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When The Children Cry (Part Six)

In When The Children Cry Part Five I said we would talk about how it was fair for the God to condemn every man, woman and child for the disobedience of one man. To do that I need you to answer some questions for yourself. Have you sinned? Does that make you a sinner? What evidence can you provide that you would have done any different if you had been Adam or Eve?

Years ago my cousin’s son said the first thing he was going to do when he got to heaven was kick Adam’s butt. It’s natural to blame Adam for everything that is going wrong in the world today. He started it. But is it fair?

Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
Matthew 23:34-35 KJV

In this passage Jesus is talking to men who were born hundreds if not thousands of years after the murders he says they would bear the responsibility for. Talk about an accessory after the fact!

Why did Jesus say they were responsible though? To understand that you have to understand to whom he was speaking. He was speaking to people who had rejected his message. They had rejected him as Messiah. They had rejected him as the Christ. They had rejected him as the Son of God. Because they rejected Jesus, who was the one who was greater than Moses, said they would have rejected Abel and Zacharias too. In essence he was telling them they would have done the same thing and because they would have done the same thing they were just as guilty as if they had done the actual killing. They had the motive they just did not have the opportunity.

There is something about the judicial system here in America that has always confused me. If you murder someone you get charged with murder. If you try to kill someone and fail you get charged with attempted murder. The penalty for murder is more severe than that for attempted murder. Why? Both people may have had the same motive, and they may have had the same weapon even, but the guy who does not get the job done gets less of penalty? In their hearts they were both going to murder someone. One guy just failed to get the job done.

God does not look at that way though. He looks at what was going on in our hearts. He knows that no matter which of us had been placed in the Garden each of us would have ended up making the same decision. We would have all sinned. So yes it is perfectly fair that we all live in a sin-cursed world.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 3:23 KJV

We should also consider this fact, we are all sinners. What is the penalty for sin? It is death. Not only are we dying this world is dying around us. It is cursed for not only Adam’s sake but for ours as well. Unfortunately that curse also falls on our children.


When the Children Cry (Part Five)

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

                                                                  Bad Daddy

Between our dining room and the kitchen we have a baby gate. Even with all the safety devices on cabinet doors Tracy and I prefer that Elijah not wander around in the kitchen. Perhaps part of this can be explained by an experience some dear friends had. The Lord had truly blessed them and their quiver was full. They had two toddlers and an infant all at the same time. One day momma went into the kitchen to find their oldest was having a snack. She was eating macaroni and cheese…out of the trash. Maybe that is part of the reason we have a baby gate to keep Elijah out of the kitchen.

We are currently remodeling our house slowly. Mainly we are doing it slowly because I am a procrastinator. If I had not mentioned that I meant to I was just putting it off a little bit. Because we are remodeling the house my office and computer are in the kitchen. Fortunately our kitchen has a built in desk.

Lots of times when I am at my desk working (okay I’m playing sometimes, you busted me!) Elijah will come waddling up to the gate. More often than not he has a toy or something else in his hand. I guess he must be a normal boy because he seems to really love throwing his toy or whatever is in his hand over the gate. As soon as he throws it, or sometimes before he throws it, he yells “Uh oh!”

As you can imagine my wife and I have tried to discourage this behavior. One day he comes up to the gate and looks at me. I can see it in his eyes. He is going to throw it. I tell him not to. I tell him very firmly not to throw that toy over the gate. He throws it and yells, “Uh oh!” I immediately come out of my chair calling his name. He does an abrupt about face and runs off in that cute way that babies do. All the while he is running he is yelling, “Uh oh!” Bad Daddy had come out.

Doing my best not to laugh I went and got him and we had a little talk. When I told everyone else the story I did not bother to try to keep back my laughter.

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.
Genesis 3:8 KJV

When Adam heard that voice he had us “uh oh” moment. Running was not going to do him any good though. Now here is something you might not have known about Adam. He was a sharing person. That is when he had his uh oh moment he shared it with all of us. We are still having that uh oh moment in this world today.

Consider some of the things that took place because Adam did not obey God. These are the things enumerated in Genesis Chapter 3

  • Women bring forth children in sorrow
  • A woman is subject to her husband
  • The Ground is cursed for man’s sake
  • Thorns and thistles come forth
  • Work is no longer a pleasure it is work. It became by the sweat of the brow
  • He no longer had access to the Tree of Life
  • He was kicked out of the Garden of Eden

Some would ask why Adam did not die. God said he would. The short answer is he did. His inner being was now dead. It died and was no longer alive unto God. The body was going to catch up too though. In fact it was already on the way to catching up. Before he sinned Adam was capable of living forever. I don’t even think he aged. After he sinned every moment he lived was one less moment he was going to live. Every moment he got a little older and we all know what happens when you get older. You get those aches in places that you didn’t even know you had places.

As I said Adam did just ruin it for himself though. He ruined it for all of us too! Some would say that is not fair that one man ruined it for all of us. I disagree with that idea. You may rebel at the idea that one person ruined it for all of us but remember that one person, Jesus Christ,  also restored it for all who believe.

In the next Part we will demonstrate that God is fair and that everyone of us would have done the same thing Adam did.

When The Children Cry (Part Four)

Thanks for stopping by. This is Part Four of an article called when the Children Cry. If you have not read parts one through three click here.

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Genesis 2:17 KJV

God gave us boundaries for our own good

God had only one rule for Adam. He was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It should have been easy for him to keep. He had plenty of other trees to eat from. It is not like he was starving to death. But even that one law was too much for him to follow. You can debate why Adam decided to do what he did. There may be multiple answers but in the end there is one answer that is at the foundation. Pride. He had heard what God said. He had no reason to doubt what God said but maybe he doubted that God could carry out what he had said. Maybe he doubted God’s word. Adam, at the root, thought he knew what was better for himself than God did.

So he ate of the fruit and when he did he found himself in a whole new world. In one sense the promise of the serpent, who said they would be as Gods, was true.  Adam had created a whole new world. Well, maybe created is not the right word. He had taken a world that was ideally suited for him and created a wold of problems. The world that had once worked with him would now work against him.

The world was not the only problem though. Before he had eaten the fruit he and God had walked in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the evening. Can you imagine that?  Eve asks Adam, “Honey, where are you going?” Adam answers, “It’s time for my walk with God.” Can you imagine the joy? Not just the joy Adam felt but the joy God felt!

Elijah is happy baby, most of the time. Of course he has his moments when he’s not but for the most part he is laughing and smiling. He normally smiles at everyone! But Tracy says he has a special smile for me. At some point before he could walk but after he could crawl he developed a habit. If he saw me go outside he would go to the bannister at the stairs. We of course had a gate to keep him from going down the stairs. There at the bannister he would yell for me, not a crying type yell but the kind of yell babies make to get your attention before they have learned to use words. The smile and the reaction I would get are so precious. Even today, when the door opens he will run to the bannister and yell “Daddy!” He’s glad to see me and I am glad to see him. I imagine Adam and God felt much the same way when they shared their walk in the garden.

When Adam took that bite it was over.

One day Tracy, Elijah and I were out at my mom and dad’s for our biweekly family gathering. My niece Alexia, who was and is adjusting to no longer being the only child in her family, was doing something her mother told her not to do. My sister took her for a little walk to the bedroom. As you might imagine neither mommy nor Alexia were very happy. While the two were in the other room I could hear my sister explaining that Alexia needed to listen or some such thing. Then it got kind of quiet. All of a sudden I heard Alexia cry out in that voice that is half-way between crying and talking, “Bad mommy!”

I thought I would die laughing. Here was my sister telling my niece why she was in trouble and I was just certain Alexia was accusing her of being a bad mommy. It’s just like something she would do. She is a sharp little five year old and can really crack you up! She is also very sweet, praying for the babies in mommy and Tracy’s bellies and taking the time at the hospital one night that to tell me she loved Tracy, and Elijah and me. This without prompting.

When my sister came back into the living room we, my brother and I, had to tease her a little bit about being a bad mommy. It’s a long standing tradition because she is the baby of the family and that is what older brothers do. I try to be careful, however, not to contradict her parenting. She is mommy and I am uncle. It’s her job to discipline her child not mine. This doesn’t mean if I thought she was making a very serious mistake I would not talk to her about it. However, I would not talk to her about it in front her daughter or any one else for that matter. Some matters need to be handled privately. I have never seen the need to have one of those talks though.

After we teased her a little she explained that during her little talk she asked Alexia what happened when she was bad. The answer was bad mommy. Alexia had not been calling her mother a bad mommy she had been answering her question. Evidently bad mommy is a code word for if you keep it up you are going to get into trouble.

Look for my next post when I find Bad Daddy…


The Taylor Situation

Last night I was chatting away on Facebook and thinking about the next section of my chapter on When the Children Cry   when I got a frantic call. I immediately ended my conversation and jumped into action.

I had talked to my sister earlier in the evening regarding a birthday dinner for my mom. She had called me. As soon as I answered the phone I could hear her daughter crying in the background. Crying loud. She was not a happy camper. She had a fever that was getting pretty high.

Now her daughter, Taylor, is only about one month younger than Elijah. Taylor is my sisters second child. We found out Taylor was on the way, though we didn’t know she was going to be a Taylor yet, about a week after we found out Elijah was on the way. Of course we didn’t know Elijah was going to be an Elijah yet either. I wanted John Thomas for both the apostles and the presidents. My wife wanted something else. We settled on Elijah after he was born. I still wanted to make it Elijah Thomas but my wife was afraid he’d end up being called ET.

My wife and I, as I have mentioned, were kind of surprised when we found out Elijah was on the way. The first person I wanted to tell of course was our parents. She called her mom and her aunt. I called my family. I told my dad who was pretty excited but mom was in Kentucky with her sisters. Dad said he would have her call me. When she did she was in the car with her sisters and I think they all about cried.

I let the word slip after that on Facebook when I posted for my status the song With Arms Wide Open. I didn’t know people would figure out Tracy was pregnant that way but they sure did. If you listen to the song you will figure out why. Only then did I begin to find out how many people were praying that God would give us a child. It’s good to have praying friends isn’t it? Who are praying for you even when you don’t have the courage to ask them to do so. To this day I tend to get kind of teary listening to that song. If you haven’t heard it, give it a listen. It’s a good song for fathers.

The following week we were headed out to my mom and dad’s house. We normally get the whole family together at least every two weeks for dinner and this was the normal week. At this time we did not know Taylor was on the way.

Everyone was pretty excited for us but I kept noticing my youngest niece Alexia telling everyone a secret. This was not unusual for her. She was about three. I found out that she had told everyone the secret but me. Finally my sister spilled the beans. She and her husband were expecting too! We were all really happy. We were getting our first child. My sister and her husband were getting a second child. My brother and his daughter were getting two new nieces/nephews or cousins as the case may be. Mom and Dad were getting two new grandchildren.

Elijah was born in June. There were a few complications. He was a little early for one. Taylor was born in July. They are both nearing a year and a half now. They tend to get along very well. For example Taylor likes to ride toys and Elijah likes to push them so that works out great. I have never seen them fight over toys. Recently I found Elijah trying to drink Taylor’s drink but I told him it was hers and he put it down.

Now as I said I was Facebooking when I got that frantic call. It was my sister. Taylor was having a seizure. She was asking me to pray. They were taking her to the hospital. The hospital was about half way between where I live and where they live. I told her I would meet them at the hospital. I got off Facebook after updating my status to ask everyone to pray for Taylor. Woke the wife and told her what was going on and that I was leaving. She is kind of used to me leaving suddenly because of my position as a a pastor. We had prayer.

I got in the car kind of a mess to be honest. I had been reading a lot of blogs about parents losing their children so that was in the back of my head. As a pastor I know that it’s all in God’s hands. But as a father and a man that doesn’t mean I can just lay aside my humanity and say well “Lord if it’s your will take her on home.” Well I can say it but that does not mean it’s what I want. Like all parents we want our children, and our nieces for the matter, to live long happy lives.

I started to pray again. I started to calm down some, not that I was hysterical. As I was praying the pastor part of me took over more and more, the Christian part really that says that God really is in control. I started to worry less about how I felt and more about how her mom and dad and sister must feel. I began to frame the words I might need to use with them to help them calm down. I imagined how I would comfort her sister about Taylor’s seizure, reminding her that Taylor was in God’s hands and his hands are pretty big. He can take care of her.

I got a text from my my cousin. Her daughter had seen my Facebook status and called to check up. In fact, only minutes after my Facebook update people were saying they were praying. Some of them I have never even met in person. They are just “Facebook” friends. But Facebook friends can be good friends too and they were. Thank you God for giving me friends who know the worth of prayer!

I couldn’t text my cousin back. I was driving down the highway, maybe a little faster than I should have been but what can I say. I told her Taylor had been running a fever. She said that was good which left me a little confused. But as I said her daughter is a nurse and had told her that a lot of seizures can be brought on by a continued high fever. In fact that ones that are caused by the fever are a lot less serious than the ones not related to a seizure. I gathered that though seizures are not good Taylor had probably had the good kind. If you can call one the good kind. Those of you who are in the medical field or have had the same problem probably knew this. Us newer parents are still learning a lot!

By the time I got to the hospital I was calmed down completely. My faith was restored. God was in control. He was going to do it his way. My job was to trust him. That did not mean he had to do it the way I wanted or her parents wanted. We cannot force God to do something just by praying. If we could no one would ever get sick or would ever die. But I had peace that everything was going to work out okay. In fact by the time mom and dad went back to see her she was sitting up and smiling.

After a few hours at the hospital it seems I was right. There were some rough moments. Babies in particular don’t like the poking and prodding they do in the hospital and they aren’t shy about sharing their feelings. But in the early hours of the morning they let me go back to see her. There she was with same expression she almost always gives me. Taylor can be very shy of me but she always gives me good smiles. I think she just likes to play hard to get with me. Not long after she was on her way home. Diagnosis, seizure brought on by fever. Fever brought on by ear infection and teething.

It was good news. But it didn’t erase those memories of a few worried, frantic moments. And if I felt this way I cannot imagine how my sister and her husband felt. And if we feel this way when our child suffers, how must God feel every day. He has children all over the world. Every moment one of them is sick. Every moment one of them is suffering or even dying.

He Knows My Cry

One night I was at church. I was sitting up front as I almost always. In fact I was on the very front bench so I couldn’t see most of the people there.

While sitting there listening to the introductory remarks welcoming everyone to the service I heard a baby cry. Elijah was only a few months old at the time and as all babies at that age he cried when he wanted something. When he wanted anything really.

As a father I hate to hear my son cry so my first instinct was to turn around and see what was wrong with him. As a pastor I hate seeing people turn their attention from what is going on in the service. So I resisted the urge to turn and listened instead.

While listening I realized that there was indeed a baby crying but it was not my baby. You see there was another baby there that night.  She was quite a bit younger than Elijah and her name was Hannah. She was the one crying. So I returned my full attention to the service knowing that it was not my child that needed something. It was someone else’s child. Therefore it was not my responsibility to listen or to make it right.

This is not to say I was not concerned. I was. But it was her father’s job to fix it not mine.

Later while I was thinking about Elijah and Hannah and fathers and such I realized something about God. He is a father and as a father he hears his children cry. Not only does he hear his children cry though. He hears all children cry but like me he is listening especially for his children. This brought me great comfort to know that wherever I am, whatever I am doing or what it seems God is doing, when I cry out he stops to listen. No matter how many other children may be crying, he knows my cry and he cares.