February 28, 2021
This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Family Fun.
Home should be the dearest place on earth, the nearest place to Heaven. But often it isn’t. This is not what God had in mind when He ordained the family.
In Psalm 128, God describes an ideal home. It is a place of warmth, laughter, and yes, fun. Here is the entire Psalm:
Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
Who walks in His ways.
When you eat the labor of your hands,
You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
In the very heart of your house,
Your children like olive plants
All around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you out of Zion,
And may you see the good of Jerusalem
All the days of your life.
Yes, may you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!
Being a “loner” is not God’s plan, for “He sets the solitary in families” (Psalm 68:6). He does this because in families we experience the deepest love, apart from His, we will ever know.
You’ve heard the expression, “like heaven on earth.” Did you know it comes from Deuteronomy and is talking about what life should be like inside our homes? Deuteronomy 11:21 is where it originated, saying home should be “like the days of the heavens above the earth.” Read it in context in Deuteronomy 11:18-28.
God established the institution of the family. It didn’t rise from the swamps of evolution and immorality. It’s rooted in our human nature. Family satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts, gives us a way to give and receive love, propagate the human race, and provide a secure environment to nurture, teach, and love our children. Marriage is a lifetime covenant relationship between a man and a woman. A family is a God‑ordained unit related by marriage, blood, or adoption.
In our homes God wants our children to be happy and productive, like olive plants around our table. (See Psalm 128:3.) In the Middle East, the olive is very valuable and productive, but it needs to be nurtured and cared for. That’s God’s desire for our families.
But today the idea of “family” has been misused and often mocked. The concept of a happy family is often ridiculed today. Just watch any sitcom. But it’s our training ground for life, God’s workshop where the members become some of His best tools to prune, polish, and refine us—sanding down the rough edges of our lives. God instructs parents to teach His precepts diligently at every opportunity, “speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 11:19).
The best soil for growing your children and teaching God’s principles is a home filled with love and laughter. When God’s people got right with Him, Psalm 126:2 says their lives became like this: “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.'” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad.
I want your home to be such a happy place that your neighbors who don’t know the Lord will look at you, see the joy and laughter in your home, and say, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
We’ve often heard “the family that prays together stays together.” But I would add, “the family that plays together, stays together.” God wants you to have fun at home. Christian humorist Ken Davis says, “Allow laughter to flood your home, and its echoes will last a lifetime." Humor is a gentle way to acknowledge human frailty. Humor is a way of saying ‘I’m not okay, you’re not okay, but that’s okay, God loves us anyway.’ People who are secure in their awareness of God’s love and experience His forgiveness are free to laugh.
When I speak of family fun, I don’t mean silly, mindless frivolity, irresponsibility, or failing to do what you ought because you’re careless. In fact, I learned as I prepared for this message that people who have an unusual capacity for laughter also have an unusual capacity for seriousness. Fun and efficiency go together. If you learn how to have fun, you will probably be more efficient. Family fun includes not merely laughter and games but includes joy, happiness, humor, sports, celebration, leisure, vacations, meals, parties, entertainment, and much more. Psychologists tell us laughter and a well-rounded sense of humor are the hallmarks of high intelligence.
Yes, there are issues we need to be serious about, “a time to weep and a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). But Jesus also said, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh” (Luke 6:21). The Lord Jesus Himself was criticized for being “a winebibber and glutton” (Matthew 11:19). Of course, He wasn’t, but Jesus went to parties. He worked His first miracle at a wedding feast. Jesus was the life of the party, a friendly person. He was called a “friend of sinners” (Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34).
The Lord Jesus Christ was a man of great gladness. In fact, Hebrews 1:9 says of Him, “God has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” Jesus knew joy and happiness.
Today the three top-selling drugs in America are for ulcers, high blood pressure, and cardiac problems. Migraine headaches, strokes, and cancer are some of the symptoms of our stress. Not all of these are caused by stress, but physicians will tell you we live in a stressed-out society.
Satan would love to distort and get us out of balance, turning us into grim people. Don’t let some long-nosed, hard-hearted Grinch make you think we’re not supposed to have fun. A grim, negative spirit will affect your health and the health of your family.
On the other hand, scientists have discovered that laughter is a miracle medicine, just as the Bible says it is: “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad” (Proverbs 12:25).
Researchers Yoder and Goodman in New York talked about the effect laughter can have to repair and restore: “The positive effect it has on a person’s attitude, coping skills, relationships, and creativity in the way humor can enhance motivation and morale is backed up not just by common sense and anecdotes, but by research.” Studies have found that laughter has a profound and instantaneous effect on every organ, reducing tension and replacing bad emotions.
Our attitudes so often control our physical bodies. Laughter can restore our attitude, coping skills, relationships, and creativity. Humor enhances motivation and morale. Laughter releases tension and can help mend a broken spirit, a broken body, or a broken home. We’ve seen it in our own home when things are tense. If we learn to laugh, tension disappears. That’s what laughter will do.
When raising children, keep in mind the three “fs”—Firm, Fair, and Fun. Be firm—have some rules. Be fair. Be honest. But be fun! Don’t be an ogre. Psalm 128:2 says, “You shall be happy, and it will be well with you.”
Look again at the end of this psalm: “Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Yes, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel” (Psalm 128:4-6)!
Be intentional about “making a memory” with your children. Let birthdays and holidays be the springboard for creating a memory. Find ways to turn something small—even a trip to the park—into something special. God will give you creativity if you ask Him.
Family fun will linger. It will echo through your life as you build for your children and grandchildren a museum of memories. We want them to be memories of a happy home, a home that rings with laughter. Memories are our landmarks. They keep us from getting lost. Memories bring a sense of security and belonging to a child’s life. Memories are anchors of the soul. They are our legacy.
When my father passed away, we gathered as a family in my sister’s living room to reminisce. As we shared stories, what we remembered most about him was the laughter. You’d have to know my daddy. He never got over being a little boy. He was a man—but a man filled with fun. We laughed and talked of him without a word of remorse or regret, just memories of good times, of fun.
Perhaps it’s time to reexamine the atmosphere in your home. What will your children remember? Times of laughter will remain long after you are gone. Will there be echoes of laughter to last them a lifetime?