Posts tagged ‘children’

The Crucible of Grief

“Why?”
It’s a question that leaps to the forefront of our thinking when we are confronted with a situation of pain and anguish. Especially when that situation involves the loss of a child. It’s difficult enough to bury your parents, but in the back of our minds we always knew we would someday. But it is totally unnatural to bury a child. There is a level of pain involved that never completely leaves us during this lifetime. We learn to cope and work through the pain, but the empty spot in our souls remains.
The songwriter Dana put it this way in a song about how Mary felt watching Jesus’ death:
I rocked him as a baby
I fed him as a child
I heard him call my name out in the night
I helped him take his first step
I cried when I heard his first words
I wish they all could see through a Mother’s eyes

There is no pain as acutely intense as that what a parent feels at the loss of their child. But our Heavenly Father knows how we feel at such a time, because he watched as his Son was illegally tried, falsely accused, and brutally murdered.

But we must never, not even for a little bit, think that the presence of pain is the absence of God. Jesus went to Bethany to comfort Martha and Mary after the death of their brother Lazarus. He came and wept with them, even though he knew he was going to resurrect Lazarus!
In Romans, Paul instructed Christians this way:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15 NASB)

When ministering to someone who has lost a loved one, especially a child, there is nothing you can do or say that will make it all better. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, and will accomplish His mission. But sometimes it is very comforting to have someone who is there to weep with you, like Paul said to do. That is even more meaningful if you have been through a similar loss in your past.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 NASB)

If you have suffered a loss in the past, don’t keep the comfort that was given to you all to yourself. Pass it on to another one who is suffering. Make sure they know that they are not alone. Just “be there” for them and take care of details so they can focus on the grieving process.

The sun will shine again, and life will go on. Know that you are not alone for you have brothers and sisters in Christ, and most of all, you are under the care of the Comforter. And when you feel like you have hit bottom, you are resting upon God!
“The eternal God is a dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms”
(Deuteronomy 33:27a NASB)

In memory of Sarah Elizabeth Reeves

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Who Is Your Joshua?

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 NASB)

While this verse is fairly straightforward, I like how it is translated for the Amplified Bible.

Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 AMP)

There are literally shelves full of books on how to do this. Of course the first one, by the Author of family relationships is the best. Look for a moment at Deuteronomy 6.

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NASB)

The first part of these verses are called “The Shema” in Hebrew. THE SHEMA is the central prayer in the Jewish prayerbook (Siddur) and is often the first section of Scripture that a Jewish child learns. During its recitation in the synagogue, Orthodox Jews pronounce each word very carefully and cover their eyes with their right hand. Many Jews recite the Shema at least twice daily: once in the morning and once in the evening. Parts of the Shema are written on a small scroll which is then rolled up and put inside a mezuzah. Thus the literally put this on their door posts.

A godly heritage is a most precious gift, and is something that should be treasured by those of us who had godly fathers who taught us the Word. That is why there is such a huge emphasis on this in Hebrew culture. Notice that this teaching was to occur while normal everyday conversation took place. This assumes that fathers are talking to their children. The way to provoke a child to resentment and wrath is to have rules without relationship. Only when there is a trust built up will a child believe that rules are for their good and spoken in love, rather than arbitrary. In that context, this generational passing down of the law of God is very intentional. I believe it is no accident that Jehovah is not just referred to as “the God of Abraham”, but calls Himself “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

But what about those who did not have the advantage of a Christian father? Is there provision for them? Yes!

There are many examples in scripture of young men being mentored in the things of God, or discipled, by those who are older in the faith. We have examples from the Apostle Paul of Silas, Titus, and Timothy. Barnabas even took John Mark under his wing and turned him from an unreliable travel companion to someone who was “useful in the ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:11
Paul differentiates between these relationships and those of strictly a teacher. In 1 Corinthians Paul wrote,
For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Corinthians 4:15-17 NKJV)
In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy 3:27-28, Jehovah instructed Moses like this.
Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.
I like the way Phil Ware from Heartlight describes what happened in his “Today’s Verse” devotional.
“Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt and in the wilderness, but did not get to enter into the Promised Land because of his sin. Yet, for all those years, Moses nurtured and prepared the person who would do what he could not do. That person was Joshua. Who are you training, molding, encouraging, motivating, and calling to do what you won’t be able to do? What successor will take your dreams farther than you can? Who is your Joshua?”

May we make it our mission to come alongside those who have had no spiritual heritage and disciple them. As we help them to grow in the things of God, we will also reap an eternal benefit!

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Worship That Touches The Heart of God

Children. They don’t make things complicated. Either you are there for them, or not. They either like something or they don’t. When the love you, they love and trust you completely. And they say exactly what they are thinking….all the time….in front of company. But this honesty and simplicity is very attractive to God.
In Luke chapter 18, Jesus talked about children.
“And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” (Luke 18:15-17 NASB)
Jesus was attracted to the love and tender hearts of children, and commanded that we act that way toward his Kingdom. Not that we should be childish, but have child-like faith in Him. Should our worship of that same Jesus be any less simple and child-like?

Look, I am not out to point fingers and say people are wrong and I am right, or to condemn. But at the same time, please think about what I am about to say and see if it doesn’t ring true to what the Bible reveals about our God and Savior.

WHAT TOUCHES THE HEART OF GOD MORE.?
– A man who is proud of himself for being so spiritual, or a man who refuses to raise his eyes to heaven, but beats his chest saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner”?

– A full Sunday morning production, complete with an awesome band, choir, lighting, and a state-of-the-art sound system, or a group of first graders singing from their heart with everything they’ve got, “Yes, Jesus Loves Me”?

– A multimillion dollar sanctuary with stadium seating, day care, bookstore, and a Starbucks, or the dimly lit basement of a house where believers are gathered in secret to quietly worship God and take the Lord’s Supper, praying that this day will not be their last?

– A crowd of 30,000 where someone can come and sing along, feel good about themselves, and yet remain comfortably anonymous, or a church of 130 believers whose lives have been knit together by the Word of God and their love for each other?

– A church that is embraced by the world and their community because they perform a public service and don’t offend people, or a church that preaches the truth, loves sinners enough to tell them the truth, and bears up under persecution and rejection because of that truth?

I hope you see my point. Somewhere along the way, worship became about what we liked, what made us feel good, and what attracted the world to our doors. But originally it was about what God likes, what was true, and what would really equip us, the entire congregation, for ministry. So let’s get back to the simple spiritual focus that we were originally given and “fix our eyes on Jesus” and not survey the world so we can effectively market ourselves, like the Gospel is a commodity for spiritual consumers. I know I have said this in a previous post, but in order to return to our first love, we must do the things that were done at first and live in the “simplicity of devotion to Christ” as His dear children (2 Corinthians 11:3) and say with our lips and our actions, “Jesus, it’s all about you. We are not here to be entertained or coddled. We are here to bless You, and nothing else in this world matters except what pleases You.”

Come on. Do it. Why did He call it being born again if we weren’t supposed to come to Him as a little child?

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