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« God Demands Your Best | Main | Something Worth Saving »

God Understands Children

Mark 10:13-16 (KJV)
13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

A storeowner was tacking a sign above his door that read “Puppies for Sale.” Signs like that have a way of attracting small children, and sure enough a little boy appeared under the storeowner’s sign. “How much are you going to sell the puppies for?” the little boy asked. The storeowner replied, “Oh, anywhere from $30 to $50.” The little boy reached into his pocket and pulled out some change. “I have $2.37” he said. “May I please look at them?” The storeowner smiled and whistled and out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his store followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur.

One puppy was lagging considerably behind. Immediately the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, “What’s wrong with that little dog?” The storeowner explained that the veterinarian had examined the little puppy and had discovered that it didn’t have a hip socket. It would always limp. It would always be lame. The little boy became excited. “That is the puppy I want to buy.” The storeowner said, “No, you don’t want to buy that little dog. If you really want him, I’ll just give him to you.”

The little boy got quite upset. He looked straight into the store owner’s eyes, pointing his finger, and said, “I don’t want you to give him to me. That little dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs and I’ll pay full price. In fact, I’ll give you $2.37 now and 50 cents a month until I have him paid for.”

The storeowner countered, “You really don’t want to buy this little dog. He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies.”  To his surprise, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace. He looked up at the storeowner and softly replied, “Well, I don’t run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands.”

This story is a perfect illustration of how God understands the needs of us who don’t run so well, and especially the children whom the world either idolizes or ignores.  Children are not to be worshipped, coddled or put on a pedestal, but neither are they to be pushed to the margins of our lives and treated as nuisances.  God has a way of understanding their true needs so that they will become responsible grown-ups in the future. 

God understands that children need love. 

It is amazing to me the things that pass for love today. 

      “I want my child to do all the things I wasn’t allowed to do.”

      “I want my child to have all the things my parents couldn’t afford to buy me.”

      “I don’t want to impose my own values on my child.  I want them to think for themselves.”  (Does that mean eating all the ice cream they want?  Brushing their teeth? Not going to school?)

      “I am going to treat my child like an adult.”     

Many of these ideas come straight out of the progressive playbook written by people whose ulterior motives are to sabotage Christianity and change the culture.  But, authentic love for children is not to indulge in their every wish, to pamper them until they mistakenly believe that they don’t have to struggle to get anything in life, or to cultivate narcissistic personalities.  

Real love has an eye to the future adult that the child will become.  Real love prepares children for the real world.  Real love is a bonding process that gives children an anchor in life, a sense that they have infinite meaning to someone.  

God understands that children need training. 

As many of you know, Brother Keith Smith and I have developed a spiritual fitness program that we have called LE90X, which stands for Life Essentials, 90 Days, Extreme. 

This intense study of spiritual fitness has brought to light a lot of things.  One of them is the difference between teaching and training.  We have composed a slogan that boils down the process to these few words:  “We teach so people will know; we train so people can act.”  

Think about it.  Do we call it potty “teaching” or potty “training?”  Now, I don’t need to go into all the details of the process, but those of you who raised children, know all about it.  It’s not learned in a day, or even a week.  It might take a month.  I’m sure many of you would love to tell us your stories on this topic, but it might get a little messy!  And if your grown children are sitting here today, they’re glad that I’m not giving you a chance to talk! 

But training, in general, requires more than just mentioning something.  The elementary school teacher doesn’t just tell the children the principles of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.  The good teacher devises exercises to train the students how to do these computations, and grades them on how well they perform.  The teacher doesn’t just explain the rules of spelling.  The good teacher gives out list after list of words to spell.  After the teaching is over, the training begins.  While the teaching opens the door to new ideas, training walks through the door and arranges the furniture and hangs the pictures on the walls.  

It is significant that the Bible uses the word train, instead of just teach.  

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)
6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

The Hebrew word for “train” actually means to dedicate or discipline.  It is the intention of God for parents to take the time, exercise the patience and understand the seriousness of the training process.  But in order for parents to train, or dedicate and discipline effectively, they have to be dedicated and disciplined themselves.  That leads me to my next point: 

God understands that children need examples. 

From the Bay Park Community Hospital, I found this quote:  “As important as it is to set a good example, it’s essential when raising children. Your kids scrutinize your every act. They pattern themselves based on your behavior more than you realize. The most effective way to teach your children is by your actions. For many years you are their entire world and they strive to mimic your conduct.” 

We hear a lot today about disrespect.  There is a huge amount of disrespect in society for others.  The way to counter this is to be someone that commands respect.  Respect achieves its greatest power when the way you live is on the same page as the way you talk!  

Parents, live what you believe and your children will grow to respect you.  An example is simply the ongoing object lesson of your internal values.  Remember Joseph?  This is why he was so respected. 

 “Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. 5 So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field. 6 Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate.” Genesis 39:1-6 (NKJV)

God understands that children need Him! 

Back to the story of the puppy.  Every one of us came into this world with a handicap.  David said it this way: 

Psalms 51:5-6 (KJV)
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Sin became the crippling factor in every member of the human race.  Do not fall for the idea that we were all born innocent and without flaws.  What child has to be taught how to be selfish, how to lie, cheat, steal or fight?  These sins are inbred, part of the spiritual DNA we inherited from Adam.  

It is the blood of Jesus that remains the only antidote to the sins of the flesh and spirit.  This message cannot be transmitted to your children without someone specifically and carefully assuming the responsibility for preaching and teaching it.  

Children can experience the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  Children can repent of their sins.  They can be baptized in Jesus’ Name.  They can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Thousands of children receive this wonderful experience in hundreds of children’s camps, crusades and Holy Ghost rallies across the country every year.  Many time, God has move in our Christian Academy and in our Sunday Schools and baptized children with the Spirit of God.  

The very best thing you can do for your children is to create the opportunity for them to learn about God and the way to salvation.  They need Sunday School classes.  They need Bibles.  They need Bible story books.  They need Bible songs.  They need Bible DVD’s.  They need to be brought to church.  

God understands all of these things about children.

He understands that they need love, and training, and examples, and God Himself.

The challenge is to incorporate this divine wisdom into your own set of values. 

I don’t know how the story of the little puppy ended.  I have a feeling that the store owner relented, and the little boy gathered the puppy up in his arms and limped out of the pet shop with a huge smile on his face.  Maybe the little puppy realized he was in good hands and he reached up and licked that smiling face. 

Hopefully, every parent will limp out of this service this morning with the understanding of what their child really needs.  

Let us now dedicate ourselves to the monumental task that lies before us.  We can only do it through the help of God.

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