Tag Archives: parenting

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?

May 30; The Loving Kind Of Parenting

Proverbs 11-13

I read an article posted by a former student who is now the director of a large pre-school. In the article, the author cited numerous studies that say bad behavior in a toddler is a cry for help, an unspoken emotional crisis that needs to be met with kindness, calmness, and gentleness. The author claims that studies prove that sitting the child down and speaking in a soft, mono-tone to explain which behaviors are acceptable, and why their behavior is harmful to them and others, results in behavior change. Reasoning with a toddler produces the desired behaviors, the author claims, even though that flies in the face of other studies that say humans are unable to reason until their brains are more highly developed than that of a three-year-old.

Isn’t what the author proposes kind of like teaching Algebra 2 to a child who can’t recognize the number “1” yet?

Once again, I ask who is the authority on which these opinions are based? Because THE AUTHORITY has a lot to say about rules, about right and wrong, and about discipline. Here are just some of what God said through Solomon:

He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored. (Proverbs 13:18)

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24)

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1)

Make no mistake about it, discipline according to Scripture involves a swat on the bottom. The Bible tells us that’s the loving kind of parenting.

May 9; Parenting For Heaven

Psalm 3, 4, 11, 12, 23, 26, 36; 2 Samuel 16:1-14

Recently I read an article about how we need to be raising our children – and especially our daughters – to be “empowered.” It said we should be telling them they are strong, special, perfect, capable, and beautiful every day. On the surface that sounds right. We certainly shouldn’t be telling them they are ugly, worthless, and useless, right?

But is training our children to be self-aggrandizing how God wants us to train them? Psalm 12 starts out by saying there are no godly people out there. The faithful, David says, have vanished. Everyone lies. Everyone flatters. They say, “We will triumph with our tongues; we own our lips – who is our master?”

Empowerment.

Psalm 36 continues with this thought concerning the “sinfulness of the wicked.” They do not fear God. And then verse 2:

“For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his own sin.”

Is that how we are teaching our children? Parents and Grandparents, you have got to raise your children to understand their sin problem. And they all have a sin problem. Let’s face it, even your child is not “all that.” There are times even your child disobeys you. Your child has lied to you, kicked the dog or bitten the neighbor kid. And sometimes the tantrums your child throws drives you up a wall. Be honest.

I believe it is at those moments your children need to know who really has the power.

If we don’t teach our children to be sorry for – ashamed of – disobedience, or selfishness, or meanness, we are teaching them they don’t need to detect or hate their own sin. If they don’t fear you, how do you think they are going to realize their need to fear God?

It saddens me when I hear Christian parents say they don’t spank their children, or raise their voices to their children, or show anger toward their children. I want to tell those well-meaning parents to put down the psycho-babble and open their Bibles. Do you think Dr. Spock and the “positive parenting” gurus have a better handle on child-rearing than God?

Ask yourself how your child’s Heavenly Father reacts to disobedience. I’ll tell you right now, when the Jewish people obeyed God, they obeyed because they were afraid not to. Can your children say they obey you for the same reason? They should. Fear is not the opposite of love. Fear is a good thing. Fear is the loving thing. It’s Scriptural.

The Bible tell us God hates sin. Hates it. He considers sinners His enemy. But He died for those enemies, He died for your child. But your child will have to make a decision to repent of sin, to ask for forgiveness, to accept what Jesus died to give him or her while they were yet sinners. How do you expect them to do that if they don’t even recognize sin in themselves? It’s your responsibility as a parent to teach them what that means.

And that means teaching them that their disobedience is sin, that dumping the food on the floor is a sin, that taking a toy another child has is a sin, that slapping you is a sin. That there are consequences for sin. It means teaching them that there is forgiveness for sin when they ask for it, and not before. It also means that they can count on your love, and that your love is why you discipline.

Please raise your children to recognize their need of God. Help them to understand they are vile sinners before a Holy God. Raise your children to want to ask God for forgiveness as soon as they understand they are sinners. Raise your children to go to heaven. The alternative is unthinkable.

 

May 6; Rizpah

Psalms 8, 138, 139, 145; 2 Samuel 21:1-14, 9:1-13

Do you know who Rizpah is? She was the mother of two of Saul’s sons. Her story takes a whopping three verses of Scripture. But this woman has touched me deeply. I’ve read her story many times, but for some reason reading it today has broken my heart.

I’ve sat here and wept for her, and for all mothers, and for us who love children not our own. I put myself in Rizpah’s shoes as she stood helplessly by and watched her sons be executed for crimes their father had committed. It’s excruciating.

I don’t know how old her boys were. Were they babies? Teenagers? Adults? Did they have children of their own? I’m glad the Bible doesn’t tell us. Would the story be less tragic if her sons were grown?

I think the woman was out of her mind with grief. She parked herself next to the dead bodies of her children and for days she swatted flies and chased away the vultures. For days, maybe weeks, she protected those hands she had once held, the feet she had once washed, the cheeks she had covered in kisses, and those arms that had clung to her when her boys were afraid. She was their mother.

I’ve sat here trying to get a handle on why I’m still crying about this woman, when a picture of my own mother comes to mind. How often did I get a glimpse of her, kneeling at her bedside, praying for me and my sisters, swatting flies and chasing vultures? How many times did my mother go to God and plead with Him to hold on to me when she saw me drifting away, to guide me, to accomplish His will in my life? I think my mom was as determined to protect me from Satan as Rizpah was about protecting her own sons from the vultures.

Let’s get on our knees and pray for our children no matter their ages. Let’s storm heaven’s gates and plead with God to protect them from the enemy. Rizpah didn’t just swat a vulture or two first thing in the morning, then go about her day with no thought for her sons. She stayed there day and night, losing sleep, maybe not eating. Nothing was more important than keeping those vultures away.

And nothing is more important than the eternal souls of our children.

February 27; Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

Numbers 3:1-4:33

I find it significant that when God told Moses to take a census of the eleven tribes of Israel, they were instructed to count all the men twenty and older who were able to serve in the army. Now, when God gave the order to count the Levites, they were to count every male a month old and older.

Obviously, little children were not given jobs for the care of the Tabernacle, any more than the children from the other tribes were expected to go to war. So why count babies at all?

(Side note: in our current climate where murdering babies is applauded, let me remind all of us that life is a gift from God, and every life is precious to Him, and should be to us. God forgive us for what is happening in this country.)

The children born to the Levite clan were going to grow up to be priests, to carry on the work of their fathers as the spiritual leaders of Israel. And I believe they were counted as infants for a reason.

Proverbs 22:6 tells us to train up our children in the truth, in the way they should go. I don’t think it’s ever too early to teach your children the difference between right and wrong. I don’t think a child is ever too young to recognize sin, and experience consequences for sin. I believe children should experience what repentance and forgiveness feel like before they realize their need to go to their Heavenly Father for the same. And I don’t think a child is too young to be used by God in leading someone to the Savior.

A friend of mine shared about a little boy who was standing in the checkout line with his mom at the grocery. The cashier began entering prices into the register, and packing the groceries in bags when the little boy asked her, “Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?”

The cashier burst into tears. Uncontrolled weeping caught the attention of everyone around, including the manger who quickly came and took the cashier aside. The mom and boy followed.

Right there, in that grocery store, the cashier prayed to receive what Jesus died to give her. And so did the manager!

Out of the mouths of babes.

I think God made a distinction between the census of the eleven tribes and that of the Levites for a reason. A child is too young to wield a sword in battle. But when he is older, he must become a warrior. There will be battles to fight.

But a child is never too young to wield the Sword of the Spirit. We must be teaching our children about God, reading to our children from the Bible, talking to our children about God, leading our children to God’s saving grace, and equipping our children to share Jesus with others. Because God can use a child as much as He can use you and me.

 

February 22; Sacrificing Children

Leviticus 19-21

As I read this today I got to thinking about moms and dads sacrificing their babies to a pretend god called Molech. The pagan people in the neighborhood practiced this cruel ritual. But here in Leviticus God is telling His own people not to do it, and what the rest of the Jews should do to the one who throws their child into the fire. It makes me so sad.

When I read what Scripture has to say about idolatry I admit I tend to think of weird looking carvings sitting on someone’s bedside table, or a huge likeness of a demon with fire coming out of its mouth perched on the side of a mountain. But today God seems to be asking me to consider another, more subtle form of idolatry.

Can a job become an idol? Can a relationship? Is there such a thing as a popularity, or a success idol? Can an idol look like my “self?” We in a civilized society don’t throw our children into a fire to appease an idol. But I wonder if we don’t sacrifice our children in other ways.

I wonder how many children are sacrificed for the job idol, or the self idol. I wonder how many little ball players keep glancing toward the stands to find the face of a parent who sacrificed that little one to appease a boss, or a pilates class. I wonder how many children have been sacrificed to the god of alcohol and drugs.

Homes and families have imploded because of the idol of self, or success. And the children are the first casualties. We may shake our head and say confidently that we would never allow our child to be thrown into the fire as a sacrifice to an idol.

But I wonder if that is true.

God declares repeatedly that, “I am the Lord your God.” I pray that He is your God, and that your children are blessed because He is.