Counting our blessings...

Cgschildren Thus says the LORD, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.’ Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age.

And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.’ (Zechariah 8:3-5)

(Tim) When David and I speak privately, it's a rare conversation we don't speak of our gratitude to the Lord for the wonderful churches He has blessed us with. And this isn't the one-upmanship of two brothers who are both pastors. Trust us, we know about that. Rather, it's the true joy of men for whom the lines have fallen in pleasant places recognizing it's all of God.

My Scripture reading today reminds me of one of our principal joys--our congregations' great fruitfulness physically and spiritually. Physically?

Well, between Christ the Word in Toledo and Church of the Good Shephed here in Bloomington, Indiana, I'd estimate between thirty and forty children will be born or adopted by a Covenant family this year. And this happens year after year--fruit, fruit, and more fruit! Our aisles and nurseries and gym and hallways and cars and homes and fellowship halls are filled with boys and girls playing together...

But it's not just that our mothers and fathers are propagating a seed, but that they're propagating a godly seed. As our children grow into adulthood, we see again and again how through them God is fulfilling all His Covenant promises; that He will not only be our God, but also the God of our children and children's children. Twice in the past week, someone considering making Church of the Good Shepherd his church home has mentioned the prominence in his decision-making process of the godliness he has observed in our Covenant children.

Our grandparents, fathers, and mothers are not lazy, and therefore presumptuous, in this matter. Men and women exhort one another to diligence in teaching, discipline, and tender affection. But when it's all done, we stand amazed that God has once more covered our sin and unbelief with His mercy and grace, and that no one can deny His covenant mercies from generation to generation.

Is this not always God's way with Zion--that her fathers are faithful to love their wives, and that her mothers are faithful to bear children of the Covenant, and that those children of the Covenant grow to testify to the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, making a good confession themselves as their parents did before them?

How terribly sad when children of the Covenant become a lifestyle option or choice, rather than a blessing from the Lord bringing happiness to the man whose quiver is full of them. Yes, we also have plenty of first-generation believers who have been grafted into the tree of God's covenant family. But immediately, they too claim God's covenant promises and give hard evidence of that faith by bearing fruit--fruit that will last and that pleases God our Father Who commanded us to go and bear fruit, and then warned, "By their fruit ye shall know them."

Comments

A tiny question from someone who came in late. Would you insist on a Covenant family baptising their children as infants, given your own theology in the matter? Or would you be OK with it if they preferred that their children be water-baptised (full-immersion) once they had made a robust commitment to Christ for themselves? (Just interested as to your own outlook in the matter).

There is a flip-side to your observations of your own flocks, Pr. Tim, one that has gotten some queasy attention in mainstream of political commentary over the past few years, viz. the way that "liberal" political values (including determined promotion of abortion) results in a population which holds those values to decrease from failure to reproduce.

On the American political scene, this has probably resulted in the slight but increasing edge enjoyed by political conservatives over against political liberals. The former have babies, the latter have far fewer babies.

On the international scene, Mark Steyn has written compelling analyses of chaos my children will witness in Europe and Asia where birthrates have fallen below replacement for so long that the implosion cannot now be reversed. France, Italy, and Russia are facing demographic disaster over the next couple of decades.

And, I see this here in Texas, where the burgeoning Hispanic population cannot be explained purely in terms of illegal immigration. To be sure, Texas is the front porch for that population entering America. But, once they get here, they reproduce.

And, why not? Though their standards of living are far below what any native American would consider minimally satisfactory, they are (from their point of view) living in a land of hope.

And hope breeds babies, sired by fathers whom I see standing in lines at the post office, to purchase money orders which they mail to their wives in Mexico. And these wives, once they arrive here, carry their babes to term. I see the pregnant mothers in the grocery stores, exercising frugality (to judge by the contents of their shopping carts) while her husband helps to keep the toddlers in tow as they make their way down the aisles.

As I've watched these poor Hispanic families pursue elementary values that formed this nation in the first place -- marriage, family, work -- I can't help but hear what someone somewhere said about the meek inheriting the earth. I'm not so sure about the earth, at this point, but I can certainly see them inheriting Texas right before my eyes.

Dear Tim,

Count your "blessings"?

In the 2008 political season, children just became a "punishment," according the enlightened mind of Obama.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0c7j6w-8I4

Ross,

I am an associate pastor who serves with Tim at Church of the Good Shepherd. I and our other associate pastor, David Curell, are both Baptists, as is about half of our elders' board. So, yes, we allow for freedom of conscience on the time and mode of baptism. All of the leaders of CGS--regardless of their view of baptism--believe that God does normally work through families. The one thing we insist on is that fathers be faithful to raise their children in the fear and discipline of the Lord, claiming God's promises.

I agree entirely that the bible makes it incredibly clear, whether you follow the Old Testament, the New Testament or both, that we are to be fruitful and multiply. It is our responsibility to populate the earth with G-dly children!

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