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Billy Graham - How to Have a Happy Home

Billy Graham - How to Have a Happy Home

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I want to speak tonight on the home. In the 11th Psalm, there's a familiar passage that many of you know. "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do"? If the foundations be destroyed, and the foundation of any society is the home. And then a verse that goes with it, 82nd Psalm, these words, "They know not, neither will they understand. They walk on in darkness, all the foundations of the world are out of course". Doesn't that sound like our day? All the foundations of the earth are out of course, and we're walking in darkness, we're stumbling. Jesus said, "I'm the light of the world", and he could bring light.

Now there's someone that I've had the privilege of sharing a home with for 42 years. She's the mother of our five children. She's the grandmother of our 16 grandchildren. She's on the platform. She could not be here most of mission England last summer because she's been in and out of the hospital, nothing terribly serious, except she had to have a new hip put in, and she had to have an operation on her esophagus, because, well, several years ago, she was fixing a swing for the grandchildren and she fell out of a tree and broke a number of bones, and disoriented her insides. She's now well, for the first time in a long time. And she coughs still a little bit.

I've asked her if she'll say a word, and she's a little bit nervous that she might cough, and if she does, just wait, she's got something more to say after that. So, I'm going to ask Ruth to come. People, many reporters, ask me, "Who is the greatest Christian I've ever known"? I always answer, "Ruth". She is the greatest Christian I've ever known. No, but happy, caring Christians have been a part of my heritage. In 1916, my parents landed in Shanghai, China, and spent the next 25 years of their lives serving the people of China as medical missionaries.

It wasn't easy, those were troubled times, with wars, disease, bandits, floods and famine, and yet, because of them we never knew what fear was. Daily in the home, there were family prayers, with hymns, and scripture reading, and prayer. We were lovingly disciplined. We were carefully trained. But, not only did mother and daddy teach the Christian faith in the home, they lived it. And as a consequence, it was easy as a child to give my heart to the Lord Jesus.

Later they came to the States, and we had the joy of living beside them for the last 25 years of their lives. And because of their Christian example, our five children were tremendously influenced. And, due in good part to them, they too gave their hearts to the Lord Jesus. I remember the last year of his life, daddy was elected moderator of our church. Now he wasn't well at that time himself, and my mother had had a stroke and was in a wheelchair. But one morning I went down to check on them, and daddy was on his knees in front of mother, helping her put on her stockings, and he glanced up at me over his glasses and he said, "You know, these are the greatest years of our lives. Caring for your mother has been the greatest privilege of my life". And the thing was, he really meant it.

And so, I thank God tonight for a Christian home, and for what it has meant to me, to our children, and if you haven't had a Christian home, you can give your children a Christian home. And if your children are already grown up and left home, you can recommit your life to Christ, and look around for some other young person to help. God bless you tonight. Thank you. That's the first time she's spoken in public in at least a year or 18 months, and I'm very thankful. I think all of us are aware that something is wrong with our homes. Someone has said that all weddings are happy. It's the living together afterward that causes all the trouble, and there's some truth to that.

An American psychologist says, "Marriage is a quiet hell for about half of all American couples". Now what is wrong? Can the tide be reversed? Because the same could be said, perhaps, about the United Kingdom, or Ireland, wherever people are watching or listening. And I want to ask you this question on the scripture that we read. Is your home built on a solid foundation? Is it? When floods of sorrow come, or the waves of temptation, or the gales of adversity: of war, death or judgement strike, will your home stand? Is the foundation strong? Social researchers are finding that in times of stress, rather than bringing families together, many marriage partners find it easier to flee from the struggle, with the overwhelming emotions that family tragedies generate.

One of our most famous families got involved in a terrible tragedy a few years ago. Their daughter was kidnapped. And they stuck together, and they prayed together, and they worked together, and they paid out thousands of dollars, and finally she was rescued: after about a year or two. But soon after she came home, they divorced. The emotions, the stress, the strain was too great, and that family broke up.

Now, the apostle Paul was ministering in Corinth, which was a hedonistic city, a pagan city, an immoral city. And he said this, he said, "Let every man take heed how he builds, for other foundation can no man build, except that which is in Jesus Christ". If you build your home on Jesus Christ, the problems of the home are going to be far lessened, and the problems of divorce may never come. We found in a survey in the United States that where there's Bible reading, and prayer, and church attendance in the home, we only have one divorce out of every 300 marriages. But the national average is almost one out of every two, which indicates if you build it upon Christ, that's the answer to the breaking of the home today.

Now Christ was born in an earthly home, and he lived under parental discipline. His first miracle was performed at a wedding ceremony. Christ's father died when he was young apparently, there's no mention of him after he was 12 years of age, so maybe Jesus Christ, being the oldest son, was the breadwinner of the family, I don't know. But, he knew all the problems of the home. And a favorite benediction of his was, upon entering a home, was "Peace be upon this house". And Jesus said that the entry into the spiritual family is like the entry into a domestic family, it's through birth. He said you must be born from above, you must be born again, born into God's family. You were born into the present family in which you live, or another family, but you're born into God's family also.

If you want to get to heaven, if you want to have your sins forgiven, if you want to know that you have eternal life, you must be born, born into God's family, by repentance of your sins and receiving him by faith. Now Jesus Christ advocated household salvation. To Zacchaeus he said, "This day has salvation come to your house". And whenever he saved or healed someone, his first concern was that they go home and tell their family about it. Some of them wanted to follow him from that day on, he said, "No, go and tell your family. Go back and tell your community, go tell others". To the restored demon possessed man, his command was, "Return to your own house, and show what great things God has done for you".

And perhaps some of you are here tonight just embarking on your married life together, maybe you're here on your honeymoon. You could give one another no greater wedding gift than a young couple did the other night here at this stadium. They'd just been married, and the first thing they did was to come to this stadium and come forward and give their lives to Christ together. They said, "We want to start our married life with Christ". That could happen to you tonight. Maybe you've been married 20 years, or 30 years, or 10 years, whatever, but you've never done that. Now first, a successful home must be founded on a divinely ordered marriage.

Remember, God performed the first marriage. Adam and Eve had an ideal marriage. Adam didn't have to hear about all the other men she could have married, and she didn't have to hear about the way his mother cooked. If we disregard God's suggestions and regulations for the home, it is in danger of ending in failure. But, many people are reluctant to make a commitment. Physical love is not enough, it's commitment that carries over the difficult times. When you get married, you're committing for life. It's commitment that's kept Ruth and me together in times of stress, or strain, or difficulty. We wouldn't think of being separated or getting a divorce no matter what the problem was. Maybe she has, I never have. She once told someone she'd thought of murder, but not divorce.

Now, another cornerstone in the successful home and marriage, is a spiritual exercise: prayer, Bible reading, fellowship with other believers. In Deuteronomy 6 it says, "And these words which I command you this day, shall be in your heart, and you shall teach them diligently unto your children". Do you say grace at the meal? Do you say prayer at the meal? Do you have prayer in the home? Do you and your wife ever read the Bible and pray together?

And then thirdly, a successful home must be founded on a dedicated husband and father, as we've already said a moment ago. I heard about one clergyman, before the children were born, who wrote an article on the Ten Commandments for raising children. After he'd had the first child, he wrote an article and he changed the title, and he said, "Ten suggestions how to rear children". After the third child he wrote, "Ten hints on how to raise children". After the fifth child, he didn't write anymore. Now I used to be very authoritative about how to rear children, until we had five, and I let my wife take over from there, and she did a terrific job, let me tell you. It's a big responsibility.

When a man loves his wife, as Christ loves the church, it's easy for the wife to submit to the husband. The image here is not of a mighty potentate, sitting upon the throne, and ruling his subjects with an iron hand. This is more like a conductor, standing on his box, directing a symphony. Delicate, but subdued. Is that the kind of a husband you are? The Bible says, "Live joyfully with the wife of thy youth". It doesn't say, "Go out and get you a younger woman". It says live with the wife of your youth, the one you married when you were young. Be faithful.

How many men when they reach the age of 40, or 50, or 60 want to prove their virility, and go out and get some young thing. That's not commitment, that is a sin against God. I read a newspaper story where it discussed several recent movies that deal with adultery as a positive growth experience. Don't you ever believe anything like that. That'll destroy our culture as quick as anything. The Bible says that unfaithfulness is the pathway to hell.

And then fourthly, a successful home must have a devoted wife and mother. Napoleon said, "The greatest need of France was mothers". One of the vices which is hitting our wives and mothers today in the world is alcoholism and drugs. You see, they don't have Christ to turn to, and when you're rearing children, and when you're married, you need a resource, you need help, and that comes from God, a relationship to God. Just as the husband, to be the right kind of a husband, needs Christ: so to be the right kind of a wife or a mother, you need Christ. And so many don't have Christ, so they turn to something else to help them. A Christian home has a devoted mother and wife.

Now I know that in a place like Sheffield, or Yorkshire, places in America, like in Michigan, where there's great unemployment, women have to go to work, and I want to commend you for helping in the home and being willing to sacrifice by earning to help in the home during a time of depression, or recession, or lack of income in the home.

And then fifthly, a successful home is based upon disciplined and obedient children. Now children can absorb any amount of love and discipline as long as the two are kept in balance. I heard a psychiatrist say at Columbia University many years ago in the United States, he said, "If your children rebel, keep their love at all cost. They'll come through it, and when they come through that period, the love will be there and you won't have to re-establish anything". The scripture says, "Train up a child in the way he should go". Not the way he would go, but the way he should go. And we're to do it by setting an example of love and discipline together and in balance with each other. "And when he's old", the scripture says, "He'll not depart".

He'll come back some day, like the prodigal son. The father never gave up loving the son, and he came back. Your son, your daughter, will come back if you've trained them correctly when they were children and lived an example of Christ in front of them. But if you haven't lived an example in front of them, don't expect God to do great miracles. He might, he will, as I'll show you in just a moment, right here in Sheffield, what he's doing in some families right now. Your social and domestic responsibilities make your individual response to Christ that much more significant. On the other hand, if you are here with part or all of your family tonight, and the Lord says to you, as he invited Noah, "Come thou, and all thy house into the ark". The scripture says "Come".

Husband and wife come forward together. Father, son, come together. Daughter, mother, come together. Whoever you are, if you hear the still, small voice of God within, prompting you, saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it", come as a family, or come alone, but don't leave here until you know Christ. Because you can't be the right kind of husband and father, you can't be the right kind of mother or wife, or child in the home without Christ. And once you've heard the message, as you've heard it tonight, your responsibility is so great, because he says, "Now is the accepted time, today is the day of salvation. He that hardeneth his heart, being often reproved, shall suddenly be cut off, and that without remedy".

Here's a letter that says:
Dear dr. Graham, I had to write you to tell you, this time last year my divorce papers were through. My husband was a miner on strike. My children's lives were in tatters, because of my own sins. My young son was turning to crime at 13 years of age. My daughter was emotionally hurt coping with my sins, and unemployment after finishing college. For years I'd been delving into the supernatural, reading cards of fortune, and rapidly going to hell. I reached it when my marriage smashed. And I thought it was my life to do what I wanted with. It was not always like that.

We'd had a good marriage for 21 years. A bus, with 'Billy Graham worth listening to' kept passing my husband on the miner's picket line. It bugged him, tormented him, hounded him so much day after day, that one dismal, rainy night, he took me along to hear what this Billy Graham fella had to shout about. The divorce was almost through, my son was due in court. I went in anger, thinking it was all so stupid, but Jesus cracked me that night. I broke my heart before him. I gave my life a year ago, to one of the relays and I was born again.

Three weeks ago my husband was baptized. Saturday night my daughter gave her life to Christ at bramall lane. My son didn't come, but gave over his life six months ago. This year I'm a counselor, hoping to be God's servant. Dr. Graham, I know this will be thank you amongst thousands, but thank you for giving God's word last year on the brink of this family's near total destruction. This whole family is reunited in the love of God. It's not been easy. We have all had to hand things over to him. But, oh my God, what he's given us in return.

That's one family. And we have hundreds and scores of letters along similar lines from last year's mission, and this year's mission here. What about you? I'm going to ask you to come tonight. You say, "What do I have to do"? I'm going to ask you to do what we've already seen thousands of people do. I'm going to ask you to get up out of your seat, and come and stand in front of this platform and say, "I'm a sinner, I need Christ. I want him to come into my life, I want him to come into my home. I'm ready to surrender and commit myself totally, without reservation to him".

But why do I ask people to come forward publicly? Because every person that Jesus called publicly, or called, he called publicly. He said, "If you're not willing to acknowledge me publicly before men, I'll not acknowledge you before my father which is in heaven". There's something about coming forward publicly like this that makes it real and genuine in your life. So I'm going to ask you to get up right now and come. If you come from that top stand up there it's going to take two or three minutes, so start right now. And you along here, and back here, and all over this great stadium. You get up and come, we're going to wait on you, and surrender your life to Christ. Maybe whole families will come, maybe husbands and wives, or sweethearts will come. Just get up and come, we're going to wait on you. Right now: quickly.

You that have been watching by television, you can make your commitment just now as you see hundreds of people are coming here to make their commitment in Sheffield, in south Yorkshire, England. You that are watching in America, you can pick up a telephone and call that number that you see on the screen in Canada or the United States. And there are counselors standing by to talk to you, and if you get a busy signal, call again. They'll be there all evening. And give your life to Christ, maybe a whole family will give their life to Christ tonight on that telephone. We're going to pray for you as you make that commitment.

If you would like to commit your life to Jesus Christ, Please call us right now toll free at 1-877-772-4559.

Or you can write to us at "Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28201"

Or you can contact us on the web 24/7 at - We'll get the same helps to you that we give to everyone who responds at the invitation.

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