, must provide the conscience for the nation, the commitment for the church, and the credentials for heaven.


December 4, 1969