Blog Archives

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 Five)

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

Part Five

My brother was a stubborn child. Okay maybe I was too but this story is about him and not me. One day we were at my aunt’s house and she had a gas stove. He was tall enough to reach the knobs and kept trying to turn the stove on. Each time I did my aunt would smack his hand. Yet he continued to try and do it till finally he decided whatever pleasure he was getting from turning that knob was not worth getting his hand smacked.

My aunt was not a child abuser but she knew that if he turned the stove there could be problems.  If he kept turning the stove on, for example, and the burner ignited my brother was tall enough to get his hand into the flame. Or if he continued to play with the knobs and no one was around the house could fill with gas and result in an explosion. She was not smacking his hands for her pleasure but for his benefit.

My friends related a similar story about their little girl. They were actually cooking dinner and she kept trying to get her hands on top of the stove. They kept telling her no but as soon as they turned their backs she reached up and laid her hands directly on the burner which had just been turned off.  You can imagine that did not work out well. For the record my friends are not against smacking a child’s hand I only tell the story to show what can happen when children let their curiosity get the better of them.

One day Elijah and I were at home alone. He was doing something he was not supposed to do. He was trying to open the bunny cage. Well, he was playing with the latch not sure whether he knew that would let the bunny out or not. Either way I did not want him doing it. He might let her out and she could get into the basement where she is not supposed to be.  Or it is big enough he might crawl into where he is not supposed to be.  He had already eaten bunny food once and I did not want him to repeat the experience.

I had told him no several times and it just was not getting the job done. So I went and stood right next to him and waited for him to reach out one more time. He did. I slapped his little hand. He looked up at me with his big blue eyes with tears running down his face. He started to cry. His expression seemed to suggest I had betrayed him in some way. I picked him up and cradled in my arms and told him not to do that again. It was all I could do not to cry with him.

Some people, of course, do not think it is appropriate to punish a child by slapping their hand or spanking their backside when necessary. Books have been written about the subject. Most famously perhaps was Dr. Benjamin Spock, who taught that children should never be spanked.  I am neither an expert on raising children nor a doctor but God disagrees.

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Proverbs 13:24 KJV

Our primary responsibility as a parent is to teach our children how to live for God. If we love our children we will make it our purpose in life. If we want to do it right then we will follow the instructions God has given us. After all, he is not only the ultimate Father he is the all knowing Father. I would hate to second guess God.  Pay particular attention to that word betimes. Betimes is the old fashioned word for a lot.

What my brother was doing and what my friends’ daughter was doing was not smart.  Of course they did not know better. Children have a lot of ideas that are not good ideas. They will quickly form ideas that are not good ideas. The Bible tells us how to react to them.

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Proverbs 22:15 KJV

This does not mean every time a child does something we do not approve of we need to get a rod out and beat them. In fact the Bible is against beating children but it is for corporal punishment. Still this does not mean it is always the answer. We need to address each situation based on the severity of a child’s disobedience.  Sometimes saying no is enough. Sometimes grounding or time out might be enough. But sometimes we need to get back to what the Bible says and spank our children.

This Is Going To Hurt Us Both (Part Four)

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

Part Four

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

There is something rewarding and peaceful about holding a baby in your arms and feeding him or her. The first time I got to hold Elijah and feed him was the day after he was born. It was a Sunday. The church where I pastor was starting revival that night and I felt like I really need to lead my church that Sunday morning and help them prepare spiritually.

So I got ready early and headed down to see Elijah before I went to church. He was still in the NICU because they were making sure he did not have any viruses. As I looked down on him he looked so small as I caressed his little hands.

The nurse came by and said it was time to feed him. She asked if I would like to feed him. I had fed other babies but I had never fed my baby so I checked my watch. I had time so I went ahead and fed him. The nurse offered to let me change his diaper too but I was too “pushed for time” to do that.

A few days later we took Elijah home and I learned that newborns do three things. They eat. They get rid of what they ate. They sleep. That’s about all newborns do and they do a lot of all three it seems. Unfortunately they do not eat a lot but they do eat often. Therefore you get up every three to four hours to feed the baby.

Fortunately newborns do not get a lot of variety. Pretty much it is either momma’s milk or formula but as they grow the dietary variety increase. Did you know that there are rules to what a baby can or cannot have? In fact there are lots of rules! Your baby cannot have this but can have the other. For example peanut butter and seafood are out. Rice and vegetables are in. Fruit comes later. It is a lot to remember. Fortunately Tracy kept track of all that and just told me what to feed Elijah.

Of course every rule is designed to make sure your smiling little bundle of joy grows up to be healthy. Just as your baby’s body needs some nourishment to grow and mature your little one needs some nourishment from the word of God to grow up. Pediatricians set the rules for what your baby can eat. God sets the rules for how to feed a child spiritually.

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

1 Peter 2:2 KJV

The word of God is the best source of spiritual food for your child. Of course you do not need to put a Bible in their hands from the moment they are born but when they get to the point they can start learning they need to learn what God has said to them. I cannot emphasize the importance of teaching your child the word of God from an early age. The word of God is designed to keep them in the will of God and also to show them what to do when they get out of the will of God. If you wait till they are mature enough to understand everything about the word of God you may have waited too late. By then they may have already learned to take the word of God for granted or completely discount it. Do not wait for them to form their own ideas from a world that is consistently undermining God. Build a foundation upon which they can judge everything else. As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

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

As Elijah has grown he has left the bottle behind. Now we feed him baby food and some big people food. But we do not just throw it at him. We have to give it to him a little at a time. Sometimes we have to demonstrate to him that it is good by tasting it ourselves. Of course you cannot just throw the word of God at your child either. I must give him what he can handle and I have to prove to him that it is good by living it.

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:15 KJV

One rule I learned about feeding babies is vegetables come first. That is when they start getting baby food you do not go immediately to the sweet and sugary fruits. Nor do you start with candy. They have to learn to appreciate what is good for them. They have to develop a taste for those vegetables. If they get the sweet stuff first they may reject the vegetables later.

So you cannot raise your children on fairy tales and cartoons alone. They must begin to have the word of God early in their life. If they do not they may come to reject God’s word just as surely as they would the green beans.

This Is Going To Hurt Us Both (Part Three)

If you missed the previous sections of this article begin here

Part Three

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

I cannot stop at prayer though. Too many people pray about something then leave everything in God’s hands. There are times to do that. If you are standing at the Red Sea and Pharaoh is behind you there is nothing you can do but stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. There are other times where we need to pray then take action, what many people call putting some feet on our prayers.

Some years ago I heard a somewhat humorous story that illustrates this point.

There was an old man who lived in an area where there was a good deal of flooding and it looked like it might reach his house. So he prayed and asked the Lord to help.  The water forced him to the upstairs of his house and the sheriff came by in a boat and told him to get in so they could get him to safety. “God will save me,” the old man said. He prayed again.  Finally the man was forced onto his roof, the water swirling around his feet.  The sheriff came by again. This time he was in a helicopter. He told the man in no uncertain times unless he climbed up into the helicopter he was going to do.  “God will save me,” the old man said one last time before he was swept into the flood waters and died.

As the man entered heaven he admitted to God that he did not understand how he, God that is, could let him die in a flood like that.  God answered, “I sent the boat and the helicopter didn’t I? It’s not my fault you wouldn’t get in.”

Sometimes we have a tendency to do the same things after we pray. God is a God of miracles. There is no doubt about that. But he is also a God who has given us the Bible as a guide to our behavior. When we look at our lives and wonder how we ended up in the trouble we are in we need to ask if we followed God’s instructions. It’s the next best thing to useless to ask God to do something we should be doing for ourselves.  How we raise our children is no exception.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6 KJV

As a minister I have heard a lot of older couples ask prayer for their children. In some cases it is heartbreaking because you see parents who seem honestly to have done their best to train up a child. In other cases you want to look at the parent and ask why they are surprised their child turned out the way he or she did. After all that was how you trained him or her to be. Honestly what you want to say is you broke him you fix him.

I do not pretend to be able explain completely what God is telling us in this verse. As I have said I have seen good parents turn out rotten kids. I have also seen rotten parents turn out good kids.  The verse does not seem to indicate it is impossible for a child brought up to love and serve the Lord to turn from the paths of righteous living. It only indicates that he is more likely to live a good Christian life his if parents give him a good foundation of Biblical teaching.

Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

1 Peter 5:3 KJV

God was speaking expressly to the Elder’s of the church in this verse.  He was telling the elders that preaching at the church was not enough. They needed to be living sermons on the righteous way of the Lord. By extension if they were to provide an example the rest of the church was supposed to follow it. If the elders were to teach by example then parents should teach by example too.

Teaching by example is scary. I work a lot with young Christians. Sometimes young Christians ask a lot of questions. I never mind discussing any scripture they may have a question about or anything they may be facing in their lives. I am glad to answer these questions.

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

But there is a certain set of questions I dread. Those are the questions that bring up my past. None of us are perfect. This rule applies to even ministers. All of us have done things we are ashamed of. Well at least we should be ashamed of. When young people ask me about my mistakes I get nervous because I want to be an example. In a lot of ways I can be but there are certain things in my past that I want to leave there. I do not want my bad example to become their excuse to make the same mistakes I have made.

I do not have a time machine to go back and undo my mistakes. Neither do you. We cannot change the past but we can change the now and the future. I want to live daily now before my son so that I can be proud if he follows in my footsteps. In fact, a large part of training means I leave some good footsteps for him to follow.

As for my mistakes that I have made, am making and will make all I can do is ask the Lord to help. Sometimes it takes time to get our past behind us but if we work diligently at it, it can be done.

Paul, who started life as Saul, had the same problem with his past. He had been a man who hated Jesus and the church and took every opportunity to hurt the church anyway he could. After he was saved people did not immediately accept him. He had to prove himself and he did by working as hard for Jesus as he had worked against him.  Eventually people began to accept him.

If you have a life like Paul’s that you are trying to live down do not give up. Keep doing the right thing. Right now people may be pointing out all your failures and using it against you. Eventually you may be able to change their attitude with consistent good living. Eventually they may give God glory for getting you out of your old sinful behavior patterns.

Whether other people accept your change or not we still have an obligation to train our children. Train them by example.

Continued here.

This Is Going To Hurt Us Both (Part Two)

If you missed part one click here.

Part Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalms 127:3 KJV

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

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

Psalms 24:1 KJV

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

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice. My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.

Proverbs 23:24-26 KJV

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

For part three click here.

This Is Going To Hurt Us Both (Part One)

This Is Going To Hurt Us Both

Part One

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

Romans 8:15 KJV

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

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

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6 KJV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for part two.

When the Children Cry (Part 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!”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When The Children Cry (Part Eleven)

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

Part Eleven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the next section we consider Job and his losses.

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.