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I like to make a big deal out of baby dedications.  Usually, I gear the entire service to parenting and families.  These are some of the sermons I have preached on these occasions.


“Who’s That?”

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:11-12

18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Everyone likes to hold a baby up to a mirror so he can see himself. The baby reacts by either crying or laughing, but most of the time he is absorbed with the sight of “another baby” looking back at him. Who does he “take after?” My question to you today really concerns the reflection of the child as he grows into an adult. Who will he really see? Who will he really look like?

  • Will he look like Mom? Love, respect, tenderness
  • Dad? Character, discipline, convictions, right and wrong.
  • Grandparents?
  • Neighbors and friends?

Sometimes a child looks like one person, but acts like someone else. He inherits or develops the temperament of those he is closest to.

Of course, what I’m talking about is influence. Who will that the greatest influence in his life? The answer is simple: Whoever takes the greatest interest in him, spends the most time with him and cares about him the most.

I hope the reflection that he sees in the mirror will look like Jesus.

If he will look like Jesus, he will have to be…

  • close to Him
  • be brought to church regularly
  • hear the name of Jesus often
  • see and hear prayer in the home
  • led to give his heart and life to Jesus
  • be taught how Jesus lived, died, and rose again

23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror  24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it— he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:23-25 (NIV)


A Baby’s View of Parenting

Luke 2:41-52

Intro: It is understood that your child is not Jesus, and that you are not Mary or Joseph. But there are still some vital truths we must take away from this story.

Once, a little boy named Lance Pittman, whose family had recently joined our congregaton, came running up to me, eyes wide open, and asked, “Are you Jesus? I was relieved to tell him that I was not. But you just never know what’s going on in the mind of a child.

In fact, the incarnation gave God the opportunity to give all of us a baby’s view of parenting. God fit himself inside a baby’s body and mind.

Spirituality. Please understand that the single, most important part of me is my soul, my spiritual life.

  • I’m cute.
  • I’m smart.
  • I’m cuddly.
  • I’m strong.
  • But I have a soul.

“And God breathed into his nostrils and man became a living soul.”

Please take my spiritual training seriously. I need more than just fun and good times. I need to have a relationship with God.  The best way to teach me about God is through your own example. I will weigh your words against your actions.

Individuality. Please understand that I am not anyone else. I may look like and act like others, but I am not them. God has created me to be uniquely his own.

  • Do not let your own desires shape your expectations of me.
  • Do not live out your own lives vicariously through me.
  • Do not see a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a preacher, a mechanic or anything or anyone else in me and force me to live out your dreams.
  • Let God place His own handprint on my life.
  • Jesse wanted David to be a shepherd.
  • God wanted David to be a king.

Destiny. Please understand that God has His hand on my life and that He wants me for His purposes. The job you have is to prepare me to fulfill whatever destiny God has for me.

  • Love me so I will be emotionally strong.
  • Provide for me so I will be physically strong.
  • Enjoy me so I will be happy.
  • Protect me so I will have no fears.
  • Teach me so I will be morally fit.
  • Discipline me so I will have character.
  • Show me so I will know how to live.

But, remember, walk the fine line:

  • Love without doting;
  • Provide without spoiling;
  • Enjoy without obsessing;
  • Protect without smothering;
  • Teach without dictating;
  • Discipline without abusing;
  • Show how without granting freedom.
  • Always be aware of the possibility that I may have a divine purpose far greater than anything you may imagine.

Jeremiah 1:4-5 “Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

Parents, God has placed this child in your life as a trust. You are not developing a servant for you, but for God. Place your child’s spirituality, individuality and destiny above everything else. Let it determine every decision, every move, and every circumstance of his or her life.


A Room for Baby!

One of the most exciting and challenging tasks that any family faces when expecting a new baby is setting up the nursery. Most new parents have limitations when it comes to both budget and space. Therefore, it is important to prioritize to ensure a safe and usable environment for your new baby.  Some families have the luxury of being able to dedicate a whole room to the new baby; others may have to consider allowing the baby to share with other children in the family.

Nursery Remodeling

Alternatively, you could remodel your existing space to accommodate your new baby. Many home improvements can be carried out with minimal disruption to the rest of the family.  Most families expecting a new baby, however, have to compromise and make the most of whatever space is available. So, here are a few things that can make your first few months a whole lot easier:

  • Ensure that you have a dedicated space for changing and washing your new baby. Some changing units incorporate a bath and storage facilities; these are great space savers and are reasonably priced.
  • Invest in a diaper pail that can be placed next to the changing unit. This will save you having to carry dirty diapers out of the house each time you’re at the changing table.
  • Purchase a portable mobile or toy that can be clipped on to any available curtain, rack or hook, so that your new baby can remain entertained wherever s/he goes.
  • Consider using plastic “stacker boxes” rather than traditional storage for bedding and clothes. These are not only cheaper, but also are easier to clean, are mobile and can change their function as your baby grows.

A new baby may appear to require an endless stream of gadgets and space. In reality, a few simple basics and a lot of TLC is all your new baby really requires. Enjoy!

So…what do you really need?  Freshly painted walls…new carpet…a crib with soft blankets and pillows…  A chest of drawers…stuffed animals…a colorful mobile…playful pictures…  Storage for clothes and diapers…

A Room for Baby!

How should you decorate the nursery for your baby?

Color it bright. Cheer, smiles, laughter, praise, songs, love.

Plenty of light. Truth, right teaching, God’s Word, example.

A changing place. Discipline, correction, forgiveness,

A fuzzy face. Comfort, playfulness, fun, toys, good times.

Sleeping space. Rest, safety, peace, protection, health.

Saying grace. Prayer, good stories, faith expressed, reverence for God.


Family Treasures

Luke 2:46-52 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? 50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Mary kept these sayings in her heart.

The word “kept” is translated “treasured” in the NIV and other translations.

Luke 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

We treasure things that are precious.  It is ironic that this baby dedication is so close to the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision to deny Nebraska’s law against partial-birth abortion.  Anyone who has even human feelings abhors this repulsive procedure which is actually infanticide.  Our society does not consider life precious.  The newspaper today carries the story of a rock musician whose lyrics emphasize rape, drugs, murder and throat-slitting. His albums have sold in the millions of copies.  Our society does not consider life precious.

Jesus grew four ways:

1. Wisdom

2. Stature

3. Favor with God

4. Favor with Man

Somehow, I believe that the attitude of Mary provided the basis for the growth and maturity of Jesus.  Even though Jesus was God and the plan of God would have unfolded despite Mary’s performance, such is not the case with any other child.

When parents treasure the sayings of God’s Word, they provide the best possible atmosphere for good things to happen in the lives of their children.

Growth in wisdom:   You can and should teach your children right from wrong.  Their outlook on life will primarily be the outgrowth of their influence in the home.

Growth in stature:  Genetically based, but spiritual principles apply.  (Ritalin, neglect, abandonment) (The gov’t is now trying to make it easier for mothers to abandon their children and turn them over to the state.)

Growth in favor with God:  Consider your relationship with God precious.  Consider your relationship with the church precious.  Love, respect, forgiveness, obedience, faithfulness. All these things contribute the spiritual growth of children.

Growth in favor with man:  Love for others, the willingness to prefer your brother, camaraderie and fellowship all stem from the attitude of the home.  “My child can do no wrong.”  “Everybody always picks on my child.”  “Never criticize my child.”  These are attitudes that are meant to help but actually hurt the social development of a child. 

Some time ago, I drove around the old neighborhood.  (Ball field, cliffs, abandoned city waterworks, path to school, apartment complex where my grade school stood.)  These evoke nostalgic feelings, bittersweet pleasure. Why?  I realize now, those feelings grew out of my home environment.  The intangibles end up being much more important that the material things.  These family treasures are the best and most important things you can hand down.


First Things First

Gen 13:1-4 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. 2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. 3 And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; 4 Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

The first thing Abram did when he left Ur of the Chaldees was to stop and build an altar to worship the One God. It set the stage for the rest of his life. Honor God first, then live out your life. First things first.

There is a special significance to the first of everything with a new baby.

  • First tooth, first time to roll over, first step, first word, first haircut, first birthday.
  • First day of school, first report card, first fight, first girlfriend or boyfriend.
  • It won’t be long until it’s…first date, first car, first ticket, first accident!

Why are first things so important?

  • Significant to the baby’s personal history.
  • Confirms that the child is making normal progress.
  • Gives some moms and dads bragging rights (my kid started walking before yours)
  • Signifies a new stage into which the child is now entering.

At no time is the parent’s role more critical than when a child is going through its firsts.

How can the baby say the right words if no one is there to teach him?  How can the baby walk unless he can curl his little fingers around yours to stabilize him?  And once the baby learns how to talk and how to walk, the next critical thing to learn is what to say and where to go!  We don’t just let them say anything.  We don’t just let them wander anywhere.  All of their firsts require a mother or father to be with them, to lead them, to show them the way.

Readers of the Bible know that God was extremely interested in firsts.

Creation: Genesis 1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Deliverance from Egypt: Ex 12:1-2 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

Firstruits of the labor: Ex 23:19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

Ezek 44:30 And the first of all the firstfruits of all things, and every oblation of all, of every sort of your oblations, shall be the priest’s: ye shall also give unto the priest the first of your dough, that he may cause the blessing to rest in thine house.

This is a spiritual principle.

When we look around at the chaos of human tragedy, the war zone of modern family life, we see that too many people put themselves first; put the wrong things first; either neglected or didn’t care about doing the right things first.

Yesterday, I spoke to the men at the Ohio District Men’s Retreat about what happens when fathers sin. Just so they knew what I was talking about, I listed the following transgressions and wrongs:

  • Tobacco, drugs, alcohol; Criminal behavior.
  • Cursing and profanity; Pornography, off-color jokes and talk.
  • Adultery and fornication; Sexual, physical, emotional abuse.
  • Sexual perversion; Neglect, absenteeism.
  • Rebellion, toxic attitudes; Lying, cheating, dishonesty.
  • Manipulation and deceit; Back-biting, disloyalty.
  • Laziness, irresponsibility; Failure to work.
  • Failure to be the spiritual leader.

There are things parents must do first to be in the perfect will of God.

Today, you need to determine in your heart and mind that you will start out right.  (Today is the first day of the rest of your parenting life…)

Get your heart right with the people in your life.  Matthew 5:24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Don’t live with tension-filled homes; screaming, fighting, arguing, throwing things, slamming doors, throwing tantrums.

Bring your own spirit and life under control and submission to God.  Matthew 12:29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

Establish now that you will put a priority on spiritual things.  Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Every Orthodox Jewish baby is taught something first.

When the first sign appears that they have the ability for a cognitive thought, they are taught the Shema.  Shema Israel, Adonai Elohanu, Adonai Echaad.  Hear, O Israel, The Lord, our God is One.  This is first.

What about you? What about your baby?

  • In this house, God is first.
  • In this house, we pray before we eat.
  • In this house, we go to church.
  • In this house, we honor the Word of God.
  • In this house, we uphold righteous living.
  • In this house, we show love to each other.
  • In this house, we resolve all our differences without fighting and screaming.
  • In this house, we respect our elders.
  • In this house, have appreciation and thanksgiving for God’s blessings.
  • In this house, we put first things first.

Why? Because God is first. He reserves this title for himself:

Revelation 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.