CHILDREN: WHAT A BLESSING
I am stunned today as I look out at the cultural landscape of the nation of my birth. The cultural, spiritual, and value changes in this nation from 1970 to 2019 are greater than any of those changes from 1940-1970, and those years themselves were stunning. It is truly difficult to fathom just how far we have fallen from the morals, values, and ways of God. No change illustrates this more than the horrific attitudes and actions today towards precious babies and children. Not only do our politicians and many fellow citizens have the shameless audacity to defend and vote for the right to kill innocent babies, but now many of them are telling us that to save our planet from catastrophic climate change (which itself is a distorted lie), we should not have children at all. These wretched fools like Bernie Sanders, AOC, and so many others, would have you believe that what God states clearly in his word, that children are a blessing and a gift from God, are in actuality a destructive curse, a problem to solve, that having them only hastens the destruction of our planet and our future.
Here is one of the harsh, painful realities of their wretched lie. The fact that so many couples are either not having children or having very few, will eventually bring about the financial ruin of the nation as the tax base shrinks and shrivels up. There will be far too few people paying into social security and all the older people who chose not to have kids when they were young will eventually have their benefits begin to disappear. Because of this pernicious lie, the population is not replacing itself as is already happening in many European countries. Our politicians are liars and fools. Immigration will not solve this, just as it didn’t solve it in major EU countries who boast about their open-door immigration policies. In Germany, they actually pay couples to have kids, as so few are being born.
Did you know that one-third of parents say their pet is their favorite child? I kid you not. One third prefer their pet to their child! (Just type in your search bar “parents prefer pet to child”.) The tragic truth is the culture’s attitudes towards children has, in so many ways, infected many Christians.
Several years ago I had a very dear Christian couple who had come from another church to begin attending mine. The church they had been part of was a very good, solid, Christian church. This couple had even been lay leaders in that church community. This couple had tried very hard to have children, and God finally answered and gave them 4. After attending my services for a while, the mother wrote to me, and said, “Pastor Mark, you have no idea how much it means to us, to be part of a church that values children so much. Pastor Mark, we have never heard a pastor talk so highly and lovingly about children as you do. We have not heard a pastor talked so genuinely and enthusiastically about being a dad himself, who has such a great love for his kids. You preach and live like you believe children are a great blessing from God! At our other church, we felt made fun of and belittled for expecting number 4. That kind of thing was joked about from the pulpit. We knew we needed to find a church that deeply valued children and a place we could learn to be godly parents to our children.” I was blessed and heartbroken at the same time.
Some months ago, I received this as part of an email from a dear couple who used to be part of my church but relocated to another state. “Mark, unfortunately, at church this very morning, there were several jokes that downgraded the worth of a mother who is devoted to her family. I was actually in tears hearing the total disregard for women who stay home to raise and educate their children (like me) and how they exalted working mothers with ‘real’ jobs from the pulpit.”
This mentality, rooted in feminism, has all to often infected Christian’s values, practice and beliefs. It is really, truly heartbreaking. In subtle ways, we have come to view children as a financial burden, as an inconvenience, or interference to our happiness, achievements, and pleasure in life.
l say this with all my heart, the great joy of my life was the privilege God gave to me to be a father. The tremendous blessing that He gave to me in giving Kathy and me 4 precious children. Children bring so much love, delight, joy, growth, wonderful moments, and life into our lives. What an extraordinary privilege to be entrusted by God to love, nurture, protect, enjoy, care for, train, and disciple for Jesus’ sake. I well up with tears of joy as I look back on all the memories of raising my children. Their gleeful hugs, their bright, smiley faces, their wonderful little personalities, their laughter, their first pictures drawn for dad and mom. Each of them coming to know Jesus, each of them getting baptized, each of them using their gifts and talents to serve others. The joys of sitting at the table at mealtimes, surrounded by these precious kids, laughing, expressing, sharing, learning, interacting, showing love for one another. Their acts of kindness, their service to each other, to me and Kathy. Their first jobs, their first time riding a bike, the first time they were able to catch a pass or their first karate competition. Hearing them sing for the first time and many times after. Watching them through the years grow and develop into wonderful young men and women. The privilege we had to educate them in our home, to have all that time with them, to influence their lives and to watch them each graduate from college. I could just go on and on.
We were never rich, we never had the fancy things of life. We didn’t have air conditioning for many of those years, we didn’t have a dishwasher for most of those years, we didn’t have cable TV, a cabin or go on ski trips to the mountains, or vacation on some Carribean island. We couldn’t all hop on a plane and go to Disneyland, or take a European vacation. My kids always had to share a room with their brother or sister. But with all my heart, I would take our humble, simple little house, our simple way of life and all the love, and laughter, hugs, and affection, joys, and smiles, watching them learn to play Mario, and try to stand and move the controller and little Mario on the screen with their whole body dipping right or left, than all the money, travel, and stuff in the whole wide world. Every single age, baby, toddler, adolescent, pre-teen, teenager, my kids rocked my world, blessed my soul, filled with me with such joy that I got to be their dad. Was it a ton of work? Of course, but it was wonderful, work. Work I would do over and over and over again in a thousand lifetimes. With all my heart I miss it so very much. Were there times it felt like a particular thing in their life we wanted to see change would never change, of course. Just know this: with patience, love, tender care, perseverance, and prayer each of them eventually grew and changed!
Remember this: while an untrained, undisciplined child does bring much sorrow and grief, it is not the child’s fault that their parents did not train them. That is on mom and dad. Of course, we must not fail to parent them biblically and effectively. It hurts them if we don’t! It hurts us if we don’t! That is not God’s fault! He gave them to us to bless us!
I have watched first hand as all four of my children, who are all now parents themselves, find such joy and delight in their kids. I see it in their FB posts, the little videos they send Kathy and me, in their photos. I hear it in their voices as they eagerly and enthusiastically tell me stories about their children over the phone! I see it when I am physically in their presence. I find so many older people my age are stunned when they find out I have 11, soon to be 12 grandchildren. Many of them have 1, or 3, but very, very, very few are 63 with 12 grandkids. Why? Because their kids are not having them, or deliberately having very few.
I want to praise and commend you wonderful fathers reading this and you wonderful moms, for the Godly value system you are embracing, and living out in the real world. You are the most blessed people on the planet. God is so proud of you, and you are delighting your Heavenly Father’s heart so much.
Let me share the real truth with you about kids. Keep in mind, lest you forget, I raised 4 of them in the real world. We are indoctrinated over and over again, kids are so expensive. As if God is not giving us a gift, but a financial burden! The world’s value system is messed up, as is their perspective about what kids need. I do understand that a child can develop medical needs, or have severe health problems that indeed can cost tens of thousands of dollars. I lived through that myself. However, most kids do not.
Here are a few illustrations. I am stunned to find strollers today for $200-$400! Little kids clothes at Baby Gap or Target or all the brand new stuff parents think their child must-have. There are, what I call, the Cadillac diapers that you are made to feel like an unloving parent if you don’t buy them and instead buy Aldi diapers. All of this is a ruse to steal your money and rob your joy in having that child.
Many of the things we got for our children were used, or second-hand stuff. They grow so fast, there is simply no need to go out and get everything brand new. When my first two were about 2 and 3, I made them their own crib size mattress bunk beds. I found a construction site, with leftover 2×4’s thrown away, brought them home, cut them up, nailed them together, put pieces of leftover plywood inside to hold the mattresses, and walla, bunk beds! I only had to buy one used crib mattress as we had the other from the crib. I found a carpet store that had thrown away brand new padded carpet samples and I brought them all home and stapled them to their little room’s floor, covering up the ugly old worn linoleum. They had a colorful little bedroom in that small trailer house. They loved it. I could go on and on and on. It does not have to break your bank to provide for your children. There is Goodwill, Craigslist, Once Upon a Child, garage sales, friends whose kids outgrew their clothes, or baby beds, etc, etc.
Do you realize that your children don’t need the largest house on the block to be happy? They don’t each need their own room to grow up successfully? The first house I ever bought, I bought at age 43, with 1500 sq. feet, and for some time all 6 of us lived here. I know housing is very expensive today, just be careful what you may be believing that might not be true about what you or your kids need.
Here is perspective. In 1950, the average house size was 983 sq. feet with larger families than today. In 2019, the average house size is 2551 sq. feet and the actual square footage per person in each house has quadrupled today because people are having far fewer children.
Please do not misunderstand me. If God has given you a very large house full of amenities or enabled you to take wonderful ski vacations or trips to Disneyland, or a family trip to Europe, praise God for His goodness to you. I am simply trying to provide a real, true perspective to each of you and point out what matters most and what is truly possible. Each of us must answer to God alone for the choices we make.
Fathers, being a great father, being a godly father, all begins with the attitude and perspective that permeates your heart and mind, the one I have just shared with you. It starts in the heart of a dad, who believes his children are a marvelous gift from God to him, and he treasures them in his heart, he loves and embraces the work, and sees them as his divine calling and gift from God! Kids can tell if you enjoy being their father!!
In closing, I would like to offer a couple of bits of advice. Many may be wondering is there ever a legitimate reason not to have more kids? There may be some in your situation, but I believe one is certainly the health of momma. My wife had been in a terrible car accident that took a tremendous toll on her body. Having children put great strain on Kathy’s back and neck. During her last pregnancy, she had a blood clot and had to take shots of heparin daily to keep the clot from coming loose and going to her heart and killing her. We wanted to make sure that Kathy had the strength and health she needed to care for the 4 kids we already had, so we decided not to have more children. We took steps to ensure that it didn’t happen. Again, that was how God led us. He may lead you differently. Seek Him about it, pray about it, go to God’s Word and look for wisdom, insights, and direction.
Some couples have gotten married and then delayed having children for several years to get to know each other better or to pay down student loans or other debt while both were still working. Again, this is a personal decision you make before God, seeking Him, and that may be just the right decision for you.
None of what I have written today is meant to judge you or malign you but rather intended to inspire you, enlighten you, encourage you with what’s possible and give you God’s marvelous truth and perspective.
CHILDREN ARE A BLESSING, JOY, AND GIFT FROM GOD!
Please give this message a listen, I know it will bless your heart! I gave this message when I was 31! It is called “Children: God’s Blessing.”
Also please watch this movie on Netflix. It is called “Come What May!” It is powerful, true, moving, and illustrates how I feel about my children. It will uplift you and give you tremendous perspective. Especially take note of the father’s reaction when he finds his son! I feel that way every day towards my kids.