For one thing I have three blogs and am adding a fourth. That’s a lot to keep up with!
I also started a part time job and that eats a lot of time!
But the most important one was I did not like how the chapters were coming out. I was writing part of each chapter, such as When The Children Cry or This Is Going To Hurt Us Both and posting it as soon as I was done with that particular section. Sometimes that worked out great but most of the time it did not. I would be working on part four, for example, and realize it would flow a lot better if I had said something a little differently in section three. So instead of writing a chapter and posting each section as it is done I am going to write a whole chapter and break it into daily sections.
Thanks for your support and patience. And if you have any comments or criticisms let them fly!
See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.
Hebrews 12:25-29 KJV
I have witnessed something at my parent’s house on multiple occasions. Until last year we only had one youngster running around the house. I do not recall many times when her mom was there. Yet when the poor child was doing something wrong she suddenly had three of four “moms” telling her what do. That was bad enough but they also contradicted each other a lot of times.
Often real mom would try to discipline her child and the other “moms” would disagree. The worst was when real mom would forbid the child from having something and the other “moms” would give it to her behind real mom’s back.
Is it any wonder our children are confused? Is it any wonder children learn to play adults, especially mom and dad against each other? When mom says no I will ask dad! Or if dad says no I will ask mom!
Children are entrusted to their parents. Sometimes we may not like how those parents are handling the task but it is their task and not ours.
Speaking of that task, parents need to remember it is theirs! They cannot delegate it to grandparents, churches or especially schools. It is the parents’ job to get done not anyone else. Of course these others can help but only in as much as they strengthen what the parents are doing.
Of course, as I have mentioned previously, when parents speak to their children and try to teach them they need to teach them from the word and precepts of the Bible. We must make sure we do not confuse our children. We must teach them with one voice. That voice must be the voice of God. Don’t confuse them with many voices, some from God and some from the world. Don’t confuse them by letting them see our public Christian face while in private we are sons of Belial.
Ultimately our children may get away with ignoring what mom and dad say but they will not get away with ignoring what God has said. He has spoken before through the prophet Moses. He will speak again and when he does everything that is not anchored to the rock will pass away. Let us so labor that our children have that rock, Jesus, as their firm foundation. Teach them from a child to know Jesus, love Jesus and serve Jesus. God is a consuming fire and he will destroy eternally all those who do not believe.
Does it hurt to be a good parent and discipline? Certainly it does. Part of me wants to give my son everything he wants. But he is a sinner and sometimes what he wants is not good for him. It is my job to bite the bullet, accept the tears he cries knowing they are for his benefit and not my pleasure. It huts him. It hurts me. It hurts us both. I did not understand that as a child but I sure understand it as a parent!
Have you ever noticed when adults talk to babies they lose their minds? We talk to them in some of the most embarrassing ways like we are children too? We speak words we would never speak to another adult or even children who are a little older. Even our tone changes when we are speaking to children. It is soft and soothing (or at least we hope it is.) We baby talk our babies.
When Elijah wanted a snack, those little baby cookies or an animal cracker he would say he wanted a “go go.” I have no idea where he came up with that word but he did. One of my nieces used to call hot dogs “dadogs.” Another niece called grasshoppers “hoppergrasses.”
I am not making fun of the way children speak. They are just learning. The amazing thing to me is that adults pick it up too. If Elijah was acting hungry I would ask if he wanted a go go. If my niece was hungry I was ask her if she wanted a dadog. If we were outside and saw a grasshopper I would ask the other niece if she saw that hoppergrass.
As adults we even encourage this type of speaking. We call bottles bobbies. We call pacifiers passies. There is nothing wrong with that as far as I know. We have just developed a way to speak to our children in terms they can understand and tones that show our love. That is our loving parent voice.
Parents also have another voice too. I call mine the daddy voice. This voice is reserved for special occasions. You parents know those occasions. They are when our children are doing something we do not want to do.
Suddenly all the childish words are gone. The tone is no longer soft. We try to project authority into our voice so our children know we are serious when we say no. We want them to respect that voice. We even want them to fear that voice a little.
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
Genesis 3:8-10 KJV
When God created Adam and then Eve they had no fear of his voice. When they sinned against God his voice took a different tone. Or at least it sounded different to their ears. It was no longer a voice of tenderness calling them to fellowship. It was now a voice of retribution calling them to judgment. God did not need to do anything other than speak to them for them to know they were in trouble.
It was not God’s desire for Adam and Eve to fear him. He wanted them to love him and he was prepared to love them in return. But they had done something he had told them not to do. Not only had they done something that he had forbidden they had done something that turned out to be to their eternal detriment.
People often ask the question, “Why am I here?” They do not mean in a particular place at a particular time. They mean why do I even exist? The short answer is God created us for his pleasure. God created us because he expected joy from us.
The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.
Proverbs 23:24-25 KJV
This verse tells us what should give parents pride and joy in their children. Sadly it is not always so. Many parents get joy out of children who are neither righteous nor wise. They do so because they are either not righteous or not wise. Maybe they are neither.
God is of course both righteous and wise. The only children he takes pleasure in are those who are meeting these conditions. Of course, we being sinners by nature and choice, are not naturally righteous. But we may be declared righteous through Jesus Christ. If we have received this righteousness, the righteousness that comes by faith, then we are also wise in the sight of God. In fact finding this righteousness is the height of wisdom. If I had a choice between knowing everything there is to know in this world but not knowing the way of righteousness or knowing the way of righteousness and being ignorant of everything else I would chose righteousness. When we get to the judgment there will not be a SAT style entrance exam. Biology, geology and all of the world’s wisdom will not matter at all. All that will matter is, are we righteous in the sight of God, that is have been born again.
God does not us just to be righteous because of what Jesus did. He wants us to live righteously. By this we make him rejoice because we are doing what he himself would do, in fact has done through Jesus, himself. Living this way shows we respect God.
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
John 14:15 KJV
I have never asked my parents why they decided to have children. Maybe they never thought about it. I cannot say for certain why my wife and I wanted children. It certainly was not that we were grasping out immortality through procreation. I know we both loved children and part of it was no doubt because we wanted a child or our own to love.
Of course loving someone feels best when that person loves you back.
I have three nieces. Whenever I see them two of them give me a hug and say they love me. Taylor, who is the youngest, does not. She is younger, by a month, than Elijah. I like it when they tell me they love me. I do not remember when they older two started telling me they loved me but it was after they were a little older than Elijah or Taylor.
Elijah and Taylor by contrast do not tell anyone they love them. I think they love people but they are still a little young to speak in sentences like that. In fact they may be a little young to understand abstract concepts like love. In fact, neither one are reliable for giving hugs either.
Whenever I leave or get home. I ask Elijah to give me a hug. Sometimes he will start towards me with his arms open but he never makes it all the way to me to actually deliver the hug. I guess I could assume he does not love me because I do not get the hug. But at the same time I remember how he calls out dada dada whenever I get home. I remember the smile on his face when he sees me. These things tell me he loves me even if he does not give me a hug. Still I would like to get that hug sometimes.
God wants love too. He wants it from his children and Jesus told us the way to show that love is not through hugs, though he might enjoy them, but through obedience.
I desperately want to take Elijah to Disney World. I love Disney World. I am sure he will too because I have seen how my nieces love it. I want to do a lot of things for my boy that will make him happy. It’s in my nature.
It is in God’s too. God wants to do good things for his children just like we want to do good things for ours. He will not give his greatest blessings to children who do no love him though.
His greatest blessings are given to those who not only say they love him though. They are held for those who prove their love by obeying his word. When we disobey God’s word we rob both God and ourselves of a blessing. Think about it. How much do you enjoy giving your child something they will love? Doesn’t God feel the same way? It’s much better to give your child something fun than to give them a spanking is it not?
I do remember one day when I had made Alexia mad. She was only three probably. She was in the kitchen at my mom’s house and I had done something that she did not like. I do not remember what it was but in an attempt to make things right I told her I love you. I remember clear as day her response, “Well I don’t love you!”
I trust none of you would ever do God that way. You would not say it aloud I mean but when you disobey him you might as well shout it from the rooftops.
If you have not read the previous entries in this article you can catch up here.
If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
Genesis 4:7 KJV
Growing up my idea of cleaning my room was making the bed. My bed was pushed up against the wall on two sides. The head of the bed and one side were adjacent to the wall. That left the foot end and one side exposed to the rest of the room. I was always careful that the blankets touched the floor on these two exposed sides. Why? Because I had shoved everything in the room under the bed and was trusting the covers to keep my secret hid!
Obviously these are not the footsteps my wife and I want Elijah to follow in so my wife has been teaching him how to put everything in its place. We are not real picky about what toys or even how many he takes out of his toy boxes (Yes he has so many he has to have toy BOXES! In our defense they are not really big toy boxes) at any given time.
Every night Elijah seems to love to take the majority of the toys out of the boxes. He takes each one out one at a time. Next he plays with it for a few moments. Then he grabs another one out and repeats the process till there are more toys out of the box then in it. This, of course, is not surprising.
What is surprising is what happens next. Every night before he goes to bed the toys are all put up. At first I thought those little cobbler elves had given up making shoes and were now full-time house cleaners. Then I decided my wife must be picking them all up.
I was wrong on both counts. Well partially wrong at least. Elijah helps pick up the toys. I was amazed to see it knowing he is my son and my own past. Okay my own present is not a lot different from my old days with toys.
I watched it happen one night though. Tracy would say something to the effect of let’s pick up your toys. She picked up the majority of them, don’t get me wrong. But he did help with quite a few.
Now his idea of putting them up was a little rough. There was some dropping and almost throwing but hey he’s a little guy and coordination has not exactly set in so I was just glad to see him getting them in the box.
As he put each one in my wife said something to him. She told him either good job or good boy. I think she may have even clapped as he did it. At first I thought this was a little over the top but I noticed something. He seemed to enjoy being told he was doing a good job. God was telling Cain the same thing. If he would do well God would be proud of him. The same applies to you and I. Discipline is not all about chastening it is also about rewarding good behavior.
And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Matthew 3:17 KJV
As I watched Elijah put his toys up I experienced a good feeling. I was proud. I had been proud of him before. A lot of that pride had come from who he was though and not what he was doing. Because he was my son I was proud of him. He is mine. This time I was proud because he was doing something good.
I am almost forty years old as I write this. I have a good relationship with my parents but it has not always been an easy road. I spent a few years doing things that did not make them very proud. I was sowing my wild oats if you will. To anyone out there who might be considering doing the same thing I want to give you a word of advice from the scripture. If you sow those wild oats you will reap them too. It is a lot more fun to sow them than it is to reap them. Those oats are also the gift that keeps on giving. Long after you quit sowing them you will still be harvesting them.
Fortunately in my case that period of my life was pretty short. I would love to say I just grew tired of doing wrong but it is closer to the truth to say it was the grace of God that made me change my ways. He was dealing with my conscience and reminding me that I was his child and he would deal with me in ways I did not want to know about. It was not a lot different than the times someone had wanted me to misbehave as a child and the only thing that kept me back was the fear of my father and mother finding out. The biggest difference was I knew God not only was going to find out but He already knew.
So I went back to church and got involved. I got heavily involved as a matter of fact. It was not long after that God reminded me of a calling he had given me some years earlier. That calling was to the ministry. I began to try and apply myself to the word of God.
Today I have been in the ministry for almost 17 years. The last nine I have been serving as a pastor. I am not claiming to have done a good job. I am not even claiming to have done the best I could at all times. None of us honestly do the best we can all the time. I do claim to have made a serious change in my life direction. I still sin but I am trying to keep it under control and spend more time serving the Lord.
My father is also a pastor. In fact he was the pastor of a church in Greenfield, Indiana and when he gave up the position they called me to fill it. It was my first pastorate. When I left the position they called him back.
There is a question that strikes me at night sometimes or when I am feeling a little depressed. I never ask the question of anyone because I am afraid that pride is at the root of it. I have enough issues with pride as it is so I don’t want to indulge myself but sometimes I really want to know the answer to that question. The question is not one I can ask of just anyone though. I would have to ask my dad. I just want to know if he is proud of me.
Maybe it is something that is built into all of us because I have met and counseled a lot of people who want to make their parents proud. If your parents have a good standard there is nothing wrong with that I suppose. Of course if your father has set bad standards we do not want them to be proud of following in their footsteps.
I hope that my father can echo the words of our heavenly Father at the baptism of his Son but even more I hope my heavenly father can at least sometimes say the same thing about me. He may not do it audibly as he did at the Jordan but he does do it through his Spirit. My prayer is both Elijah’s earthly and heavenly fathers will be able to praise his character and works too.
If you have not read the previous entries in this article start here.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4 KJV
Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Colossians 3:21 KJV
Growing up I heard a story about a family that had “whipping time.” When the stepfather, who was a heavy drinker at the time, would get home he would line his stepchildren up against a wall and take his belt and whip them. It did not matter if they had done anything or not it was whipping time and a whipping was going to be given. As you might imagine every time I was at this house I had a certain amount of fear even though the stepfather never laid a hand on me.
Whipping a child for no reason is not what God intended when he told us to use the rod. In fact such a practice is not discipline it is abuse and it breaks my heart to think of not only this situation but so many others where parents are taking a God given responsibility and perverting it. Sometimes it is for their own pleasure, sometimes because it is what they learned as a child and sometimes simply because they know no better. Whatever the cause of such behavior God sees it. It does not please him and such parents better be aware that God will repay that kind of treatment in kind either in this life or in the judgment.
We must also be careful that we do not push them away from the Lord in our attempt to discipline them. Our children must understand that we discipline them out of love and not out of anger. If a parent punishes a child because he or she, the parent, has finally had enough and is angry we do our children harm. There is no place for letting our anger get the best of us. A child must be aware that what we do we do out of love. They must know that we are not pushing them away in our discipline but trying to draw them closer.
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
God intends us to discipline for the benefit of our children not for our own pleasure. Discipline is a tool to help shape them into something the Lord himself can be proud of it. When we carry out discipline we must make sure we are carrying it out for that reason and no other.
When we correct a child we should be discouraging them from a behavior that is contrary to the Lord’s will for their lives. In order for discipline to be effective the child must understand what they are being punished for. We certainly do not need to be punishing them to make ourselves feel better. We do not need to punish them out of anger either. We must punish them for a Godly purpose.
If you have not read the previous entries in this article you can catch up here.
Shortly before one of my nieces turned one her mother announced that whipping season was about to be open. The mother, my sister, was totally joking but it brings up an interesting question. When are you children too young to be corrected? When are your children to young to be spanked?
Have you ever heard parents complain about how their children turned out? Do you think it is possible they bear some responsibility for their children grow up? I think it a lot of cases they do. It is not that they do not want to train their children. It is because they do not want to hurt their children either physically or emotionally. To feel better in the short term they risk the long term.
Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
Proverbs 19:18 KJV
When Elijah was just a month old he had his first doctor visit. It was time for him to get a shot. Tracy was on one side of the room. I was with the doctor. My job was to hold him still while the doctor gave the shot. It was not an easy job for me to look down at the beautiful baby boy my wife and I had waited so long for and hold him down while someone hurt him. But I did the job. Of course the minute the needle broke his skin he began to cry.
I am sure the doctor did not like making Elijah cry. I did not like hearing him cry, especially since I was the one to hold him down. Mommy did not like hearing him cry either. In fact when I looked at her she had a tear or two running down her face.
Everyone in the room, with the exception of Elijah, of course, understood that what we were doing we were doing to save him something that would hurt him more. Parents cannot afford to take the short view on shots. They hurt your child but it is truly for their benefit. Discipline them well whether they cry or not.
When parents refuse to discipline their children because they cry they are putting those same children at risk. Children need to be taught about boundaries. They need to be taught about consequences. They need to learn to respect authority. If we fail to teach them these things we risk not only their lives but their souls because they may form their view of who God is based in part of their view of who their parents are.
Some parents believe they cannot discipline their children because they love their children too much. I disagree. The lack of discipline is the result of too much love but it is not the case of a parent loving a child too much. It is the case of a parent loving himself or herself too much. We do not want to have to go through the pain of hurting our child. That is selfishness. What we are really saying is we cannot stand to hear them cry.
Children will grow up to have lots of friends. Your job as a parent is not to be a friend. It is to be a parent. That means you have to correct your children for their own good. Too many parents want to lay down the job of parenting and be a friend instead. Sometimes it hurts to be a parent.
Parents used to say, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you!” Kind of makes you wonder how many children volunteered to switch places does it not? When Elijah came along I understood what the parents meant at least. It hurts me when I have to discipline Elijah. But I love him so I will put up with that broken expression and those little tears for his own good.
If you have not read the previous entries in this article start here.
My brother was a stubborn child. Okay maybe I was too but this story is about him and not me. One day we were at my aunt’s house and she had a gas stove. He was tall enough to reach the knobs and kept trying to turn the stove on. Each time I did my aunt would smack his hand. Yet he continued to try and do it till finally he decided whatever pleasure he was getting from turning that knob was not worth getting his hand smacked.
My aunt was not a child abuser but she knew that if he turned the stove there could be problems. If he kept turning the stove on, for example, and the burner ignited my brother was tall enough to get his hand into the flame. Or if he continued to play with the knobs and no one was around the house could fill with gas and result in an explosion. She was not smacking his hands for her pleasure but for his benefit.
My friends related a similar story about their little girl. They were actually cooking dinner and she kept trying to get her hands on top of the stove. They kept telling her no but as soon as they turned their backs she reached up and laid her hands directly on the burner which had just been turned off. You can imagine that did not work out well. For the record my friends are not against smacking a child’s hand I only tell the story to show what can happen when children let their curiosity get the better of them.
One day Elijah and I were at home alone. He was doing something he was not supposed to do. He was trying to open the bunny cage. Well, he was playing with the latch not sure whether he knew that would let the bunny out or not. Either way I did not want him doing it. He might let her out and she could get into the basement where she is not supposed to be. Or it is big enough he might crawl into where he is not supposed to be. He had already eaten bunny food once and I did not want him to repeat the experience.
I had told him no several times and it just was not getting the job done. So I went and stood right next to him and waited for him to reach out one more time. He did. I slapped his little hand. He looked up at me with his big blue eyes with tears running down his face. He started to cry. His expression seemed to suggest I had betrayed him in some way. I picked him up and cradled in my arms and told him not to do that again. It was all I could do not to cry with him.
Some people, of course, do not think it is appropriate to punish a child by slapping their hand or spanking their backside when necessary. Books have been written about the subject. Most famously perhaps was Dr. Benjamin Spock, who taught that children should never be spanked. I am neither an expert on raising children nor a doctor but God disagrees.
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
Proverbs 13:24 KJV
Our primary responsibility as a parent is to teach our children how to live for God. If we love our children we will make it our purpose in life. If we want to do it right then we will follow the instructions God has given us. After all, he is not only the ultimate Father he is the all knowing Father. I would hate to second guess God. Pay particular attention to that word betimes. Betimes is the old fashioned word for a lot.
What my brother was doing and what my friends’ daughter was doing was not smart. Of course they did not know better. Children have a lot of ideas that are not good ideas. They will quickly form ideas that are not good ideas. The Bible tells us how to react to them.
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Proverbs 22:15 KJV
This does not mean every time a child does something we do not approve of we need to get a rod out and beat them. In fact the Bible is against beating children but it is for corporal punishment. Still this does not mean it is always the answer. We need to address each situation based on the severity of a child’s disobedience. Sometimes saying no is enough. Sometimes grounding or time out might be enough. But sometimes we need to get back to what the Bible says and spank our children.
If you have missed the earlier sections of this article click here.
There is something rewarding and peaceful about holding a baby in your arms and feeding him or her. The first time I got to hold Elijah and feed him was the day after he was born. It was a Sunday. The church where I pastor was starting revival that night and I felt like I really need to lead my church that Sunday morning and help them prepare spiritually.
So I got ready early and headed down to see Elijah before I went to church. He was still in the NICU because they were making sure he did not have any viruses. As I looked down on him he looked so small as I caressed his little hands.
The nurse came by and said it was time to feed him. She asked if I would like to feed him. I had fed other babies but I had never fed my baby so I checked my watch. I had time so I went ahead and fed him. The nurse offered to let me change his diaper too but I was too “pushed for time” to do that.
A few days later we took Elijah home and I learned that newborns do three things. They eat. They get rid of what they ate. They sleep. That’s about all newborns do and they do a lot of all three it seems. Unfortunately they do not eat a lot but they do eat often. Therefore you get up every three to four hours to feed the baby.
Fortunately newborns do not get a lot of variety. Pretty much it is either momma’s milk or formula but as they grow the dietary variety increase. Did you know that there are rules to what a baby can or cannot have? In fact there are lots of rules! Your baby cannot have this but can have the other. For example peanut butter and seafood are out. Rice and vegetables are in. Fruit comes later. It is a lot to remember. Fortunately Tracy kept track of all that and just told me what to feed Elijah.
Of course every rule is designed to make sure your smiling little bundle of joy grows up to be healthy. Just as your baby’s body needs some nourishment to grow and mature your little one needs some nourishment from the word of God to grow up. Pediatricians set the rules for what your baby can eat. God sets the rules for how to feed a child spiritually.
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
1 Peter 2:2 KJV
The word of God is the best source of spiritual food for your child. Of course you do not need to put a Bible in their hands from the moment they are born but when they get to the point they can start learning they need to learn what God has said to them. I cannot emphasize the importance of teaching your child the word of God from an early age. The word of God is designed to keep them in the will of God and also to show them what to do when they get out of the will of God. If you wait till they are mature enough to understand everything about the word of God you may have waited too late. By then they may have already learned to take the word of God for granted or completely discount it. Do not wait for them to form their own ideas from a world that is consistently undermining God. Build a foundation upon which they can judge everything else. As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”
As Elijah has grown he has left the bottle behind. Now we feed him baby food and some big people food. But we do not just throw it at him. We have to give it to him a little at a time. Sometimes we have to demonstrate to him that it is good by tasting it ourselves. Of course you cannot just throw the word of God at your child either. I must give him what he can handle and I have to prove to him that it is good by living it.
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 3:15 KJV
One rule I learned about feeding babies is vegetables come first. That is when they start getting baby food you do not go immediately to the sweet and sugary fruits. Nor do you start with candy. They have to learn to appreciate what is good for them. They have to develop a taste for those vegetables. If they get the sweet stuff first they may reject the vegetables later.
So you cannot raise your children on fairy tales and cartoons alone. They must begin to have the word of God early in their life. If they do not they may come to reject God’s word just as surely as they would the green beans.
If you missed the previous sections of this article begin here
I cannot stop at prayer though. Too many people pray about something then leave everything in God’s hands. There are times to do that. If you are standing at the Red Sea and Pharaoh is behind you there is nothing you can do but stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. There are other times where we need to pray then take action, what many people call putting some feet on our prayers.
Some years ago I heard a somewhat humorous story that illustrates this point.
There was an old man who lived in an area where there was a good deal of flooding and it looked like it might reach his house. So he prayed and asked the Lord to help. The water forced him to the upstairs of his house and the sheriff came by in a boat and told him to get in so they could get him to safety. “God will save me,” the old man said. He prayed again. Finally the man was forced onto his roof, the water swirling around his feet. The sheriff came by again. This time he was in a helicopter. He told the man in no uncertain times unless he climbed up into the helicopter he was going to do. “God will save me,” the old man said one last time before he was swept into the flood waters and died.
As the man entered heaven he admitted to God that he did not understand how he, God that is, could let him die in a flood like that. God answered, “I sent the boat and the helicopter didn’t I? It’s not my fault you wouldn’t get in.”
Sometimes we have a tendency to do the same things after we pray. God is a God of miracles. There is no doubt about that. But he is also a God who has given us the Bible as a guide to our behavior. When we look at our lives and wonder how we ended up in the trouble we are in we need to ask if we followed God’s instructions. It’s the next best thing to useless to ask God to do something we should be doing for ourselves. How we raise our children is no exception.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 KJV
As a minister I have heard a lot of older couples ask prayer for their children. In some cases it is heartbreaking because you see parents who seem honestly to have done their best to train up a child. In other cases you want to look at the parent and ask why they are surprised their child turned out the way he or she did. After all that was how you trained him or her to be. Honestly what you want to say is you broke him you fix him.
I do not pretend to be able explain completely what God is telling us in this verse. As I have said I have seen good parents turn out rotten kids. I have also seen rotten parents turn out good kids. The verse does not seem to indicate it is impossible for a child brought up to love and serve the Lord to turn from the paths of righteous living. It only indicates that he is more likely to live a good Christian life his if parents give him a good foundation of Biblical teaching.
Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
1 Peter 5:3 KJV
God was speaking expressly to the Elder’s of the church in this verse. He was telling the elders that preaching at the church was not enough. They needed to be living sermons on the righteous way of the Lord. By extension if they were to provide an example the rest of the church was supposed to follow it. If the elders were to teach by example then parents should teach by example too.
Teaching by example is scary. I work a lot with young Christians. Sometimes young Christians ask a lot of questions. I never mind discussing any scripture they may have a question about or anything they may be facing in their lives. I am glad to answer these questions.
But there is a certain set of questions I dread. Those are the questions that bring up my past. None of us are perfect. This rule applies to even ministers. All of us have done things we are ashamed of. Well at least we should be ashamed of. When young people ask me about my mistakes I get nervous because I want to be an example. In a lot of ways I can be but there are certain things in my past that I want to leave there. I do not want my bad example to become their excuse to make the same mistakes I have made.
I do not have a time machine to go back and undo my mistakes. Neither do you. We cannot change the past but we can change the now and the future. I want to live daily now before my son so that I can be proud if he follows in my footsteps. In fact, a large part of training means I leave some good footsteps for him to follow.
As for my mistakes that I have made, am making and will make all I can do is ask the Lord to help. Sometimes it takes time to get our past behind us but if we work diligently at it, it can be done.
Paul, who started life as Saul, had the same problem with his past. He had been a man who hated Jesus and the church and took every opportunity to hurt the church anyway he could. After he was saved people did not immediately accept him. He had to prove himself and he did by working as hard for Jesus as he had worked against him. Eventually people began to accept him.
If you have a life like Paul’s that you are trying to live down do not give up. Keep doing the right thing. Right now people may be pointing out all your failures and using it against you. Eventually you may be able to change their attitude with consistent good living. Eventually they may give God glory for getting you out of your old sinful behavior patterns.
Whether other people accept your change or not we still have an obligation to train our children. Train them by example.