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My Home, God’s Embassy
Guest: Barbara Rainey
From the series: Your Home Is an Embassy (Day 3 of 5)
Air date: August 24, 2016
Bob: If you are a citizen of your homeland, it’s easy to forget that the Bible describes you differently. The Bible says you’re a stranger and an alien. Here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: For the most part, we’ve forgotten that this isn’t our home. It is a little bit of a paradox to live in this land, and yet to be mindful that this isn’t our home. I don’t think we think about that enough. I think our roots have gone down too deep into the soil of this land, and we’ve forgotten that we really belong to another place, another time, and another King—that’s whom we serve.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, August 24th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. If this world is not our home / if we’re just passing through, how does that affect how we ought to live? We’re going to spend time thinking about that today with Barbara Rainey. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
Dennis: Bob, what’s your favorite candy bar? [Laughter]
Bob: Really? This is how you want to start?
Dennis: I want to start because we were talking about this before we came on the air. You asked Barbara—
Bob: She brought what looks—it looks—can we admit it? It looks like a candy bar.
Barbara: It does look like a candy bar.
Bob: She brought what looks like a candy bar.
Dennis: But it’s a protein bar.
Bob: It’s a protein bar.
Dennis: It’s—you know, it is cardboard covered with some kind of nutrient. [Laughter] I don’t know what it is.
Bob: No; no! It’s a candy bar with protein added. [Laughter] That’s what it is.
Barbara: That’s probably right!
Bob: That’s exactly what it is.
Dennis: But you asked her something I didn’t know the answer to. You asked her: “What was her favorite candy bar?” I’ve been married to her for coming up on 44 years, and I don’t know what her favorite candy bar is. I think the reason is—I don’t think I’ve seen her eat any. [Laughter]
Bob: You know, I asked, “If I were going down to the vending machine to get a candy bar, which one would you want?” You had to stop and think—
Bob: —because it’s been a while.
Barbara: It’s been a long time. In fact, I didn’t have an answer; so you rattled off about five or six names. I went: “Oh, yes! I used to like Milky Way®.”
Bob: And then Reese’s® came up; and you were like: “Oh, yes! I like those.”
Barbara: Yes; I could eat a Reese’s.
Bob: So you still will indulge occasionally.
Barbara: I still have a sweet tooth.
Dennis: So, yours, Bob?
Bob: Mine would be the 72 percent dark chocolate made by the Izard Chocolate Company in downtown Little Rock.
Barbara: Oh, my goodness!
Bob: Yes! I want the pure bar.
Barbara: Okay; yes. It’s very good.
Bob: My friend Nathaniel Izard makes them.
Dennis: I didn’t ask what you’d like to have intravenously. [Laughter]
Bob: Mary Ann brings them home. He also has a wonderful chocolate-covered caramel that’s very good. I like the gourmet. If I’m going—
Barbara: That sounds really yummy.
Bob: Now, see? All of a sudden here—
Barbara: Yes; that sounds really yummy.
Dennis: Yes, it does. I like Toblerone, which is made in [Switzerland].
Bob: Those are very nice.
Dennis: That’s pretty good.
Let’s just do a little straw poll with our listeners and find out what their favorite candy bar is. Go online to FamilyLifeToday.com—
Bob: We’ve got the quiz up there.
Dennis: We’ve got the quiz, but it would be fun to see what wins.
The reason we were doing that—we were talking about going overseas/international. Barbara talked about how she nearly starved to death on a Josh McDowell mission trip to Russia.
Dennis: You said that the food you were fed every day—a little boxed lunch—what was in it?
Barbara: Well, we were on the buses, day after day, going to visit orphanages and different places. It was a wonderful, wonderful trip; but the hotel that we stayed in always packed us a little sack lunch to take on the bus. The lunch consisted of a Subway-type sandwich, a very paper-thin slice of meat that you could read through, a very thin—one very thin—tomato, and a very thin piece of lettuce. There was virtually no nutrition in it. It was really thin! [Laughter]
Bob: But they gave you a candy bar!
Barbara: They gave us a candy bar called the Lion Bar. It was a very good candy bar. We all ate our candy bar every day for lunch.
Dennis: Well, when you’re starving to death, anything will taste good!
Barbara: That’s how we got full. [Laughter]
Bob: It does taste better.
I’m sure listeners wonder exactly what the theme of today’s program is.
Barbara: It’s candy! [Laughter]
Bob: I have to admit—when you told me you wanted to talk about diplomatic relations with Barbara in the middle of the presidential election cycle, I thought, “This should be interesting.”
Dennis: Diplomatic relations with Barbara. Now, there are a lot of ways to take that. [Laughter]
Bob: That’s true; that’s true.
Dennis: You didn’t even think about that! [Laughter]
Bob: Let me—you wanted to talk with Barbara about the issue of diplomatic relations. How’s that?
Dennis: That is more accurate.
We’ve been talking about—just as a couple—how Paul exhorts us, over in the book of
2 Corinthians, Chapter 5—he exhorts us to be ambassadors for Christ. Barbara got me off on this. It’s really caused me to start thinking differently about my identity / who I am on a daily basis. It wasn’t that I didn’t think about this before, but she saw a video of a person in a foreign country that kind of prompted this with her.
Bob, I think our listeners are going to be encouraged by what we talk about here.
Bob: What was the video you saw?
Barbara: Well, I found a video, maybe five-minutes long / maybe, six-minutes long, about this individual who lived in an Eastern European country, described as a very atheistic country. This individual had a plaque on the outside of the entrance to their home—the plaque said, “Embassy of the King of Heaven.” The story goes about how this person lived in this Communist country and has lived through multiple regime changes. Yet, one constant has remained the same; that is that the country in which this person lives is not really his home. This person really belongs to the kingdom of heaven.
Bob: So the home that this person lives in—we’ve been calling it “this person” because we’ve been asked not to talk about the name, or the identity, or even the gender of the person.
Barbara: Correct; correct.
Bob: Although, if our listeners want to go see the video, we’ve got a link to it on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Barbara: That’s correct.
Bob: We’ll call him a man. This man lives in a home that, from his perspective—that is different soil than the country—that when he walks out of his front door, he walks into a different place.
Barbara: —into a foreign country because he believes that his home belongs to the kingdom of heaven. He even says on the video: “My home represents the King that I serve; and so I want my home to reflect the King. I have things on my wall / the way I conduct myself all represents my King.”
The video shows him going to the market—buying things / bringing things back—so that he can entertain guests. Some of them have called for an appointment to visit with him. He considers himself an ambassador—these people have called and want to come and talk. There are others who see the sign on his front door / next to his front door and just knock.
He says the Holy Spirit brings these people. People come and want to talk about troubles in their lives; or things that they’re going through; or they want to know, “Who is this King of heaven that you serve and that you belong to?”
Bob: So you saw the video, and it just got you thinking differently about your own life?
Barbara: Well, I saw the video; and it just was so powerful to watch this person and to hear this person, who is an elderly person, who has lived almost 80 years of life. I was just inspired by the story because I realized that’s true for all of us, who are believers in Christ: “I am an ambassador.” All three of us are ambassadors. Our children are ambassadors.
That means the home that I live in / the home that we live in should be an embassy of the King. Therefore: “How can I”--especially me, as a woman—“How can I make my home—which I’m always conscious of and aware of / I’m always trying to improve our home—
—how do I make our home represent the King / the King that I belong to?”—because my home is not really the property that we live on / my home is really in heaven. We’re here temporarily, and God has us here about His plan and about His purposes. So: “How can I be more connected with what He wants me to do? And how can my home be more of a representative of Him, the King?”
Dennis: And I think this conversation, Bob, has never been more relevant for our country. I’m hearing a ton of fear. There are all of these culture wars that are taking place in our country right now. I think followers of Christ have to go back and go: “How do I live in the midst of this?! How am I supposed to behave? Who am I?”
You know, Bob, we interviewed a pastor from Simi Valley, California, who wrote a book called Messy Grace. His name is Caleb Kaltenbach, and it’s going to be aired later on in September.
He made a statement in the interview—it really hit me. I’ve been chewing on this all summer—he said: “Christians today have to realize we are no longer the home team. We are the visiting team.” So, if we’re the visiting team, then we need to figure out: “How do you behave on a visitor’s court? And how do you relate to people around these messy issues and do so in a way that’s winsome / that leaves the aroma of Christ? And—this is very important for you, parents / listen up!—how do you train your kids to do this at school?—
Dennis: —“and as they go to the university?—and as they grow up to establish their own homes?”
I’m telling you—it is game time! And we’re on the visitors’ court. We better do this job well because I think, right now, the winds of the culture have really completely shifted. We’re no longer flowing with the winds—we’re going against the winds / going against the tide—
—we’re on the visitors’ court—however you wish to say it. We need to know who we are; that is, ambassadors for Christ. We need to know why we’re here. We are here to represent Him. We need to be on mission, and we need to be training our kids to be on mission as well.
That’s why this conversation with Barbara is so important—to be thinking of our home as an embassy in a foreign land.
Bob: Barbara, you may know the old song: “This world is not my home. I’m just a passin’ through,” that people used to sing in church. It’s really a picture of where we are. We are—I think it was Peter who said—“strangers and aliens”—
Bob: —in this world.
Bob: This is not our homeland; and yet, we are citizens of the United States—we are bound by the laws / we need to be good citizens as we live in this country—but there’s a higher allegiance; right?
Barbara: There is a higher allegiance. I think, for the most part, we’ve forgotten that this isn’t our home.
It is a little bit of a paradox to live in this land and yet to be mindful that this isn’t our home. But it’s a good reminder. I think that would be a great hymn for us to start singing in church again because I don’t think we think about that enough. I think our roots have gone down too deep into the soil of this land; and we’ve forgotten that we really belong to another place, another time, and another King—and that’s whom we serve.
Dennis: Yes; and if our country is kind of unstable—and there’s a lot of fear in the country, and your roots are in that soil—it is going to reveal where you truly think your homeland is. I think, again: “Are you first and foremost an American, or are you first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ?—a child of the King and, therefore, an ambassador of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.”
Bob: Let’s not assume that everybody knows exactly what an embassy is. I mean, we’ve heard that word. I’ve been to Washington, DC, and been down Embassy Row—
Barbara: Embassy Row; yes.
Bob: —which is a series of houses / nice houses—
Bob: —with different signs out front of those houses from different nations. Explain what an embassy is.
Barbara: One of the things that you would find interesting—anybody who visits an embassy / if you went down Embassy Row—the houses are all slightly different / they’re not the same. They have a sign outside that’s different. Usually, there’s a flag representing that country; but if you walk in the front door of that embassy, you’re going to be greeted with sights, and sounds, and probably even smells from that home country.
If you went into the American Embassy in Africa—in some African nation—or the American Embassy in Beijing, it would not look like China when you walked in the door / it would not look like Uganda when you walked in the door. When you walk in the door of the American Embassy, you see framed pictures of our national heroes—George Washington and Abraham Lincoln would be on the wall. You would see the American flag. The embassies have kitchens. You would probably smell American food cooking. There would be air-conditioning / carpeting—it would feel like being home in America.
The embassy is a piece of that country on foreign soil. For instance, the soil that the American Embassy sits on—in whatever country we have an embassy—that soil literally belongs to the United States.
Bob: The people on that soil are governed by US law.
Bob: If they commit a crime, it’s adjudicated in US courts.
Barbara: That’s correct.
Bob: It’s just like they’re in a part of America.
Bob: It just happens to be a square—half mile or whatever it is—in China.
Barbara: Yes. For instance, if you’re in another country—we were traveling, say, in China—and we had some kind of problem / some kind of trouble—we, because we’re American citizens, would go to the American Embassy for help. The staff of the American Embassy is there to help American citizens, who are traveling, or working, or serving in that country.
They’re also there to engage with local citizens, too, because there are people who come to the American Embassy to get a visa to travel to the United States. They serve lots of different purposes.
Dennis: You know, one thing that you all mentioned—as you’re going down Embassy Row, you see these flags. As you get closer to the embassy, there are these plaques / the signage on the front door or near the front door of the embassy that identifies the building as being an American embassy.
You’ve actually created a plaque that could be screwed into the wall in the front of the home, much like this person we talked about has in front of their home.
Barbara: Yes; yes. Well, after watching this video, and seeing that this person had a plaque on the outside of their home, I thought: “I want a plaque on the outside of my house. I want the UPS guy, or the neighbor who comes over, or someone who just drives by to see that: “In this house, we belong to the King of heaven. We belong to another country.”
I decided I wanted one of those plaques. I didn’t know where to get one; so we had one made. [Laughter]
Dennis: And it’s got a crown—it’s got a crown.
Barbara: Yes. It says, “Embassy of the King” and it has a crown on it because we belong to the King. It is metal, and it can be permanently installed on the exterior of your house if you want to do that.
Bob: Has this been permanently installed on the exterior of your house?
Barbara: Not yet, because I haven’t had it long enough. [Laughter]
Dennis: I can promise you—
Barbara: But it will be!
Dennis: —as the handyman of the house, it will!
I can imagine coming home—that as I come home / you come home from work—as we go in our front door, we might just reach out and touch that. You know, when you see something that’s metal like this, if it’s in a museum, people touch it. You can see it’s kind of worn down a bit after hundreds/ thousands of people have touched it. This is not brass; this is stainless steel.
But I think just to touch it—much like a player going out of the locker room—I think it would be good for us just to maybe remind our children and us, as we leave home / as we come back home: “This is an embassy of the King, and I am an ambassador.”
Barbara: And not only that—I just imagine what that would be like because, when we all leave home, as you were talking earlier, we’re going into enemy territory. I think we forget—when we go out on a day-to-day basis—that we’re on the business of the King. I think we are so prone to get caught up in my “to do” list, or the things I’ve got to check off, or all the errands I have to run, or whatever it might be that we forget that we have been called to live for the King. So, when we leave our front door every day, or get in our car to go to school, or get on the bus, or whatever, I think it’s very easy to forget that “I’ve been called today to live for the King and for His business and not my own.”
Bob: You mentioned that you had this stainless steel plaque made for your home. We should mention you had a few extra made—
Barbara: Yes; a few extra. [Laughter]
Bob: —so we could offer these to listeners who might want one. In addition to the plaques, you’ve had banners and signage that you’ve printed.
Barbara: Yes, we made two other versions. We made the one that can be permanently mounted on the outside of your home; but for people—who live in apartments, or you may be in a rental house, or you don’t know if you’re going to be where you are for very long—you might want something that would be easier to take with you. We have a banner, and we also have a framed plaque—both of which say something about this being an embassy.
Bob: And I’ll just say that our listeners can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, to see what you’ve created / what’s available because they may want to put one of these on their front door, on the inside of the home, or hang the banner somewhere—
Bob: —just to serve as the reminder that you’ve talked about Dennis—that: “This is whom I serve. This is where I’m from. I’m here on assignment.”
Dennis: I was thinking, as we were talking here, Bob—I’ll ask you: “What Old Testament passage does this signage and having these banners hanging—what does this remind you of?”
Bob: Okay; so it’s the last chapter of Joshua; right?—Joshua 24:15?
Dennis: Well, I’m not sure there is the right answer.
Bob: But that’s the one you had open in your Bible; right? [Laughter]
Dennis: It’s not; it’s not.
Barbara: You saw the verse!
Bob: Oh, I thought for sure you were going straight to Joshua 24:15!
Dennis: No, that’s not it. That’s “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Bob: That’s what I figured you were going for; yes.
Barbara: No; I don’t know for sure what you’re thinking about.
Dennis: Wife of my youth!
Barbara: I know—gosh! What did I miss?
Dennis: Wife of my youth! [Laughter]
Bob: Deuteronomy 6—he’s thinking the doorposts; right?
Dennis: Oh, yes; I am!
Barbara: Oh; okay!
Dennis: I was going, “Of all people to forget this!” That’s one of your charter verses!
Barbara: Well, it is; I guess I was just thinking, “Where do they talk about a banner?” I was thinking, “Banner—where does it talk about a banner?”
Bob: Well, it’s in Song of Solomon 2, but I don’t think it applies! [Laughter]
Barbara: I know! That’s why I was a little confused. [Laughter]
Dennis: Bob’s in Song of Solomon—we’re never going to recover this broadcast.
Deuteronomy 6: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children. You shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Then verse 8: “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes; you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
I think God, in establishing the nation of Israel, was trying to remind them—much like Tony Mitchell’s [Christian Alliance for Orphans] dad: “Here’s who you are. Now, don’t forget: ‘I’m your God. You’re My people. You’re to represent Me.’” We’re going to have some stuff hanging on the front of the house to signify that we’re not just another family. We are a family that knows Yahweh, the King of kings / the Lord of lords.
And I think—again, just back to where we are today in our culture—I just think, in the midst of a lot of fear / in the midst of a lot of controversy, believers need to know who they are and whose they are. They need to be representing Him with excellence, and they need to be training their children to do the same. You’ve come up, also, with a little booklet that has got a number of devotionals to go through with your kids.
Barbara: Yes; we’ve got four discussions, for lack of a better word, that you can do with your kids—a couple of stories to read and then some things to talk about that will help you communicate to your kids: “What does it mean to be an ambassador? What does it mean to represent Christ?” It just gives you an opportunity, as a family, to talk about: “How can we make our home be a better embassy? How can we better represent Christ?” I think they’re good discussions for parents to have with their kids.
Bob: Well, and the questions are available in a free e-book edition if folks are interested in having those conversations. I think they’re good conversations to have. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and download the free e-booklet that’s got the four discussions there for you.
And while you’re on the website, check out the resources Barbara has designed so that you can remind yourself and declare to others that your home is an embassy of the King. There’s the plaque / the banner—there is a canvas that’s available. The discussion questions are available as a devotional booklet that you can order from us as well. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for all of the information about what’s available. You can order from us online. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call if you have any questions or you’d like to order by phone—1-800-FL-TODAY—that’s 1-800-358-6329 / 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, I’m just curious how many of you listening think anniversaries are a big deal. If you listen to FamilyLife Today, you know we think anniversaries are a big deal.
This year, we’ve been sharing some of our listeners’ special anniversaries. Today, we’ve got two listeners we would like to wish a “Happy anniversary!” to: Eric and Maureen Sipperley, who live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Today is their 31st anniversary. “Congratulations!” to the Sipperleys. Jim and Kris Stanek—who live in Renton, Washington—today is their 14th wedding anniversary. They listen to FamilyLife Today on KGNW in Seattle. We just want to say to both the Sipperleys and the Staneks: “Happy anniversary! I hope you have a great celebration today!”
Just know—every year is a milestone. Every year is a marker of faithfulness and covenant-keeping love. That’s a big deal in this culture. Our goal, here at FamilyLife, is that more couples would celebrate more anniversaries, year after year, and that they’d be even better every year.
We want to provide the kind of practical biblical help and hope that you need, as a couple, so that your marriage and your family can be all that God intends for it to be.
All of the work that we do here is made possible because of the generosity of folks, like you, who support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We are hoping this month to catch up. We’re a little behind where we were at this time last year in terms of the number of listeners who have gotten in touch with us to make a donation. We’re asking those of you, who have been listening regularly this year but who just haven’t gone online or called and made a donation, “Would you consider doing that today?” You can do it online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY,”—donate over the phone. Or you can mail a donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
By the way, if your donation is $100 or more, feel free to request the three-set Bible study for couples that we put together—our Art of Marriage Connect Studies. These are designed for small group studies or for a husband and wife to do together. These three Bible studies are our thank-you gift to you, thanking you for your generous support of this ministry.
And be sure to be back with us again tomorrow. Barbara Rainey will be here again. We’ll continue our conversation about how we can live as ambassadors for Christ in this culture. I hope you can be here with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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