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This Is Going To Hurt Us Both (Part Eleven, Conclusion)

Part Eleven

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

When God gave him to us he wanted us to teach him all things whatsoever he has commanded us. First and foremost is to teach him the way to heaven. That teaching must start early. In fact it cannot start too early. But it can start too late.

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!

This Is Going To Hurt Us Both (Part Ten)

Part 10

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.

This Is Going To Hurt Us Both (Part Nine)

Part Nine

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

Don't we all want to see our children smile, hear them laugh?

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.

This Is Going To Hurt Us Both (Part Six)

If you have not read the previous entries in this article you can catch up here.

Part Six

Elijah asleep with Mr Bear

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.

Elijah getting his first hair cut from his Uncle Mark

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.

This Is Going To Hurt Us Both (Part Five)

If you have not read the previous entries in this article start here.

Part Five

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.

This Is Going To Hurt Us Both (Part Four)

If you have missed the earlier sections of this article click here.

Part Four

A photographer uses many techniques to get the child to look in the right direction. We should use every technique we can to get them to look in the right direction too. God is the right direction.

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!”

I would rather he grew up to be a servant of the Lord then a famous athelete but it is still a cute picture.

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.

This Is Going To Hurt Us Both (Part Three)

If you missed the previous sections of this article begin here

Part Three

Lord help me to walk on a path I am neither afraid nor ashamed for him to follow me on.

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.

Can you believe he is reading already? Okay he's not but he sure looks like he knows what he's doing.

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.

Continued here.

This Is Going To Hurt Us Both (Part Two)

If you missed part one click here.

Part Two

I, like most people probably, do not like to be told what to do under any circumstances. I do not want the government, for example to tell me how to raise Elijah. He is not the government’s child. He is my child. Or is he?

I remember when Elijah was only a couple months old and we were at church. He would be cradled in someone’s arms. His arm would be up over his head and he would shake it backwards to forwards in a throwing motion. Several people commented that he was going to grow up to be a football player.

I said I hope not! I said he was preaching like the old preachers did. I have nothing against football. If he did grow up to be a football player and made it to the NFL I would probably be able to retire in comfort but have you noticed when they play football? They play football on Sunday.

God tells us to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. He gave us six days to labor and one day to rest and worship at his house. I understand that some people have to work on Sunday. I would hate to go the hospital, for example, and find them closed because it was Sunday. Jesus covered this when he mentioned your ox falling into the ditch. But if you are not pulling oxen out of the ditch and you are working on Sunday you are sinning against God and yourself.

If you are hoping your son grows up to be football player you are hoping he grows up to sin against his creator. You may be training up your child to make you proud but do you have that right? I do not mean in the sight of the government but in the sight of the Lord.

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Psalms 127:3 KJV

At first glance one might think God is telling us he is giving us children. In one sense that is true. Children certainly come from the Lord and are a blessing. However, we must remember that we are ourselves are not even our own. We are bought with a price. We belong to the Lord. Therefore everything we have also belongs to the Lord. Whether it be houses, money or children they are not ours to do with as we please. We are only holding on to them for Him. In fact everything on Earth belongs to God.

The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

Psalms 24:1 KJV

Because Elijah is not my own I do not have a right to decide how to raise him. I must raise him as God would have him raised. I must train him to do the things that make God happy not me. If I truly believe this and if I do this then I will have a son who will not only make me proud but one who will make God happy. Unfortunately too many fathers worry about making their son the next NFL quarterback and never consider God may have something entirely different and better planned for him. They try to live their dreams through their son. It happens in a lot of other ways too. Children pushed into modeling, acting, sports and every other thing under the son. It is not right though.

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. My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.

Proverbs 23:24-26 KJV

This is not say I do not have hopes, dreams and aspirations for Elijah. I do. I pray regularly that he will grow up with all my strengths, not that there are a lot, and none of my weakness. I pray he will grow up to be a good servant for the Lord, a man who is tender hearted and affectionate regarding the Lord’s cause. This would make me happier than if he had a Superbowl ring on every finger.

For part three click here.

This Is Going To Hurt Us Both (Part One)

This Is Going To Hurt Us Both

Part One

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Romans 8:15 KJV

God is our father. In the most general sense He is the father of all but that is not the sense the Holy Spirit is using Paul to convey here.  This entire chapter, indeed as much of the book of Romans is, is directed at those who are born again. To those who are born again He is the father not only because of creation but because of regeneration. Because he is our father in this second sense we do not have to cry out in fear but we cry out in love, Father.

We should know what to expect from God our Father. He told us in multiple places what he expected of us lesser fathers. We have been told to train up our child in the way he should go. We have been told to punish our children when they do wrong. Do you remember the craze from a few years ago when everyone was wearing the WWJD bracelets? The idea behind the bracelet was every time you made a decision you would look at the bracelet and ask yourself “What would Jesus do?” God has told us how to train up our children. God is no hypocrite. He told us to both train our child to do right and punish him when he does wrong. As his children we should expect him to do the same thing to us. So when it comes to our children we need to ask, “What would God do?”

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

While Tracy and I were waited for a long time for our first child we have some friends who were abundantly blessed. They had multiple toddlers running around their house at the same time and one in infant. I know how hard it is to keep up with just Elijah. I cannot imagine how they did it with more than one at one time. I am surprised either one of them have any hair left.

We did not become close to these friends until after their children were a little older but one night at their house they told us a story.

While mom was busy chasing down one of the children when the oldest got hungry. She wandered into the kitchen and got herself a snack. She was three to four years old at the time. Sometime after she started her snack but before she finished it mom came into the kitchen to look for her.  The child was busy eating some macaroni and cheese. Normally this would have been fine. Unfortunately, though, the macaroni and cheese was in the trash can!

As you might expect mom was a little disgusted and felt bad but children have a mind of their own and they are going to do things parents do not want them to do. We had a similar thing happen to us not long after Elijah started moving around on his own.  He came up to us one day with a huge smile on his face and something else. We could not figure out what the something else was. We did know he had been eating something and whatever he had been eating was not food. After looking around we found out he had gotten into the rabbit food.

Fortunately for us rabbit food is really just hay beaten and bound into pellets. There was no harm done but all that fiber made some interesting diapers!

It is impossible to keep them from doing things like eating trash. The best we can hope to do is curb these habits and keep them from actually hurting themselves. We have to train them. Part of that training is putting things out of reach that will hurt them. Thank you Lord for baby gates, cabinet locks and the like!

So if we do not want our children eating mac and cheese out of the trash or rabbit food what do we want them to eat? We want them to eat food that will help them grow up to be healthy.

God wants you to keep your children safe too. He wants us to put up some emotional and spiritual baby gates. In fact, He has put some gates up for us as his children.

Click here for part two.

When The Children Cry (Part Eleven)

If you have missed the earlier entries in this article click here .

Part Eleven

Like many of you I was tempted to ask why me? Or more properly why us? Had we done something wrong? Not only to cause such a rough delivery but also to have to wait so long for a child in general?

The whole process was hard but perhaps the hardest part was the wondering why we were being punished. I am not claiming to know the mind of God. I am not even going to say we were being punished. I am saying it felt that way. It was not just the rough delivery that made me wonder. It was the fact that we had gone so long, waited so long and so badly wanted a child but God never sent one.

I looked around and saw all kinds of people having children. There were drug addicts who had no problem having kids.  Fourteen year old girls were having babies.  People who didn’t believe in God were having babies. In short, people who were not even trying to do right were having babies. In fact, in a lot of cases people who were doing absolutely evil things were having babies.

People try to guess whether he has my nose or Tracy's. I don't know. I do know he shares our sinful nature though.

By contrast Tracy and I were trying to do right. We went to church every Sunday. In fact I was the pastor.  We tithed. We helped people wherever we could. We were doing what we could to be good Christians. Were we perfect? No but we seemed to be a lot better than the people God was giving babies too. But no baby came.

I would love to tell you I found the answer. Truth is I don’t know why. But I have some ideas.

The first thing to remember is that Tracy and I are sinners. When you think about why you have to go through the things you do in life you need to remember that you are too. Sadly, so are your children if you have any.  In fact, when we go through problems it might be more reasonable to ask, “Why not me?” After all, there are none of us who suffer more than we deserve. In fact, in this life few or us suffer as much as we deserve. God is not only merciful he is long-suffering.

This is not to say there might not be others who deserve to suffer more than we do. There are. But there are also people suffering who deserve it less than we do. We should just be thankful that we don’t suffer as much as we really deserve! We all deserve death according to the scripture.

So how does all this affect why some people suffer more than others? Had Tracy and I done something that caused us to suffer or were we suffering just because of our human nature?

And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

When bad things come our way we would do well to remember this. In both these cases Jesus points out that there was no special cause of the fact that these people had died. Rather it was just part of the natural human condition.

As part of the natural human condition people get sick. People suffer. People die. If you faced suffering with your children, maybe there was no special cause.  Maybe there was nothing either you or your spouse did.

I love him so much I hate to think of him suffering. But it has happened already and will happen again.

The important thing is not whether these things will happen in our lives. They will certainly happen to us too.  Even the rich and the powerful have these things happen to them. It’s not a matter of money.  Job stated flatly that man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. There was so much truth in this statement, so much revelation that God made sure we were left a record of this short but profound summary of the lives of men.

Jesus in these verses reminded us that we need to be ready for when the trouble does come.  To be ready He says we must repent, that is we must be born again. This birth is not the one all of us get when we come into the world.  In 1st John God tells us that this birth is not of the blood (that is the blood of our fathers and mothers), nor of the will of men (the desire of our fathers and mothers for children) but of God himself. In like fashion Jesus told us that we must be born of the Spirit. This is the new birth.

This birth makes you the son or daughter of God. Because we are the sons of men we suffer but when we become a child of God we are promised that this suffering is only temporary. There is coming a day when former things, all the curses of this world and our much deserved suffering, will pass away and we will enter a place where everything is a blessing and nothing is a curse. What Adam lost for us Jesus is going to give back. But only if you have been born again.

In the next section we consider Job and his losses.