Generational Curses: Are Children Punished for Their Parents’ Sins?

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?

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?”

The Art of Apologizing Well

Katie asked me six questions about apologizing. Here’s the outline for the video:

  1. 0–4:17—Have you always been good at apologizing?
  2. 4:17–6:54—What are wrong ways to apologize?
  3. 6:54–13:00—What are right ways to apologize?
  4. 13:00–19:35—What is your favorite story about apologizing?
  5. 19:35–24:04—Should we apologize to our kids?
  6. 24:04–27:39—How can apologizing or lack of apologizing affect marriages?

1. Have you always been good at apologizing? Elaborate on your “history” with apologizing and how you grew in it.

When I saw this question, my first thought was, “If I’ve learned too apologize well, it’s from making so many mistakes.”

As a pastor you’re going to learn to become comfortable apologizing, because it’s a necessity to have a healthy church body. I’d go so far as saying don’t become a pastor if you’re not comfortable apologizing. You’re going to have to apologize for your own actions and the actions of others. Nothing looks worse than shifting blame, even if the blame belongs elsewhere.

As far as when I learned to apologize, I’d have to give credit to LTC Richard Brewer, my commander in Army ROTC. He didn’t teach me to apologize. He forced me to apologize. I couldn’t make excuses or shift blame.

2. What are wrong ways to apologize?

When we should apologize our sinful nature wants to flare up, get angry, make excuses or blame others. Some people – whether intentionally or unintentionally – act like they’re apologizing, but their “apologies” are simply excuses disguised as apologies.

Two words destroy apologies: Continue reading “The Art of Apologizing Well”

“How to respond when husband mocks Christian beliefs?”

Outline for video:

  • 0–6:43—Scott’s question
  • 6:44­–8:11—Katie’s thoughts on Scott’s question
  • 8:12–12:54—Katie’s question
  • 12:55–17:37—Scott and Katie’s thoughts back-and-forth on Katie’s question
  • 17:38–19:17—Katie shares from Marriage God’s Way
  • 19:18–24:56—Discussion of Christian Heritage Marriage Retreat

Scott’s question: “How should I respond when husband mocks my Christian beliefs?”

How should I respond when my husband mocks my Christian beliefs? My husband claims to be a Christian, but he randomly says the church is really his wife’s church and it’s ridiculous to believe in creation over evolution. Occasionally he does this in front of the kids too.

There’s a chance your husband might be saved, but it’s hard to reconcile your description with the behavior of a Christian. People can be saved and believe in evolution, but they wouldn’t Christianity. That sort of hostility toward the Gospel seems incompatible with regeneration.

Here are the two encouragements: Continue reading ““How to respond when husband mocks Christian beliefs?””

When should 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?”

A Special Verse Between Friends

a special verse between friends


In Sunday’s sermon I preached on parenting, discussing a man named Eli who was the high priest and judge over the nation of Israel. In the course of the sermon I covered 1 Samuel 2:30, which has been a verse with real significance for me…

I’ve shared in other posts the powerful way God used my best friend Elwyn Ordway in my life. He’s the one God used to help me become a Christian, and after that his example showed me the importance of reading God’s Word. At that time I had almost no understanding of Scripture. As a Catholic I had quite a bit of familiarity with Catholicism, but very little familiarity with the Bible. Elwyn helped change that: he got me excited about God’s Word. He shared verses and stories with me, and then I would highlight and tab them. My first Bible had little post-its sticking out the side marking just about every place Elwyn discussed with me.

Of all the verses Elwyn shared with me, there’s one that’s been especially significant to the two of us. It’s not a verse that receives much attention; it’s not one of those memorizable verses like Proverbs 3:5-6, Jeremiah 29:11 or John 3:16. I suspect that’s because the entire verse doesn’t seem like something you’d memorize; usually the verses that get the most attention sound good from beginning to end. It’s only a part of the middle of the verse that contains a powerful phrase, a wonderful treasure, a certain truth that is communicated throughout the rest of Scripture: 1 Samuel 2:30 Therefore the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.’

Those seven words, “those who honor Me I will honor” can, and should, be applied to every area of our lives: marriage, parenting, finances, etc. Every decision we make can be preceded with the question, “Will this honor the Lord?” Throughout our friendship Elwyn and I have frequently quoted this verse. Numerous times in our conversations over the years, one of us will say, “Is this honoring to the Lord?” I have a number of e-mails from Elwyn when he faced decisions and they regularly say something like, “God honors those who honor Him. I need to make sure I do what honors Him even if it’s difficult or unpopular.”

In Sunday’s sermon, Eli didn’t honor God in his parenting; that’s the actual context of the verse. God rebuked Eli for not honoring Him when it came to his sons, and Eli’s failure to do so had disastrous consequences for him. He serves as a good example of the terrible problems associated with disobeying the principle in 1 Samuel 2:30.


Wisdom from Proverbs 27

Wisdom from Proverbs 27.
Wisdom from Proverbs 27.

Since it’s the 27th, Katie and I read Proverbs 27 together this morning; whether you believe God gives us a chapter of Proverbs for each day of the month, it still works out nicely for us to introduce wisdom into our lives regularly. During our reading this morning, I was encouraged by a number of verses and wanted to pass along some thoughts; the point isn’t to comment on every verse, but share what stood out…

1 Do not boast about tomorrow,
For you do not know what a day may bring forth.

This isn’t condemning planning or preparing for the future as that would conflict with other Proverbs telling us to do just that: Proverbs 6:6-11, 21:20, 27:12. It’s is a criticism of declaring what will happen in the future; it’s condemning the pride of being a false prophet and foretelling the future. The same warning is given in the New Testament in James 4:13-16.

Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips.

My wife made a good point that the word “Let” shows it’s not bad for others to speak well of us; it’s only bad if we’re the ones doing it.

A stone is heavy and sand is weighty,
But a fool’s wrath
(or provocation in the NIV, ESV, NASB, WB) is heavier than both of them.

When a fool provokes you, it’s very hard not to respond. I wrote about this in a recent post: “How to Deal with a Fool.”

Open rebuke is better
Than love carefully concealed.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

I wrote about these fantastic verses in a recent post: “Correcting People is Loving.”

A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb,
But to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.

When you’re full, even something as delicious as honey is unattractive, but when you’re hungry enough even the worst tasting food is appealing: “There are no picky eaters in third world countries.”

Katie and I believe this is a great verse for parents at mealtime: if your kids don’t want to eat what’s put in front of them, they’re not hungry enough.

14 He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning,
It will be counted a curse to him.

A friend might have the most wonderful thing to say, but if he/she shows up at your door at 3am to tell you it’ll sound more like a curse. Katie had written in her Bible, “Timing is everything.

17 As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

This relates to my recent posts about giving and receiving correction.

18 Whoever keeps the fig tree will eat its fruit;
So he who waits on his master will be honored.

19 As in water face reflects face,
So a man’s heart reveals the man.

The heart – and not the way someone looks outwardly – is the real revelation of a person.

20 Hell and Destruction are never full;
So the eyes of man are never satisfied.

One of the strongest verses in the Bible discussing the emptiness people experience looking at porn.

21 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
And a man is valued by what others say of him.

Fire tests gold and silver and reveals the value of it, and the same is true of people when they’re praised:

  • Praise tests whether people become prideful.
  • Praise reveals whether people have the character to stay humble.

22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain,
Yet his foolishness will not depart from him.

Fools don’t listen, they don’t learn; they can experience terrible consequences as a result of their foolishness, but they stay the same. I discussed this verse in the post I mentioned earlier: “How to Deal with a Fool.”

23 Be diligent to know the state of your flocks,
And attend to your herds;
24 For riches are not forever,
Nor does a crown endure to all generations.
25 When the hay is removed, and the tender grass shows itself,
And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in,
26 The lambs will provide your clothing,
And the goats the price of a field;
27 You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food,
For the food of your household,
And the nourishment of your maidservants.

Although these verses aren’t primarily for pastors, I found tremendous encouragement and exhortation as a pastor:

  • Know your flock and take care of the people that are part of it (v. 23).
  • Riches and wealth don’t last and can’t take care of you, but if you take care of your flock, your flock will take care of you (vv. 24-27).

When People Let Us Down


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.

What We SHOULD Recognize…

The Grammys took place a few days ago to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. Soon after that, the Super Bowl took place recognizing the most outstanding team in the NFL. One player was even chosen as the MVP to recognize his outstanding achievements during the game.

We love to recognize people with awards, which I don’t really have a problem with…okay…to be honest I do have a little bit of a problem. When I used to teach elementary school I tried to stay away from awards for a few reasons:

  1. First, I wanted to prepare my students for life where you aren’t often recognized (and often shouldn’t be) for your effort.
  2. Second, I wanted my kids to do what was right because it was the right thing to do…not because they’d be recognized with an award.
  3. Third, sometimes the kids who were recognized didn’t really work that hard, while the kids who worked the hardest weren’t recognized at all.
  4. Fourth, when I saw kids recognized with awards it often led to pride…kind of like when adults are recognized with awards.

Despite the negative feelings I might have about giving people awards, if I had to choose some things that should be recognized, at the top of the list would be: staying married. When people have stayed married for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years it’s a wonderful achievement that should be celebrated.

This past week my wonderful parents celebrated their 40th Year Anniversary. I just want to recognize them and say, Thank You. As a son, second only to watching my parents serve the Lord (which is another way they’ve really blessed me) there’s no greater gift they could give me. I’m so thankful for them and the example they’ve set, and the commitment they’ve made to each other, to my wife, my children, to our church, and most importantly to the Lord.

Mom and Dad: I love you both so much. Thank you. I’m very honored to be your son.

Parents' anniversary

We think we want things until we get them

Through a recent situation our family learned a valuable lesson. We think we want things until we get them. Well, a situation helped us learn this, but more importantly it was some examples in God’s Word.

Nothing against families with pets, but we’ve always sort of felt like animals belong outside. Houses are for people. With the exception of babies, houses aren’t for living things that can’t talk and don’t know where to go to the bathroom. Our kids have asked for pets before and you can probably guess how we responded.

Something happened this past week though: someone offered us a turtle. I might be wrong, but it seemed like there was some discussion about us having a turtle going on BEHIND MY BACK before this offer was made. So when someone said, “Hey, we have a turtle with all the supplies you need to care for it and we’d be happy to give it to you” some people (my wife, Katie) thought this was God’s way of blessing us. But others (me) thought this was not the case, so we had a family Bible study. Through our time together we could see that many times we think we want things until we get them.

Examples from Scripture showing we want things until we get them…

Consider these accounts: Continue reading “We think we want things until we get them”

Same-sex parenting

A video titled, “Two Lesbians Raised A Baby And This Is What They Got” surfaced on the Internet and drew a lot of attention. A nicely-dressed young man, Zach Wahls, stands up and shares his accomplishments: engineering student at the University of Iowa, Eagle Scout, 99th percentile on the ACT, owns and operates his own small business, etc.

I’ve been surprised by how many people are supporting this video for a number of reasons. You don’t need to hang out at the local social services office to have some idea of the importance fathers play in families and in the lives of their children. There’s a staggering amount of research regarding the father’s role and the unique ways they positively influence and impact their children. Unsurprisingly the research also identifies many negative ways children suffer when fathers are absent.  A simple Internet search will turn up numerous sites packed with research supporting this conclusion, but here’s one from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Another study recently came out showing the risks associated with homosexuals raising children. The Washington Times discussed it in an article titled “Study suggests risks from same-sex parenting.” The study states that “when compared with adults raised in married, mother-father families, adults raised by lesbian mothers had negative outcomes in 24 of 40 categories, while adults raised by gay fathers had negative outcomes in 19 categories.” Here’s a chart showing the outcomes:

Speaking of research, when did one example constitute a sampling remotely large enough to convince people of its legitimacy? One young man stands up and speaks and people are persuaded that this must be reality? The only way I can imagine people watching that video and being convinced homosexuals should raise children is if they already had a certain predisposition or belief the video happened to enforce.

Zach said, “The sexual content of my parents has had zero affect on my character.” How could he possibly know that unless he was also raised by a heterosexual couple and then able to contrast the two upbringings? You could argue that similarly I can’t turn around and say being raised by a homosexual couple is terrible compared to being raised by a heterosexual couple; however, I can tell you that it would be terrible to be raised without a mother or without a father and that is what happens with homosexual parents.

Regardless of what I think though, research completely argues against Zach’s assertions. Repeatedly he claimed their family and his upbringing is not different from the families and lives of heterosexual couples, but plenty of evidence shows how different and detrimental it is when homosexuals raise children. I was less inclined to share this link since it’s from the Family Research Council, a site that will be criticized for being unbiased, but the graphs and statistics on it are taken from secular, unbiased studies.

At one point Zach said, “The love that binds us is what makes a family.” While this sounds like a reasonable statement at first, a little logic makes it clear that a lot more than “binding love” is what makes a family. For example, would three men who love each other constitute a healthy family? What about four women who love each other? What about one man and multiple women who love each other, or one woman and multiple men who love each other? A reality television show documenting the lives of a fundamentalist Mormon family called Sister Wives involves a man who loves all his wives. If they said, “The love that binds us is what makes a family” would we view polygamy as an acceptable standard? I think we recognize “love” isn’t all that’s necessary to constitute a family, at least not a healthy one.

What if two pedophiles or drug addicts were married and they raised a child that turned out well? Would we identify them as premier examples of what families should be?

Zach said it’s important to be able to “marry the person you love”, which is another point that sounds good on the surface until the absurdity is considered. If the only requirement for two people to get married is that they love each other, why would we prohibit a 50 year old from marrying a 7 year old? Of course we’d identify this as perverse and outrageous even if the man said they were in love. So let’s be honest that loving someone shouldn’t be the only requirement for marriage.

Now while I don’t think Zach’s a necessarily immoral or ungodly young man, it’s worth noting that in all his sharing and discussion of the characteristics from his life that he believed would most accurately reveal who he is and impress on his listeners how well a homosexual couple can raise a child, he seemed to say very little about the morals and ethics he was taught. Yes, he did say they go to church and he’s an eagle scout, but that’s about it. If I was going to talk about my upbringing and hopefully convince people that it should be emulated I can’t imagine not mentioning the values my parents tried to instill in me.

I think sadder than anything else he said was the statement about going to church. What kind of church could they be attending if the leaders allow an actively homosexual couple to attend regularly? They can’t be attending a church where the Word of God holds any authority since it so clearly condemns homosexuality. Mentioning the Bible really brings this article full circle, because even though the evidence clearly shows marriage should be between a man and a woman, God’s Word should have the ultimate say since God created the institution of marriage and He clearly says, “a man shall be joined to a woman and the two shall become one flesh.”