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.
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.
If you missed part one click here.
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.