Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 20, 1964
NUMBER 41, PAGE 1,12a

"Home, Sweet Home"

Leslie Diestelkamp

Seventy-nine years ago, in 1883, a grave was opened in Tunis in Africa, and from it was taken the body of a man which had been buried there about twenty-one years earlier. His casket was then draped in the American flag and his body was brought back to the United States for another burial, this time with great honor. What had happened to cause such honor to be given after such a long time? Before his death he was serving his country as a diplomat in a rather insignificant post. He was not to receive recognition as a great statesman. But, perhaps before he became a diplomat, he wrote a little song, which in those ensuing years had touched the lips and heartstrings of the multitudes. It was sung, in those days, by rich and poor, educated and illiterate, and its lyrics had cheered and thrilled all of America. The man was John Howard Payne and the song was "Home, Sweet Home."

In this present discussion, when I use the word "home" I do not simply refer to a house, nor do I even mean only a family unit. I shall use the word "home" to mean the family as a household and in the domestic setting. And to begin with we are reminded that one person said, "As the home goes, so goes the nation." Thus we conclude:

Home Is The Cradle Of Civilization

Culture of any kind that is worthwhile has largely been developed through the influence of the home. Appreciation for art, literature, music, etc., usually comes from and through family ties. Industrial and commercial pursuits and advancements have been produced, mainly, through incentives and inducements received in the home. Government in every land has become worthwhile only when and if principles of subjectiveness, steadfastness, integrity and fidelity have been instilled into the hearts of the citizens in the homes. If the homes have failed in this regard, the nations have invariably failed also. But the influence of the home reaches beyond the kingdoms of this world, and so we can say, "As the home goes, so goes the church." Therefore, we conclude:

Home Is The Bulwark Of The Church

The church cannot rise above the ideals that prevail in the families of which it consists. When honesty, purity and respect for authority prevail in the homes, then will the church indeed be a mighty pillar and ground of truth. (1 Tim. 3:15) The righteousness that emanates from the family circles will be that which truly characterizes the kingdom of Christ. If the homes are indeed the places where the Bible is regarded as "that good old book," where its words are trusted, its principles obeyed and its pages often read, then will the church be the "Temple of God." (1 Cot. 3:16) When kindness and compassion, love and gentleness are common qualities of the homes, then will the church be as a city that is set upon a hill, whose light cannot be hid. (Matt. 5:14) When, in the homes, "all malice and all guile, and hypocrisies and envies and all evil speakings" are put aside, then those who have indeed "been horn again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God" will flourish as "living stones" and the church will be, truly, "a spiritual house....acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." (I Peter 1:23;2:1-5) Finally, we can safely say that:

Home Is The Vestibule Of Heaven

The saved are added to the church (Acts 2:47) but comparatively few will be saved except by the influence of home. The impressions learned in early infancy upon mother's knee (and sometimes the lessons learned across her knee) will have more influence upon many than the most powerful sermons. Let the mothers and fathers remember well their God-given responsibilities toward their eternity-bound children. Edgar A. Guest, in "Orphans of the Living," expressed it thus:

We think of orphans only, as the little girls and lads,

Who haven't any mothers or who haven't any dads.

They are grouped with other children, and in groups they're put to bed,

With some stranger paid to listen while their little prayers are said.

All the grown-ups look with pity on such lonely children small,

And declare to be an orphan is the saddest fate of all.

But sometimes I look about me and in sorrow hang my head,

As I gaze on something sadder than the orphans of the dead.

For more pitiful and tragic as the sad days come and go,

Are the orphans of the parents they are not allowed to know.

They're the orphans of the living, left alone to romp and play,

From their fathers and their mothers, by ambition shut away.

They have fathers who are busy and so weighted down with cares,

That they haven't time to listen to a little child's affairs.

They have mothers who imagine, life could give them, if it would,

Something richer, something better than the joy of motherhood.

So their children learn from strangers, and by strangers' hands are fed,

And the nurse for so much money, nightly tucks them into bed,

Lord, I would not grow so busy that I cannot drop my task,

To answer every question which that child of mine can ask.

Let me never serve ambition here so selfishly, I pray,

That I cannot stop to listen to the things my children say.

For whatever cares beset them, let them know I'm standing by,

I don't want to make them orphans, till the day I come to die.

My purpose now is not to try to give formulas for home life, but especially to help all of us to be more aware of the necessity and the responsibility that is ours in the family circle if it is indeed to be the cradle of civilization, the bulwark of the church and the vestibule of heaven. I plead that each one of us as a parent will determine to say,

"As For Me And My House, We Will Serve The Lord"

So said Joshua. (Jos. 24:15) Certainly we cannot drive our children to obedience, but we can lead them. That must be what Joshua did. Cornelius was another devout man who "Feared God with all his house." (Acts 10:2) Some author, unknown to me, warned fathers thus:

There are little eyes upon you, and they're watching night and day;

There are little ears that quickly take in every word you say;

There are little hands all eager to do everything you do,

And a little boy who's dreaming of the day he'll be like you.

You're the little fellow's idol, you're the wisest of the wise;

In his little mind, about you no suspicions ever rise;

He believes in you devoutly, holds that all you say and do.

He will say and do in your way when he's grown up, just like you.

There's a wide-eyed little fellow who believes you're always right,

And his ears are always open, and he watches day and night.

You are setting an example everyday in all you do,

For the little boy who's waiting to grow up to be like you.

Hannah gave her son to the Lord. (1 Samuel 1) It is hoped that mothers (and fathers, too) will give their children to God today, for they must be his now if they are to be with him in eternity. Our plea must be for reformation and then dedication in the hearts and lives of the parents, if homes are to be a haven here and an inducement for hereafter, for:

The lambs will follow the sheep, you know,

Wherever the sheep may stray.

When the sheep go wrong, it will not be long,

'Till the lambs are as wrong as they.

And so for the sheep we earnestly plead,

For the sake of the lambs, today,

If the sheep are lost, what a terrible cost,

The lambs will have to pay.

Just how long has it been since you have sung, "Home, home, sweet, sweet home: Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home"? Let us not only sing it, but especially let us make it so!

— 1833 Ivy Lane, Aurora, Illinois