Monday, October 31, 2011

Dressing for Worship

If jeans and a T-shirt is the best we have, then God is pleased to receive us. However, our goal is to elevate worship and to offer God our best, while showing respect to the occasion of worship. Worship attire reflects our understanding of what we are about to do as well as our inward attitude. Most people have a “dress code” for their place of work. Do you dress better for work than you do for worship? Appropriate dress for worship should be modest and clean. While each person or family is understandably limited as to what they can offer, nevertheless, we should all seek to offer our best as we come before the Lord.

Christin's Quote Book


  • I don’t get it.  I’m not allowed to ask a Chinese person where a Chinese restaurant is? I mean, aren’t we getting a little too sensitive? I mean, somebody asks me which way is Israel, I don’t fly off the handle! – Jerry Seinfeld
  • Lady Ann Percival had, without any pedantry or ostentation, much accurate knowledge, and a taste for literature, which made her the chosen companion of her husband’s understanding as well as his heart. He was not obliged to reserve his conversation for friends of his own sex, nor was he forced to seclude himself in any branch of knowledge. The partner of his warmest affections was also the partner of his most serious occupations; and her sympathy and approbations and the daily sense of her success in the education of their children, inspired him with a degree of happy social energy, unknown to the selfish solitary votaries of avarice and ambition. – Maria Edgeworth
  • Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the first one. – Albert Einstein
  • What can you say about a society that says God is dead and Elvis is alive? – Irv Kupcinet
  • Ever notice how irons have a setting for permanent press?  I don’t get it. – Steven Wright

Monday, October 24, 2011

Christin's Quote Book


  • Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. – Mark Twain
  • An angry man is seldom reasonable; a reasonable man is seldom angry. Wrath has no place in friendship, else friendship cease altogether. – Sir Walter Scott
  • A family of ten children will always be called a fine family, where there are heads and arms and legs enough for the number. – Jane Austen
  • He was a solemn, unsmiling, sanctimonious old iceberg who looked like he was waiting for a vacancy in the Trinity. – Mark Twain
  • You don’t have to be faster than the bear; you just have to be faster than the slowest guy running from the bear. – Unknown

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Evolution―Smooth and Slow

This notion of something smooth and slow like the ascent of a slope, is a great part of the illusion. It is an illogically as well as an illusion; for slowness has really nothing to do with the question. An event is not any more intrinsically intelligible or unintelligible because of the pace at which it moves. For a man who does not believe in a miracle, a slow miracle would be just as incredible as a swift one. The Greek witch may have turned sailors to swine with a stroke of the wand. But to see a naval gentleman of our acquaintance looking a little more like a pig every day, till he ended with four trotters and a curly tail would not be any more soothing. It might be rather more creepy and uncanny. The medieval wizard may have flown through the air from the top of a tower; but to see an old gentleman walking through the air in a leisurely and lounging manner, would still seem to call for some explanation. Yet there runs through all the rationalistic treatment of history this curious and confused idea that difficulty is avoided or even mystery eliminated, by dwelling on mere delay or on something dilatory in the processes of things….The question here is the false atmosphere of facility and ease given by the mere suggestion of going slow; the sort of comfort that might be given to a nervous old woman traveling for the first time in a motor-car.

G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

Friday, October 21, 2011

Brad and Stacey Booth


Dear friends,

It’s been a difficult yet blessed week as we have said farewell to our brother and friend, Zach Ramsey. May the Lord grant His peace to all who loved him. The grace of God has obviously been active in many quarters during the last few weeks and months. Please pray that the gospel will continue to go forth and that many will be blessed as a result.

One blessing that came my way was the opportunity to meet an outstanding Christian couple while I was visiting Zach and Dori at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, TX at the end of June. Zach and Dori had granted me the liberty of sitting in Zach’s hospital room and leaning against the wall to take a short nap. When I awoke, there was this young couple standing in the room and visiting with Zach and Dori. I introduced myself to them; their names are Brad and Stacey Booth (no relation to me that I know of). They were from Birmingham, AL and had traveled from Brad’s parents’ home in Baton Rouge, LA. The Ramseys had come to know them via the Internet and had, in fact, picked them up at the Houston airport a couple of nights earlier, which is when they met for the first time (face-to-face).

Brad was obviously an athlete. He was bald, so I presumed that he might also be undergoing chemo therapy. In fact, Brad had been diagnosed with the same cancer Zach had [DSRCT], in December of 2010 and he was at MD Anderson to continue his treatment. Brad and Stacey were so cheerful and encouraging to Zach and Dori. They had a definite joy in the Lord. After some conversation, we prayed together and they soon went on their way. We have continued to pray for them.

I was surprised to see that Brad and Stacey traveled to Little Rock for Zach’s funeral. They were at the visitation on Wednesday night at the funeral home and I was blessed to visit with them and learn a bit more about their own situation. I am writing this to encourage you to learn more about them as well so that you too can pray for this family. You can read about Brad at his CaringBridge web page. I also want to encourage you to take the time to watch a video of Brad’s remarkable testimony as to how God is working in his life through his illness. You can find that video HERE.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Zach Ramsey's Funeral Service


An Mp3 audio recording of Zach Ramsey’s funeral is available for download by going HERE and clicking on  the “Launching the Media Player” button. Scroll down until you find the “Ramsey Funeral" in the “Series” column. You can listen to, or download the audio file and you can also download the PDF of the Order of Service.

If you would like to donate to the Ramsey Memorial Fund, please make checks payable to “Covenant Presbyterian Church” (Note: Deacons’ Benevolence Fund), and mail to: Covenant Presbyterian Church, #1 Covenant Drive, Little Rock, AR 72211. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Ancient of Days

Old men and women have once been young. Young Men and women have never been old. Stop and ask an older person about their life―where they’ve been―you’ll be surprised. Your assumptions about them are probably wrong. There’s a wisdom that only comes from living long enough; some of it―much of it―comes from learning things the hard way. You can avoid some of these hard lessons if you will learn to learn vicariously. The Ancient of Days has something to teach us all.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Memorial Fund

On Friday Morning, Zach Ramsey finished his seven year fight with cancer. His body will be laid to rest at 1:00 on Wednesday and the service will be at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 1 Covenant Drive, Little Rock, AR 72211. Knowing that this battle was costly both emotionally and financially, many people have asked how they can help. Zach and Dori’s church, Covenant Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, has a fund to aid with the funeral expenses. You can make checks out to the church and include on the memo line “Deacons Benevolence Fund” and the church will assist in this effort.


NOTE: Some of our churches will be taking up love offerings.

Christin's Quote Book


  • Never praise a sister to a sister in hopes of your compliment reaching the proper ears. – Rudyard Kipling
  • If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there are men on base. – Dave Barry
  • You ask whether I have been in love: fool as I am, I am not such a fool as that. But if one is only to talk of first-hand experience, conversation would be a very poor business. But though I have no personal experience of the thing they call love, I have what is better – the experience of Sappho, of Euripides, of Catallus, of Shakespeare, of Spenser, of Austen, of Bronte, of anyone else I have read. – C.S. Lewis
  • Talk not of wasted affection. Affection was never wasted. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Reader – suppose you were an idiot.  And suppose you were a member of congress – but I repeat myself. – Mark Twain

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Slip, Slide and Away

Few people wake-up one morning and run toward the edge of a cliff. Those who do fall over the edge do so by inching their way to the precipice, reassuring themselves that they can handle it. The devil loves to get a foothold in our lives; a little leverage to ease us in the wrong direction. Since sin is deceitful, our own sins start out by deceiving us. We can handle it. It’s not that bad. It’s a little thing. We’ll be ok. Little-by-little we get comfortable in the bad habits. Having taken a few steps in the wrong direction, and having not yet fallen, we reassure ourselves that all is well.

God has set aside one day in seven―the Lord’s Day―for His worship and our rest. Historically, this is often where God’s people start their slide away from Him and in to a casual and careless place. It will soon show up in others areas of their lives as well. Psalm 137:31 reminds us that “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” When we honor Him firstwhen we walk with Himwe stay safe. When we find ourselves justifying ourselves or making excuses, we have now started to inch our way to the edge. Look out below…

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Tribute to Maturity

I know I’m not alone in observing that chronological age is not a reliable indicator of maturity. Since immaturity is measured by selfishness and shortsightedness, years-lived are only one of the factors that can help people overcome immaturity. I’ve heard some young persons proclaim that they are “mature for their age,” but such proclamations are usually the delusions of self-centered children. While we expect a certain immaturity in the young, and there’s no shortage of immaturity among the elderly, there are a few who do rise above the normal chronology of years to achieve a maturity that us usually born of adversity.


I have had the privilege of knowing such a man. His name is Zach Ramsey. I’ve known him since he was about six-years-old. I’ve pastored him, taught him in school, and been a friend of his family. I had the privilege of performing the wedding service for him and his lovely wife Dori a little over three years ago. Sometime next week, I will have the honor of being one of the ministers for his funeral in Little Rock, AR.

As a boy, Zach could be an adventuresome rascal, and he had most of the usual teenage cockiness. On July 31, 2004 Zach (age 22), was diagnosed with a rare cancer [DSRCT]. This began a rollercoaster journey that turned a boy into a man beyond his years. If he had won the lottery at age 22 I don’t know how his story would have ended. But his hard circumstances gave him a focus on the important and the eternal that not only advanced his own maturity and sanctification, it also enabled him to serve others, which is the mark of maturity. His love for his wife, parents, family and friends was demonstrated continually. Moreover, His love for his Savior was unwavering and powerful to all who knew him and watched him live. He was an extraordinary, ordinary man that I have come to respect, admire, and look up to. At 5:55 this morning, Zach left this world of shadows for the real world; a soldier who fought the good fight. I salute you sir!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Christin's Quote Book


  • I like terra firma: the more firma, the less terra. – George S. Kaufman
  • Travel is 90% anticipation and 10% recollection. – Edward Streeter
  • Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experiences of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. – Douglas Adams
  • I do not want people to be agreeable as it saves me the trouble of liking them. – Jane Austen
  • It is your business when the wall next door catches on fire. – Horace

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces (12 of 12)

This series of blog posts is taken from a chapter I wrote for the book, To You and Your Children: Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession, Canon Press, © 2005.

Conclusion

Salvation is always by grace—we are saved in spite of who and what we are. Success in child-rearing is therefore not cause for pride but rather humility. We cannot save ourselves by our works and neither can we save our children by our works. As long as there is breath, it is never too late for grace to conquer even in the worst of situations. As long as there is life, it is never too late for the prodigal to come home.

Often, these trials with our children turn out to be bad chapters in otherwise good books. God's severe mercy proves His love for us: "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be dis­couraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives" (Heb. 12:5-6). Just as our parental failings were instrumental in our children's unbelief, so God can and will use our humble and faithful reclama­tion efforts to regain our children. Let us renew our efforts, pick up the pieces, and seek the Lord. "Now no chastening seems to be joy­ful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Heb. 12:11).

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces (11 of 12)

This series of blog posts is taken from a chapter I wrote for the book, To You and Your Children: Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession, Canon Press, © 2005.

Redemption

Mending will not begin by nurturing animosity but rather by creat­ing an atmosphere for redemption. Paul admonishes the church re­garding a repentant sinner, "On the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him" (2 Cor. 2:7-8). There must be hope. Most of us have done plenty of sinful and stupid things in our past, and we owe a debt of love and gratitude to those who have not perpetually held them against us but rather helped us to stand again.

As we move ahead to accomplish reconciliation and redemption, we must leave behind any remaining bitterness in ourselves and seek the good of our children. There is always hope in Christ. Since sal­vation and sanctification are gracious, undeserved works of God, healing and hope can come to any situation. Sinners are converted. By the power of the Holy Spirit, husbands and wives can change. Broken lives can be put back together. Lost children, by the grace of God, sometimes come to their senses and embrace the faith of their parents. And like our Savior, we earnestly seek after our lost sheep.

The Proverbs teach us that "the way of the transgressor is hard" (13:15). The consequences of sin often bring enough pain that the sinner is humbled, making a return possible. Without compromis­ing God's standards, we must facilitate this possibility by providing an environment in which such a return is safe. We long for humble repentance on the part of the sinner, but this is not accomplished by an attempt to humiliate. We do not want repentance to be any more difficult than necessary.

The parable of the prodigal son provides a model of redemption between a foolish son and loving father. There are few pictures more profoundly moving than that painted by this verse: "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compas­sion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him"
(Lk. 15 :20).This captures the heart of the gospel of redemption. As John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord, the effect of his message was to "turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Mal. 4:6; Lk. 1:17). This is one of the powerful effects of the work of Christ; without it there is no hope of redemption.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces (10 of 12)

This series of blog posts is taken from a chapter I wrote for the book, To You and Your Children: Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession, Canon Press, © 2005.

Forgiveness

Sin always inflicts damage to ourselves and to others—it hurts. Bib­lical love provides the only environment for dealing with the dam­age. It does not ignore the sinner or his sin: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). God loves us even though He is the offended party. Despite the offense, He provides a way for reconciliation: "And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled us in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight" (Col. 1:21-22). The Bible lays out the way, telling us, "If we will confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 Jn. 2:9). God may not take away the consequences of our sin, but He will take away the guilt of our sin along with its shame. Forgiveness clears the ground of past offense so that a new relationship may be built in its place. Recon­ciliation is the goal.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces (9 of 12)

This series of blog posts is taken from a chapter I wrote for the book, To You and Your Children: Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession, Canon Press, © 2005.

Confrontation

Having listened to God's Word and responded by going to Him in repentance and confession of our own sins, we now face some re­maining obstacles. Wisdom is necessary as we move to repair dam­aged covenantal relationships. Repentance toward our children often requires much humility, especially when our children might have been horribly offensive and sinful toward others and us. Admitting our own failures is not an approval of their sins. Moreover, we can love our wayward child without approving of his or her sinful behav­ior.

Pastoral counsel is recommended before initiating such a confron­tation; we want to be sure not to make the situation worse. Guid­ance in what should be said and done is needful. A face-to-face conversation or a well-thought-out letter might be a good place to start. Some situations may seem hopeless, but we must remember the words of our Lord: "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Mt. 19:26), and again, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes" (Mk. 9:23). Not all relation­ships will be repaired, but all can be improved, some marvelously so.

Godly confrontation need not be hostile. Our approach should be gentle in manner while remaining resolute in purpose. The apostle Paul admonishes us,

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph. 4:29-32)

God's Word remains the standard for godly relationships; our de­sire to remove any possible tension must not be allowed to reduce the standard. Nevertheless, the goal is to make true repentance and reconciliation as easy as possible. Clear, calm, and humble commu­nication that lays out biblical expectations for all the parties involved provides the only solid foundation for restoration. Establishing new trust will likely be a slow process. We probably cannot deal with ev­ery issue at once, so setting priorities is important.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces (8 of 12)

This series of blog posts is taken from a chapter I wrote for the book, To You and Your Children: Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession, Canon Press, © 2005.

Repentance and Confession

The despairing belief that failure cannot be repaired is simply not true. With God, all things are possible for them that believe (Mk. 9:23). The solution to any failure begins by turning away from the things that caused the failure. As we honestly evaluate our own sins and failures, care should be given not to assume our children's guilt as well. We should, however, assume all the parental responsibility. There is a time and place for dealing with the real sins of others, in­cluding the sins of our children, but only after we have removed the beam from our own eye. My sins do not excuse the sins of my chil­dren and my children's sins do not excuse mine.

Men, as covenant heads, are especially given the responsibility for their families. Godly men eagerly own up to their sins. They humble themselves before God and before men, and this includes their fami­lies. They set an example for others by accepting the responsibility for their households (including its failures) and by demonstrating true repentance, graciously seeking reconciliation and repairing re­lationships.

We must remember, though, that sorrow and regret are not re­pentance. We may feel sorrow and regret for many things and still fall short of repentance. Sorrow and regret might lead us to repen­tance, but it is possible to have the former and still fall short of the latter. True repentance begins with the honest acknowledgment of our sins. To repent, or turn from our sins, is to change the way we think and the way we live. The Bible teaches us that God's mercy awaits those who repent of their sins. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abun­dantly pardon. Tor My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord" (Is. 55:7-8). Repentance gives us a new perspective that enables us to look away from ourselves and look to Christ, and in Christ there is always hope. It enables us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt. 6:33). Making ex­cuses, rationalizing, and blaming others is the opposite of repentance. We need the grace of repentance to enable us to have an unqualified turning away from our own sins.

Confession is agreeing with God that He has been faithful and true and that what He says about us and our situation is true. Confession flows from repentance to an outward expression of our sins. With our words we humbly admit to the offended parties that we were wrong. Having honestly evaluated ourselves in the light of God's Word, we now need to bow before Him and say: "I was not as diligent and faithful as I should have been in training my children in the ways of the Lord." On our knees before God is the place where remedy and healing begin. It is here that we ask the Holy Spirit to deal with us and to comfort and help us. In addition, confession to our children, spouses, or other offended parties may be necessary. Our confession needs to be as broad as our sin, The necessary groundwork has now been laid for forgiveness.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces (7 of 12)

This series of blog posts is taken from a chapter I wrote for the book, To You and Your Children: Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession, Canon Press, © 2005.

Sins of Abdication

Having committed sins of presumption, Christian parents often wind up in the ditch (or canyon) of failure. We are then tempted to another kind of failureabdicating our responsibilities, shifting the blame, or simply giving up. Perhaps the children are out of control and it seems too late or too hard to rein them in. Or perhaps they are grown up and it seems that all is lost. Sins of abdication are mani­fested in quitting or giving up, crawling into a hole, failing even in our failures. This abdication of our responsibilities denies the power of God to strengthen and change lives, to repair the ruins. "What's the use? It's too late. The damage has been done. We cannot make up for our past sins." Abdication says that failure is all there is, and there remains no hope for future success.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces (6 of 12)

This series of blog posts is taken from a chapter I wrote for the book, To You and Your Children: Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession, Canon Press, © 2005.

Sins of Presumption

Presumptuous sins are a frequent cause of household failures. We presume that the rules do not apply to us the way they do to oth­ers. As unbelievers, some parents never thought the Word of God ap­plied to them at all. Many Christian parents falsely presume that because they are Christians, God will bail them out regardless of their conduct. After all, He has promised to forgive us, so we operate on the edge. Having been presumptuous we eventually fall. "Be sure, your sins will find you out" (Num. 32:23). "Do not be deceived, you reap what you sow" (Gal. 6:7). Such falls are, at best, painful and hu­miliating.

We must distinguish, however, between biblical presumption (called faith), which rightly believes what God has promised, and the sin of presumptuousness, which wrongly assumes God's blessings are automatic. The former, taking God at His word, employs the means God has ordained for raising godly children—"faith working through love" (Gal. 5:6). It takes seriously the duty to "train up children in the fear and admonition of the Lord" and to "diligently" teach them the Scriptures (cf. Deut. 6:6-7; 2 Tim. 3:15). The latter ignores God's ordained means and expects the benefits anyway—"The rules may apply to everyone else but they don't apply to me." We expect covenant blessings while being covenant-breakers. These are pre­sumptuous sins.

We see the flipside of this in overzealous parenting—parents who are determined to raise perfect children. Parental pride at this point can crush the spirit of the child. Some parents allow their lambs to wander from the fold; others drive them away. Sin is doing less than what God commands and it is doing more than He commands. A man can fall off a horse on the left or the right side (Josh. 23:6). Both li­centious parenting and legalistic parenting can produce rebellious \children. Even children who have been educated in a Christian school          and yes, even home-schooled children—can be rebellious products of such presumptuous parenting. Any time we assume that something can take the place of loving, godly, diligent, disciplined parenting, we risk a bad outcome. God's covenant blessings are con­ditional promises.

The Bible offers many prominent examples of sinful parental pre­sumption: Eli and his corrupt sons Hophni and Phinehas, Isaac and his famously opposed sons Jacob and Esau, David and his rebellious sons, and so on. Likewise, many Christian parents have raised chil­dren who have grown up to deny the faith. Why is this? Is God not keeping His promises? We must remember that He promises both blessings (i.e., happiness) and curses (i.e., misery). Like the Phari­sees, we often offer up the excuse that we were busy with many godly pursuits our jobs, our ministries, church work, etc. But Jesus reminded them and us: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Mt. 23:23). There are consequences to persistent disobedience in regard to our children, intended or otherwise.

Christin's Quote Book


  • You can lead a man to the university, but you can’t make him think. – Finley Peter Dunne
  • Americans are like a rich father who wishes he knew how to give his son the hardships that made him rich. – Robert Frost
  • Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a function. – Garrison Keillor
  • Television enables you to be entertained in your home by people you wouldn’t have in your home. – David Frost
  • Airline travel is hours of boredom interrupted by moments of stark terror. – Al Boliska

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces (5 of 12)


This series of blog posts is taken from a chapter I wrote for the book, To You and Your Children: Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession, Canon Press, © 2005.

Evaluation

Failure in various aspects of child-rearing is usually due to ignorance, negligence, laziness, rebellion, or a combination of these. Many of our sins are due to ignorance—no one ever taught us any better. Nev­ertheless, they are still sins and still produce bad results. God looks on sins of ignorance differently than sins of rebellion (Lev. 5). Some of our sins, however, are sins of willful rebellion. We know better but we do not want to obey God, so we are often sloppy and careless with His commands. God looks on these sins more seriously.

We must begin by considering which sins have been sins of igno­rance and which have been willful rebellion, making an honest evalu­ation of our performance. For example, if we make an unwise financial decision, it is helpful for us to acknowledge our mistake and to accept the consequences of our sin. We will still have to pay our debt, but hopefully we will have learned from our mistake and will be able to avoid it in the future, and furthermore help others avoid similar mis­takes. This will require us to swallow our pride and ask for help from family, friends, and our church.

When it comes to the problem of a rebellious or unbelieving child, or simply a child who committed a particular sin, parents are often very defensive. There is no shortage of excuses and justifications. But the fact remains that "a wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother" (Prov. 10:1); and again, "He who gathers in summer is a wise son; he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame" (Prov. 10:5). The connection between the behavior of a child and his parents is unavoidable. The sooner we acknowledge this, the sooner we can deal with the problem.

Parents are sinners. Parents need the grace of repentance, forgive­ness, and redemption. Children are sinners. Children need the grace of repentance, forgiveness, and redemption. There is a lot of room for love and ministry here, for all parties involved. If there is to be any hope of repair, however, we must start with ourselves. Parents need to initiate reconciliation by first dealing with their own sins and accepting responsibility for their disobedient children.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces (4 of 12)

This series of blog posts is taken from a chapter I wrote for the book, To You and Your Children: Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession, Canon Press, © 2005.

Special Circumstances
Life is complex and there are as many special circumstances as there are unique households (e.g., divorce, adoption, illness, or financial burdens). As a pastor my heart has gone out to many who have suf­fered the burdens of family crisis, especially when it involves a child. While these special circumstances can make parenting more difficult, and while we can sympathize with those difficulties, nevertheless they cannot relieve us of our parental duties toward God nor our respon­sibilities toward our children. They may offer explanations for the problems, but they never provide a legitimate excuse for disobedience.

Failures of the church and the influence of the culture contribute to our problems in raising godly children. Unbelieving, unsupportive, or irresponsible spouses remind us of why it is so important to marry only in the Lord and to marry godly husbands or wives. Likewise, divorce is devastating to the entire household, and especially to chil­dren. Single parents face many special circumstances. We acknowl­edge all of these as genuine obstacles and feel sincere compassion for those who face these challenges. We must love these families and help them overcome their particular challenges, but the responsibility for Children remains where God put it with their parents.