Posted in childlike faith, newtown, sandy hook school, shooting

Putting Newtown behind and Jesus ahead, we ask ‘Why the children?’

Children are important to Jesus. That is why satan seeks to kill them.

Did you know that on the same day as the horrific Newtown killings, a deranged man stabbed 22 young children at a Chinese elementary school? And that it was the third such type of stabbing attack at a school within the last two years?

Why the children? Here is why–

“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).

Jesus said this in response to the following in the verse prior, and note carefully!

“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”

The children were shouting hosannas!

The Pharisees were indignant over the children’s joy in recognizing Him!

In Gill’s Exposition it says, “This owing to God’s disposing them hereunto, putting it into their mouths, and strengthening them to declare it in a very strong and powerful manner; so that his strength was made perfect in their weakness, and his praise the more glorious.”

Do not overlook the children in their clear praise and strength of faith in one Jesus the Christ. Children are Christ’s answer to pure faith, and a rebuke to all who would squash a religious child’s enthusiasm for proclaiming Him. Woe to those who squash it! Woe!

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

“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).

Jesus sets a great store on children, and uses them for praise to Himself and as a warning to adults to follow their faith example.

Why were the children killed? Why? We cry. I believe it is because children are the last segment of the population to be attacked by satan.

Satan has the mothers via the corruption and eternal discontent of feminism. He has the fathers through pornography and adultery and abandonment. He has the youths through drugs and the narcoleptic spellbinder of technology. He has the institutions of government, entertainment, and even religion. What’s left for him to freshly attack?

Children.

For example, abortion. Child molestation is another way satan has attacked the children. The hidden shame of child trafficking in America (and in the rest of the world) is a scourge on us all. But those and other methods of attacking children are indirect. So Satan had a thought- why not kill them directly?

There is nothing to make a nation, even a world, weep and mourn as much as a child massacre. Just the thought of vulnerable little bodies strewn bloody on the floor is enough to make the world stop and take a collective gasp.

Jesus indicated this when He spoke of the abomination of desolation during the tribulation- “And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days!

As Gill explained, “whose tender affection to their infants will not suffer them to leave them behind them; and yet such their weakness, that they will not be able to carry them with them; at least, they must be great hindrances to their speedy flight.”

What defeats a family more, or crumbles their faith more, than losing a child to senseless violence? Not only would satan delight in the fact that a precious one’s childlike faith has been snuffed out, and that they can no longer praise Jesus in purity and trust, but he will also delight in the family’s grief and difficulty traversing the mountain of sorrow back to firm faith in Jesus again- if they ever do. Those of no faith will be unlikely to ever turn to Jesus. That likelihood diminishes with each bullet sent from a gun to slay a babe.

Satan is not overlooking the children in his attacks. But neither is Jesus. He ordained praise from babes. He taught us all to have childlike faith and trust in Him. He said that the little children should not be hindered from coming to Him. They were among the first before religious adults to recognize who He was on earth and they sang with joy.

I personally believe that the children who were killed in CT were young enough to see the angels God sent to minister to them as they hid in closets. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10). It’s something to imagine anyway.

Right now we trust in Him to create something good out of man’s horror. If you are finding it hard to move on to the solid rock of trust in a Good and Holy Savior, then ask the Spirit to increase your faith. (Luke 17:5). He surely does equip us to handle what comes in this world, a world I remind us all, is not our home.

As heavy as this affliction is, it is but a light affliction. (2 Corinthians 4:17). The children sang hosannas at the temple, and so should we. Though we cannot see the mercies and the glory that will emerge from this atrocity, we should have a childlike faith that something merciful and good will. If you don’t have that kind of faith, then at least do it for the children.

Posted in children, jesus, newtown

Jesus and children (thoughts of Newtown)

On Thursday, the day before the Newton Elementary School shootings, in which an entire kindergarten class of five years olds was massacred by a 20 year old boy, the Lord was preparing me to write about children. He was bringing to mind two precious incidents that had occurred in my life regarding children and the purity of their belief in Jesus. I prayed,  I cherished the memories, and I wrote the draft. Then I waited. Little did I know that a horrible massacre would punctuate and underscore these memories, imbuing their specialness by the heartbreaking loss of innocent life in Connecticut. I wrote more about it yesterday, the day it happened, and used scripture, here.

Jesus loves the children. They are precious to Him. Unlike in many societies where the children are not even named until age five because of the death rate, or in other societies where they are chattel, or still in others where the girls are left exposed to elements because they are an undesirable gender, Jesus cared for them uniquely as precious members of society and urged His believers to do the same.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3)

God personally makes every child that ever was or is to be:

“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).

The LORD sends angels to minister to the little ones:

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

There is a place Jesus is preparing where all the children will be safe from dangers:

“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6).

At times like these, many Christians wonder if children who have not professed Jesus go to heaven upon their death. The biblical evidence, though implicit and not explicit, seems to say yes. In Deuteronomy and other places in the Old Testament, the word innocent is applied to children. Not that they are not guilty of sin, because we emerge from the womb as such. But that their guilt has not yet been applied to them because they cannot cognitively understand their sin via two revelations God gives us: conscience and His holiness and our sinfulness as revealed in nature. Here is an essay about it-

Do babies and others incapable of professing faith in Christ automatically go to heaven?

Two incidents in my life with children after I’d come to know Jesus stand out to me. Rather than the world’s claim that children are browbeaten and brainwashed into believing in Jesus, it is actually the adults who are brainwashed and browbeaten into NOT believing in Jesus. Belief in Jesus is intuitive and pure in the children who do profess.

I work in a kindergarten as a teacher’s aide. A few years ago at Christmastime, the teacher was teaching a unit on the customs of Christmas from around the world. There were two five-year-olds who had professed Christ and any believer could immediately see the difference in their behavior and their spirit compared to the kids who had not professed. Anyway, they were sitting on the rug watching a short video on the Nativity. The kids saw the part where the angel led the three wise men to the boy Jesus, and some kids began a quiet but fervent discussion about what the light actually was. Some said a star. Others said a comet. Others said a planet. The two saved children said,

“It was an angel. The angel had the light from heaven wrapped around him and the light led the wise men.” All discussion stopped cold for a good ten seconds. Then it resumed, with denials of the angel idea from all the unsaved kids. The two saved kids just looked at each other from across the carpet, smiled peacefully, and put a thumbs up, nodding their belief to each other.

How many times are we told in the bible to act just that way? To tell the truth in love, gently and with meekness, fellowship with each other, not to argue, and to share the love of Jesus in peace and goodwill to men? They did, and in addition, their perception was amazing. An angel?! Why didn’t I think of that? And a little child shall lead them…

In another case, I was teaching bible study to 6-to-8-year-olds at church. I always encouraged the kids to bring their bible with them. When I taught the passage we always opened the bible and read from the bible and not just the curriculum. I wanted them to get into a habit of being responsible for handling their bible in church, and in reading the actual verses for themselves (mini-Bereans).

LOL, they were young and it took a long time for us three teachers in the room to get them all opened to the same page. It was hard for them at first to find the verse and then to not lose their place while the other kids found it. But you would not believe how much zeal they exhibited in wanting to bring their bible and delighting in reading the verses for themselves. The eight year olds had an easier time of it than the six year olds. This particular evening we were studying Psalm 100.

There was one 8 year old boy sitting in front of me on the floor. He had opened verse Psalm 100:1 and he began reading it while the others were getting settled. He whispered,

“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.”

He stopped reading. He looked aside, and paused. Then he whispered to himself, “I like that. I don’t know why I like it, but I do.”

This is a miracle.

We don’t get to see Jesus create fish and bread for thousands. We don’t see Him restoring sight and making the lame to walk. We do not see Him walk on the raging sea or change water to wine. But nowadays we have the Holy Spirit. The miracle in this day and age is regeneration. The Holy Spirit is invisible, but His work is not. Seeing and hearing a boy apply truth to his heart is a wondrous thing. Watching the joy he received from reading truth in beauty while acknowledging it and honoring it, is a visible evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in a person.

Do we eagerly read, then pause? Ponder and consider? Understand and accept the Word’s beauty without first having to construct intellectual reasons why? Do we accept the Spirit’s work in us and proclaim it aloud? Do we accept the miracle of His living word into our hearts with peace and joy?

And a little child shall lead them.

I believe the children killed in Newtown CT are in heaven right now. As John MacArthur says, “instant heaven.” As we mourn them on earth, what is Jesus saying to those children in heaven? I don’t know, but perhaps the scene looks like this-

Children Coming to Jesus, by John Lautermilch
“Come my children! You must have been so scared. You’re safe now. I have so much to show you!”
Posted in massacre, newtown, school shooting

A pastor’s response to the Newtown School shootings

My friend Pastor Phil Andrukaitis of the First Baptist of South Portland Maine wrote this essay in response to the massacre of children in an elementary school that occurred yesterday in Newtown CT. I hope it blesses you as it did me:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more” (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 3:18). The same bitter weeping for the twenty children and six adults of Sandy Hook Elementary School is being heard all over our country this evening.

It sickens our hearts to realize young innocent lives were violently murdered in the city of Bethlehem when Jesus was a toddler, but also during this 2012 Christmas season as Christians prepare to celebrate God’s greatest gift, the birth of Christ The Savior.

Christians, let us not lose heart in the midst of this awful tragedy, perpetrated by a wicked person. No doubt, many individuals may point to this incident as evidence that God is not all-powerful or all loving. They will ask with an accusatory tone, “Why didn’t You stop this twenty-year-old man who was hell-bent on fulfilling his evil plans?” Perhaps the best response to their question is answered with passionate prayers and compassionate deeds because our hope is in God.

God answered this evil deed and every evil deed committed against man when He sacrificed His Son on the cross for our sins and raised Him from the grave. The cross is the ultimate expression of God’s love and compassion and the resurrection is the ultimate display of God’s power over death and evil.

Let us continue to pray for these grieving families, teachers, students, and all the authorities God has appointed over us to restrain evil. Mourn with those who mourn. And let us believe that God will bring good and glory out of this horrific event, just as He did on Mount Calvary.

And may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.

Posted in children, newtown, shooting

Massacre of the innocents

How long, O Lord? [Additional thoughts here]

“Twenty-seven people, including 20 children, are dead after a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Another person was found dead at 36 Yogananda St. in Newtown, sources told The Courant. The shootings at the school took place in two rooms, one of which is a kindergarten classroom, sources said. One entire classroom is unaccounted for.”

Evil against children has always been in the world.

“Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” (Exodus 1:15)

But God heard Israel’s groaning–

“During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” (Exodus 2:23-25)

Evil is still in the world.

“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:16-18)

But God hears their groaning and He sends a Comforter–

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.’ (John 16:7)