Posted in children, family

Mother’s Day: Thank You to Christian Mothers

Christian mothers are precious in God’s sight. I’ve talked before about the effect Charles Spurgeon’s mother had on him. Today we see the effect Frank Boreham’s mother had. She nurtured and raised a man who became one of Christianity’s top 20 preachers, ever. What a glory to Jesus mothers give, when they raise their children in His name! What a long-lasting effect they have on the faith throughout the ages!

Spurgeon had a mother. She bore 17 children. Nine of them died. Phil Johnson wrote in his essay “How childhood influences shaped a great preacher“,

Spurgeon’s mother was the one whose influence first awakened him to the claims of Christ on his life. Her exhortations to her children, as well as her prayers on their behalf, made an indelible impact on Charles as a young boy.

It is the same with Boreham. From the 4-part video of Boreham’s life, we hear the narrator speak, and then an actor re-enacting Boreham reading from his memoirs.

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Narrator: FW Boreham adored his mother. His admiration was magnified because of the stories she told and the engaging way she told them.

Boreham: I have never heard anybody unfold the classic biblical narratives with such dignity and winsomeness and charm such as she could command. And when she came to the story of the cross, she could move us all to tears. I confess that although betwixt those days and these, I have attended many theological lectures and read ponderous theological tomes. The conception of the cross was always in my mind and in preaching and in writing, is the conception that took shape within me by the fireside in those days of long ago.

Narrator: Boreham could say that on those Sunday nights in front of the fireplace with his mother nine times out of ten the evenings closed with the singing of his mother’s favorite hymn that exactly summed up all her teaching:

Jesus, who lived above the sky,
Came down to be a Man and die;
And in the Bible we may see
How very good He used to be.

Boreham: And all through the long years of pilgrimage I’ve never sung that hymn or heard it sung without experiencing a clutch at the heart and a moistening of the eyes as the fond recollection has swept over me as those heart to heart talks in the flickering firelight of the old home.

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Christian Mothers, thank you!

Posted in children, encouragement, jesus, truth

Encore: Is Today the Day?

Re-post from 2011.

Is today that day that You will call for your church to heaven?
Is today that day You will present a bride to Your Son?
Is today the day You will deal with sin in the world?
Is today that day You will send another warning to the unrepentant?
Is today the day You will quicken the Spirit inside me to grow in Christlikeness?
Is today the day You will send the Spirit to draw my family to the cross?
Is today the day You will grow me in the spiritual fruits?
Is today the day You will chasten me, your child?
Is today the day You will send ministering angels to help me?
Is today the day You will give this land to Abraham and his offspring forever?
Is today the day You will bring Your people out from under the yoke of oppression?
Is today the day You will show Yourself in glory and power?

Today could be the day. For many of these, today IS the day. For others, soon will be the day. The Lord’s promises are true. They will be fulfilled. May His name be forever blessed.

Posted in children, discernment, satan

Here is an example of how satan targets children

Satan is targeting your children. You know this. But do you really know it?

We read the newspapers about what the world is doing to children in schools, with the teachings on the false theory of evolution, with gender-neutral bathrooms, the homosexual agenda in “sex ed.” But outside of schools behind the scenes there is monstrous pressure, relentless, shark-like never ending pressure to succumb to evil. Here is an excerpt from an unsolicited email I received this week. It is one of many I receive from authors and publishers wanting me to promote their books. If they are sending me, a small, insignificant blogger, emails like these, you can be sure they are papering their doctrines of demons from wall to wall, top to bottom.

I would love to send you a new book that teaches The Law of Attraction, and other metaphysical ideas, to children. The author is a Reiki Master and proficient in the Bowen Technique, as well as has a diploma in Energetic Healing. Even if you do not typically review books, we did want to offer the book to you in case you felt so inspired to share it with the children in your life, and, if they enjoy the book, perhaps post about it on social media or in your newsletter or recommend it among like-minded friends.

It’s gut-wrenching and startling to read something like this, isn’t it? Satan is at work, prowling like a lion, seeking whom he may devour. Be honest, when you read that verse, you picture in your mind that satan is going after you, or friends- adults. But instead, picture satan the lion devouring a child. He rips their little souls to shreds, their innocent faith crumbling under massive badgering to see the world satan’s way.

From the beginning of the Bible, we see that human-kind understood that children are a blessing from God, given by Him. Eve said,

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:1).

In Genesis 33:5 we read,

Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.

The LORD thinks highly of children. He blesses a family by giving a child to them!

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.5 Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:3-5)

So if children are a blessing, a heritage, and a reward, how should we be raising them? In the knowledge of the LORD and His ways, of course. But these days, easier said than done.

Now, I do not have kids, so even commenting on parenting children and raising them in the Lord is a tough row to hoe for me. However, I am an educator in an elementary school and have been since 1983. I’ve seen the decline of morality, and the foundation of family crumble, from a mass perspective if not a personal one. in looking at classroom after classroom of wide-eyed innocents. Let me tell you, the decline is precipitous.

So given how high-risk these days are, and given how hard satan is going after the children, here are a few good resources for parents and relatives to peruse and perhaps use in contending for the spiritual safety of the kids.

Parents—Don’t Leave Teaching to the Church

The church is not the only place our children should be taught biblical truth. Parents can do many practical things to combat the evolutionary indoctrination their children face. In addition to ensuring that their children receive meaningful instruction from church, parents are responsible to build a biblical worldview in their children on a daily basis.

On. A. Daily. Basis.

Don’t wait until the children are one year old, or two years old. Or entering daycare. Or wait until Pre-Kindergarten. From birth, teach Jesus on a daily basis. AND live it in front of them.

Michelle Lesley wrote a series entitled The 10 commandments of Parenting.

Commandment 1: Thou Shalt Be A Believer
Commandment 2: Thou shalt put God first in thine own life
Commandment 3: Thou shalt have a Christ-centered marriage 
Commandment 4: Thou shalt make a pro-active decision that thy household will be a Godly one
Commandment 5: Thou shalt train thy children in the words of the Scriptures
Commandment 6: Thou shalt teach thy children to pray
Commandment 7: Thou shalt consistently and lovingly discipline thy children
Commandment 8:
Commandment 9: Thou Shalt Be Forgiving
Commandment 10: Thou Shalt Love

Grace To You: Ten Commandments of Parenting

One of the most common questions I get from Christian parents is about parenting.  They want specific and practical advice for rearing their children in the very best way. Couples usually understand their general parental responsibility, but will often speak of the need for help in specifically framing their biblical commitments to optimally shepherd and train their children.

Children don’t know when their innocent and correct worldview is being chipped away at. But it is, since the first moments they take a breath. Guard the kids!

Posted in children, divorce, encouragement, love

An Eloquent Six-Year-Old Gives Her Mother a Meaningful Lesson About Staying Friends After Divorce

From the Laughing Squid.

The Bible talks about having the faith of a child.

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:2-6)

See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:10)

Matthew Henry explains the concepts here:

Christ spoke many words of his sufferings, but only one of his glory; yet the disciples fasten upon that, and overlook the others. Many love to hear and speak of privileges and glory, who are willing to pass by the thoughts of work and trouble. Our Lord set a little child before them, solemnly assuring them, that unless they were converted and made like little children, they could not enter his kingdom. Children, when very young, do not desire authority, do not regard outward distinctions, are free from malice, are teachable, and willingly dependent on their parents. It is true that they soon begin to show other dispositions, and other ideas are taught them at an early age; but these are marks of childhood, and render them proper emblems of the lowly minds of true Christians. Surely we need to be daily renewed in the spirit of our minds, that we may become simple and humble, as little children, and willing to be the least of all. Let us daily study this subject, and examine our own spirits.

With that in mind, here a 6 year old girl gives her mom a wake up call and a life after her parents were divorced. Cherish Sherry recorded her daughter Tiana’s important message and posted it on her Fcebook page. It was picked up by other media in the last few days since the initial posting.

I’m so glad she recorded it. Little Tiana spoke of humility, of exalting the other. She spoke of friendship, and having a heart of love among family members. She said a world without love and friendliness would be overrun with people who are simply monsters. What good is it to live in a world of monsters, without love? Her point was love begins in the home, with extending one’s self toward the other and not lording it over. She reminded her mother that her dad was still her father, and not to be mean.

This family is not Christian I don’t think, but these are biblical concepts the girl is speaking of.

God hates divorce. But when it happens, the little ones sometimes must step in with insight and the faith of a child.

May the Lord bless all the children. This sinful world is hard on them.

Posted in children, documentary, movie review

Movie review: Brownstones to Red Dirt

Brownstones to Red Dirt is a 2010 documentary about children living in a violent part of Brooklyn NYC, whose middle school teacher initiated a pen pal program with children in civil war torn Sierra Leone.

The unique aspect of this documentary is that there is no voice over, intoning and opining. No narrator and no narrative. The movie features the voice of the children (and parents and teachers) exclusively. The kids are the ones telling the story.

And what a story it is. The movie blurb at SnagFilms.com summarizes:

A sweet and lyrical documentary about a simple pen pal program, BROWNSTONES TO RED DIRT captures the growth of sixth graders from housing projects in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn and war orphans from Freetown, Sierra Leone. Though the kids know nothing about one another when they write their first letters, they learn that while their environments are vastly different, the struggles they face make them more alike than they realized. This revelation brings them closer together and teaches us all inspirational lessons about friendship, love and humanity.

The Brooklyn Film Festival blurb has more details:

Brownstones To Red Dirt follows four pairs of pen pals from housing projects in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn and the slums of Freetown, Sierra Leone. These two “lost” groups help one another find their way as they are confronted by remarkably similar issues despite the vast differences of their environments. Through endearing glimpses into the lives of these children, the film highlights the failure of governments and societies to protect their youth.

Each pair of pen pals highlights a major issue faced by kids across the world: Isaiah’s father left him as a baby; Abdul was first taken, then abandoned by the rebel commander that killed his parents. Malik and Balla each use art, not vengeance, to heal. Augusta’s peaceful definition of friendship reaches Destiny in Bed-Stuy, where loyalty is often proven with violence, not love. Fred and Emmanuel, both cast aside by a world that expects little from an inner-city black teen or a third world orphan, are defiant in their quest to better themselves. As the school year progresses, the children use their experiences to unknowingly teach one another simple lessons that will last them a lifetime.

Though this film is not a Christian film, anyone who has a biblical worldview will no doubt see Godly principles expressed through the children. Their initiative, trust, and generosity is a major theme throughout. Their child-like faith is remarkable. In one scene, a desperately impoverished girl in Sierra Leone writes in closing to her pen pal in Brooklyn, ‘No matter what happens I want you to know you have a Godly friend.’ One is reminded of Bible verses which focus on children and their child like faith, trust, and willingness to share sacrificially.

But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,  “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” (Matthew 21:15-16)

The civil war in Sierra Leone took its toll on an entire generation of children. Wikipedia explains the basics of this devastating event:

The Sierra Leone Civil War (1991–2002) began on 23 March 1991 when the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), with support from the special forces of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), intervened in Sierra Leone in an attempt to overthrow the Joseph Momoh government. The resulting civil war lasted 11 years, enveloped the country, and left over 50,000 dead.

Adults were slaughtered by the tens of thousands, often in front of the children. Later, children under the age of 15 were recruited for the cause. When the war ended, tens of thousands of lost and abandoned children littered the landscape, starving, dying, and ripe for further exploitation.

In one heartbreaking scene, a Sierra Leonian child had been asked what he thought America was like. He said “I want to go there. They have their own mommies and daddies.” 

In one scene a boy said his parents were killed in front of him and the rebel commander took him ‘for his own.’ After several years of forced servitude in a rebel army, the commander was surrounded by opposing forces and he abandoned the boy. ‘I can’t keep you any more’ he said. When the battle concluded, orphaned and separated from his sister whom he did not know was alive or dead, the boy didn’t know what to do or where to go. “So I just sat down in the road,” he said.

Though life in Bed-Stuy is not as dire as it is in Sierra Leone, with starvation, exploitation, and pervasive hopelessness, life is still not easy. Violent gangs are rampant. At one point during the height of the violent era in NY, one mom said her children playing in the apartment courtyard and bullets were flying over their heads. Every time a child stepped outside there was a chance they would either be recruited by a gang or killed as a bystander in gang warfare. One piece of graffiti art depicts chalk outline of a man on a wall, his body filled with names of the killed.

The children realize they share common goals despite the vast chasm in their geography and differences in culture and circumstance. They realize they have the same desires. They want education, a fulfilling career, safety, and to love those around them. They have drive, initiative, all for making their part of the world a better place. Despite their surroundings which might defeat an adult’s outlook, these children are optimistic.

It’s a wonder to see kids like this. One begins to understand the soft place Jesus has for children. They truly are an inspiration.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:1-4)

Watch on Hulu or free on Snagfilms.com

Posted in children, justice, prophecy

To those who harm children:

Sin is ramping up so much and families are just disintegrating. It all falls on the children. They take the brunt.

Just as Cain killed Abel and the LORD said,

“And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” Genesis 4:10
Parents, Adults, what have you done? The children’s tears cry out from the ground!

Just as Abel’s blood cried out from the ground, the children of the world and our county who are neglected, abused, trafficked, homeless, hungry, aborted…their pain slips out of them at night when they cry, their tears seep into the ground. 
The flood of tears is saturating the ground that the ground cries out to God for justice. The agony of the world’s sin is painful enough, but the children are suffering terribly, horribly and their tears wet the earth and the earth gives up its strength and weeps with the children.

Posted in children, encouragement, immanence, praise, transendence

From the mouths of babes: I’m taught a lesson on transcendence and immanence

The Graphics Fairy

While a boy was using scissors to cut his Christmas tree project, he was being very slow but very painstaking. He wanted to be exact. And to do a good job. So while the rest of the kids had moved on to the ornaments and coloring and going fast, the boy was still plodding along.

When he got done, he held up his tree and said, “I’m a good cutter!”
I said, “Yes. You are a good cutter!”
“Jesus teaches me. He is in my head teaching me how to do it.”
“What does He say to you in your head when He teaches you?”
“He don’t say nothing. He’s magic. Like, when there was a storm, he said STOP and just like that, a rainbow! He helps me.”

Jesus is very present with this boy and in this boy. He speaks of Jesus often, but has never talked about his relationship with Jesus before.

The Graphics Fairy

And they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” (Matthew 21:16)

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Luke 18:17)

The boy talks about Him as He actually is- a friend and a helper, as if Jesus was here and right next to him. Which He is. Adult Christians lose that.

When we paint or make a Christmas gift or a craft and put the finishing touches on it, someone may say “That looks wonderful. You did a good job!” Do we say “Jesus directed my steps and it is with His wisdom/strength/help that I made this”?

The boy praised Jesus for His very present help.
The boy testified of Jesus and worshiped Him.
The boy acknowledged his need for help in even the smallest of things.
The boy exalted the transcendent Creator Jesus by recounting His powerful miracle but at the same time praised His presence, Jesus’ immanence.

GotQuestions explains transcendence and immanence.

The Graphics Fairy

Transcendence (God exists outside of space and time) and immanence (God is present within space and time) are both attributes of God. He is both “nearby” and “far away,” according to Jeremiah 23:23.

Praise Jesus today, and often. Praise Him like this boy did, confidently, matter of factly, and certainly.

“but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

Posted in children, christian living

Sleepovers? To do or not to do? Tim Challies has some thoughts

Tim Challies wrote a good piece on whether to allow your child to sleep away overnight at a friend’s house. He and his wife have their own reasons that he shared in a blog essay as to why they don’t ever allow their young children to sleep overnight at another person’s house.

Why My Family Doesn’t do Sleepovers

Before my children were even old enough to ask, Aileen and I talked it through and decided we would not allow our kids to do sleepovers. Now let’s be clear: there is no biblical command that forbids them, so this was not a matter of clear right and wrong, but a matter of attempting to act with wisdom. We determined we would make it a family rule: …

Then the piece blew up. He was astounded to find that three quarters of million people looked at it in just inside of week. And the comments section blew up too. He bemusedly said that he never quite knows which of his blog essays will generate such reaction, but usually a person can kind of tell. a On the sleepover one, though, he had no idea it would generate controversy and also such encouragement. Read his second piece here:

6 Reflections on Sleepovers

I didn’t see this one coming. After over ten years of daily blogging, I tend to have a pretty good sense of which articles have the potential to cause a reaction and which articles have the potential to fizzle. I might have guessed that an article on why my family doesn’t do sleepovers would have attracted a few more readers than usual, but I wouldn’t have believed that in its first week it would be read by nearly 750,000 people. But it was, and I found myself wondering why.

Here are some other moms and dad bloggers with thoughts on the subject of sleepovers.

Rethinking sleepovers

Today’s Christian Woman shares some pros and cons in this article

Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis shares a situation of how he handled when his daughter was asked to go on a sleepover birthday party. Scroll down.

Posted in abortion, babies, children, death

Children are a blessing

There’s lots of different kinds of heartbreak with children. There’s the loss of a child because he is a prodigal. There is heartbreak when a child is abused or abandoned. There is the grief for a child through death.

Jesus loves His children. His actual, little baby children.

Here is a story about children. The original story didn’t have the scriptures interspersed. I put those in. Though the children in this article died, there are children every day who are abused, neglected, sold, or aborted. Children are precious, precious. Love them. Love them well.

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We were blessed to have met them’: Parents of preemie triplets find meaning in the unthinkable
ROCKWOOD, Ontario, 8 January, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The doctor performing the ultrasound had a strange look on his face. The newly married couple braced themselves for what they were sure would be terrible news.

“Now, don’t scream,” he said in measured tones. “One. Two. Three…Triplets!”

Jason and Marie Taylor, both in their 30s, had married only four months ago, in May 2012. They were eager to start a family from the moment they fell in love, but they decided to do their relationship “God’s way”, saving sex till both had promised the other ‘I do’.

It was an ongoing joke in the extended family that if Marie was going to “catch up” with the number of children her married sisters had, then she and Jason would have to have twins and triplets.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:13-16)”

One month after wedding bells, the couple was delighted to discover that they were pregnant. Now at 11 weeks, they were excited to see their ‘little one’ – or little ones, as it turned out – through the medical magic of ultrasound.

Jason and Marie were ecstatic at the news of triplets. Jason ‘high-fived’ Marie, who was lying on the observation bed.

“We were just really, really excited,” Jason told LifeSiteNews in an exclusive interview from their home last week.

The couple’s next immediate thought was: “Oh my goodness, what are we going to do with so many babies…we only have a limited number of arms.”

The ultrasound revealed that there were two girls and a boy. The proud parents named them Bernadette, Christine, and Adam.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3-5)

At a subsequent visit, doctors spoke to the parents about “selective reduction,” but the couple would hear none of it. Even though Marie was a trained nurse and knew that doctors would ask this question, it stung her to hear someone so unconcernedly offer to “kill one or two of my children.”

“That was really upsetting to us both since we so eagerly anticipated our children,” said Jason.

The couple began to prepare themselves and their house for the new arrivals, expected in February 2013. Three little cribs were purchased and tenderly placed in the upstairs bedroom.

Marie’s belly grew, and grew, and grew some more.

Every night before falling asleep beside his wife, Jason would lean over and talk to his unborn children. “Hey Adam, hey Bernadette, hey Christina, I’m looking forward to meeting you. I love you guys!” Before leaving for work he would say to them: “Look after your mommy!”

The unthinkable

But Marie’s body was beginning to have trouble adapting to the demands of the three thriving lives inside of her. She experienced massive headaches as well as heart palpitations and chest pains if she overexerted herself. She was troubled with severe acid reflux. One day, while in the midst of writing wedding thank-you cards at the kitchen table, she suddenly blacked-out. When she came to, she managed to phone Jason for help.

Despite Marie’s health struggles, a November 13 ultrasound revealed that Marie and her babies were doing quite well. At 22 weeks, Marie was measuring more like a pregnant woman at 35 weeks.

But the day after the ultrasound, Marie started experiencing “sharp little pains” across her abdomen that became increasingly regular. That evening, the couple decided to head for the hospital to see what was going on.

Arriving at the hospital, the couple was incredulous when doctors told Marie that she was four centimeters dilated and that labour had begun. The young couple clung to the hope that doctors could do something to prevent labour from developing further while still keeping the babies safe.

But labour progressed further. Doctors broke the news that the babies were on their way.

At 22 weeks, the tiny triplets didn’t have much of a chance. Not only was their gestational development delayed because they were triplets, but their little lungs hadn’t developed enough for them to breathe. As a nurse, Marie knew that ventilation efforts on underdeveloped lungs could explode the lungs, causing immediate death. Doctors told the parents that when born, the babies would not benefit from medical intervention.

As Jason stood by his wife’s side, witnessing the unthinkable nightmare that was unfolding before his eyes, he suddenly realized that he had been giving all his attention to Marie. He realized that his unborn children were probably just as frightened by what was happening as he and Marie were. The young father leaned over and chokingly comforted his children with the loving words he had spoken so often. “Hey, I love you guys…I’m looking forward to meeting you…”

The parents prepared to greet their children and spend as much time with them as they could.

The triplets were born in the early hours of November 15, each weighing between 360 to 450 grams, less than a pound each.

When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” (John 16:21)

“They came out, full of life, and moving around,” said Jason. “I kept on hoping that they might be the only triplets born at 22 weeks to ever survive, but they faded quickly.”

Despite the deep sorrow of having to let their children go, the parents were nonetheless taken aback by how perfectly formed their little children were, with perfect little noses, tiny toes, dainty fingers and finger nails, and most of all, beautifully lovable faces.

“We held them. We had time to study them, and we really felt like we got to know them a bit,” Jason said.

By now, extended family had arrived at the hospital to support Jason and Marie and to help bid farewell to the three children. A nurse took the babies’ footprints. The children were fitted with little hats and wrapped in coloured garments.

For Marie, it was an impossible mix of emotions: “We just held the babies. We cried. We looked at them. We studied them. We talked to them. We baptized them. And…we loved them.”

Bernadette, Adam, and Christine were loved, respected, and cherished for every moment of their short four-hour lives.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)  

Searching for meaning

Immediately after their children’s passing, Jason and Marie wondered what should be done with the remains. They wondered if the hospital would let them have the bodies.

On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” (Psalm 22:10)

Marie’s father came to the rescue: “Of course we must give them a proper funeral,” he said. “They lived a life, just like anybody else. They were born, they were baptized, they lived, and they died.”

Marie’s brother built a little wooden casket with three crosses on the top. The children who had grown, lived, and died together, would now be laid in their final resting place together.

Jeff Gunnarson of Campaign Life Coalition attended the funeral service. He told LifeSiteNews that he was “deeply moved” to hear Jason’s graveside testimony about the life of his children, adding that there was hardly a dry eye in the crowd.

“Jason explained to the people gathered that his children’s lives were precious,” he said. “He mentioned his daughters’ dainty fingernails and the beautiful curve of his boy’s tiny chin. He said that even at such a young age, each child already showed distinct personality traits. He conveyed that each had its own unique unrepeatable life.”

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:20-22)

“Believe me, anyone in that crowd with a hint of indifference to the value of a baby’s life at 22-weeks would have left that service re-thinking a pro-choice position. Jason conveyed just how wonderfully-made are these little human children of God. He was able to see in this serious, sad, yet profound moment of burying his beloved children a pro-life ray of hope that brought tears to our eyes and made us grateful to have witnessed so great a love.”

A Testimony to Life

Like any parents who have had to bury their children, Jason and Marie find themselves asking “why”. On blacker days, they find themselves prayerfully wrestling with God, asking him why he allowed this pain, this grief, this suffering, this loss.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) 

Marie’s worst moment was waking up in the middle of the night directly after her loss. As the preceding nightmarish events crashed heavily upon her, she suddenly realized that she no longer was pregnant. “I really felt the despair when I asked myself how could anything good possibly come out of this,” she said.

The parents found themselves turning to their faith, seeking answers to difficult questions.

“We don’t know why we didn’t get to keep them,” said Marie, “but for whatever reason, God allowed them to be taken from us. We have faith that they are now in heaven reaching down trying to pull the two of us to heaven to be with them. We believe that we have three little angels up there who are interceding for us, so that we will get there someday too.”

Instead of focusing on their loss, the parents decided to focus on their blessings. “If anything, these babies are a testament to life. That’s what they have to be. That’s what we have to make this,” said Marie.

Despite their pain and loss, the parents would never wish their children’s lives away. They know that pain and loss do not have the final word.

The triplets have already made a difference in the lives of all who knew about them. Neighbors came together to support Jason and Marie. Family members saw through their petty differences and found common ground. Faith in God and family ties were strengthened. Cold hearts were thawed.

“Somehow it changes a heart just to see their lives,” said Jason.

Jason and Marie’s “hope and prayer” is that sharing their experience might “encourage” others who face difficult life choices.

They have put together a moving video tribute in memory of their triplets. The parents wrote and recorded an uplifting and heartfelt song that accompanies their story, which is told through photos and texts. The YouTube video has already received close to 3500 views.

“Hopefully our babies lives can make a difference somehow, even if it’s just giving strength and affirmation to people currently in the pro-life movement,” said Jason.

 “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12 )

Gunnarson called the Taylor’s testimony “courageous and amazing,” saying that they showed the world that bringing 22-week babies into the world, even if they are not able to live for more than a few hours, is the “natural, healthy, and loving thing to do”.

“They named them, they baptized them, and most importantly,” he said, “they loved them.”

For Jason and Marie, their children will forever remain a treasured memory. Anyone who listens to their story will hear them say: “We were blessed to have met them.”

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)

Posted in bulldog, children, football, idolatry, idols, university of georgia

Two sacred cows … examining the idolatry of UGA football, & idolizing your children

I’m going to poke a wasp’s nest here by looking at two sacred cows. “Sacred cow” is an American idiom.

The idiom is based on the popular understanding of the elevated place of cows in Hinduism and appears to have emerged in America in the late 19th century. A literal sacred cow or sacred bull is an actual cow or bull that is treated with sincere reverence. A figurative sacred cow is something else that is considered immune from question or criticism, especially unreasonably so.” [Wikipedia source]

The sacred cows are: making children your idol, and University of Georgia football. UGA football is a particularly virulent strain of idolatrous football in general.

We all agree that the run-of-the-mill kind of idolatry is bad. We all agree that work could be an idol and that’s bad. Shopping and consumerism could be an idol. Our car or our hobby could be an idol. When bringing them up in a Christian context, people agree that we should ratchet back down from those and put them in their proper place.

GotQuestions defines idolatry as:

The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God. The most prevalent form of idolatry in Bible times was the worship of images that were thought to embody the various pagan deities.”

One example of an ancient deity formed into an image is the fish deity Dagon. This is how the LORD views idols and what He did to Dagon- 

“When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.” (1 Samuel 5:1-5)

There aren’t many pagan idols whom worshipers dance in front of today, but they still exist here and there. The Burning Man festival is one. I wrote about that festival earlier in the week. This is a festival where scantily clad people cavort in the Black Rock desert of Nevada for a week, drinking, fornicating, looking at profane art installations, and culminate their week with a revival of a Celtic festival in which an effigy of a man in burned. When the man is burned, they dance and worship in similar style to the Hebrews dancing and having an orgy before the Golden Calf. Just as the Golden Calf was an idol through which they blasphemed God, (Exodus 32:4, Nehemiah 9:18), it can be said that the Burning Man is an idol through which they blaspheme God also.

Source SF Chronicle

Any Buddhist shrine is an idol, where a figure of Buddha is graven and people leave presents for and bow down to him in worship.

Buddhist shrine just outside Wat Phnom. Source Wikipedia

But an idol doesn’t have to be a figure in which the person bows down to or worships in front of. An intangible thing may become an idol. In this way, it lurks in the heart and displaces or replaces God as the primary focus of worship.

Remember, the short definition of idolatry was, ‘excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.’ In this way, as I mentioned above, work, hobbies, shopping, or cars could displace God either temporarily or permanently as the primary focus of worship or devotion.

There are two idols that we rarely speak of being an idol, and if we do, people have a hard time seeing what is wrong with loving them so much. These idols are sacred cows. We aren’t supposed to question whether they are becoming an idol in a person’s life. Remember a sacred cow is something else that is considered immune from question or criticism, especially unreasonably so.

The two idols are Children. And Football. Especially University of Georgia Bulldog football.

It seems strange that a person could make their child an idol. But the flesh can make anything an idol, even the ‘good’ of loving your child. Anything that takes the place of God as primary in our heart could be an idol- including children.

In the video below, Todd Friel explains about children as an idol. I’ll transcribe and then post the video below.

So how is it that a child can be an idol? It isn’t the baby itself, it is our attitude toward the child. And that really goes for just about anything. Even this thing, whatever it is. [Picks up decorative statue]. ‘Ohhh, I love that. I’ve got to get more of those! I need to spend time cleaning this, it’s the most beautiful…’ That’s an idol. How can something that’s an inanimate object become an idol. I guess any other god besides the true God is an inanimate object. Anyway, it’s a heart issue. Mom, Dad, love your kids. … Enjoy your kids. Did you see the recent Time Magazine cover? ‘Is it Better To Not Have Kids?’ with a picture of a couple laying on the beach, like that’s the quality life. That’s the good life. No. It’s not. Having children, is. They are a blessing from God and they should be enjoyed. But, like virtually everything else, they can be an idol. Watch that line.

Are you a parent who has made their children their idol? Even to the exclusion of the husband? And to the exclusion of God? Where every thought, every action is focused on the children? Where every conversation is about the children? If the idolatrous mom or dad switched their child’s name in conversation for God’s name, how much more would someone think the person was weird? Yet excessive devotion to children seems like it is a good thing. It is not good, if they have become your idol.

In this essay on Motherhood in Focus on the Family, Tosha Wlliams wrote, “Taking care of our children, even going beyond the call of duty for them, is not the issue, though. The heart of the matter is that nobody, not even our kids, should have a higher place in our hearts than God, lest they become our idols.

Consider these questions:

  • Do you ever break away from your children — no matter their ages — and spend time alone with God?
  • Do you intentionally communicate with Him as much as you do with your kids?
  • Do you regularly focus on getting more of God instead of getting more for your kids?
  • Do your kids see you read your Bible as much as they see you watch TV?
  • Is your relationship with God a higher priority than anything else in your life — even more important than teaching your child the alphabet, cooking healthy meals or getting your kids into Little League?

The total focus and attention of our lives should be God first, then spouse then children. However the parent who idolizes their child is thought to be a good parent and the person who speaks of God as often is thought to be a weird person to be avoided. Like Mr Friel says, watch that balance.

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College football started this weekend. Around here in the University of Georgia-land, UGA Bulldog football takes on a life of its own. The team is regularly place in the top ten of college ball, and football is revered anyway from tot squads on up to Pro ball. Football is a way of life around here.

Daniel Ausbun of First Baptist Church, Moreland published a very well-written essay on modern idolatry. In it, he asked, “How would someone know if they’re practicing idolatry? We must look at the state of our hearts. On Saturdays does Georgia football completely dominate and take-over our thinking? If you have a desire or joy for something more than God, you’re an idolater.”

Enjoying your children isn’t idolatrous. Attending and enjoying a football game is not idolatrous. However, it becomes so when excessive devotion looms in the heart. Does Saturday football consume you? Do you plan for your Saturday football all week? Does the game, win or lose, impact your worship the next day? Do you stay home from church because you’re tired the next morning? Did you fail to adequately prepare your Sunday School lesson for Sunday’s class? Do you feel hateful toward other people as you go to church? Or feel downcast, depressed, or angry at that last-minute call the referee made? If you do, you’re a football idolater.

Even after 7 football seasons here in GA I can’t believe the idolatry of the UGA devotion to Bulldogs. In the very short clip above, Todd Friel of Wretched TV asked Kevin Hynes, Fellowship of Christian Athletes Campus Director (FCA) about the excessive devotion to football, and the UGA bulldog in particular.

“We have to be careful we don’t cross a line in praising the gift rather than the giver.” ~Todd Friel

Here is the transcript of the Football clip above Hynes and Friel talking:

“This is something you don’t normally see. Where the guys come running out of the tunnel over there, but over here, this is the mascot. ‘Go Dawgs’, right?

Hynes: Uga.

Friel: Uga, U-G-A, I just got that, lol! Maybe I need to go back to school. So this is the mascot [pointing to a statue of the bulldog]

Hynes: It’s a replica of the mascot of the dog running around on the field.

Friel: So it’s a real dog running around on the field. What happens to the real dog when the real dog dies?

Hynes: Well, they have a service, to celebrate the dog’s life, and then they entomb him behind us.

Friel: Right in these little things right here.

Hynes: Yes.

Friel: They each get a plaque. See, “This dog was gone too soon”… this one, “A big dog for a big job and he handled it well” … So they get a little plaque commemorating their lives.

Hynes: Yes.

Friel: Now this could be an example of going a little bit too far with how much we love the sport, or connect a symbol with an affection. In other words, maybe…it has become idolatry?

Hynes: Absolutely.

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Do you idolize your kids? Do you idolize UGA football, or any sport? Watch out!!

“Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” (1 Corinthians 10:7).

“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 10:14)

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Further reading:

The Truth about Idolatry: sermon on 1 Corinthians 10:14-15

Bible study on Idolatry

Moving evangelicals beyond idolatry, by RC Sproul

Dave Miller at the Southern Baptist Convention asks, When does Sports become Idolatry?

Grace Gems: Sermon, Idolatry Excludes Men out of Heaven by David Clarkson (1621-1686), in which Rev Clarkson discusses the difference between outward idolatry and internal idolatry.

Your Kids Make Bad Idols, offers some tips on how to tell if you are sacrificing to rather than sacrificing for your children.