Gifts from God

2016 | Week of January 4 | #1131

My church had one of my favorite services this past Sunday. After an excellent sermon on a father’s love, Pastor Bob Loggans, Senior Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Watertown, conducted our annual Parent Dedication.

Each year, usually the first Sunday in January, we have this special time after the sermon in the morning service. I love it! The dads and moms and their precious babies who were born the past year, come to the front of the church as they are introduced. As they are coming forward, a picture of the baby is on the screen and Pastor reads a brief statement about when the child was born, who his or her parents are, mentions any siblings and then shares a verse that the parents have chosen for the child as well as what the parents hope for this gift from God.

Pastor gives these parents and all parents a brief challenge. This year he used an acrostic. I think it’s worth sharing. Taking the word children, he challenged parents to cherish their children–to tell him or her every day that you them.  The “H” was to honor the Word of God with your child. Read it together, memorize it, discuss it, love it, obey it. For the “I,” Pastor Loggans used “individual—remember that each child is unique. There are no cookie cutters in God’s creation. The “L” is for live the Truth of God before your child. Make God an every-day reality. Put faith to action; trust God in everything. Be sincere and without hypocrisy.

The “D” was discipline your child according to the Word of God. This was especially powerful because he had just preached on a father’s love as evidenced by Paul in I Corinthians 4. True love includes godly discipline with the intention of bringing about more godliness in the one being disciplined. He had warned parents that abusing children, physically, emotionally or in any way, was wrong and unbiblical. But he also noted that to not discipline was not real love.

The “R” was remember your child is a gift from God. Oh how easy it is to forget in the hectic, challenging days of children growing up that this little person is a gift from God—given to parents to “steward” on behalf of God the Father.

And the “E” is for encourage your child—be his or her greatest cheerleader.  We’re not talking here about giving children a false self-image but about encouraging them when they try and helping them deal with failure and success. If a mom and dad aren’t cheering for their child, then who is?  Finally, the “N” is for never allow a day to pass without praying for your child. Nothing is more powerful in the shaping of a child than the prayer of a loving dad and mom. Don’t let prayer for you children be an afterthought. Make it a first thought and first action of the day.

After this challenge, Pastor prayed for the parents and the children—a prayer of dedication, beseeching God for wisdom for the parents and that their children might early-on come to saving faith in Christ and that our church would be a blessing and help to these families. With the prayer concluded, the congregation sang “May the Lord Find Us Faithful,” and we were all invited to come shake the parents’ hands, congratulate them and assure them of our prayers.

As I watched the 7 families with their children, I was so poignantly reminded of the importance of our work of strengthening, preserving and promoting what these moms and dads were so beautifully exemplifying…married men and women forming families according to God’s plan. I spoke to each one personally and thanked them and hopefully encouraged them.

Beyond that, yesterday was also a great example of how two of God’s three social institutions should work together. The local church is not more important than the family. But it has a definite role in helping families grow strong in the Lord. It is altogether appropriate that our church take seriously our organizational role in being a blessing to and praying for these parents and their children—and that I as an individual church member do the same.

As I left the church I thought what an incredible first service in this new year—and in this month where we recognize the Sanctity of Human Life. I hope other churches do something similar this month. Indeed, children, both born and preborn are a gift from God given to parents to raise for His glory.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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