Unless_the Lord_Builds_the_House
by David Heller

Have you ever noticed how people, men in particular, are in some way or another building something? When I look around I see the evidence of things being built in many ways. Just look at a kid’s sandbox. In it you see the smaller versions of the grown up world. There are bulldozers and dump trucks and loaders and roads. One of the first toys to come into our home when Debbie and I started having children was building blocks.

Some believe that the measure of a person’s success is what that person has built. You can be a successful carpenter, lawyer, doctor or family man. Some people take to being successful with great energy and zeal and others are destroyed by success—destroyed either by the fear of not being successful or destroyed by their pursuit of being successful. I was a man who was a slave to this philosophy, that I must be successful at building something, if I am to be acceptable. It is written in Genesis 11:4, “And they said, ‘Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’” This Scripture has the element of let’s build something, we will be recognized if we succeed and the fear of failure.

When I was introduced to Jesus Christ in 1979 it was made known to me that because God is the one who is the totally, awesome Creator of all things, then what He says is the way things are ought to be. I believed this but for many years did not live it. The reason I did not live it was because of my pride and arrogance and wanting to still hold on to my opinions and philosophies about God and life. The result of that lifestyle was I still was in pursuit of, you guessed it, some successful building project in which to find my acceptance. For me the building project became a wife and children. I didn’t know it, but my house was built upon the sand just like it says in Matthew 7:26, “And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall.” Finally, about twenty years and five or six children later, my eyes were opened to what my pride and opinions had built and it did not look like success! The winds and storms of life had reduced myself and my family to rubble.

When I humbled myself and said that I have been wrong in trying to be right in my own efforts instead of in the life of Jesus Christ, God’s unmerited favor was made known to me and my family in a number of ways. It is written in Proverbs 24:3 “By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; And by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” It is also written in Proverbs 15:22 “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed.” Prior to me crying out for help and admitting that I was wrong I was not able to hear or receive the wisdom that others in the body of Christ had to offer me. God’s wisdom was falling on deaf ears. In turning away from my opinions I had to turn to what God says is true. It is written in Matthew 7:24, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.” What I had hoped to build was in a heap because I had not built upon The Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is written in Romans 10:2 “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.” Jesus is my righteousness! His blood is enough!

As I began to turn from my opinions and worldly philosophies I was pointed to the word of God by those who were living their lives according to His word. It is written in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” I stopped having a relationship with my opinions and returned to a relationship with the One who is the Word. It is written in Hebrews 4:4-12,

“For He has thus said somewhere concerning the seventh day, ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’; and again in this passage, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

There was no rest in my house because of my disobedience to many of God’s truths. I was disobedient to God’s word because I was obeying worldly, humanistic lies that were powerless to provide eternal solutions to people who were created to live in eternity.

The word of God judging the thoughts and intentions of my heart has begun to rebuild me and the family I very nearly destroyed. One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 127. “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They shall not be ashamed, When they speak with their enemies in the gate.” It would appear that Psalm 127 may refer to two unrelated topics: God building things and children. I don’t believe it is accidental that the mention of children follows so closely on the heals of God being the builder. You see, children are a gift of the Lord! I used to think that because God gave me this gift of children that it meant the children were mine. The word gift actually means property or possession. When you substitute that meaning into the sentence it reads: “Behold, children are a possession of the Lord.” They’re not my kids they’re His kids. In our society children are often spoken of as, “my son or my kids or our children.” My mind needed to be renewed and my heart needed to be changed in that one!

One of the brothers in the fellowship is an architect and he shared a word out of his experiences in the building trade. He described the relationship that the owner and the architect and the laborer have while building. The owner has the resources and the passion to build the building, the architect sees to it that the actual building stays true to the owner’s passion and plan. The laborers, they follow the plan. Psalm 127 says “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain to build it.” God calls us to build, but according to His plan and His passion for what He is building. 1 Corinthians 3:9-15 says,

“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.”

My work was evident in the children of my youth and it was evident that the fruit of my labors were being passed on to those children. It was a sorry and scary sight. Opinionated, bitter, arrogant, self-centered, insecure, contentious, angry and disrespectful fruit had not fallen very far from the tree called David. When I stopped eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and started eating from The Tree of Life a wonderful thing began to happen. The tree that the children started to fall from was not very far from The Tree of Life! It is written in Jeremiah 29:11-14, “ ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’”

My sinful lifestyle lead me into that place of exile. It was God’s kindness that lead me to repentance and to Himself. One thing that was in abundant supply in that land of exile was bitterness. I was bitter because I had despised my birthright. Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.” What is my birthright? Or in other words my inheritance? My inheritance is something I cannot earn, it is a gift from my Father. It is the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ and much more!

All that God has planned for me is not simply for me. When my heart was full of bitterness my concerns were mainly for myself. However, I am not the only one Christ is returning for. Hebrews 12:15 instructs me to see to it that no one comes short of the grace of God. In Ephesians 5:25-30, the word says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.” Every husband should build upon the foundation according to the way this scripture instructs us to. When I began to nourish Debbie with the water of the word and cherish her as a member of His body, we began to labor together in the house that God is building, which is His church, the place of His dwelling. The children seeing Mom and Dad laboring together so that all may come to the knowledge of the truth has had a powerful affect on the children. Ephesians 4:11-13 says “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

Before I conclude this letter I would like to tell you about the children of our youth. Caleb is the first born son and is now 14 years old. He is the one who has suffered the longest under Dad’s errant ways. He gave his life to Christ at the age of four. He has gone through difficult times of doubting and yet to this day he still follows the Christ. When I was at my worst, the place where the presence of the Lord would be greatest in our house would be in the room in which Caleb had been worshipping and reading the Bible.

Then there is Joel David who is now 12. His name means the Lord is God, my beloved. God put the name on Debbie’s heart. It comes from the book of Joel. We did not understand the significance of this scripture at the time of Joel’s birth. But the Lord knew what Joel would go through. Joel 2:25-27 says “Then I will make up to you for the years That the swarming locust has eaten, The creeping locust, the stripping locust, and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you. And you shall have plenty to eat and be satisfied, And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; Then My people will never be put to shame. Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, And that I am the Lord your God And there is no other; And My people will never be put to shame.” Joel knew shame at a young age because he witnessed first hand all of my shameful behavior that I have told you about in this letter. Although my actions made it easy for the enemy to try and steal, kill and destroy Joel, he too has made a decision that the Lord is God. Joel was probably the hardest of heart because of my actions and today he is one of the quickest to soften his heart.

Next in line is Luke. He is 10. While he was still in the womb we were lead to pray that this child would be a joyous child. Luke went through a time when no one could say anything to him without him being offended and rejected. More of the fruit of my disobedience. God has turned that around as well. The scripture says that laughter is good medicine. Much of the laughter in the Heller home is often times instigated by Luke. Luke means bringer of light. Thanks for keeping it light, Luke! Hey Luke, lighten up, o.k.!

Andrew Thomas is the fourth arrow in the quiver. Andrew will soon be eight and he is already in love with the word of God. He reads it most every morning and night. He has already read through the bible cover to cover a couple of times.

Next is Victoria Joy. She will soon be five. God gave us her name somewhere between Caleb and Joel being born. Her name reminds us of God’s faithfulness to this family. We call her Tori for short. During the Revolutionary War, Tories remained loyal to the King. I like the sound of that—loyal to the King even during the war. Her initials, V.J., remind us of the end of the second world war in Japan. It was called V.J. Day. Victory in Japan. Only this V.J. reminds us of victory in Jesus, and the return of Joy.

Silas Timothy is three years old. We were impressed by how the biblical Silas supported the apostle Paul in the ministry, especially in the midst of imprisonment. Acts 16:25-26 says, "But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's chains were unfastened." This scripture speaks so powerfully of the value of prayer and worship to set prisoners free!

And now there is Hope and Hope does not disappoint! Hope Deborah is seven months old. God has given us Hope in more ways than one. God reminds us of just some of His love for us through the scripture Romans 5:1, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

To any of the young men or husbands who may have lost hope for family life I want to encourage you that as awful as I made life for this family, by going my own way, there is hope. It is no coincidence that Psalm 128 should follow Psalm 127. It reads like this:

“How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, You will be happy and it will be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine, within your house, Your children like olive plants around your table. Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you from Zion, And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Indeed, may you see your children's children. Peace be upon Israel!"



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