Build The Home (Psalm 127)

MOTIVATE

John Scolinos was a HOF College Baseball Coach. He was the head coach at Pepperdine University from 1946-1960 and of California State Polytechnic University Pomona from 1962-1991. Scolinos totaled 1,198 coaching victories with 3 Division II national championships, and 6 championships on the community college level, and was named coach of the year 3 times. He also was the pitching coach for the 1984 U.S. Olympic Baseball team, which finished second that year.

In one of Scolino’s conference talks to coaches, scouts, media, etc. he shared some life lessons from baseball.[1]

–        Do you know why they call it home plate? Why don’t they call it “4th Base” or “Scoring Base”? Holding up a literal home plate you can see it looks like a house… baseball can teach us about our homes.[2] home

–        Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League? After a pause, a few shouted out “17 inches.”

–        How about in Babe Ruth League? Another pause and a few more shout, “17 inches.”

–        High School Coaches, how wide is home plate? Several in unison confidently shout “17 inches.”

–        College Coaches, how wide is home plate? Numerous shout “17 inches.”

–        Minor Leagues… the whole room begins to shout: “17 inches.”

–        Any Major League coaches, how wide is home plate? They all shout “17 inches.”

–        THAT’S RIGHT! SEVENTEEN INCHES!

–        And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over 17”? Someone hollered, “They send him to Pocatello [Idaho]!”

–        Right, and what they don’t say is “Ah, that’s okay Jimmy. If you can’t hit a 17” target, we’ll make it 18”, 19”, or 20” so you have a better chance at pitching the ball over the plate.

–        And coaches, the same goes for our best players who break standards… we don’t widen the plate by changing the rules to fit the player.

–        With the crowds laughs turning into groans, Scolinos begins unfolding the challenge

o   “This is the problem in our homes today: with our marriages, with the way we parent our kids, with our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. Instead, we widen the plate!

o   “This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate. Where is that getting us?”

o   “And this is the problem in the church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate.”

  • … Where Christians redefine what it means to be followers of Jesus in their beliefs and behaviors.

o   Scolinos summarizes, “If I am lucky, you will remember one thing from this old coach. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to [high] standards; if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to…”

o   With that Scolinos turns around home plate to reveal the dark black side, and he concludes: “… dark days are ahead.”

 

EXAMINE           Psalm 127 Build The House ps127

Psalm 127:1-5 1 Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 2  It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. 3  Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. 4  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. 5  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127 was part of the songs of ascent. Psalms 120-134 were called the songs of ascent because they frequently reference Jerusalem and Zion, and the priests sung them as they ascended the temple mount steps, and the Israelites sung during their annual festival pilgrimage to worship at the temple. [3] So, for us, looking at this psalm should perhaps cause us to consider the songs of our life. If your life and/or family had a theme song, what would it be?

Blessings_Summer Psalms_June 2017

In studying Psalm 127 we can affirm 3 life and family principles.

Every home needs the Lord.

The psalmist addresses three life areas that concern us all: our house, security, and family.

–        House project lists are endless

–        Security fears individually & corporately abound

–        Family stress endures

 

“Unless the Lord…”

First, the psalmist notes that those who build a house labor in vain if God is not the builder of the home.

Consider Moses who built the tabernacle or Solomon who built the temple – they were just men investing their sweat and service into massive physical projects if God isn’t present (cf. Ex 33:15; 1Chron 22:11-13; 2Chron 6:18-21).

–        Our church B&G projects of lights, painting, exterior staircases, etc. have required updates. But imagine if our foundation had cracks with water seeping in and freezing during winter times that caused the building to lean… we walk in the building and feel the floors shift and watch the walls bend; but we kept working on the lights & paint w/o ever addressing the foundation. That would be crazy!

Likewise, we may build a home with our own hands and/or income, but if we fail to invite and invest in the spiritual foundation of our home, then we labor in vain. The foundation of our home must be our Christian faith. We cannot seek to have a different foundation and simply place a little Bible verse plaque on the wall and say we have a Christian home. Too often families have a different foundation and priority other than the gospel and God’s word, and then later try to include God in the mix of the aftermath. We can have attention grabbing curb appeal and interior design, but if we do not have a firm foundation then nothing else will matter in time.

Matthew 7:24 “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

1Corinthians 3:11-15 “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss…”
◊      Faith is formed personally. Fathers & Parents, we must remember that our children are like wet cement, being easily and lastingly impressionable. They will not follow our exhortation as much as they will follow our example. That doesn’t mean that we have to be perfect parents. In fact, children don’t need perfect parents but prayerful parents who point them to the Savior Jesus Christ. Many Bible stories tell of imperfect and dysfunctional families who are redeemed by God’s grace not human goodness. So, prioritizing faith at home doesn’t mean perfection but it does mean you have and are following a plan.

è What’s your faith plan for your family? Families have a budget to plan finances, lists for groceries, databases & spreadsheets for jobs, registries for weddings & baby showers, but where is the plan for our families? Today men seldom take initiative in the parenting process. In fact, many parenting books are geared toward women & moms. Men, we cannot put our family (marriage & parenting) on auto-pilot; get in the game and make a plan! This is often the place where the church can be a healthy partner; not a substitute. A local church has about 3 hours each week focused on CM, whereas parents have about 56+/- hours each week (~8 hrs sleep; 8 hrs school/work/activity; 8 hours open each day) that are outside of sleep and school and activities. Therefore, while church life is important it is not a substitute for faith in the home. In fact, family foundations must include the faith community because often/mostly God’s instructions are not just giving to individuals but to plural individuals and the faith community as a whole (Deut 6 / Psalm 78 / Eph 5 / Col 3 / 1Peter 3). One contrasting example is the book of Proverbs, with many being wisdom passed down from father to son.

◊      Faith is formed publicly. The church can partner with parents and co-labor alongside them for growing godly generations. A church provides mentors to shape, ministries to serve, and milestones to send children forward through a maturity process.

v  Mentors to shape. People and peers to set a godly example and great encouragement. A good and healthy church can be a safe harbor of refuge from the stormy seas of life, but can also be a strengthening wind in the sail to push you along toward your destination. Church family should provide these type of relationships for you.

  • Old & Young multi & intergenerational / Married & Widowed & Single / Diversity of race/status.
  • My kids recently: “Why is _____ at our house?” Me: bc people want to talk to their pastor and other adults who aren’t their parents. Just like you have…..

v  Ministries to serve. A healthy church can have a variety of ways to serve you and help you serve others. Church ministry is not a one-way street. There are times and seasons where we need service, but the local church is an avenue for you to roll up your sleeves and put your hands to work. It is through ministry service that we learn to apply faith knowledge.

v  Milestones to send. 10 Milestones @SPBC…

AGE MILESTONE EVENT DESCRIPTION
Infant Family Dedication Parents commit to raising child in the Christian faith.
Toddler Family Devotion Parents learn how to do family worship at home.
1st Grade Worship @Church Child transitions from nursery to worship service. Equipping parenting in the pew.
Elementary Salvation & Baptism Child is converted with awareness of sin, of gospel, beginning faith and obedience.
Elementary Spiritual Growth Child learns catechism and connects to Children’s Ministry
Elementary Discipline Parents learn biblical aims for parenting & family.
6th Teen Transition Children transition from CM to Youth Ministry with equipping parents & teen on navigating adolescence.
16 Culture & Technology Parents & teen establish boundaries and goals with cultural norms for work, opposite gender relationships, sexual purity, technology use, etc.
16-18 Stewardship Parents & teens learn how to steward time (priorities), talents (life goals & career), and treasure (save/spend/share).
16-18 Service Teen participates in international mission trip for global exposure integrated with using their talents for God’s kingdom.

 

Every home needs labor and respite.

The Psalmist is not advocating against building, laboring, or securing protection. His message is to not isolate the Lord, but integrate our faith and family. Once the Lord is your foundation, then labor is part of the process of building the home and the city. When we fail to put the Lord first then there is vanity (emptiness) and sleepless anxiety.

–        Ironic that raising a family, especially starting out with young children, there is little sleep; men being workaholics and women being domestaholics – both are unhelpful. Reality is that certain life seasons are more laborious and strain our sleep. Young parents will lose sleep from late night parenting, feeding, emergencies, and just general caretaking. But take heart, seasons change! And many need to learn to embrace changing seasons. But the Psalmist says God “gives to His beloved sleep”. There is a weary fatigue and a worshipful fatigue.
o   Weary fatigue: Emotional burdens become physical pain, and every day becomes a drain without a sense of direction or purpose.

o   Worshipful fatigue: Physical exhaustion but spiritually fulfilled; it’s a satisfying tiredness knowing that each day is content in God’s call upon your life.

The labor for families is fruitful.

è Men – you are called to lead in labor. The Bible does not prescribe the division of labor (women inside home with men outside). Babies & children need both mom and dad (that’s true at home & church!). And chores outside and inside need the expertise and exertion of both men and women (and yes, at home & church). Yet, it is clear that men, especially husbands and fathers, are called by God to lead. Specifically, if men are not leading in their labor for the family then they are not fulfilling God’s design.

o   God gave Adam work before the Fall (Gen 2:15), so our perspective of work should be positive and being productive in the world.

o   Rising early and eating the bread from toil is part of life outside of Eden.

o   Work produces reward of income, shelter, food, blessing (Prov 6:6-8, 10-11; 10:4-5; 12:11; 12:14; 12:24, 27; 13:4; 14:23; 16:3; 16:26; 18:9; 19:15; 20:13; 22:29; 24:33-34; 28:19; 2Thess 3:10).

o   à Men guard against idleness & idolatry.

è “children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” To have a heritage from the Lord will require great labor and love. Growing godly generations will not come easy or be automatic. When Christianity is assumed from one generation to the next then faith becomes indifferent, lukewarm, and lacking the fear of God. God’s people must always value the fruit of the womb. Our perspective of children starts within our own family conversations and choice sizes. I realize a “full quiver” may be defined differently for families. We shouldn’t belittle small families or big families.

HERE is what I wrote when I realized our family would have a 5th child…

But regardless of your family size or season, we must value children as a blessing and not a burden. The blessing of children is the benefit of continuing the faith and prosperity of God into future generations.

è Is it wrong to say the CM/YM is a whole church responsibility of every member? I don’t think so. In fact, every church ministry relates to and impacts one another. The point of emphasis is that CM/YM often don’t have the voice through voting and tithing that impacts church decision-making. So, churches need to take ownership of its ministries, but especially CM/YM for a godly heritage.

 

Every home needs to be unleashed.

The blessing of God’s presence is seen in the reward of future faithful generations. Children are a gift from God’s hand. They are like arrows or weapons of warfare. God is seeking future generations to bring Him fame and pass on the message of the gospel to those standing at “the gate” in our communities. In times of war, the gates were the weak spots in city walls, and therefore the location of the greatest conflict when a city was attacked. However, a king and nation with many soldiers was able to protect its city gates.[4]

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.”

Christian homes are called to influence the world and invade the enemy’s territory. We can withstand the enemy’s attacks because our soldiers (children and families) have been equipped and are ready to engage for battle. Parents and the church must view children as arrows to launch not artifacts to shelve.
JIM ELLIOT QUOTE

At age 22, Jim Elliot had a promising ministry in front of him in the United States. He probably could have been a very successful pastor or evangelist or teacher. His parents were not very excited about his call to go to the Quichuas in South America. They wrote and told him so. He answered bluntly.

His Response…

“I do not wonder that you were saddened at the word of my going to South America. This is nothing else than what the Lord Jesus warned us of when He told the disciples that they must become so infatuated with the kingdom and following Him that all other allegiances must become as though they were not. And He never excluded the family tie. In fact, those loves that we regard as closest, He told us must become as hate in comparison with our desires to uphold His cause. Grieve not, then, if your sons seem to desert you, but rejoice, rather, seeing the will of God done gladly. Remember how the Psalmist described children? He said that they were as an heritage from the Lord, and that every man should be happy who had his quiver full of them. And what is a quiver full of but arrows? And what are arrows for but to shoot? So, with the strong arms of prayer, draw the bowstring back and let the arrows fly – all of them, straight at the Enemy’s hosts.

“Give of thy sons to bear the message glorious, Give of thy wealth to speed them on their way, Pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious, And all thou spendest Jesus will repay.”[5]

 

The ultimate aim of the family is not to keep children safe from all harm, but to shape them and send them for the mission of God.

Parents, we are not just raising children but raising children to become adults. The differences are noted in our priorities and perspectives.

◊      We unleash our homes when our faith is integrated in every area of our life: neighborly, work, school, activities, sports, etc. “For me to live is Christ” Php 1:21

 

APPLY/THINK

Play the game: gospel

Pray & Plan: family

Partner with teammates to accomplish more: mission

 

 

[1] Inspired and adapted from http://www.sperrybaseballlife.com/stay-at-17-inches/

[2]  https://twitter.com/abca1945/status/721858410728165376?lang=en

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 120:title). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 127:5). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] (Elisabeth Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, [New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers: 1958] p. 132; hymn quote from “Oh, Zion Haste”)

 

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