Posts Tagged ‘children’

 

1 Samuel 2:27-35

 

A Warning for Eli’s Family

 

 Have you ever been somewhere, a family gathering, a public place, anywhere, where there are those parents who are like hippy-dippy shrub huggers that believe that their child should be allowed to “find their own way” and “freely express themselves”. We’ve all seen it. Kids with no discipline running amuk, tearing things up and doing things with no consequences. It kind of reminds me of when I was married to my second wife. When I married her in 1995, I inherited her three boys ranging in age from 3 to 10 years old.

 

 

 

Before they came into my life, they had apparently been “free range” kids. Never had they suffered any real consequences for bad behavior. I should have figured it out from the day my second wife moved in together a little less than a year before we were married. One of the ways that discipline was enforced on me by my parents was at the dinner table. First, all four of us sat at the table. Second, we were required to have good manners (because to my dad, the family meal was an event not just something you do and as he always said, “how you act at the dinner table is how you will act when we go out to eat, have good manners!). Fourth, and most importantly, you ate what was put on the table or you will go hungry.

 

 

 

I raised my children the same way, especially that last part, the eating what was put in front of you. When I was growing up, if you didn’t eat what was put on your plate you sat there until you did. I remember battles of wills with my dad and, of course, dad won. Mom was not a short order cook according to Dad. You ate what she fixed or you sit at the dinner table until you did. I raised my girls the same way. Sure, there were a few battles here and there about it, but over time, the girls would quietly eat whatever was placed in front of them. Discipline starts at the dinner table, I always have said.

 

 

 

The reason that became a phrase that rang true was that thing I should have noticed the very first time that it was dinner time after my second wife and I moved into together. It was dinner time. She fixed me a grown-up meal but she fixed her youngest son some chicken nuggets or such. She didn’t even make the two older boys come in for dinner at the specified dinner time. Her youngest son was allowed to eat his meal on the floor in front of the television and then he didn’t eat but maybe half of his meal before he wanted to get up and go play. When I told him that he needed to eat everything on his plate, everything, before he could go out and play, it was as if the world had ended. He had never been told that before. And the woman who would become my second wife acted as if I had crossed a boundary. I should have known right then what I was in for. The lack of discipline at family meals about food and about how you acted at the table was the tip of the iceberg with what I had to deal with when it came to those boys. They were completely undisciplined and had always been able to negotiate their way out of trouble with their mom and the dinner table was no different. The dinner table was just an indication of how discipline was handled. Growling about behavior. Punishment stated. Children wining incessantly until they negotiated their way out of trouble. Relenting by their mom (even if in contradiction to me). And misbehavior ultimately not punished. As you might expect, the boys ended being discipline problems even through the teenage years and into adulthood. I must say the oldest though began to catch on about why I was tough on them mid-day through his junior year in high school. However, he was taken from us too soon in the middle of that junior year in a car accident. The middle boy did not really begin to catch on until he had a child of his own. The youngest is still having difficulty learning self-discipline.

 

 

 

That whole concept of disciplining your children and sticking by your guns and how that even extends to the dinner table was what I thought of when I read this passage this morning, 1 Samuel 2:27-35:

 

 

 

27 One day a man of God came to Eli and gave him this message from the Lord: “I revealed myself[a] to your ancestors when they were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. 28 I chose your ancestor Aaron[b] from among all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer sacrifices on my altar, to burn incense, and to wear the priestly vest[c] as he served me. And I assigned the sacrificial offerings to you priests. 29 So why do you scorn my sacrifices and offerings? Why do you give your sons more honor than you give me—for you and they have become fat from the best offerings of my people Israel!

 

 

 

30 “Therefore, the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I promised that your branch of the tribe of Levi[d] would always be my priests. But I will honor those who honor me, and I will despise those who think lightly of me. 31 The time is coming when I will put an end to your family, so it will no longer serve as my priests. All the members of your family will die before their time. None will reach old age. 32 You will watch with envy as I pour out prosperity on the people of Israel. But no members of your family will ever live out their days. 33 The few not cut off from serving at my altar will survive, but only so their eyes can go blind and their hearts break, and their children will die a violent death.[e] 34 And to prove that what I have said will come true, I will cause your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, to die on the same day!

 

 

 

35 “Then I will raise up a faithful priest who will serve me and do what I desire. I will establish his family, and they will be priests to my anointed kings forever. 36 Then all of your surviving family will bow before him, begging for money and food. ‘Please,’ they will say, ‘give us jobs among the priests so we will have enough to eat.’”

 

 

 

From this passage, we see that Eli apparently had a difficult time rearing his sons. He apparently did not take any strong disciplinary action with the when he became aware of any of their wrongdoings. But Eli was not just a father ignoring the bad behavior of his kids, he was the high priest who was ignoring the sins of his sons, assistant priests, under his jurisdiction. As a result, the Lord took disciplinary action himself. He took action when the earthly father would not. Eli was guilty of honoring his sons desires about God by letting them continue with their sinful ways.

 

 

 

When we are parents, the thing that we have to remember is that we are not put here to be our children’s best friend. It is long hard work with no appreciation. It is being tough when it is easier to give in. It is standing your ground no matter how much the kids whine or no matter how many times they say they hate you. You are here to raise them into responsible adulthood (and even then it does not guarantee that they will make the right choices in life after they leave home). You are here to raise them in such a way that they will be able to make it on their own in life and not expect everyone to make exceptions for them. Not expect to whine their way out of trouble. The world doesn’t care about the excuses that you have for why you did something wrong or why you failed at something. We, as parents, must remember that we are showing love to our kids when we take the hard line and discipline them, especially when they are young and cute and cuddly. Discipline starts when kids are very young. Discipline starts at the dinner table. Discipline is what we are here for when it comes to our kids. You want them to grow up to be productive citizens and can take care of themselves. You want you children to realize that they world doesn’t think they are the cat’s meow and be able to get up when they get knocked down and dust themselves off and get back at living their life and taking care their own family. Discipline is the greatest act of love that a parent can show their child.

 

 

 

It is the same way with God. When He disciplines us by allowing our actions and their consequences play themselves out as punishment to us, He is showing us love. He wants us to understand that a life of sinful behavior will only destroy us. The discipline of consequences is God’s way of showing us what happens when we do not pursue an obedient relationship with Him. He even gives us an instruction book on how we are to honor Him with our lives – The Bible. He even went as far as providing us with Jesus Christ as the way to reconcile ourselves to Him after our sin casts us away from being near Him. He loves us but so very much but He does discipline us. Discipline is how He often shows us His love.

 

 

 

Amen and Amen.

 

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Numbers 11:1-15 (Part 2)

The People Complain to Moses

Sometimes being a parent can be exasperating. It is the toughest job you will ever have. When your child is a newborn baby up til about 6 months old, you play a guessing game as to what is making them cry. Are they hungry? Do they have wet or messy diaper? Are they sick in some way? Sometimes you are clueless as to how to make them stop crying. Sometimes the crying goes on and on and on and you have done everything you know to do. And then there is the lack of sleep. Getting up 2 or 3 times in the night. Walking around like zombie with “I have a newborn baby in the house” brain where you brain is not functioning properly because of lack of sleep. You feel like you are outside yourself watching yourself function. Then, life, you think, begins to get a little easier when your child starts sleeping through the night (a praise to God when that happens, huh?). When the start crawling, you have a whole ‘nother set of problems. No longer can you just carry them on your hip, you must watch them constantly and keep them from putting their fingers in electrical sockets, pulling things off end tables and so on. Then, there’s the whole getting them dressed thing at this age. What an ordeal that can be? Who designs these clothes for infants anyway? Then, they start walking and talking in the toddler years. Those are the years where rebellious attitudes begin and you hear “no”, “mine”, and temper tantrums in the grocery store, where you think of the old Southwest Airlines ad campaign where something embarrassing happens and the voice over says, “wanna get away?”

 

Then, there are elementary school years where you worry when they go off to school as to how they are going to react to being away from you most of the day and how you are going to react to them being away from you. There titanic dramas at school that must be dealt with. How to stand up to a problem that won’t go away at school. How to defend oneself and yet not be a bully. How to deal with bullies. How to deal with social pressure and people making fun of you. Trying to get your elementary school kid to do homework. Trying to get your elementary school kid to understand a math or science concept or an English grammar concept when, though you know it yourself, cannot find the words to properly explain it to your kid. And, if you kid just somehow innately hates school and homework, although you loved school, can be like two nations coming together to negotiate a peace treaty after long and dreadful war.

 

Then, come the middle school years and social media and 24/7 involvement of other kids in their lives. Cell phones, dances, and heartbreaks. Gossip that can be dreadfully painful. He said. She said. Heartbreak over romances. Fist fights. Girl fights. Boy fights. Algebra. Field trips. Fund raisers. I need money for this thing at school. I need money for that thing at school. I forgot my lunch money. Can you take me to the mall? Cliques. Developing into women. Developing into men. Rebellious attitudes. Wanting to be an adult (when it’s advantageous). Wanting to be a child (when it’s advantageous). Homework! School projects! Boys! Girls! Trying to help them navigate through the landmine filled world that is the junior high social scene.

 

Then come the high school years. Peer pressure increases. Social media influences exponentially increase. Them thinking they’ve found the love of their life. Desperately in love. Sexual intercourse. Fears that they are having sex. Fears that they are going to get someone pregnant or get pregnant. Really hard subjects in school that require late night study and since they now teach things in middle school that you learned in high school and your child is taking subjects that are beyond your own abilities that you are at a loss as to how to help them. Them not wanting to go to college but you wanting them to because you know their life will be limited without a college degree. They can’t understand your rules and curfews and groundings when they disobey. They hate you. They complain about you. They want all the toys and gadgets and expect you to pay for them. You use the hated phrase from your own childhood, “Because I said so” and “for as long as you live in my house and sit down at my table for meals” more often than you would like.

 

And, then…they leave home to go to college and there are the mighty financial burdens that it brings and hoping and praying that they make the right choices about life and drinking and partying and driving and fraternity parties and fraternity guys and … and … then they graduate … and they are gone … and though you still have them as a big part of your life, but it’s different. They are on their own…they are gone.

 

You miss all the troubles and travails of parenting them. You miss all the classic family moments that live in your family’s memories forever. Those moments of seemingly unending laughter at the dinner table. Those victory moments in a child’s life, a teenager’s life. You miss those moments where they crawl up in your lap and ask you to make it all better. You miss those moments when they see you when you come home from work and they run and jump into your arms. Ah, you miss it all. The heartaches, the heartbreaks, the laughter, the tears, the drama, the victories, the defeats, the highs and the lows, the hugs, the kisses, those classic moments that burn into family memory. It’s all different now. You miss the long and winding road of parenting a child. It’s different when they are adults and, yes, they still need you as adult children but it’s different from the time when they are at home. It just is and you miss it.

 

You miss it even though it was most freaking hard, exasperating, vexing, anger-inducing, insanity-inducing, yet completely fun, satisfying, fulfilling thing you have ever done – being a parent. I don’t know why but the exasperating parts of being a parent (the toughest job you’ll ever love) is what I thought about when I read through this passage, Numbers 11:1-15, today for the second and final time today. I think it was because I was concentrating on what is known as “Moses’ Lament” in vv. 10-15:

 

 

11 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. 2 When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. 3 So that place was called Taberah,[a] because fire from the Lord had burned among them.

Quail From the Lord

 

4 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

 

7 The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. 8 The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. 9 When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.

 

10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

 

Here, Moses is like a completely exasperated parent of teenager who insists on being rebellious even though you see that they have got it made living with you. With our teenage kids, and particularly if you have managed to do well in your own career and have a good financial situation, they seem to think that the 2,000 plus square foot house, the three or four cars in the yard, one of which you have given to them, and the nice clothes and the nice neighborhood, and the nice teenage gadgets, and the nice vacations, and the cash is all entitlement. They think it’s a baseline. They do not realize what a blessing all of the trappings of their life is. They don’t see all the hard work that brought them this life. They do not appreciate the dedication that you have to providing for your family. They are just used to certain expectations and think that they don’t have enough. It can be exasperating and sometimes we as parents have to let off steam to someone we trust about our children when they seem to want more and more but yet have plenty.

 

That’s how I see Moses’ Lament here. He’s just fed up. They have just barely begun their journey and the people are complaining about the daily miracle of manna that provides for their needs abundantly is not good enough. They want more. They want what they don’t have. Moses is fed up. He is tired of hearing what a “bad parent” he is for taking them out in the middle of the desert. He is just fed up with the bellyaching. We all have those moments as parents where we just want to go out in the woods and scream to the top of our lungs and punch a tree because our kids have exasperated us so much and we don’t want to take our anger out on them. Moses here goes and complains to the only one he can, his Father in heaven. Reactly badly to the bad behavior of the children of Israel would have made the situation worse. So, Moses goes to God to vent his anger. As we see Moses here, we see him as just as human as we are. He’s pissed off at his kids because of their whining and complaining about their wants when all their needs are being met.

 

I think that’s the takeaway here for me today. God wants us to come to Him with all our baggage. He wants us to come to Him when we are angry and pissed off. He wants us to run our anger by Him before we react to situations. He wants all of us. He wants to hear us when we are happy and when we are sad. He wants to come to him with our joys and our sorrows. He wants to hear from us when we are angry. He even wants to hear from us when we are angry at Him. He is the Creator of the Universe so I think He can handle it when I am angry at Him. He doesn’t want some pre-canned table prayers from us. He wants the real us. He wants to hear it all from us. He wants us to be intimate with Him. He wants our inside the store prayers not our storefront prayers. He wants us to really talk to Him and be intimate with Him. Moses was very intimate with the Lord as we know from Scripture. He talked to Him everyday as we see from Scripture. That intimacy allowed Moses to be able to vent to God and for God to diffuse Moses anger toward his people. Let us be able to go the Lord with our anger at others and at Him and work through it and find the best way to respond to situations.

 

As we see Moses go on from here and he deals with much with the children of Israel, but it is evident that he loved them. He stuck by them. He led them. He loved them. It was frustrating at times. But I guarantee you that Moses missed it all when we watched his people leave his parenting and go into the Promised Land. It was the toughest job of His life but He loved His people Israel. They drove him crazy but he loved them. Moses learned, as we as parents have to learn, that we must take everything to God in prayer. We cannot make godly decisions without being constantly in prayer to God. How can we take on the daunting task of being parents without being intimately in prayer constantly with God. And God wants it all. He wants or questions, our doubts, our anger, our joy, our sorrows, our highs, our lows. He wants it all.

 

 

Amen and Amen.