Tag Archives: parenting

(2 Chronicles 25-28) Sacrificing Children

Sometimes when faced with their sin, instead of repenting, people dig in their heels. That was the case with King Ahaz of Judah. He was told by the prophet Obed that he was guilty of many sins.

“Listen to me and return the captives you took from your brothers for the Lord’s burning anger is on you.” (28:11)

I would think the words, “burning anger” would have been enough for the king to repent. But instead, to arm himself against an angry God, Ahaz plundered the Lord’s temple and gave the treasures to the king of Assyria to buy their protection. Verse 22 tells us:

“At the time of his distress, King Ahaz himself became more unfaithful to the Lord.”

Scripture tells us he went as far as sacrificing his own children by throwing them into fire on altars of pretend gods. If you aren’t appalled by that I suggest you check your heartbeat.

But are we any different today? People still dig in their heels when confronted with sin. And sadly, they are still sacrificing their children.

“You say homosexuality is a sin? I’ll teach my children to love and accept everyone.”

You say abortion is murder? I’ll teach my children, ‘My body. My choice.'”

“You say marriage is between a man and woman? I’ll teach my children they can’t help who they love.”

“You say it’s a sin to worship other gods? I’ll teach my children they are their own god, powerful, capable, strong, worthy, and that their truth is truth.”

This is going to sound cruel, but King Ahaz threw his children into a fire that eventually killed them. The searing pain those precious babies felt while they died stopped hurting when they took that last breath. What people are doing today is throwing their children into an eternal fire, apart from God, and a searing pain that will never stop. An eternal fire without hope of it ever ending.

If you aren’t appalled by that, check your heartbeat.

Call it what you want: wokeness, progressiveness, love…

What it is is sacrificing children to the god of this world.

(I Chronicles 22) Provide the Tools

God had told David he would not be the one to build the temple, but that his son Solomon would carry on the work instead. It had been David’s great desire to build a fitting home for God, whom he loved, and it must have been a disappointment when God closed that door.

David’s reaction – his prayer – following the devastating news is a lesson we all could learn when faced with our own disappointments. But something else spoke to me today as I read God’s Word.

Maybe it’s because I just spent a week with my niece and her sweet family that I was prompted to consider what David did for Solomon in this situation. David, as he looked at that closed door and realized he would not see that temple built, as he came to grips with the fact his son would be charged with carrying on the mission, got busy making sure Solomon would have everything he needed for the task.

David didn’t decide to let Solomon figure things out for himself. He carefully – and at great cost – provided Solomon with the tools he’d need in the future.

Spiritually speaking, parents, that’s what you need to be doing, too. Are you carefully providing everything your children will need for carrying on the cause of Christ after you are gone? Are you reading the Bible and talking to them about it? Are you worshiping with them in a Bible-believing church fellowship? Do they see you praying, and witnessing, and living a life that speaks to them about Jesus?

Or are you going to assign them the task of figuring things out for themselves? If you think they can be the temple without you providing the tools, you are taking a chance with their eternal souls. Are you prepared to take that chance?

Provide the tools.

(I Chronicles 16) Be A Blessing

What happens when you walk in your house after a long day at work? Or what is the atmosphere in your home after you return from a Sunday morning in church?

David had a busy few days being King of Israel. It must have been exhausting, as well as exciting and rewarding. But this is what Scripture tells us happened when the party was over:

Then all the people went home, and David returned home to bless his household. (16:43)

It doesn’t sound like David walked in the door to his home complaining about everything that had gone wrong that day. It doesn’t sound like he took out his frustration on his wife or kids. It doesn’t sound like he came into the house and demanded alone time to decompress. He went home to bless, to be a blessing to those dear ones under his roof.

So, is that your goal too, when you return home? Is your first desire to kiss your spouse, to hold your children, to laugh with them, to mend instead of inflict wounds? Does your family consider themselves blessed when you enter a room?

Or not?

Sometimes our mere presence causes anxiety, fear, anger, or disappointment in those closest to us. Is that what we really want? I doubt that is anyone’s goal. But is it the reality in your home?

I pray that all of us will make careful choices to create an atmosphere of love and security and joy in our homes. Like David, when we walk through the door, let’s be a blessing.

(2 Kings 12) Integrity

Now here’s something you don’t see every day. Any day, really.

Let me set the scene:

Scripture tells us there were repairs going on in the temple. The contractors and workers were paid with silver that came into the temple by way of the offerings from worshipers. The high priest and his secretary weighed, then bagged the offering silver.

“Then they would give the weighed silver to those doing the work – those who oversaw the Lord’s temple. They in turn would pay it out to those working on the Lord’s temple – the carpenters, the builders, the masons, and the stonecutters – and would use it to buy timber and quarried stone to repair the damage to the Lord’s temple and for all expenses for temple repairs.” (12:11-13)

It sounds like it would have been an accounting nightmare, especially without spreadsheets and Microsoft Office on their computers.

But listen to this. This is what struck me today:

“No accounting was required from the men who received the silver to pay those doing the work, since they worked with integrity.” (vs 15, emphasis mine)

Have you ever had any remodeling done in your home? How did it go? You hire a contractor who hires workers to do the actual remodel, plumbers, painters, carpenters, tile workers. Or maybe the contractor actually does the work himself. Were you happy with the finished project? Was the job completed on time and within budget? Was the work done to your satisfaction? I bet some of you have horror stories.

Like my sister who, after she and her husband shelled out almost $30,000.00 for a remodeled bath and laundry room, continue to discover problems:

a toilet set too close to the wall

faulty (and dangerous) wiring

shower floor not caulked

closets without doors because they were mis-measured

a sump pump clogged with mortar dust because the worker emptied his bucket in the sump pump with water containing the dust from sanding the new drywall

Oh, there’s more. But you get the idea. My poor brother-in-law is outside digging a hole in their front yard, hoping to replace or reroute the pipe from the clogged sump pump before it rains today and ruins their new carpeting.

Integrity? I’m not seeing it here exactly. But here’s my point:

are any of us doing our jobs with integrity?

I play the organ at church. If I tell myself that if I hit a wrong note here and there no one will notice, am I playing with integrity?

If I teach a Sunday School and think, they’re just children so if I am not as prepared this week it’s no big deal, am I teaching with integrity?

Are you parenting with integrity? Are you working at your marriage with integrity? Representing Jesus with integrity? Driving your car, paying your taxes, being a neighbor, caring for your parents, serving on a committee at church, whatever… Are you working with integrity?

Do you need someone standing over you to make sure you are doing the job well and honestly? Or can they throw away the spreadsheets, like they did here in 2 Kings, because you do your work with integrity?

May each of us, no matter how big or small the task God gives us to do, be men and women with integrity. Then may we do the job as unto the Lord.

Integrity might be something we don’t see every day. But it should definitely be seen in you and me who know Jesus as our Savior.

Every day.

(I Kings 13-16) For Generations To Come

Why did God not wipe out the blatantly disobedient people of Israel? One king after another – on both sides of the Israeli teams – obeyed God to differing degrees. Most disobeyed Him unashamedly. Their open rejection of everything God stood for would seem to be reason enough for God to wipe them off the face of the earth.

Why didn’t He do that? First of all, Scripture makes it clear God doesn’t delight in the deaths of His enemies, that His Sovereign will is that no one die without His saving grace. God didn’t – and doesn’t – destroy the Jews because of that one person whose heart is stirred, that one who is softening toward Jesus, and who will receive what the Messiah died to provide.

The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. (Psalm 103:8)

But here is what occurred to me this morning as I sat here praying about these chapters in I Kings: God had made promises about Israel’s preservation to Abraham and to King David. Why? Because these men had vital relationships with God based on complete surrender and great faith. Neither man was perfect. But both men trusted God, and confessed and repented of sin. They were faithful to God, and He was faithful to them.

I am sure we are all praying for our children. We want God to bless and protect them today and every day. But I’m wondering how many generations of our descendants will be touched by God’s hand of protection, His grace and mercy, because we are living lives of obedience here and now? How many of our children and grandchildren will be blessed because we ourselves are surrendered to God, and demonstrate complete faith in Him? How many years will God continue to answer our prayers long after we are gone from this earthly body?

Our lives are lived in a few decades on this earth. But our prayers live into eternity. Our example goes on without us in the hearts and minds of our children. Our influences influence them whose influence impacts our grandchildren who will have children and grandchildren of their own.

What example of obedience are those dear ones seeing in us today? More importantly, what is God seeing in us that would cause Him to want to answer our prayers for the next generation and the next?

Abraham’s and David’s prayers are still being answered today because they were faithful to God while they had that opportunity. May the same be said of us a few thousand years from now.

(Joshua 24) Dads

Joshua, as the spiritual head of his family, declared: “…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” In other words, no matter what the decisions the other Jews made concerning obedience to God, Joshua said emphatically that his family would choose obedience.

How could he make such a statement? Didn’t his kids and grandkids have minds of their own? Couldn’t they choose to worship idols, no matter what Dad said?

Of course they could. But here’s what I hear Joshua saying:

“My family will know the truth about God because I’m going to tell them. I’m going to raise them to fear God, to love God, to serve Him according to His Word – which I will teach them. If they choose to disobey God, they are going to know what that choice entails because I will tell them exactly what the consequences of sin are. And I will do everything in my power to help them choose obedience.”

I don’t see Joshua’s declaration so much a commitment for his family, as a commit for himself to be the spiritual head of his family.

So who is the spiritual head of your family? Many households depend on the mothers to read the Bible stories, say the blessing at mealtime, be sure the kids are in Sunday School. I’m thankful for women who take on this role in their families, especially if the husband doesn’t step up. I know there are lots of moms who have had the privilege of praying with their young children to receive Jesus as their Savior. What a precious moment that must be.

But there is something about a Dad gathering up the children around him to read and explain Scripture, to pray aloud with them, then boldly living his faith in front of them. The picture of family according to God places the husband as the spiritual head, like God is the head of His spiritual family.

I am not about to get into a gender role debate. I’m a woman. I know I am capable of guiding children in the truth of Scripture. I know mothers are an essential part of their families’ existence. I’m not discounting their importance. But if I believe the Bible, I must believe we women need to allow our husbands to lead. It’s God’s design.

So men, is it time you stepped up and became the spiritual head of your family? Your children are watching and learning, watching and learning. They see through you much more clearly than you think. What do they see?

Can you, with Joshua, commit yourself to raising your children to worship God, to choose obedience rather than sin? That is your calling, your responsibility, your privilege. Your child’s eternal soul may live in your home today. But one day, that little one will go out on his or her own. Are you preparing them? Or are you hoping someone else will do that for you?

Don’t drop the ball, Dads.

How Dare You! (Judges 13-15)

I am bothered by what I read today in God’s Word. Samson killed a lion with his bare hands. Then later he saw that bees had built a nest and were producing honey in the rotting carcass of the lion. Samson reached in, snapped off part of the honeycomb, and tasted it. He gave some to his parents to taste, but he didn’t tell them where he’d gotten it.

Then at his wedding feast (where he was marrying a Philistine woman – a huge act of disobedience toward God’s commands) he told a riddle. “Out of the eater, something to eat. Out of the strong, something sweet.” He made a game of it. He promised a big reward if someone could figure out the answer to his riddle.

I’ve read this story many times. It marks the beginning of Samson’s war with the Philistines, and the rescue of the Jews from Philistine rule. But it is also the beginning of the end of Samson.

I think there is a very important lesson in this part of Samson’s story. As a man brought up as a Nazarite, he absolutely knew God’s Law. He absolutely knew touching a dead animal rendered him unclean, and he knew the steps required by God to address the uncleanness. Samson knew the truth, and ignored it.

It’s one thing to blatantly disobey, but how dare he make that decision for his parents! Eating that honey made them unclean. Didn’t they have a right to decide for themselves whether they were willing to be unclean in order to taste the honey? And shouldn’t they have been able to then take the steps required for cleansing? They didn’t even know they needed to take the steps.

Not only that, but Samson made a joke out of the situation. A joke! Did he think disobeying God was funny? Evidently he wasn’t taking his disobedience seriously.

Some of you were raised in a Christian home. You’ve heard the Gospel, probably memorized John 3:!6. But something happened along the way. Now Sundays are for sleeping in, making pancakes for the kids. You’ve gotten in the habit of using God’s Holy Name as a punctuation mark. And you laugh the hardest at jokes about sin.

You’re like Samson. You know better, and choose sin anyway. That’s on you. But how dare you make that choice for your children.

I’ve heard people say they are going to let their children choose for themselves whether or not to do the Christian thing. So they don’t take their kids to church. They don’t talk about Jesus in their homes. They don’t sing the hymns, or read the Bible. And somehow they think they are allowing their children to decide for themselves.

If that is your thinking, let me ask you something. Where do you think your children are going to hear the truth? TV? School? Their friends? Maybe you think they’ll get some supernatural visit or something. If you want your children to make an informed choice, you’d better be sure they are informed. YOU’D better be sure they are informed.

Samson’s parents needed to know they were unclean before they could decide whether or not they would take the steps to be clean. The fact that Samson didn’t tell them, didn’t negate their uncleanness. It did, however, prevent them from being clean again.

Your children need to know they are sinners before they decide whether or not to accept Jesus as their Savior.  If you aren’t telling them, it doesn’t make them less of a sinner, or negate their need of the Savior.

I’m praying for you parents. Yours is an important responsibility. I know many of you are living examples of Christ to your children. I thank God for you and pray with you that your children will choose Jesus at an early age.

All of you are raising eternal souls there in your home. Are you raising them to choose heaven? Or are you okay if they go to hell? Are you willing to make that choice for them? If you know the truth and aren’t teaching it to your children, you are making decisions for them that have eternal implications.

How dare you!

 

 

September 13; Raising Obedience

Esther 1-4

Queen Vashti was busy doing her own thing and couldn’t be bothered to obey her husband’s, the king’s, command. Her disobedience cost her her crown.

Enter Esther, a Jewish orphan being raised by a cousin. This seemingly insignificant girl would be queen in place of the disobedient Vashti. Scripture tells us Esther was pretty. We see that she wasn’t flashy or demanding. It appears she was beautiful inside and out.

But something else about Esther stood out to me today. Esther did as her cousin Mordecai told her, “for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when bringing her up.” (1:20)

Esther learned obedience at home, and it opened doors for her and saved the Jews. Mordecai said, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (4:14)

It reminds me of the heavy responsibility parents have to teach their own children to obey. It saddens me that so many have adopted the lie that children should be empowered to decide for themselves, that disobedience should be met with understanding and patience. That, my friend, is not what the Bible teaches.

The Bible teaches that God demands obedience. Obedience is not just one of several options He’ll accept. The Bible teaches consequences for disobedience are severe and painful. And disobedience toward God is never ignored.

Are your children learning those lessons in your home? Esther seems to have learned them in Mordecai’s. The way Mordecai raised her put her in a position to save the Jews, “for such a time as this.” Had she been willful, disobedient, prideful, I doubt Xerxes would have given her a second look.

I wonder what great things God is going to ask of your child. Will that precious one be ready to obey because they learned to follow your instructions while you were bring him or her up? I’m praying for you.

 

July 3; God and gods

2 Kings 17:3-41, 16:19-26, 18:1-2; Isaiah 5:1-30; 2 Chronicles 28:26-27, 29:1; I Chronicles 4:34-43

The Assyrians had captured the Jews and hauled them off as slaves. Now the king wanted to repopulate the land with people from neighboring nations. These people, of course, came with their portable little gods in tow.

But the king also made sure the new inhabitants were taught about the “god of the land,” and assigned a priest to tell the people how to worship God.

I think the people probably tried to understand about the God of the Jews. But 2 Kings 17 tells us each national group made its own gods. Later in chapter 17 it says this:

They worshiped the Lord, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.

Let’s not let that describe us. Oh, I’d be surprised if many of you bow down every day to a shiny little statue sitting on your bedside table. I doubt you sacrifice a child in the fire Sunday morning before you head off to church. But God is asking, what or who is it you and I truly worship?

A relationship? A career? A bank account or fame? Do we spend more time manicuring our lawns than we do serving God? Does our time in God’s Word compare with our screen-time? Are we trying to worship God and something else at the same time?

We need to consider our worship. It is an eternal question each of us must answer. But here’s the other thing that stood out to me this morning.

Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.

I think we need to consider that. We love our children. We adore our grandchildren. And they are taking their cues from us. Ask yourself this: Is my idol of self, or money, or health, or anything else worth my eternal soul, and the eternal souls of those precious people in my life?

Are we going to serve God or gods? Do we want our children worshiping gods… or God?

 

June 29; Are You Willing To Take The Chance?

2 Kings 15:6-7, 17-29, 32-38; I Chronicles 5:11-17, 22-26; 2 Chronicles 26:22-23, 27:1-9, 28:1-4; Isaiah 6:1-13

Uzziah and his son Jothan, who ruled after him, were both good kings. The Bible tells us they did what was right in the eyes of the Lord – sort of. It seems both rulers turned a blind eye to the pagan worship that took place on the high places, while at the same time they themselves worshiped God in the temple.

We don’t know what prompted them to allow the Jewish people to worship idols. We just know they did. Maybe, like so many people today, they thought it’s ok for people to believe what they want to believe. Maybe they thought there was no harm in the worship of idols because idolaters are good people, and sincere in their worship. Live and let live, you know.

Maybe they felt their faith in the True God was so strong, idolatry couldn’t touch them, that they could exist along with the sin of idolatry without it having any effect on their faith. They were wrong if that’s what they thought.

Jothan died, and his son Ahaz became king. Ahaz became a full-blown idolater, who even threw his own son into the fire as a sacrifice to a pretend god. Grandpa Uzziah and Daddy Jothan might have successfully escaped idolatry, but the next generation was deeply involved in the worship of lies.

Parents, you have got to be training up your children in the fear and adoration of the one and only God. You can’t assume your children will automatically follow your footsteps. I’ve heard that some parents think their children have the right to choose for themselves who or what they will believe, so they don’t talk about spiritual things or take their children to church.

Oh, your children have the responsibility to choose for themselves as soon as they understand sin and its consequence, and what Jesus died to give them. But are you going to allow someone else, the media, Hollywood, Oprah or Joel Osteen, or even the guy down the street guide your children in spiritual things?

That’s your job. It’s your responsibility and privilege to talk about the Truth, to live that Truth, and to guide your children in the Truth. Are you willing to take the chance that your kids will just somehow figure things out on their own?

You are taking a chance with their eternal souls. Is that a chance you are willing to take?