That Youngster in Your House
September 29th, 1985 @ 7:30 PM
THE YOUNGSTER IN YOUR HOME
Dr. W.A. Criswell
9-29-85 7:30 p.m.
And the title of the sermon tonight concerns That Youngster in Your Home. And I am going to speak of that child in three frames, in three references: one, in the home; second, in the church; and third, in the school. And the text will be the last verse, verse 52, in the second chapter of Luke. And let us begin reading at verse 46 and read down to that last verse. All right, together:
And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.
And when they saw Him, they were amazed: and His mother said unto Him, Son, why has Thou thus dealt with us? behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.
And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought Me? wist you not that I must be about My Father’s business?
And they understood not the saying which He spake unto them.
And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but His mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
He grew physically. He grew in stature. He grew mentally. He grew in wisdom. He grew spiritually in favor with God. And He grew socially in His relationships with man.
That youngster, that child in your home: first, the child growing up in the home, the worldliness of the average American home is a travesty before God. There is a bottle of beer in the icebox where the milk ought to be; there is a deck of cards on the table where the Bible ought to be; there is a package of cigarettes on the dresser where the church envelopes ought to be. There’s a sex magazine in the rack where the Sunday school quarterly ought to be. There’s a frown where a smile ought to be, and a bitter curse where a prayer ought to be. And the miserable shambles of the average American home is seen in the breaking up of the father and the mother who gave themselves to build it.
About three years ago, [forty] percent of the marriages in Dallas—the homes created in Dallas—broke up in divorce, and now we have reached the average of the American nation, fifty percent of the homes in our city break up. And if you look at the average family, the chances are you’re looking at a broken home. The miserable shambles that lie back of that disaster and tragedy is very apparent. It’s found in the spirit and in the attitude and in the fundamental basis for the building of the home. Instead of it being a place of generosity, and kindness, and love, and creativeness, and anticipation, and sharedness, it is so often a home of ridicule, and bitterness, and hurt, and despicableness, and unhappiness.
A wife was asked, “Is your husband a bookworm?”
She said, “No, just an ordinary one.”
A member of the family said, “You know, our dog is just like a member of the family.” And the question asked, “Which member of the family?”
A fellow got up from the card table and said, “I’m going home for supper. And if it ain’t ready, I’m going to raise old Billy Ned. And if it is ready, I ain’t going to eat it.”
The husband came down from the bedroom to the breakfast room, and his wife asked him, “How do you want your egg?”
He said, “Cooked!”
Well, she said, “How do you want it cooked?”
He said, “I want one egg fried and one egg scrambled and one egg boiled.”
So she fried one, scrambled one, and boiled one. Set it before him. He glared at it. And she said, “Well, what’s the matter?”
And he said, “You’ve scrambled the wrong egg.”
Papa Bear sat down at his table and looked at his empty soup bowl and said, “Somebody ate my soup!”
And little Baby Bear looked at his empty soup bowl and he said, “And somebody ate my soup!”
And Mama Bear called in from the kitchen, “Shut up that yackity-yack out there, I ain’t even poured the soup yet!”
All of which, all of which is just a reflection of the modern American home. I think how different it could be and ought to be. When I was in grammar school, elementary school, and then in to high school, I was taught dramatic lessons; elocution, and in high school, declamation, and entered—I won a loving cup declaiming—and went to a state festival tryout in the capital of our state of Texas in Austin at the university down there. And I remember so distinctly and vividly one of those declamations; it was an address by Henry W. Grady, the southern, silver-tongued orator from Atlanta, Georgia, and it went, to capsulate it, something like this, that he had stood on the shores of Chesapeake Bay and had watched the power of the American Navy in one of their tremendous exercises. And, he said, as he looked upon those great ships maneuvering in the bay, he said to himself, “Surely the strength of America lies in her naval and armed and military might.” He said that later he was in Washington, D. C. and under the capitol dome; he watched the processes of our democratic government. Then he said as he looked upon those ministers of state and representatives of the democratic republic, he said, “Surely the strength and the might of America lie in her government and in her democratic processes.” Then he described in a poignant way a visit to a friend of childhood who lived on a farm in Georgia. And when the evening came and the chores were done, the father in the home gathered the family around him, read to them out of the Word of God, and they all knelt in prayer.
And Grady, the great orator, said as he knelt with the family in evening devotions, “The might of America in its naval forces passed away. And the democratic processes of our representative government under the capitol dome in Washington faded away.” And he said in his heart, “Truly, the strength and the power and the might of America is found in her Christian homes, reading God’s Word, studying the Holy Scriptures, opening our hearts to the voice of the presence of the Spirit of God, and loving Jesus with all of our hearts.”
The strength and the foundation of our nation lies in its Christian home. That’s one reason that I am grateful beyond any way that I could say it for the increasing involvement of our fathers and mothers in home education. I never heard of it until these recent years, but the more I see it, and the more I read about it, the more am I grateful to God for it. And our academy has chosen volitionally, statedly, plannedly to be an umbrella for the development of that home school education. And it is my understanding that already we have something like one hundred five children who are being taught in the home by their parents. And under the direction and surveillance of the school, the child will excel academically, and certainly being Christian will from the days of their first education come to know Jesus our Lord: the child in the home.
May I speak now of the child and the church? All of the impressions that have been made upon me as far back as I can remember center always around the church, always. I asked my mother, “When did I first go to church?”
She said, “When you were about a month old.”
Well, I said, “Did I behave in church?”
She said, “You misbehaved one time, and I took you out, then you never misbehaved again.”
Well, I don’t know how you rear a child that young in the house of the Lord. We never had a nursery then. I never heard of a nursery until I was half grown. We took our children to church. Everybody took their babies and their children to church, to the services, to the preaching services. When I began my own ministry, it never occurred to me that we could have a nursery. Everybody took their children to the church. Well, I grew up that way. I cannot remember when I was not taken to church, nor can I remember when I was not there in the services of the Lord. And I played a trombone by the piano in our little village church. Everything in my life has been centered around the church, and I am grateful to God for it. The memories of those services indelibly changed and colored my life forever. “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it” [Ephesians 5:25], and for us to rear our children in the circle and circumference of the house of God is as fine a thing that we could ever think for, to do for them, to enrich their lives in God.
I one time heard Dr. Fred F. Brown who was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Knoxville, Tennessee, and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, I heard him speak at a convention, and he described something then from a page in his life that just moved my heart. He was a chaplain in the First World War, and for those years of our conflict in France, he was there with our American military.
And after the war was over and the allies had won it, President Woodrow Wilson, the great leader of the United States, with the other leaders of the allied powers sat down in the Palace of Versailles, near Paris, and there signed the Treaty of Versailles which ended the First World War. And the pastor said that at a break in the negotiations that resulted in that famous treaty, he said, “At a break, there were four doughboys, four American infantrymen who sang for the leaders who had gathered there in that palace.” And he said that he was seated close to President Woodrow Wilson and could watch his face. And one of the songs that the poor doughboys sang was one which is familiar and dear to us all:
Oh, come, come, come, come
Come to the church in the wildwood
Oh, come to the church in the vale
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the dale
[“The Church in the Wildwood,” Dr. William S. Pitts]
And he said that as the four soldier boys sang that song, that unashamedly the president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, sat there, and the tears fell off of his face. And Dr. Brown said that as he looked at him and saw him so deeply moved, he could easily sense that in the song, his heart went back to the days when he grew up in a church in Virginia. I wish every child in the earth could have that experience of growing up in the church.
There did I find the Lord and give my heart to Jesus. There was I moved as a child to give my life as a pastor, as a minister of the gospel. And ten thousand precious memories crowd upon my heart as I think of those services in the church. The child in the home, in a Christian home, the child in the church, growing up in the church, and last, the child in the school; I gave my heart to be a pastor, a preacher, but to me, it meant to be a pastor, when I was so small, I can hardly believe such a thing could have come to pass. How is it that at such a young age I felt, and never deviated from it, that God wanted me to be a pastor? And when I went to school in those early elementary grades, when I went to school, I was studying to be a preacher, to be a pastor. All through those years of childhood and through high school, and of course, when I was in the university at seventeen, I was preaching and pastoring a little country church, a teenager.
There is no part of that education that has not enriched my life: to study, to learn, to read. I don’t know how to comment on the modern disposition and habit of looking at this cheap, sorry, no count, good for nothing, sex filled, violent television programming. I don’t know what to think about it. We never had any radio—I’m talking about before radio was invented. Isn’t it amazing that I could say that? I lived before they invented radio, and I was grown before they ever heard of television.
I remember the first television set that they had in Chicago at the World’s Fair in 1933. And they transmitted the beam about fifteen feet. It was in that room and you picked it up over here in this room. And I said in my heart at that time, you know, if they can cast that beam, send that beam fifteen feet, finally, they’ll come when they can send it fifteen thousand miles. And it came to pass just like that. Wonderful thing, radio, glorious; television, marvelous; I’m preaching tonight on television and preaching tonight on radio. What a marvelous, marvelous instrument to proclaim the gospel.
When I read in the Apocalypse, in the Revelation, in the last book in the Bible, he sees an everlasting angel flying through heavens with the gospel of Christ to preach [Revelation 14:6]. I think the fulfillment of that is radio and television, but oh dear, how Satan or evil have compromised this wonderful instrument of God! And so, our boys and girls today, instead of reading—I used to read all day long and half of the night. That was all that there was for me to do—I read, I read, I read. There’s not a novel by Zane Grey that I haven’t read. Man, I was shooting those cowboys. I was running down those villains, those cattle thieves, man! And everything else I could lay my hands on, studying, reading.
I have the feeling today that instead of studying and reading, that our youngsters are looking at television, which would be a fine thing if the televised programs were not so filled with violence and explicit sex and all of the other things that seemingly they think they must do to entice a listening audience. I think it wonderful if our boys and girls can be encouraged in our school to study, to read. It’s a wonder of God that I can sit down and think the thoughts in the incomparable language of a John Milton, or a William Shakespeare, or Dante, or Homer; but best of all of Moses, and Isaiah, and Jesus, and Paul. To be taught, to go to school, to have a part in the learning process that elevates our minds heavenward is the benedictory remembrance of heaven beyond compare.
I have said all of my life if I had a life that I could devote to other than being a preacher, I would love to be a teacher of English. I’d love to teach English literature. I would love to be a part of a school; I would love to walk in and out with the students. I would love being a professor, a teacher. I think it would be one of the highest callings in the world to which I could give my life to teach our students.
Now when I think of our First Baptist Academy, O God, what a change has come in our public school systems since I was a boy. We would have revival meetings in our school, we had always chapel. We read the Bible; we prayed; we sang songs. It was like going to a Christian school. I was told in no uncertain terms by the principal of one of the great high schools here in Dallas—in those days when once in a while I would speak—I was told, “You mention the name of Jesus, and we’ll shut down this high school. Just call His name.”
I don’t understand. The Supreme Court has given its benediction to reading the faith that made our country great—read it out of our public education. No Bible, no hymns, no Savior, no chapel, no prayer, I don’t understand. And the more I read and try to understand, the less do I comprehend. But in the same voice, and in the same breath, and in the same sentence, how I praise God and thank the Lord for our Christian academy, for our First Baptist Academy.
As you know, when Easter time comes, every day, Monday through Friday, I preach at those pre-Easter services. This coming Easter will be the forty-second year that I have done it. They used to be in the Palace Theater downtown. And when they destroyed that theater, we came here to the church. I cannot describe for you—here again am I limited in my ableness to present how I feel—I cannot describe for you, as I sit here in this pulpit, and these young people, these boys and girls, they fill this balcony all the way around, and now, this last year, they overflow to my right. And as I sit here and look at them and stand here and preach to them, they are the most reverent attendants, the most humble, sweet listeners of anybody I’ve ever preached to in my life. All the way around, these students are present, and down here on this lower floor. And they move my heart in their reverent attention. It is simply glorious. And I wonder at them. They don’t talk, they don’t whisper, they enter into the service; they sing—I feel their loving presence. It is a benediction to me, and I look forward to it with great eagerness and thanksgiving.
And typical again, our deacon Dick Clements and Johnny Henderson, this last Thursday out at the Lakewood Club, had a meeting of these who are raising funds to support our First Baptist Academy. And as I sat there—and I don’t know why I go to these civic clubs, and go to these other meetings, and they have a certain form, and I don’t know why I should have been surprised—but seated there in that Lakewood Country Club and having been a part so many times with those kinds of meetings out here in the city: the way it started was these youngsters from the First Baptist Academy stood up there in that club and sang those beautiful songs, some of which you heard tonight. And as I sat there and listened to those children sing those songs of Zion, praising God, honoring the Lord Jesus our Savior, as I sat there and looked at them and heard them in that club, my heart overflowed with thanksgiving, abounding gratitude to God for such a school, for such an academy, for such training, for such teachers, for such boys and girls, for such families and homes who make it possible for the youngsters to attend the school. And they asked me for the benedictory prayer and in that prayer I did my best to thank God for those fathers and mothers and homes who make it possible for those boys and girls to attend so beautiful a Christian school.
I must close, the time has past. I just wanted to do so with a word of infinite appreciation for the kind of a thing our academy does. First Baptist Academy statement of philosophy: Education with a perspective beyond time. And it is wonderful for the student’s academic achievement we plan. And then all of these things that promote high academic standards, good study habits, creative thinking, appreciation of the fine arts, to interpret world affairs in the light of God’s revelation: that is the academic achievement.
The second one: for the student’s physical development, to teach honor for the body as a temple of God [1 Corinthians 6:19-20], to promote bodily fitness, teach good health habits. For the student spiritual growth, to teach the Bible, God be praised in the school, in the school, teaching the Bible, the Word of God. You can’t do that by law out of the school, out of the Christian academy. Here, we teach the Bible as God’s inerrant Word, to give an opportunity to experience a personal saving relationship with Christ, having chapel services to instill a desire to know God and His will. And the student’s social development, to develop the whole personality based upon his acceptance before God, to teach the wise use of God’s time, to develop proper attitudes and values, to teach the use of material things for the glory of God.
Oh, I praise the Lord for you! I thank God that He is given us the open door! And when I come down here as I do every day, I walk through a little ocean of children. I park my car over there in the Veal Building. And I walk over there to the Criswell Building, and every step of the way I’m speaking to those wonderful students. They’re down here in the house of God. They are taught here in the faith of the Lord. And every day that I come, it is with renewed appreciation for you who teach, and for you who send your students here, and for the dear church that has sponsored us, and for the vista of the unfolding days that lie before us. God be good to you and the work you are doing for our Savior.
THE YOUNGSTER IN YOUR HOME
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Luke 2:46-52, Ephesians 6:1-4
9-29-85I. The home
A. The worldliness of the average American home
B. The terrible spirit
C. The strength of the Christian home
1. Declamation by Henry W. Grady
2. Home schoolingII. The church
A. Everything in my life has been centered around the church
B. Rearing our children in the circle and circumference of the house of God(Ephesians 5:25)
1. Woodrow Wilson cried as four soldiers sang “The Church in the Wildwood”III. The school
A. As far back as I can remember, I was studying, preparing for ministry
B. Television – an instrument to proclaim the gospel (Revelation 14:6)
1. Satan has compromised it
C. Our Academy
1. Changes in public school systems
2. Their attendance of our pre-Easter services
3. Listening to the choir sing at the fund-raising meeting
D. Appreciation for what our Academy does
1. Academic achievement
2. Physical development
3. Spiritual development and growth
4. Social development