Why Children (of all ages) Should be in Church with their Parents

The American church has, in many ways, gone the way of the American culture. One of those ways that I want to focus on is the trend of the past 20-30 years of emerging children’s and youth ministries and how it has damaged the work of the local church. The American government is always looking for ways to provide for its citizens in ways so that the citizens won’t have to provide for themselves. We see this in the way of: free lunches at public schools, welfare, financial aid, forgiven student loans, and public education. Of course, all of these resources offered by the government are very much a godsend to those who genuinely need it. However, we have also seen an abuse of all these services and how it has truly exhausted the country’s finances, and in turn, place a greater burden on its citizens in many ways. The reason I am using this as an example is because the American church has followed very similar and unfortunate trends. Sunday school classes, which originated in the 18th century in England during a time when working children were able to get a free education on Sundays (a non-workday) provided by the local church, have been a longtime traditional staple in American churches for parents to send their children to learn Bible lessons. One thing to clarify, I am not advocating for abolishing all children’s and youth ministry programs in local churches, I am hyper-focusing on the issue that, because of the prevalence of these ministries, children of all ages have been wrongly absent in Sunday worship services from most churches for a long time now.

As a result of children in churches spending much of their childhood and adolescence not observing their own parents regularly in the worship services, the statistics of children who supposedly “grew-up” going to church are largely denying the Christian faith altogether at climbing rates as they enter adulthood.

I certainly advocate for Sunday school classes that occur either before or after the worship service, but I am convinced that it is clear, biblically, that children should participate in the worship services with their parents as a normative practice. As a result of children regularly sitting with their parents during the worship services, we would see an overall much healthier trend in the Christian households and local churches in America.

Here are 5 reasons that I can think of, biblically, as to why children (of all ages) should regularly be in the worship services with their parents:

  1. To emphasize the parent’s biblical role in their children’s lives

“These words I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

When parents are able to simply pass-off their children to the nursey, children’s ministry, or youth group during the worship service, they are essentially teaching their children that the worship service is not for them. Although Deuteronomy 6:6-7 is not necessarily referring to a worship service, it is making the point clear that it is the parent’s responsibility to spearhead the spiritual teachings for their family. The vast majority of professing Christian parents do not hold consistent devotionals with their children at home or even regularly practice teaching a biblical worldview to their children during the week. It is safe to say that it is far more common for the entirety of a child’s biblical education is restricted only to what they learn on Sunday mornings (or midweek youth groups).

When parents sit with their children in the worship service, their role as the spiritual leaders in their children’s lives is emphasized because then the entire worship center would ideally be filled with entire families sitting together in the worship service. It is no longer the children’s teacher or youth pastor’s job to make sure that other people’s children pay attention and behave during church, it is the parent’s responsibility.

2. To positively hold parents accountable (positive peer pressure)

“Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit…A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit.”

Matthew 7:15-18

When parents sit in the worship service with their children, it serves as a form of positive peer pressure. Parents who are not used to regularly sitting in worship services with their young children, are often embarrassed by their children’s behavior, because they are not used to sitting with the adults during church. The children’s ministries and youth groups do a great job of entertaining them and making church fun while they are attempting to teach them spiritual truths from God’s Word. The main problem with this, is that the parents and the local church is setting themselves up for failure in that they are conditioning the younger generations to believe that church has to be entertaining for them in order for them to benefit from it. This mentality has also resulted in many adult worship services being largely focused more on entertainment than on an environment of Christ-exalting, biblical, worship.

The positive peer pressure for parents to sit with their children in the worship service should begin on that Monday before the Sunday service. Parents should be mindful of how they are (or not) prioritizing Christ in their home during the week, and not just waking up on Sunday morning after not hearing any form of biblical teaching or Christ-centered conversations from their parents and expecting their children to automatically behave during church. Part of children being with their parents in the worship service is that it is an opportunity for them to see their parents passionately desire to worship God and to hear His Word preached. As a pastor, it is painfully obvious many times when parents are sitting in a worship service and are the least bit interested to be there. Families worshipping together allows opportunities for positive peer pressure to take effect because it should make Christian parents more mindful of what their children are seeing in their behavior between the walls of their home and the walls of the church.

3. To have a more biblical representation of the local church

But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name”

John 1:12

As Christian parents should naturally seek for their children to receive Christ by faith, sitting together in the worship services reinforces the fact that no matter what age they are able to repent of their sins and place their trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they undoubtedly become another member of the family of God. They are, essentially, a brother/sister in Christ to their earthly parents!

When children are confined to living out their church lives with other children and a select few adults who are their Sunday school teachers, they get the view that they only belong around other children their age. The community they actually belong to is much larger than they think, but they would never know that because they are only spending time around other children.

Children should also learn that there are many other godly adults in the church that can minister to their souls besides their parents. Likewise, the adults in the church should be able to identify who the children are in their midst and to recognize the families that make up the congregation.

4. To convince parents they can do what they are supposed to do

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right…Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Ephesians 6:1-4

Parents often feel ill-equipped to be the spiritual leaders in their homes. They often compare their biblical knowledge with that of pastors, theologians, church leaders, and Sunday school teachers. By sitting in church with their children, parents can be encouraged that God equips them for the job they are to do as Christian parents. Parents don’t need to have all the answers for their children when bringing them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. In fact, I believe it is more significant that children see within the walls of their home that their parent’s love and desire for God is genuine in the form of observing them in regular-personal devotions, prayer, and commitment to Christian conduct.

Including children in the worship services reinforces to parents and families that everyone is able to benefit from hearing the preaching of God’s word together as a family. For those who are not old enough to understand the sermon or do not have much knowledge of the Scriptures, can rest assured that their parents heard the same thing that they heard, and can ask them questions later. Even when parents do not have the answers for the questions their children ask, they are still modeling a healthy model of what it means to learn together by sitting together in the worship services.

Something that parents should always be able to share with their children is how God is actively shaping their lives. In Deuteronomy 6:20-25, God instructs the parents that, when their children start asking questions about their faith, they are to simply share what they observed God do in their ancestors lives in the form of freeing them from Egypt through miraculous means. Certainly, any Christian parent should be constantly aware of the ways they have seen God deliver them from sin and death. This does not mean they need to share every detail if it is inappropriate, but they can tailor their testimony to their own children as is appropriate for them.

5. To evangelize to unbelieving guests & visitors

If there is one aspect of the American culture at large that is severely suffering, it is the family unit. The rates of divorce, single-parent homes, absent fathers, abuse, foster care, adoption, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and homelessness, are ever-increasing and are the source of much of the stress that families are suffering from. Christian families sitting together in worship services can serve as an excellent form of evangelism for any unbelieving guests and visitors in the worship service. As Christians are called to be the “salt and light” in the world, one of the most effective ways we can do that is by modeling God’s goal for the family. By normalizing families together in worship services, the unbelievers in the midst can observe parents who actually love being around their children!

Even for any blended families or single-parent families that my be present among the Christians in the church, they too are a biblical example to the unbelievers in that they are proof that God is able to redeem anyone from any situation and they are made acceptable in His sight only because of the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross!

The lost souls in this world need a place where they can see what hope, mercy, and grace looks like. One of the best ways they should expect to see those things is within the walls of a church during their worship services.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Parents, one of the best ways you can love your children as God intends is by prioritizing your homelife around Christ so that they are better prepared to sit with you during Sunday services. They need to see you singing, listening, and enjoying the worship service. Most of all, they need to see that it is genuine! Your children know better than anyone else on earth what is truly important to you. They likely have seen you at your best and your worse within privacy of your home. Take your role as your children’s spiritual leader seriously and know that God is gracious in you are constantly learning and growing into that role.

Grace and Peace to you in Jesus Christ,
Pastor Corwin

Preview of Matthew 6:19-24 “Look how much I have!”

This coming Sunday we will be studying Matthew 6:19-24. In this passage, Jesus teaches about a 4th form of self-righteousness that is common to man; the idolatry of material possessions. Jesus has already addressed 3 other forms of common self-righteous behaviors: self-righteous giving/charity, self-righteous prayer (piety), and self-righteous fasting (expressions of humility).

The idolatry of material possessions is so common that there is an entire false teaching that preys upon those who suffer from it, this teaching is called the “Prosperity Gospel”. The prosperity gospel teaches that one can measure their righteous standing before a holy God based on their current state of material prosperity and health. If they are living a life full of health and abundance, then that must mean that God is pleased with them. If they are living a life full of sickness and poverty, then that means that God is displeased with them for some reason.

Matthew 6:19-24 is another wonderful reminder of God’s greater love and grace in that we are to measure our righteous standing before a holy God based on one factor; faith in Jesus Christ as the complete atonement for all our sins! It is through faith and trust in Christ alone that we are promised treasures in heaven which are given to us by our “Father who sees what is in secret and will reward us”.

As you go about your week, remember that all that you have in your health and wealth can be taken away at any moment. If and when that moment comes into your life, it is then that your faith will be tested as far as whether or not you have been focused more on storing up treasures on earth or storing up treasures in heaven, which last forever and can never be taken away.

I hope you can join us this Sunday to hear this message of God’s love and grace that is abundantly given to all those who place their trust in Him!

Grace and peace to you,
Pastor Corwin

What do your complaints reveal about your heart?

“And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindle, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.” – Numbers 11:1

              We are all guilty of complaining at some point in our lives. It begins at the very early stages of our lives as infants and toddlers when we begin complaining about the snacks and toys that we wanted but didn’t get. Unfortunately, it continues in our lives as adults! We can often complain about how the current politics are affecting our daily lives, our spouses not putting the dishes away, our children’s misbehavior, or even the aches and pains that can often make our lives more difficult than we feel it should be.

              In the case of the Israelites, they were complaining about their “misfortunes”, which later is revealed to be their desire for more food (they have been eating manna everyday for every meal since being freed from Egypt). Aside from complaining about God freeing them from SLAVERY to Egypt, another major issue is that they had the audacity to claim that life was better in Egypt than in the wilderness with God! One of my favorite parts about this story in Numbers 11 is when God promises to give them so much quail to eat for an entire month that it will be “coming out of their nostrils” (which I want to say that this is the origin of the famous quote used today).

              In the end, the people get exactly what they want (kind of). Their complaint was that life was essentially better before God saved them, and were seeking meat to fill their stomachs, instead of the eternal security that only God could provide them. As a result, they got the meat they craved, but it came at the cost of their very lives. God’s judgment for the generation that was complaining was that they would all die before the nation of Israel ever stepped foot in the land that God promised them. God refused to let anyone who believed that life was better as a slave to enter His promised land.

              The people’s craving for meat revealed a deeper issue in their hearts: they didn’t crave a relationship with God.

Proverbs 17:1 is true in this case when it says, “Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.”

              The Israelites did not value the peaceful relationship they could have had with God, even if it meant eating only manna for forty years (the dry morsel in Proverbs 17:1). Instead, they craved the feasting of meat (likened to various foods they had as slaves in Egypt) at the cost of having strife with a holy God.

              Likewise, Romans 6:20-23 says,

“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

              As sinners saved by God’s grace, we can never afford to forget that life is always better when in a reconciled relationship with God. When we complain about the “dry morsels” of this life, I believe it is helpful to have the perspective that no matter how much we have in this life, it will always be like dry morsels compared to the riches in the kingdom of heaven that we will all inherit as sons and daughters of the King! When contemplating what our complaints are about, we will likely be able to see the deeper longing of those complaints. Do our complaints reveal a desire to attain perishable riches independent from having a personal relationship with God? Or do our complaints fall in line with a true desire to want to be in a closer relationship with God?

Our life is never better off without God!

If you have not already done so, give up the desire to “feast” in this life as if there is nothing beyond that, and experience the joy of what dry morsels can bring when you are at peace with the God who created you and loves you. Put your faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and salvation of your soul, and you will feast in heaven for eternity!

Don’t Miss the Big Picture!

Our church is currently in the middle of studying the “you have heard it said…” portion of the Sermon on the Mount. It is important that we do not forget the overall big picture of what Jesus is emphasizing with each of his 6 examples of how the Jews were guilty of lowering the standards of holiness believing themselves to be righteous (self-righteous) before God.

Similar to our Gospel and the Ten Commandments series in 2021, each of the 6 examples is given to show that we are all: murderers, adulterers, liars, full of vengeance, and hateful.

If there was anyone (who was hungry for the Word of God) who sat through my sermons on Matthew 5:21-32 and was able to walk out of the room believing that they had never committed murder or adultery in their hearts, then I didn’t do my job!

In order to bask in the glory of God and His goodness towards His people, through the provision of Jesus Christ and His substitutionary atonement for our sins, we must be completely humbled to the point where we realize that we are guilty of sinning against God in ways that may be a surprise to us.

If you ever have the thought, “God’s standards are too difficult to keep!”, then you are on the right track to repentance and salvation! However, this statement is not a source of discouragement when we also understand that salvation is not about us meeting God’s standards on our own; rather, it is about Jesus meeting God’s standards for us so that we can be saved through Him. This mode of salvation ensures that we give God all the glory for our salvation and prevents us from being self-righteous.

I want to encourage you; as you track with us through the Sermon on the Mount series, try to come to an appreciation of the impossible holy standards of God. It is these impossible standards that should keep Christians from having self-righteous attitudes, as if they have somehow attained to God’s holy standards on their own, and it makes clear to the Christian that their salvation is made possible only through faith alone in Christ alone.

When outsiders (unbelievers) observe Christian worship, they should be able to observe the humility that is consistent with the soteriology (doctrine of salvation) that we have no pride in and of ourselves, and that the message of salvation is available to all those who call upon Christ. The unbelievers who observe proper Christian worship should know that the same joy they see in the Christians is also available to them, so as long as they are humble enough to receive it by faith.

In all humility in Christ,
Pastor Corwin

We are, because God does.

Exodus 34:10

“And he said, ‘Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.”

It was just a couple weeks ago that our church was on Matthew 5:13-16 for the Sunday morning preaching series through the Sermon on the Mount. This is the passage about God’s people being the salt of the earth and light of the world. Here in Exodus 34, we can see how nothing has ever changed as far as God’s purposes for those who love and belong to Him. God promises to do a mighty work in the nation of Israel in ways that could never be found anywhere else in the world, so that other nations from the outside-looking-in would be able to observe God’s mighty works in His people.

As salt of the earth, Christians are a people in whom God has displayed His mighty works in a way that cannot be found in anyone else around the entire world; His Spirit dwells in us! As temples of the Holy Spirit, as those who have regenerated hearts, and as those who have received the love of God through faith in Jesus Christ; we are walking testaments of God’s mighty works. The work that is in us is far greater than any of God’s creation and is also foreign to the rest of the world. When outsiders look in on the Christian’s life, they should see a peculiar lifestyle. Peculiar in the sense that there is nothing wrong they could say about it, yet they know that it is not how everyone else behaves.

Through the new covenant, the blood of Jesus, God does marvels in us that can’t be found in any other people around the world. As a result, the rest of the world is able to see His mighty works so that they can give glory to God and praise their Father in heaven through the receiving of Jesus Christ by faith as Lord and Savior.

Take some time and consider the changes that God has made in your heart; changes that would otherwise be impossible for any sinful man to make on his own.

Do you have a new hatred for sin? Only God could do that for you.

Do you have a new love for God’s righteousness? Only God could do that for you.

You are, because God does.

May He receive all the glory, honor, and praise for all the mighty works He does in our lives!

Grace and Peace to you
Pastor Corwin

Where do I Start?

“because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statues, and My laws.”
Genesis 26:5


Living obediently to God can be daunting for many Christians because they might not know where to start. Afterall, the Bible contains a lot of commandments, laws, and restrictions for Christian living. Abraham lived obediently to God, and this was without: the Law of Moses, Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament), the Prophets, and the New Testament letters and Gospels. Yet here we have this beautiful statement in the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, “…Abraham obeyed Me…”.

Progressive Revelation is a term that refers to the fact that God progressively revealed Himself to His people over time, but at all times, God revealed enough of Himself for people to be held accountable according to what was revealed to them.

Adam and Eve were held accountable to the very first rule, “do not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil”, and when they disobeyed, they were held accountable to what God had revealed to them.

Abraham was justified through faith by his obedience to what God had commanded him to do, leaving his homeland and going to the land of Canaan (Genesis 12). He was also justified through faith when he obediently laid out his son, Isaac, on the altar to slay him as a sacrifice to God, believing that God would somehow raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11).

The Israelites were given by God the Ten Commandments and the entire Law of Moses so that they would understand what it means to be “holy” as the LORD is holy, while the animal sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins were a shadow of the Lamb of God who would eventually come and be the final sacrifice for sins for all time.

The apostles and followers of The Way in the New Testament church were given the full revelation of the teachings of Jesus and the Gospel that were in accordance with the Law and the Prophets, as they were all about Jesus. If anyone were to sway or depart from the teachings of the New Testament church, they would be considered anathema (cursed) for going after a different gospel (Galatians 1).

Where do I start as a Christian?

I start wherever I can with whatever I know! I have my entire life to be able to dive deeper into God’s Word, but if I lack in obedience to what I already know, then what good is it to gain more knowledge? It would only condemn me more!

For any Christian that is struggling with knowing where to begin in living in obedience to God, my suggestion is to simply start with what you know.

If you know you are struggling with an addiction; deal with that.
If you know that you are struggling in your role in your marriage, deal with that.
If you know you have anger issues, deal with that.
If you feel lost as a parent, deal with that.

Romans 2:14-15 says, “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law…they show the work of the Law written on their hearts…”

God has given every human being a general understanding of good and evil, but only Christians can understand the complete revelation of good and evil as described in the Ten Commandments and the fulfillment of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.

If you only know a little bit of the Bible, then be obedient to the little that you know, all the while pursuing a greater and deeper understanding of God’s Word.

James 1:22 says, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, not merely hearers who delude themselves”

Christian, go and live in obedience according to what you already know God wants from you, and then continue to grow in your understanding of God’s grace and holiness through His Word so that you can increase in your obedience to the Him who loves you and gave His only Son for you.

Grace and peace to you,
Pastor Corwin

Do You Know What You’re Reading?

It’s important for Christians to know what they are reading when they pick up an English translation of the Bible. There are so many to choose from that most Christians don’t even know the difference between many of the translations. It is easy to feel confused when the preacher is reading from the NKJV but the Bible in the hands of one of the congregants is holding an NIV Bible trying to follow along, or when someone reads from The Message and the hearer will find it rather difficult to find the same passage in an ESV translation.

Here is a quick breakdown of the 3 major categories of English translations of the Bible:

  1. Paraphrase translations

Paraphrase translations are typically one or a few people’s personal commentary and summary of larger sections of Scripture. It is important to know that when reading a paraphrase translation, you are not reading the Bible. Instead, you are reading someone’s personal understanding of the Bible passage. Paraphrase translations are vastly different from word-for-word translations and phrase-for-phrase translations in that they are not comprised of translation teams that are necessarily dedicated to the translation of the original languages, but are essentially the “translator’s” opinion based on another English translation of the Bible (usually a word-for-word or phrase-for-phrase translation).

A paraphrase translation of the Bible is really what every Christian should be attempting to do in their own mind when they study Scripture. They should be studying the Scriptures in such a way that they are able to paraphrase what they are reading. It is often said, a person can know when they have truly learned something when they are able to explain it successfully to someone else.

In my opinion, paraphrase translations shouldn’t even be considered translations, they should simply be called commentaries. Paraphrase translations are not inherently wrong to read, but when a person picks up The Message or The Passion Translation (or any other  paraphrase translation) they need to know ahead of time that they are not reading The Bible, but someone’s own interpretation of it.

Below is a helpful article of an interview with Dr. John Piper regarding his feelings about paraphrase translations.

What Do You Think About Paraphrased Bible Translations? | Desiring God

About the Lead Translator – The Passion Translation

  • Phrase-for-phrase translations

Translation Philosophy – NIV Bible (thenivbible.com)

NIrV Translators – NIV Bible (thenivbible.com)

Phrase-for-phrase translations attempt to assist the reader in understanding God’s Word by translating portions of the Scriptures one phrase at a time. Although this can be very helpful in understanding the meaning of the text, it is limited in its nature by leaving out possible key words and nuances that would otherwise appear in its original language or in a word-for-word translation. By far, the most popular translation in this category is the NIV translation.

  • Word-for-word

Translation Philosophy | ESV.org

Oversight Committee | ESV.org

Review Scholars | ESV.org

NASB Bible Info – Lockman Foundation

Aside from being fluent in koine Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic; word-for-word translations are the best translations of the Bible to read and study. Take a look at the differences between the translation philosophies and translating teams of the word-for-word translations compared to the phrase-for-phrase or even paraphrase translations. You will see that as you progress from one end of the spectrum to the other that the teams become larger, more qualified, with more accountability to ensure they are doing their absolute best to translate the original languages to modern-day languages.

I would recommend that every Christian commit to word-for-word translations (KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV) for their regular Bible-study. Everything else can be used as supplementary resources for helping one understand the Bible (including paraphrase translations), but I firmly believe Christians will ultimate benefit the most from 1) the regular study of a word-for-word translation, 2) a community of believers to study the Word with and hold them accountable, and 3) commitment to a local-biblically sound church.

I hope this is helpful for you the next time you pick up your Bible to read God’s Word to be reaffirmed of your salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and grow in His wisdom and direction for your life!

Pastor Corwin

Why Christians Can be Confident in Bringing Children into this Sinful and Broken World.

One of the most common deciding factors for couples trying to decide when it is the right time to have children is the current state of the world they live in. I have heard many couples and individuals speak about their hesitancy about having children of their own for concern that they would be doing those children a disservice by bringing them into a negative environment.

Sinful Patterns Can be Broken

When it comes to having and raising children, Christian parents should have the most confidence than anyone else in the world about bringing new life into our broken and sinful societies. The role of parents in their children’s lives can be seen well in the second commandment (of the 10 commandments) regarding the forbidding of idols when God makes the statement,

“I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands (of generations) to those who love me and keep my commandments.”

In this statement, God promises to visit the sins of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation in the sense that when generations copy the sins that were modeled before them, those younger generations will suffer the same fate as those who were disobedient before them. God does not punish future generations for the sins of past generations, but He is a just Judge who judges righteously. However, God makes another promise that He will show His steadfast love towards the thousands of generations who love Him and keep His commands. In other words, in the same way that children will be punished for copying the sins of their fathers, children (to the thousandth generation) are promised God’s steadfast love when they follow in the footsteps of righteousness that should have been taught and modeled for them by their parents. The emphasis here are the “thousands” versus the third and fourth where God’s love is magnified above His justice. God will never tire of rewarding righteousness and those who love Him!

The hope this passage gives Christians is that cycles of sin can be broken through the obedience of parents teaching their children God’s Law and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every parent has the opportunity to choose what they will emphasize in their children’s lives, and parents who choose to emphasize the importance of knowing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will have the best chance of turning sinful cycles around that may have existed for several generations in their family. If someone is afraid of having children of their own due to addictions, abuse, neglect, or childhood trauma; they can be confident that their faith in Christ is enough to guide them in all righteousness when it comes to raising children of their own.

A Generation that Remembers

Another key passage that gives Christians confidence is Jeremiah 29:6;

“Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters, and multiply there and do not decrease”

In this passage God is speaking through the prophet Jeremiah after a false prophet (Hananiah) told the exiles of Jerusalem (who are now slaves in Babylon) that God would free them from captivity in two years. God’s message through Jeremiah was that they would, in fact, remain in exile for seventy years!

It would have made sense to the exiles to hold off from having children and establishing lives in Babylon if they knew they would be moving again in just two years. However, since God’s plan for them was to remain in exile for seventy years, He commanded them to get established (build homes and plant gardens) and have children so that they would not decrease. This becomes particularly significant when the exiles return to their land 70 years later and the current generation speaks about remembering the sins of their fathers and how they must turn from them and live obediently to God (Nehemiah 9:29-30). If the Israelites in exile were not faithful in having children, then how would there be a remnant of God’s people who could remember the sins of their past generations so that they can break the cycle of disobedience in order to bless future generations?

We see here that even during the most difficult times of oppression, there are still good reasons for God’s people (Christians) to have children. When we can be mindful of future generations, and not just our own, we can be confident that God can bless our children by allowing them to learn from our mistakes and go on to bless the next generation by leading them to a healthy fear and love of God which leads to a faith in Jesus Christ and eternal life.

Preserving What is Good

One last reason I will share why Christians can be confident to bring children into this sinful and broken world, is a New Testament example of Jesus’ own words in Matthew 5:13;

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men”

Jesus calls His disciples the “salt of the earth”. As salt was used primarily more as a preservative than for taste in the first century and Ancient Near East, I believe Jesus was bringing to mind the fact that salt was preserving something that was in a slow-constant state of decay (usually used for meat). The fact that the meat was constantly decaying and it was only a matter of time before it wasn’t good to eat anymore, the salt that would have been packed around the meat to preserve it would be the only thing keeping the meat from going completely bad.

Those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are to the earth as salt was to meat. Those who hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God and admit that they are utterly spiritually bankrupt without God’s intervention, are the presence left in this sinful and broken world that keeps it from being completely depraved and hopeless. The fact that the Spirit of God and Christ dwell in His people here on earth, is the only real goodness that exists. The only goodness that Christians can claim to have has been given to them in the form of God’s Spirit which dwells in them and empowers them to do the works of God in their lives.

If Christians truly want to save the world and change it for the better, one of the best chances they have is to have children of their own. God has placed parents in a god-like authority over their children. Who has more influence over the life of their child than their parent? I believe God created the family unit to be the most influential realm of our societies for good reason. If Christian parents are diligent in teaching their children about God and Christ and His saving message, then there is a good chance that the world as a whole would be directly impacted from Christians all around the world raising up a new generation of God-loving, God-fearing people.

If you are someone who knows that you eventually want to have children but are just concerned about bringing a baby into this sinful and broken world; my encouragement to you is to NOT WAIT (assuming it would be in the context of a marriage relationship between a man and a woman), because this world desperately needs more salt!

5 Tips for Family Worship & Devotions

If you are not already in the habit of regularly devoting time to some form of family worship/devotions, the thought of trying to establish something new in your household rhythms can be overwhelming to the point where you don’t even try anything. Whether you are married without kids, married with kids, or a single parent with kids, family worship and devotions can be done effectively many ways. What I am sharing with you is simply what my wife and I have done and tried in our own household, and not without some trial and error of course! The bottom line is this: How are you, as a Christian-parent, establishing the Word of God as a priority in your household?

Here are just a few tips to help you start or enhance your family worship and devotions at home:

1. Buying Family Bibles that are all the same word-for-word translation (KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV)

Bibles can be expensive, and Bibles can be cheap. Our children’s ages are currently 9, 7, 6, and 3. The older three can read (at various levels), and they enjoy bedtime readings as a family. After struggling through times of reading from the Bible that was in my hands and having my kids either sit and listen or try to look over my shoulder and follow along, we finally ordered enough paperback Bibles for the whole family (each Bible only cost us $2 each on Amazon) to use for the purpose of everyone being able to follow along together. This has greatly improved the kid’s ability to participate in the readings, and has also increased their desire to want to take turns reading aloud!

If all your kids are older, or if it is you and your spouse, then it might also be beneficial for people to be reading from various reliable translations for the purpose of being aware how the original languages (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic) might be translated into English. This often is a good motivator for a deeper study into the English translations of the Bible.

2. Charles Spurgeon Morning and Evening Devotional

This devotional has been such an easy way for our family to hear the Gospel preached from various Bible passages. It has readings for every morning and evening for an entire year, and offers an exposition of a single Bible verse, where Spurgeon explains and teaches on that verse within its greater context of where it is located in the Bible.

It may require a little explaining to the children, but it is a great launching point for Gospel conversations around the table and practical applications of the Christian faith.

3. Kid’s Devotionals

I am generally very weary of devotionals that target younger audiences. They very rarely preach the Gospel, and often over-emphasize a behavioral-focused relationship with God instead of one based on faith in Christ and Christ crucified. However, kid’s devotionals can be a great way to get children introduced to a lot of Bible passages because they are often linked together with engaging illustrations, stories, fun facts, and activities.

I strongly encourage parents to have Bibles handy when reading through kid’s devotional books. There have been many times when I have had to inform the kids of the sad reality of how many of their devotions use the Scriptures out of context or use some obscure Bible translation that is nowhere close to any word-for-word translation, thus giving a misleading understanding of the passage.

I am not completely opposed to kid’s devotionals, but I can see the value in them as a brief introductory tool to getting kids familiar with the Bible. Parents, if you are reading the Word in your own personal time on a regular basis as well as participating in your local church’s teachings and studies, chances are that you will be able to provide a better “kid’s devotional” for your own children who you know better than anyone else and are aware of their present needs and concerns.

4. Catechisms

Catechisms are a terrific way to learn Biblical answers to the most foundational questions of the Christian faith. There are several reliable catechisms to choose from. One of my favorites is the Westminister Larger Catechism (1648), which is time tested and historically proven. Another one that our family has used is the New City Catechism. This is the shortest of catechisms (52 questions) that I am aware of but does a good job of covering the major topics.

Charles Spurgeon had this to say about catechisms:

I am persuaded that the use of a good catechism in all our families will be a great safeguard against the increasing errors of the times. Those who use it in their families or classes must labor to explain the sense; but the words should be carefully learned by heart, for they will be understood better as years pass.”

Catechisms are another resource that can easily be read and discussed at family mealtimes or devotional times in the morning or at bedtimes. They are formed in a way where the hearers are supposed to memorize the answers to be able to recite (or echo = catechism) them after the question is asked. Just as Spurgeon said, children will likely not fully understand what they are reciting or memorizing, but it is the parent’s job to help them grow in their understanding of them.

5. Watching Christian movies/tv shows together

Our children have enjoyed a wide range of Christian movies and television. Some are very poor theologically, some are very rich theologically, some are merely retelling of well-known Bible stories without any teaching of the text, and sometimes our children watch church services that are online from other churches and preachers we trust and enjoy.

Our oldest son, Elijah, was hooked on Greg Laurie from a young age (4 years old), and after watching one of his sermons when he was 6 years old, he sent an email to Greg Laurie’s ministry because he wanted to receive one of their free Bibles. Elijah still has the letter he got in the mail that was “from” Pastor Greg. Christian media, like kid’s devotionals, require a lot of discernment by its users. We have exposed our children to a variety of Christian media. Some of them have required us to inform our children of poor usages of the Bible and its teachings, and others we have had to help our children understand their meaning. Nonetheless, Parents have a wide variety of wonderful resources out there at their disposal to use for family worship and devotions. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Youtube: Bible Project, Beginner’s Bible, Group VBS, Lifeway VBS, Lifeway Kids, Samaritan’s Purse, Voice of the Martyrs
  • Rightnow Media
  • The Chosen tv show
  • PureFlix

Final Tips

Whatever you choose to do with your household to prioritize your faith at home, do not become legalistic or prideful in anything that you do or try. It can be very easy to want to hold to a very rigid schedule that can be burdensome or even impossible at times. Also, it can be just as easy to become prideful when new and healthy habits are established in the home and the temptation comes to want to compare what your household is doing to what others are not doing. Remember to be an encouragement to others, not a standard.

Also, remember that family devotions do not save your children or household, only God’s power through the Gospel can soften a person’s heart to be made new by Him. Do not use family devotions and worship to become a way of saving your household. Rather, let them be a way for your household to see just how much you love this God who saved you from your sins, and how much you want them to love Him the same way.

I hope this helps you fulfill Deuteronomy 6, Ephesians 6:1-4, Ephesians 5:25-26, and 1 Timothy 3:4-5.

May God’s grace, mercy, and peace be upon you in Christ Jesus,
Pastor Corwin

The Soul Who Sins Shall Die

I know this title isn’t the cheeriest or encouraging, but I assure you that the overall message is one of great hope for all mankind. The phrase “the soul who sins shall die” comes from Ezekiel 18:4, when God is giving the prophet Ezekiel the words to say to Israel concerning their sins. You see, Israel was filled with people who felt God was being unfair to them in their captivity to the Babylonians, because they claimed that they were being unfairly punished for the sins committed by the previous generations.

God assures them in Ezekiel 18 that only “the soul who sins shall die”. In other words, God’s judgment is always fair and just. He will not hold others accountable for someone else’s sin. Each person will be rightly judged by their righteous and unrighteous deeds.

As God says “the soul who sins shall die”, He also tells us in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. The hard truth is that we all deserve God’s righteous judgment and punishment for the sins we have committed. God does not excuse any sinful behavior, even when our sinful behavior was modeled for us by someone else (Ezekiel 18:14-18). Another important aspect of God’s righteous judgment highlighted in Ezekiel 18 is that we cannot count on previous righteous deeds to atone for future unrighteous deeds (Ezekiel 18:24).

My favorite part of God’s righteous judgment is found in Ezekiel 18:21

“But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live.”

When Jesus Christ died on the cross as the Lamb of God and rose from the dead on the third day, He effectively became the righteousness that saves us from all our unrighteousness by becoming sin on our behalf so that we would be made righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21) Therefore, God dealt justly with sinners who are saved by their faith in Christ by pouring out His wrath on the sacrificial Lamb of God, whose blood was spilled for the forgiveness of sins.

Regardless of what kind of situation or life you were born into, no matter how horrid or godless your upbringing, you are given the opportunity to have all your unrighteousness forgiven by placing your faith and trust upon the Righteous One who came to save sinners such as you and me.

Just as “the soul who sins shall die”, the “soul who sins but places their trust in Jesus will live!”

The American culture is constantly seeking ways to ensure that those born into the most unfortunate circumstances will still have the opportunities to be among the most successful. America will always fall far short of having such a utopia, but I believe what they seek after is a shadow of what Christ provides for all people. Outside of faith in Christ, there is no better example of how even the most troubled soul, the severely abused, those who had the vilest upbringing, can experience the pinnacle of success and opportunity. All those who place their faith in Jesus shall become a son or daughter of the King of Heaven and will inherit the promise of eternal royalty in the kingdom of heaven.

I pray that if you are not already a son or daughter of the King of Heaven, that this is your moment of salvation, now and forever!

I will end this with the final words of Ezekiel 18, “For I (God) have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, so repent and live!”