In the mornings on the train, I am reading Mathew Henry’s commentary on the complete Bible. It can probably be considered the heaviest non-technical reading I have done in my entire life. And it will take me a bit longer to complete than the 18 months it took me to read through the Bible itself. (If you must know; for techy stuff, I frequent an appropriately named website http://www.lightreading.com)
In the afternoons on the train, I am listening to some audio books – Dr. James Dobson’s Bringing up Boys and Bringing up Girls. We did a video course for Boys at Logos once, but some of this material sounds brand new to me. Last time, I believe that I slept through at least the statistics. Maybe more.
When we were still at university, we met a young couple in church that declared that this world is so evil that it could be considered irresponsible to have children and raise them in these times. Having read through most of Genesis in the last month, I am very glad this couple did not live in the time of Noah or Abram! Think about it! You meet God himself, you give your heart to Him, He commits to bless you and the generations to come after you & then you decide not to have children because of the evil times we live in! Now, if the only truly righteous people in the world (Noah and Abram ) thought that way, that would have been disastrous for all of us….
But God blessed the generations after Noah and Abraham because they trusted Him. And God took them out of their situations, and established new covenants. Don’t you just love those verses in the Bible that starts with “But God”?
“But God remembered Noah“;
“But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”;
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good“;
“but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer”
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” )
Now, I am reading about the events in Genesis and listening to Dr. Dobson and I think I get it – God is a God of generations. Not the God of me, or the God of just one generation. Apparently Esau did not get it! He did not sell the right to inherit all his father’s tents and slaves and cattle; no, it is much worse. He sold the right for the generations after him to live in Canaan. That is why the tribes of the 12 children of Jacob (Israel) received the promised land! And Esau could not care less.
God does give us children in an evil world; But God has a plan for my salvation as well as theirs. He gave the instruction to go forth and multiply and fill the earth, and He plans to bless us when we obey. Plans to prosper, to give hope and a future. Or, when we don’t, He confuses our plans – like he did at Babel, when the people decided to stick together instead.
Most of the statistics that Dr. Dobson lists in his books are from normal academic studies; some studies about youth criminality and things that society can do to prevent the rise of, well, evil, amongst the younger generations. Interesting patterns emerge when we look at the statistics about what the things are that keep children away from drugs & alcohol & early physical relationships. I find it amazing how this corresponds to traditional Biblical beliefs about parenting:
- Parents should be present; families should sit together at the dinner table, eat together and talk to each other. Put down the newspaper, twitter, facebook and iPod. No, not them, YOU.
- Parents should be interested; for instance, they should check on homework; it shows that you are interested in their daily experiences; and well, it does help discover problems earlier.
- Parents should care; we must learn the names of their friends and have spoken to the friend’s parents. Look at how much effort and prayer that Abraham (and his servant) put into the choice of a wife for Isaac.
- Parents should demand the truth and get it – if you allow your children to lie (or keep silent) about where they are going, how can you trust them to tell you what they do there?
- Families should go to church together and should model faith at home; children should learn from a very young age that there is Someone bigger than all this, and that this Someone care for us and knows what is best; and that He sees what we do with His instructions. And that He desires relationship with us; not just adherence to His rules. “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
- -Good peer pressure; let the children join a sporting team, and support them in it. Team mates depend on each other’s physical abilities and tend to be less tolerant of team members with substance abuse. The message is clear “If you don’t look after yourself, we all suffer.”