Saturday, March 24, 2007

[Thoughts] A Joy in My Life

The "Patriarchy Psalms," 127 and 128, have been a clarion call to generations of men who have been moved, by God's grace, to throw off the world's view of limiting the size of their families. Of seeing children as a burden and a curse. Of regarding children as "another mouth to feed." They take us back to the Dominion Mandate to "be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it." (Gen. 1:18) Children are described as "a heritage from the LORD," "a reward," "arrows in the hands of a warrior," "olive plants around your table."

For those who say, "I can't handle the ones I've got," or "I can barely afford the two I have," or "I don't have enough patience for more," or "How can I give one-on-one attention to so many?" the Bible tells us that God is the one who feeds us and our children, that He gives us everything we need to perform every good deed, that He will be a God to us and our children, that He rewards us with children so that we may be a blessing to others.

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. (2 Cor. 9:10-11, emphasis mine)

God gives not only us, but the world, our children as a blessing. When we train up godly seed, the world (which God "so loved") is blessed; first the family of faith and then the ungodly, too, on whom God pours common grace.

For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men. (2 Cor. 9:12-13, emphasis mine)

So, when we're obedient to our confession to the gospel of Christ, and believe God's proclamation that children are a blessing and that through the seed of Abraham (which means, through our seed) all nations will be blessed, the saints and all men rejoice and give thanks to God. That thanksgiving is also a blessing. Jesus was the firstborn of many brethren, of whom are we and our children.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Cor. 9: 15)

"Amen and Amen!" we say. We affirm with our mouths that children are blessing. We confess with our tongues that God is Lord of the womb. We ask God to bring more children into our families, "by whatever means." But for all our thanks to God, we often follow the world—and that which is worldly in the church—and treat our children like trophies. Our "obedience" like a badge of righteousness. Our patriarchal vision like a ticket to the front of the line of elder candidates.

We focus on ruling our own families well, not for our families sake—that they would grow in grace, learning to submit with all joy to the authority God has, in His love, placed over them—but for our own "advancement" in the eyes of men. We parade our obedient children in front of others to "show the world" that Jesus' ways are good.

But, it's not just about those who are afar off believing the gospel. It's about building the kingdom through our calling as fathers to our children. It's not about having children. It's about training up children. Making disciples of them. Enjoying them as the blessings they are, and the blessings they are to all men. And so, to really see them as blessings, we must also treat them as blessings.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil. 1:3-6)

Like Paul, we ought to give thanks to our God on "every remembrance" of our children, always in every prayer making request for them with joy. And, like Paul, we need to express gratitude for our children to our children. God has made our wilderness like Eden, our desert like the garden of the Lord. May we let joy and gladness be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody. (Is. 51:3, emphasis mine)

Our children, like we, have been brought back from captivity; they have been established in God's covenant and the ruins have been rebuilt. Now, says the Lord, "out of them shall come thanksgiving and the voice of those who make merry." (Jer. 30:19) He goes on to say, in verse 20, "And I will punish all who oppress them." Who oppresses our children? We do when we provoke them to wrath.

Delight in your children. Enjoy sitting with them and hearing their tales of adventure—even if it's the ninety-ninth time you've heard it. Rejoice to hold them in your lap and read to them, whether it's God's word, or Dr. Seuss, or poetry, or the story they just wrote. Write songs to and about your children and sing them. Learn to harmonize hymns as a family. A movie once had a family sharing "Highs and Lows" at the dinner table. Forget the lows and ask them about their highs. Share your heart and get to know theirs. For all physical indications to the contrary, they are not Mini-Me's; God has made them unique and He's given them to you so you will grow in grace.

Thank your children for their godly character. For being a blessing to you and your family. For reading God's word and hiding it in their hearts. For being your "little man" or "little lady." Let them be your joy and your joy will increase!

Thank God for kids. For your kids!

Now, if you'll excuse me… I need to go thank my children for being my children.

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Posted By Jim Bob Howard to Thoughts at 3/24/2007 06:42:00 PM
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