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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!

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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 Eight)

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

Part Eight

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

One of the toy boxes.

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.

Hoping to take him to see the mouse someday because I just love to see him happy and judging from my experiences with his cousins, he will be!

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.

This Is Going To Hurt Us Both (Part Seven)

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

Part Seven

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4 KJV

Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

Colossians 3:21 KJV

This little guy is our bundle of joy but if we aren't careful he will grow up to be our sorrow. It's our job to teach him so he makes us smile and not weep.

Growing up I heard a story about a family that had “whipping time.” When the stepfather, who was a heavy drinker at the time, would get home he would line his stepchildren up against a wall and take his belt and whip them. It did not matter if they had done anything or not it was whipping time and a whipping was going to be given. As you might imagine every time I was at this house I had a certain amount of fear even though the stepfather never laid a hand on me.

Whipping a child for no reason is not what God intended when he told us to use the rod.  In fact such a practice is not discipline it is abuse and it breaks my heart to think of not only this situation but so many others where parents are taking a God given responsibility and perverting it. Sometimes it is for their own pleasure, sometimes because it is what they learned as a child and sometimes simply because they know no better. Whatever the cause of such behavior God sees it. It does not please him and such parents better be aware that God will repay that kind of treatment in kind either in this life or in the judgment.

We must also be careful that we do not push them away from the Lord in our attempt to discipline them. Our children must understand that we discipline them out of love and not out of anger. If a parent punishes a child because he or she, the parent, has finally had enough and is angry we do our children harm. There is no place for letting our anger get the best of us. A child must be aware that what we do we do out of love. They must know that we are not pushing them away in our discipline but trying to draw them closer.

For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

Hebrews 12:10

God intends us to discipline for the benefit of our children not for our own pleasure. Discipline is a tool to help shape them into something the Lord himself can be proud of it. When we carry out discipline we must make sure we are carrying it out for that reason and no other.

When we correct a child we should be discouraging them from a behavior that is contrary to the Lord’s will for their lives. In order for discipline to be effective the child must understand what they are being punished for. We certainly do not need to be punishing them to make ourselves feel better.  We do not need to punish them out of anger either. We must punish them for a Godly purpose.

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.

When the Children Cry (Part 12, Conlusion)

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

Job 1:8  And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Job 1:20-22 KJV

If ever anyone has had a reason to complain about suffering and ask why it was Job.  By the admission of God himself said he was a perfect man and upright. In other words he was a good man. This is not to say he was equal to God in his righteousness. God was saying there were none like him in all the earth. He was the best that was alive at the time.

Because of the way Job lived and the way God blessed him. Satan hated Job. He accused Job of loving God only because God blessed him.  If God would take away the blessings Job would curse him.

God agreed to let Satan take things away from Job to prove that Job was faithful.  Eventually God allowed Satan to take Job’s wealth, his children and his health. Job did not curse God though.

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Job 1:20-22 KJV

Then things got even worse. Three of Job’s friends showed up and began to accuse him of having some secret sin. Despite Job’s protests of innocence they continued to accuse.

Sometimes when we see people having a particularly bad time we might have the tendency to do a little accusing ourselves. We may not do it openly but we may do it nonetheless. We need to remember Job. If there is no evidence someone has a sin in their life we don’t need to assume it must be there because they are suffering. It wasn’t the case with Job.

We also need to remember not to accuse ourselves unjustly. It might be that God is punishing us and it might not be.  If he is punishing us surely he will let us know why though. The object of punishment is not to harm the child of God but to correct a bad behavior. If God doesn’t let us know what the bad behavior is, however, it is not going to have much effect is it?  Just I would never punish Elijah and not tell him what he had done wrong. Sometimes it is just the way things go.

A few more points to remember about Job. One of the things we know about him was he was constantly praying for his children. Satan did not like that in Job and he won’t like it in you either but if you find yourself in a trial don’t turn from God when you need him most.  Just crawl up in his lap like Elijah does mine when he is hurting. I may not be able to do much for Elijah but God can do a lot for you.

Just as problems in our lives my  not always be a direct result of our sin we need to remember our blessings may not be a result of our attempts to live righteously.

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Matthew 5:45 KJV

These rambling thoughts may or may not have helped you to understand but remember one thing. God is Holy. If He is allowing or causing something to happen his motives are Holy. We may not understand it but God is not required to explain everything to us is he?  He also has a reason which we may not understand either. It is our job to praise him the good times and the bad. It is our job to treasure each day like it is our last and remember:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 KJV

And when we think that no one, not even God understands your pain when you watch your child suffer, remember Calvary. There God’s son suffered and all he could do was watch. To make things worse He had the ability to stop the suffering, to show mercy to his son. But if he had shown mercy to his Son on Calvary he would have condemned us.  Giving mercy to Jesus would have ended any mercy for us.

We should also remember that God not only had to watch Jesus suffer. God the Father caused Jesus to suffer!

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Romans 8:32 KJV

Thank you God for loving me. I may not always understand you and I may not always serve you the way I should but as the four beasts in heaven cry out so do I, “Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth!”

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When The Children Cry (Part Ten)

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.

Elijah was the baby closest to full term in NICU. He looked like a giant compared to everyone else. But he still seemed so small to me.

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.

Still in the NICU but we got to go down and hold him whenever we wanted for the most part. I went down the day after he was born and fed him before I had to go to church and preach. They offered to let me change the diaper too. I declined.

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.

When The Children Cry (Part Nine)

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.

I don't think he liked having his picture taken! An example of the 3d ultrasound

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.