Since the recent sexual revolution, it has become increasingly acceptable to sneer the family values that prevailed during the 1950s.
Some commentators look down on the quaintness and naivety of “Leave It To Beaver,” “Father’s Knows Best,” and “Ozzie and Harriet”–as if those wholesome family-oriented shows are something to flee like the plague.
I grew up during that time. It was not perfect (which is true of every period), but there was something about the family love of that era that should not be laughed at.
Ozzie and Harriet were right. Family is your greatest treasure. Are you nurturing and appreciating the family heritage God has given you?
Some sermons you never forget. They impact you, etch your mind, give you insight that last a lifetime. It is rewarding for me, as a public speaker, to meet people who say that they never forgot a certain message that I gave which touched their life.
Today I’d like to honor Oren Paris, one of the early leaders of Youth With A Mission (and father of singer Twila Paris), who gave a message, probably thirty years ago, that I never forgot.
His text was Psalm 16:6: “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. Indeed, I have a beautiful heritage.”
I don’t recall many details of the message. But I remember good ‘ole Oren, a winsome and passionate southern preacher (he started YWAM’s work in Arkansas) talking with near awe and deep gratitude for the multi-generational family God had given him.
He had good reason to be proud. His family lineage included many followers of Jesus, including quite a few Pentecostal preachers who shared God’s love for generations. They include Loren Cunningham, the founder of YWAM who is Oren’s cousin and his brother Leland who was Youth With A Mission’s North American director for many years and now works extensively in North Korea.
Oren’s family line also included a few scoundrels and prodigals as all families do. He was honest about them all.
But what struck me was Brother Oren’s incredible delight in his family. Many times in his message he exclaimed what a beautiful family inheritance he had! He was grateful for his forefathers, enamored with his immediate wife and children, and excited about their future.
Oren treasured his family heritage. He is now in heaven with many of those ancestors while others from his line carry on here on earth.
I was deeply impacted by his love of family and set my heart to treasure my own–just like Oren.
However, that revelation was harder for me because of my own background. Yes, I did grow up in the era of Ozzie and Harriet when American family life seemed wholesome and strong. But as many families know (including Oren’s!), mine experienced some difficulties.
If you count multiple generations, those trials included the sudden death of loved ones, incarceration, divorce, suicide, health problems, adoption, and even estrangement from relatives. (One Boehme relative “left” the family two generations ago and was never heard from again. I still pray for his possible children and grandchildren because God knows who they are.).
I also didn’t have any Pentecostal preachers in my background, but many good Lutherans! So I think I sub-consciously believed that our own family problems out-weighed the positives. I didn’t default to thinking of my heritage as “beautiful.”
Maybe you can relate. Possibly you were abused as a child, a victim of alcoholism, or divorce. Maybe you grew up poor, lived in a bad neighborhood, or endured various family crises that damaged your view of the “heritage.”
If you feel that way, what you went through is real–but it is not the full picture God wants you to have of the family he gave you.
Let’s back up for a moment and ponder our beginnings. Most believers accept that life started with God creating the heavens and the earth. In our minds-eye, we can see the Master Builder speaking into existence the universe, designing the plants and animals, and putting in place all the stars and planets.
When we think of creation, we naturally gravitate to God making stuff–of which we are a part.
On the other hand, if we get our idea of origins from a secular science class, the emphasis is different, but really the same. There’s no mention of God, but just a “Big Bang” that created the universe billions of years ago and evolved into what we see today.
Evolution teaches a slower and de-personalized life process, but the overall emphasis remains: The emergence of stuff. But here’s where we need a higher view. Is life really about the “stuff” around us?
I think not. Here’s a more accurate picture.
Once upon a time, only the Godhead–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–existed. “They,” the unexplainable Three-in-One, were not only the “First Family” but the Creator of what we now see and enjoy. And, the essence of the Godhead is relationship–Three-in One–loving, enjoying, appreciating, delighting and caring for each.
It is the biblically-understood Trinity that provides the only meaningful explanation of love and relationships. Evolution does not. If we are just a mass of matter, where does love, feeling, sensitivity and altruism come from? From amino acids? It makes no sense. Nor does belief in a single God who has no other relationships and doesn’t need any (such as the Islamic “Allah”).
The biblical truth about the Godhead answers the mystery. Love and family originate in the heart and mind of the eternal, omniscient, omnipresent Trinity (First Family). And the Triune God decided many years ago to multiply it.
Creation was not primarily a Big Bang of stuff. It was an Explosion of Love that the Godhead released into the universe. The stars, planets and earth were simply the backdrop. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit so desired to share their family-love relationship with others that they decided to create a universe and world where their love could be multiplied.
Thus, with the heaven and earth as a necessary environment, God had made man in his image, with the ability of mind, emotion, and freedom–the ability to enter into loving relationships with God and also with other human beings.
It was all about love. It’s still all about love. The goal of missions is love through reconciliation to God. The means of salvation was love, provided through the gruesome death of the Son.
This makes sense because God is love (1 John 3:4)
And God’s structure for experiencing, nurturing and multiplying his love explosion is the family unit. Genesis 1 tells us how God created the environment, but Genesis 2 describes God’s real intention–creating human beings to share loving relationship with him–with the nuclear family the centerpiece.
Family–with God and other humans–is the crux of it all.
If we really understand this concept, that God created us for love and placed us into families to nurture and discover His love, then certainly “our heritage will be beautiful to us.” And the closer we look at our immediate families, we will see the hand of God in their formation.
The time frame of Ozzie and Harriet was simply a good “picture” of God’s desires for mankind–loving, caring parents, obedient children, and family nurture, unity, gratefulness and appreciation–all things that ultimately bring glory to God.
Those family attributes still exist today, but our God-denying secular culture is chipping away at them on many fronts. The AP recently did a story on how the nuclear family–especially marriage–is dying in America. You can read the sad tale here. It was also announced this week that 50% of African American youth and 40% of white American young people have been arrested. 70% of black children are born out of wedlock.
The devil is trying to destroy the family because it most represents the purpose of God.
So how can we treasure the family God has given us? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Pray for a God-given revival of loving, nurturing families.. I take a prayer walk everyday and pray for different themes. One day the prayers focus on families all over the nation and world. I also pray for for all my family members on all sides of the Boehme-Cookson family.
2. Pour great grace and love into your family relationships. A friend of ours once said that “this generation needs a lot of grace.” Lavish it into the lives of your parents, children, and grandchildren. Grace and love are the primary currencies of God-oriented families.
3. If your family is fractured, work to repair it and draw in others in need. One family on our street adopted four foster kids. We have many friends who have adopted children or are foster parents. YWAM Adoption Ministry and Streams of Mercy are good ministries to those in need of family. Support them. Join them.
4. Get together often to love one another and create rich and meaningful memories.
My most special memory this Christmas was our entire family watching a four minute video that our son Nathan produced called “Home for Christmas.” The clip was a reminder of our family heritage. It showed our old home being built, then some snippets of past Christmases we enjoyed together.
When we viewed it on Christmas Eve, we experienced a “God-moment” as every single family member (and a few additions) wept openly over the love we’ve shared over the years.
Tears of joy and remembrance.
The video is here for you to enjoy. I know it’s not your family, so the heart tug will not be the same. But put your own family faces into the reel and think about God’s love explosion that produced your unique family.
Ozzie and Harriet were right. Treasure the family God has given you.
And shout with all your heart: “Indeed my heritage is beautiful!”
Disputing the Big Bang – The Family Love Explosion of the Godhead