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Generational curses: are children punished for their parents’ sins?

Generational curses: are children punished for the sins of their parents?

If you’ve been in the church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard generational curses discussed. There are two conflicting opinions:

  • God punishes children for the sins of their parents.
  • God doesn’t punish children for the sins of their parents.

Why the confusion regarding generational curses?

Watch the short video of Katie and I discussing the answer and/or read the transcript below…

Verses seem to support and argue against generational curses…

Exodus 20:5, 34:7, Numbers 14:18, and Deuteronomy 5:9 indicate God punishes children for the sins of their parents:

You shall not bow down to [idols] nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.

Other such as Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20 indicate God doesn’t punish children for the sins of their parents:

Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20 The LORD says, “What do you mean by this proverb, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? This proverb shall no more be used. Behold, the soul who sins shall die…The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father…the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

The people said they were punished (their teeth were bad: “set on edge”), because of their parents’ sins (the “sour grapes” they ate). God said, “Don’t say this anymore. You’ll be punished for your own sins!”

So which is it? Continue reading Generational curses: are children punished for their parents’ sins?

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“Leave this church?” and “Hubby likes kids more than me!”

"Should we leave our church?" and "My husband likes our kids more than me!"

Outline for the video:

  • 0-0:49 Intro and explanation of some of our adorable kids joining us
  • 0:49-9:18 Question for Scott: “Should we leave this church?”
  • 9:19-14:13 Question for Katie: “How can I get my husband to pay more attention to me than our kids?”
  • 14:14-15:35 A few thoughts from Scott on the question given to Katie
  • 15:36-16:06 Marriage God’s Way book giveaway
  • 16:07-19:27 Update on Marriage God’s Way Workbook and closing

Question for Scott: “Should we leave this church?”

I wanted to ask about leaving our church because of their misunderstanding of some doctrines. I don’t think I’ve handled the situation well. We’ve been checking out other churches, so instead of being a voice of reason the awkwardness has us not going there at all. My desire has been to continue going there, but my wife does not enjoy it. Though the people are sincere, the church is dead and there is a heavy spiritual attack going on. Another reason my wife doesn’t want to attend is my former fiancé from three years ago is there. The girl and I have no interest in each other, but it’s still hard for my wife to see her.

Every church we visit there is a lack of sobriety, or the they seem to be off base somewhere important. Perhaps they allow female teachers or there’s a “pop Christianity.” I’ve suffered way too much to attend a ho-hum church. I want seriousness, Scripture, and the life of Christ.

I met with the pastor a few times to reconcile our differences. He’s a very intellectual person and familiar with Scripture. But he’s come to a different interpretation of almost everything I believe God has taught me. I don’t see the pastor changing his mind, and I don’t know if I should bring up to the rest of the church the things I think are wrong.

What should I do?

My response…

Continue reading “Leave this church?” and “Hubby likes kids more than me!”

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Pokemon Go: One of the Big Problems

Marriage-Gods-Way-author-Scott-LaPierre - Pokemon GoWhy don’t I like Pokemon Go?

We live in a parsonage next to the church. My kids often bring lunch to my office. To reach me they walk through the parking lot. Assuming time permits, while eating I talk with my kids. Here is a conversation that just took place:

My kids: “There are two people in the parking lot.”
Me: “What are they doing?”
My kids: “We don’t know. Just sitting in a truck. We said, ‘hi’ to them, but they didn’t say anything.”

When my kids leave my office, I often stand at the door to watch them walk home. If it’s late, or like the other day when a murderer was on the loose, I walk them home. Since I didn’t know who the individuals are in the truck, I walked out with my kids. Here’s how the conversation went with the two people, although I’m leaving out some details so they remain anonymous: Continue reading Pokemon Go: One of the Big Problems

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When should children be baptized?

When should your children be baptized?I recently received the following question: “When should children be baptized? Please explain why a child’s baptism should] lack coercion. Helpful tips, suggestions, things to avoid. This would be helpful. Sounds like the approach we definitely want to use.”

Here’s my response…

I hate to sound harsh, judgmental (or arrogant, since my oldest of five is still only eight), but one of the most common mistakes parents make is having their children baptized at a young age. At that time the baptism could be more a product of the parents’ encouragement than the child’s heart to obey Christ. When children are young they generally desire to please their parents. If parents want a child to be baptized, most likely the child will have that desire. This leaves the parents wondering, “Was my child trying to please me or God?”

Continue reading When should children be baptized?

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When People Let Us Down

Discouraged

This relates to my last post that ended with the encouragement for our service to be done for God:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
  • Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.

This is the solution when we feel like people let us down. We weren’t doing it for them. We were doing it for God.

A husband says, “I work hard. I provide for my wife. I love her, but it seems like she doesn’t appreciate it.” Remember you’re doing it for the Lord.

A wife starts to feel like, “I support my husband. I love him. I submit to him. I honor him. But he doesn’t put forth as much effort with me.” Remember you’re doing it for the Lord.

If you’re a husband, you should love and cherish your wife not because she’s perfect or deserves it, but because you love God and that’s what He wants. If you’re a wife, you submit to and honor your husband, not because he’ll always make the right decisions, but because you love God and that’s what pleases Him.

At work you’re diligent and you do your best, but you’re always passed over for promotions. Maybe you see others slough off or act dishonestly, maybe it’s even from those in positions over you. Remember, you’re doing your best work for the Lord. You want to be a good witness. You hope others will see Christ through you.

You have a friend and you’ve spent hours listening to the person’s problems, always making yourself available without ever being asked how you’re doing, how you’re feeling, if you need prayer. You give and give and you’re finally going through something, but your friend doesn’t have time for you. Remember you were doing it for the Lord.

I saved this example for last because it can be the most painful; it’s almost impossible not to take it personally, blame yourself, but I’ve seen it happen to wonderful parents…

You’ve invested so much in your children. Not just hours like in a friendship, but years of putting your child ahead of yourself, training, educating, instructing, mentoring, praying every night for your child to love and fear God. Then the child gets older and rebels. My encouragement: remember you were doing it for the Lord, and He is El Roi, The God Who Sees, and your service has pleased Him. Raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, not because they’ll always make the best decisions, but because you love God.

If your service is for the Lord, you’re going to save yourself from two dangerous threats:

  1. Discouragement: if your service is for man instead of God, it will hurt when you don’t receive the recognition and gratitude you think you deserve. When you feel like your love and effort isn’t reciprocated, you’ll be frustrated or bitter or both.
  2. Pride: if your service is for man instead of God, you become susceptible to pride because it will matter that people felt like you did a great job. The compliments will become very meaningful. You’ll start to believe the praise.

If your service is for the Lord though, you’ll be spared from these threats and you’ll have the satisfaction knowing you’re pleasing the Lord and doing what He wants.

Let me encourage you with these two biblical examples…

In 2 Corinthians 11:22-29 Paul listed the physical, emotional and spiritual suffering he experienced as a servant of the Gospel and it sounds like more than one man could handle. He came to the end of his life and in one of the saddest verses in the New Testament he said, “Only Luke is with me” (2 Tim 4:11). That’s it. Only Luke. Hundreds, if not thousands of people Paul had served and helped in his service for the Gospel and he goes on to say, “No one stood with me, but all forsook me.” (2 Tim 4:16). And then listen to this: “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me” (2 Tim 4:17). When Paul felt like he didn’t have anyone else, he knew he had the Lord, and the Lord helped him through his most difficult times when everyone else had let him down.

Think about Jesus’ example: He spent years helping people to the greatest extent His physical body allowed. When He found Himself on trial, many of the same people He helped yelled, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” (Luke 23:21). When Jesus was arrested, with the exception of John, all the disciples fled and denied knowing Him. When Jesus looked down from the cross, John was the only one He saw along with His mother. We’re all going to experience people letting us down, but we have in Jesus a Savior who in the words of Hebrews 2:17 “had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest.” When we feel let down by others, we can go to Him and know He hears us and has experienced the same.

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Lessons from Katie and the kids gone

When Katie and the kids left for our hometown of Fall River Mills, California this past week it was a lot harder than I thought. I’ll be flying out of Portland tonight (September 1st) to go see them and I can’t wait; this is the longest I’ve been away from them…which I know isn’t very long…which brings up what I’d like to discuss. Them being gone has made me think about a few things…

First, it’s helped me see that I’m pretty blessed by the availability I have to my family. When I say goodbye to them in the morning, I don’t say goodbye like most fathers do (for 9 hours or more); I say goodbye for an hour or two until they surprise me at the office or I walk home to see them. I can have most meals with them. If Katie’s having a rough time at home she’ll have me come home and help (i.e. spank one of the boys). Katie sends me coffee, smoothies, and love notes daily. Almost all the church’s activities involve my family. Whenever I go on visitations I bring my kids…sometimes even when I shouldn’t (like Linda Sprague’s retirement party: I knew something was wrong when I walked in and didn’t see any other kids, and it got worse when someone said, “I think your son just took a bite out of that cookie and put it back on the tray.”).

Second, I’ve been thinking about the reality of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:32, 33 that married people have to be concerned about their spouses, but unmarried people can really focus on the Lord. With Katie and the kids gone I was sort of like an unmarried guy again, able to get a ton of work done. It made me hope the unmarried people appreciate all they can do for the Lord during their seasons of singleness. When they get married, and especially when they have children, these other obligations will take priority.

Third, I’ve been thinking about how valuable my wife is to me as a pastor. I didn’t consider how much she helps me…until she’s not here to help me. I bounce ideas off Katie and talk to her about almost everything. Whenever I teach she always gives me feedback. She reads every one of my bulletin letters ahead of time (including this one, which involved a recommendation to remove two paragraphs that were “over the top.” I don’t know what that means, but I took them out anyway). I always go over my sermons with her (sometimes a couple times), but this week I wasn’t able to, and it really bothered me and this week we went over it late Saturday night. Proverbs 18:22 He who find a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord and that’s definitely been the case for me.

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A great spiritual heritage means nothing if…

Nobody’s spiritual heritage compares to that of the Jews. Paul lists some of the blessings unique to them as God’s people: the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came (Rom 9:4, 5). When John the Baptist came on the scene though he told them, “Bear fruits worthy of repentance (meaning produce fruit that shows you’ve repented), and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” (Matt 3:8, 9).

Basically, the Jews thought they were saved BECAUSE of their spiritual heritages; in that sense it actually became a stumbling block for them. They were trusting in that more than they were trusting in repentance and faith in Christ; therefore, John told them, “God could turn these rocks into children of Abraham” meaning being a physical descendant of Abraham doesn’t cut it.

Jesus had to contend with this too. The Jews told Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants…Abraham is our father” but Jesus replied, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me…You do the deeds of your father” (John 8:32-41). Abraham was their father physically, but spiritually their father was the devil.

Here’s what’s interesting: Jesus said “If you were Abraham’s children…” but they were Abraham’s children! This makes sense if we understand Abraham had two types of children:

  • Physical or biological children: the Jews.
  • Spiritual children: people who have put their faith in Christ. There there were lots of Jews who were physical children of Abraham, but not spiritual children of Abraham, and there are lots of non-Jews, or Gentiles, who are not physical children of Abraham, but are spiritual children of Abraham:
    • Romans 2:28 He is not a Jew (or child of Abraham) who is one outwardly (or biologically)…but he is a Jew who is one inwardly (or spiritually)
    • Galatians 3:7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. That’s talking about spiritual sons of Abraham.

Jesus and John’s point is the Jews needed to move from being physical children of Abraham to spiritual children of Abraham.

There is tremendous application in this for children today with great spiritual heritages…

  • The Jews thought they were saved because they had a great spiritual heritage, and many times children that grow up in the church think they’re saved because of that spiritual heritage.
  • The Jews thought they were saved because Abraham was their father, and many times children think they’re saved because their parents are Christians.

And there’s just as much application in this for parents as well:

Sometimes parents think their children are Christians just because they have Christian parents. Just as frequently as you hear children say…

Oh yeah, I’ve always been a Christian. I grew up in a Christian home. I’ve always gone to church.”

You’ll hear parents say…

“Oh yeah, my kids have always been Christians. They grew up in a Christian home. They’ve always gone to church.”

Nobody has always been a Christian any more than the Jews were born spiritual children of God. Every Christian is an individual who at some point surrendered his or her life to Christ, and anyone who hasn’t done that isn’t a Christian.

When John the Baptist came on the scene he told the Jews, “Bear fruits worthy of repentance (meaning produce fruit that shows you’ve repented), and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” (Matt 3:8, 9).

It’s interesting John told the Jews, “Do not think to say to yourselves…” It sounds like the times in the New Testament we’re told, “Do not be deceived.” That’s a phrase we see when there’s a strong tendency for us to be deceived in a certain area. For example:

  • 1 Cor 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” There’s a tendency for us to think we can hang out with the wrong people and not suffer as a result.
  • Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. There’s a tendency for us to think we can “get away with sin.”

There was clearly a strong tendency for the Jews to think they were saved because they were Jews, and there’s a strong tendency for the children of Christian parents to think they’re saved because they’re the children of Christian parents.

This all looks to why the statistics are so alarming about young people leaving the church: they never develop their own faith. They only had a relationship with God through their parents and when their parents were out of the picture they had no relationship with God themselves. Their parents were their connection to God and without them there was no connection. The Jews had to make a willful, deliberate decision to repent and follow Christ, and the children of Christian parents need to make a willful, deliberate decision to repent and follow Christ.

Although it might look like the real application in all this is for the children of Christian parents, there’s as much application for Christian parents themselves. Christian parents can’t trust that their children are saved because they grew up in Christian homes. They can’t trust that because their children went to church every Sunday for years or sat in on countless family devotionals that they’re born again. They need to fervently pray their children to surrender their lives to Christ.

This hits especially close to home for me as a pastor as my children spend more time involved with church activities than anything else in their lives. I know they need to recognize their sinfulness and need for forgiveness through Christ. I know they need to repent and surrender their lives to the Lord.

Let me conclude by making two points…

  1. When John told the Jews they needed to be baptized, that was terribly shocking for them because only Gentiles were baptized when they wanted to proselytize to Judaism (you can learn more about this in a sermon I preached on Luke 3:1-6 titled Preparing the Way for the Lord). Basically, they learned they were as filthy as the Gentiles and needed to repent and be spiritually cleansed just like them. The children of Christian parents are as filthy as the children of non-Christian parents and they need to repent and be spiritually cleansed as much as children that have never set foot in church.
  2. The Jews had an amazing spiritual heritage. No nation in history has experienced the blessings they’ve experienced. But that spiritual heritage meant nothing (and was even a stumbling block for them) if it didn’t lead to repentance and personal faith in Christ. Similarly, a child could have the greatest spiritual heritage in the world, but a spiritual heritage means nothing if it doesn’t lead to repentance and personal faith in Christ. Here’s a sermon I preached related to this subject.
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God's Personal Love For Us

I talked to the leadership about my FMLA and I was going to take the full three months off, but Katie says we probably really only need two :).

Since Rhea was born I’ve called her Princess. When your Father is the King, you’re a princess. Well the other day I was holding Charis on my lap and Rhea was in front of me and we were having a nice little conversation about how great it is for her to have a little sister, but things changed when I called Charis “Princess.” Rhea said, “What did you just call her?”

I said, “’Princess.’ She’s also my Princess.”

Rhea said, “Daddy, are you going to love me as much now that Charis is born?”

I said, “Of course Rhea. You’re still my Princess too. I could never love you any less…in fact, I love you so much I can’t even imagine loving you more than I already do. And if God gives us more children, I’ll still love you just as much.”

I think one of the reasons people question God’s love for them is they say, “With billions of people, how could God really love me that much?” In a way, I think they sort of feel like Rhea. If you have more than one child though, you know your love for your first child isn’t diminished in the slightest when you have another child. You can ask people who have multiple children and they’ll tell you they loved their first child just as much after having other children. In a really interesting way I can’t explain, I actually feel like I love Rhea more after having Ricky, Johnny and Charis.

Now while we have the capacity to love, the Bible says God is love (1 John 4:8). Love is one of His communicable attributes (a fancy word for His attributes that are communicated to or shared with us); however, even though we can love, that’s far different from actually being love. God created us for His glory and honor, but He also created us, because as a God of love He wanted objects to set His love upon. What really fascinates me is since I love, but God is love, His love is stronger and truer than mine; therefore, the love I have for Charis, as strong as it feels to me, is still much less than the love God has for her because it would be impossible for a person who loves, to love as much as a God who is love.

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Our new baby

Isn’t saying, “new baby” pretty redundant? We still call Johnny our baby, so I suppose new differentiates the two of them.

Anyway, Katie has something called, “hyperemesis gravidarum” two fancy words for the condition that makes her terribly sick during pregnancies. How sick? Throwing up all day, hooked up to IVs for dehydration, difficulty keeping water down…from sucking on ice, serious weight loss, stuck on a couch all day on her back.

For that reason, and our desire to adopt, we decided on a vasectomy two years ago. Then we moved to pastor WCC where we met families with 12, 12, 11, etc children, and a number of “smaller” families with 5-7 children. I should point out we have some families with 1 or 2 children as well just so you don’t…I don’t know…think we think you have to have lots of kids.

Katie and I always wanted a large family. We thought we’d accomplish that through adoption. The problem is, we wanted to adopt younger than our youngest and our youngest just turned two. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, until you consider how difficult it is to adopt babies. So here we are looking at all these big families and realizing it’s going to be years before our family increases. We start thinking of having a reversal and our wonderful church says, “We know your wife will be sick. We’ll do whatever we can to help. We’ll be understanding regarding you not being able to pastor the same during her pregnancy.” As a note, my ministry hasn’t been compromised at all during Katie’s pregnancy, and I’ll discuss why in a second.

So in December we went through with the reversal. The complications began immediately and have continued up to yesterday when I had to take a trip back to Tacoma to visit the doctor who performed the surgery.

Regardless of any complications though, if the determining factor of the surgery’s success is our ability to have more children, then in May we learned the surgery was a complete success. And by the way, May is considerably earlier than the 12-18 month period they tell you to expect to wait.

So for a lot of reasons, this baby is very special to us. In some ways this baby is even more special than…or let’s say differently special than our other children, because of the effort required to have it, but more importantly because of what it represents. I hate referring to our baby with “it”, but we don’t know the gender yet.

Now how has Katie’s pregnancy been? Two things have made it great so far…I guess three actually…

First, many people in the church have been so helpful and giving (this is why my ministry’s remain unchanged). Yesterday one girl spent the whole day at our house. This allows me to stay at my office without any of my work (especially studying), being interrupted. This morning a woman from the church surprised Katie by showing up to clean our bathroom and make us lunch (she said she’s coming back to do the same thing Thursday). Tonight a woman is bringing dinner for us. When I go to the church for VBS practice, another girl comes over to help out.

The second reason the pregnancy has been going so well is Katie has been feeling really good. By the way, “feeling really good” is a relative term. During her other pregnancies she was throwing up countless times per day, so this time being relegated to a couch without throwing up is “feeling really good.” In fact, Katie’s been feeling so good, we started worrying. The only other time Katie felt this good was when she miscarried. Needless to say, we’ve had a lot on our mind. Until today.

Today Katie went for her appointment to hear the baby’s heartbeat. To be honest, I thought she was probably having another miscarriage. Katie called me from the hospital and said they couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat, so they ordered an ultrasound. I was pretty confident my fears were confirmed, and I was already wondering when she’d be able to be pregnant again.

The time waiting for Katie to call me back about the ultrasound – probably no more than an hour – seemed like forever. This brings me to the third reason: Katie called me and said the ultrasound showed the baby is doing great.

Many people have been praying for Katie. A number of women have told me they pray for her everyday. I have to believe this is why she’s feeling so much better this time.

I’m thankful for so many things: my wonderful children, wife, church family, parents, and especially this beautiful new baby. Here’s the verse I keep thinking about that summarizes how I’m feeling: Genesis 33:5 Jacob said, “These are the children whom God has graciously given me.”