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 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.
If you have missed the earlier entries in this article click here .
When we got to the hospital I thought it wouldn’t take long for the baby to come. Was I ever wrong. In the end it took 25 hours or more. It was an ordeal! I can’t count the number of times they came in and said C-section. It was always if you don’t hit this point by such and such time then it’s going to be C-section. But when that time came Tracy had always reached that point.
This went on for hours. Here we were stuck in a hospital room with a bed, two chairs and a table. Much like any other hospital room in the US. There was a TV too. We alternated between watching people remodel houses and nature programs. I remember feeling “bad” for a couple who only had one hundred thousand dollars for their landscaping. To put things in perspective we bought our first house for less money than that. Our second house did not cost much more than that.
Through all this Tracy was great. She had been wrong about TV exaggerating the water breaking but TV was wrong about labor, at least as far as Tracy was concerned. She never got angry. She never yelled at me. She never tried to break my hand. She did get frustrated a few times and cried a little but she was never mean.
Finally the doctor came in one last time. Tracy was still having difficulties. The baby was just refusing to come out on his own. We had three options. C-section, suction and forceps. I left the decision to Tracy and she chose the forceps. After all my bad premonitions about something happening to Tracy during the birthing process I was a mess on the inside. I couldn’t let that show on the outside though. I kept holding Tracy’s hand and shoving ice chips in her mouth. Those ice chips were about all she had been given for the last 24 hours.
At that moment our normal hospital room underwent a miraculous conversion. They hit a button. The ceiling seemed to split open. Lights and everything imaginable dropped from the ceiling. I thought I was in the Bat Cave.
In the waiting room my family, Tracy’s family and some people from the church had been keeping watch with us. I sent a message out they needed to pray. I didn’t know it at the time but then and there dad and several others hit their knees and began to pray. Now my family has never been rich. But I wouldn’t trade a praying father for a rich father. I don’t care how rich he was. There is nothing like having those people out there praying.
Tracy had developed a fever at some point during the process and we had a bunch of new nurses in the room with us. There was also an incubator. The baby came out relatively, with the help of the forceps, easy at this point but he didn’t cry. I was about to die. Tracy had come through great but what about the baby? The new nurses took the baby and put a tube down his throat. Our nurse, Nelda, took the baby from them when the tube was removed and handed Tracy a living, breathing child. I kissed him. Maybe it wasn’t right but I got the first kiss.
The doctor explained that because Tracy was feverish the baby would have to be taken to the NICU and monitored but there were no indications of any serious issues. The baby was fine. All toes and fingers exactly where they were supposed to be. The doctor agreed to let our visitors in the waiting room come back and see the baby before it went on what amounted to lock-down in the NICU.
We still had one problem though. Our baby boy needed a name. I had wanted John Thomas. Tracy did not like John Jones. She liked Seth. It didn’t sound right to me. I don’t know where it came from but I suggested Elijah. That worked for her. I suggested Thomas for a middle name. She rejected it because his initials would be ET. We settled on Alexander. We now had a baby and the baby now had a name.
I went out to the waiting room. There was quite a crowd of people out there supporting us. I told them they could go back and see the baby. For some reason my cousin’s wife lingered behind a little bit. Everyone else was gone and it was just the two of us. She asked if I was alright. I shook my head. She came and sat with me. I laid my head on her shoulder and wept as I spilled my guts about everything that had been worrying me. I was glad to have someone to share with. I was glad to be able to just let it out.
When everyone had gotten to see the baby he was moved to NICU. We were told to expect a stay of a week or so. It turned out to be about three days. The Lord is good. The following Sunday, eight days from his birth if Biblical patterns mean anything to you, we presented him at the house of the Lord. It was also Father’s day.
If you have missed the earlier entries in this article click here .
In the previous entry I mentioned some causes for the suffering of children. But are those the only reasons children suffer. No they aren’t. In this section I will look at some other causes of suffering.
My wife was almost 35 when we found out she was pregnant (I’m still old-fashioned enough to say she was pregnant and not we were pregnant. She was the one doing all the hard work after all!) That caused both of us to worry about the baby because the risks of problems increase with age. She worried about that more than I do though.
My worry was not so much about the development of the baby as the delivery. For some reason for years I had experienced an unreasonable fear that something would happen to Tracy during child birth and I would lose either her or the baby. I don’t know if it was a warning from God of my own paranoid feelings. Where ever they came from though, they were real to me and caused a lot of anxious thoughts and prayers.
Because of all her worries we had a 3d ultrasound. If you haven’t seen those things they are amazing! It’s like a clay sculpture of your baby! Much better than traditional ultrasounds and much more expensive! I could not believe it when I saw the results. You could see Elijah smiling in some of them and frowning in another. My coworkers thought it was some kind of fake when I showed them. What mattered most, though, was not how much we could see him as what we could not see. There were no problems to be seen at all. Thank you Lord, right?
That was not enough for Tracy though. She wanted one of those wonderful little home monitors so she could listen to the baby’s heartbeat when ever she wanted. I was reluctant to get one though. I was afraid she would freak herself out with it if she could not find the babies heart beat. She got one anyway. Fortunately she never had any problem finding the babies heartbeat.
(Regarding heartbeats for those of you out there going through the pregnancy process now: Tracy went to the BuildABear shop in the mall and purchased the sound recording device they offer. Then she recorded the sound of the babies heart beat and took it back to BuildABear. Now we have a bear that when you squeeze it plays Elijah’s heartbeat when he was still in his momma’s belly! She did the same thing another time and we have Elijah “singing” DaDaDaDaDa in almost a perfect scale! He loves both of those bears.)
Still there were some problems. We had some complications but never anything serious. We did end up with some extra hospital visits though. Everything always came back fine which reassured her but added to my worries.
Finally the big day came. Unfortunately it came about four weeks early. I still remember the day though. It was about 1 o’clock in the morning. I had been up all day already. If I had known what was coming I would have taken a nap! But I heard Tracy yelling for me. Turns out she had to yell a lot because I was in the kitchen/office with head phones on! Either way I finally heard her and went to check and see what she needed.
It is ironic that the very day Tracy’s water broke she had told me that they have it all wrong on TV. When the water breaks, she had told me, there is no big gushing and all that. Maybe just a little. Turns out TV was right and Tracy was wrong. When her water broke it broke!
Tracy called the doctor. The doctor said no hurry just be at the hospital within an hour or so. I asked, I know what you are going to to say, if I had time for a shower. She said sure. So I showered and packed my stuff. Of course Tracy had hers packed already but hey I still had four weeks to procrastinate! We called everyone, I updated my Facebook and we were off to the hospital. Here is note for you expecting mothers out there. It was one in the morning. Tracy was in labor for 25 hours or so. Her last meal had been dinner that evening and her next one wouldn’t be till after the baby was born. She said if she had to do it again we would have hit a drive thru on the way! Now I am not recommending this. I’m just saying.
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.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Exodus 20:4-6 KJV
I trust that most of you are like me when it comes to seeing suffering. I hate to see people suffer. That suffering can be health, finance or crime. No matter what it is I hate to see people suffer.
I especially hate to see children suffer. I have to be honest and admit that I often ask “Lord, why do even the children have to suffer?”Maybe you have asked the same question. In this Chapter I will attempt to answer some of those questions as best I can.
My wife and I were at the hospital when my sister was due to deliver her baby. My sister had a long labor. It was so long we had to leave before the baby came. We made it back after our newest niece was born. We wanted to see the wonderful blessing God had given our family. We thanked God that though my sister went through a long labor there were no complications and we had a healthy addition to our family.
Unfortunately it does not always go that way. In fact there was another family in the same hospital at the same time that seemed to get a different result. Obviously we were not aware of everything that went on. It was not our business but we gathered from the family’s attitude as they left the hospital that the child they were expecting had died. As the grandmother of this child left the hospital she looked towards heaven and with sarcasm dripping from her lips said something similar to thanks for nothing God. I can understand why she was grieving. I feel great compassion for not only her but everyone who has to either watch their precious baby suffer or even die.
Yesterday a blog was forwarded to me via twitter. This particular blogger has suffered the loss of a child. The blog post she forwarded was entitled “Making Memories With A Terminally Ill Baby.” I was reluctant to read it but I did. By about paragraph three I was weeping. I finished reading it hoping for a miracle. One never came. Thirty minutes later I was still weepy. I have asked permission to re-post the blog. If I get it I will add a link. Be prepared though.
At church recently one of our members asked prayer for a family that was also expecting bad news about their baby. The story broke my heart as she told it. The mother had experienced issues during the pregnancy but every indicator was that she was carrying a healthy baby. Then near the end of the pregnancy the doctors began to see some troubling signs. They started to prepare the family for the strong possibility something was wrong with their baby. Then it got worse. The doctors said they did not think the baby would survive.
The baby was born. The doctors still held little hope the little guy would survive. They said maybe a few days but not more than that. Prayers started going up for the baby. At this point the baby is at about day five and indications are that the problems are not nearly as severe as had been expected.
These are just a few situations I have heard of. You have probably heard of more. You may even have your own story.
It gets worse though. I have not even mentioned the children who suffer and die en masse in underdeveloped countries. I have not even mentioned the children who are abused and even murdered. I have not even touched on abortion which is nothing short of murdering our own children.
So whose fault is it that so many children suffer. Was the grandmother right to blame God? While it is true he could have prevented any and all of these situations is it his fault these situations happened? Why didn’t he then? Is the ability to prevent or correct a problem the same as being responsible for creating the problem? Or is the answer something deeper?
Click here to begin to find what I consider the answer