Why There Are More Babies Than Mean, Old Ladies in Heaven

The mom panics, the dad’s face turns a touch red, and the old ladies begin to shake their old ladyheads. The baby has cried. As the baby is run out the sanctuary back door like patient about to be airlifted to the hospital for a brain transplant, the murmurs start: “Why did they bring that kid in?” What a distraction; I can’t focus with all that noise.” “Nursery, anyone?”

And while parents with young children should seek to be considerate of others, most of the people who dislike having kids in their services don’t have a people problem. They have a gospel problem.

When the disciples rebuked the parents who wanted Jesus to bless their kids, Jesus rebukes his disciples. And Jesus rebukes his disciples not because kids’ ministry is his number one passion. He rebukes the disciples because they get the gospel wrong.

The disciples didn’t want the kids interrupting Jesus’ day because they thought salvation was a matter of works. I.e. you help God help you be what God wants you to be. Because the little babies being thrust before Jesus could do nothing meaningful for the kingdom of God, the disciples shewed them away. Jesus only had time for those who belong in Big Church. No distractions please. Or so they thought.

But the disciples got the message of the gospel wrong. Jesus flipped the religion on its head. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14). Jesus was saying that the church doesn’t belong to all the cranky, self-righteous people. The church, the kingdom of God belongs to the children! How can this be? The babies don’t vote, tithe, or lead Sunday school classes!

Well it all goes back to our understanding of salvation. According to the scriptures, crying babysalvation is a free gift of God. Our Lord saves us not because we were able to focus on the sermon for 50 straight years, not because we earned our 100th Sunday School Pen, and not because we tithed 3% of our income for the last 60 years. God saves us by his grace. He saves us not because of works that we have done but because of his love (Eph. 2:8-9). And because God is loving and merciful, he saves little babies and children that die. (For a full look at how this happens, see my blog Onesies: the doctrine of salvation.) As John MacArthur wrote:

The salvation of young children…is a deathblow to any form of legalism, since such children obviously can do nothing to merit salvation.

In a since the disciples were right. The little children could offer nothing to the kingdom of God. But they missed was the fact that they too could offer nothing to the kingdom of God. If we view children as a nuisance, as a bother, or as an unwanted distraction, we need to check our hearts for pride. We need to ask: “Are we impressed with what we and our church is offering to God? Do we think ourselves as being more worthy and deserving than little babies? Have we forgotten that we add nothing to our salvation?” And then, we need to welcome the little babies like Jesus did. We need to be glad that they are with us.

At the end of the day, the church does not belong to the senior adults. Is also is not supposed to be the millennials’ new coffee house. The church belongs to those who are trusting in Christ alone for their salvation. The church belongs to those who have been saved by grace. As a result of God’s mercy, there will be more crying babies in heaven than self-righteous old ladies. Shouldn’t our churches reflect heaven?


Traveling Back From Halloween: The Importance Of Reformation Day

Bonhoeffer BlogOn Saturday, October 31st, most people will be celebrating Halloween. As Protestants and Baptist, we have some far greater to celebrate, Reformation Day. On October 31, 1517 the German monk, Martin Luther nailed the 95 thesis to the door of the Wittenberg church. With his little document, Luther began the protestant reformation, a movement that refocused God’s church on the gospel and the authority of the Bible. First Baptist Church Eastman exists today because men like Luther were willing to sacrifice everything for the advancement of the truth. Reformation Day festival 2This year FBCE will be Celebrating Reformation Day by looking at the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. As Luther before him, Bonhoeffer championed the doctrines of grace. He refused to abandon the gospel even when faced with imprisonment and death at the hands of Adolf Hitler. Make plans to be a part of this year reformation festival on Wednesday October 28 from 6:30-8:00 pm. The event will be similar to an open house or fall festival. It will feature games, crafts and play depicting Bonhoeffer’s last sermon.Come in your best WW II gear and get ready to learn about the Pastor who fought the Nazis.

Kids are asked to attend with their parents.

The Reasonable Expectaions of Grace

Blog Frustating ParentingSometimes I look at my 15 month old with pure puzzlement. His mom and I have spent tons of time teaching our little man to “Stop” on command. Most days, I get to praise my little guy for following our command like a well-trained soldier. But then a few moments later, my little dude starts wandering toward the road, regarding his old man’s voice with a happy indifference. I can’t help but think, “Son, you know this doesn’t end well. What are you doing?”

Knowing that my little man can barely communicate with words, I’m not too surprised at his inability to appreciate what happens when two foot tall people meander down the road. But he does know that disobeying his parents is not the path to a happy ending. And yet, he repeatedly disobeys, leaving his Dad thinking, “Come on, man.”

But the ultimate cause of my frustration is not my son. It’s me. As Dr. Randy Stinson of Southern Seminary reminded our church last weekend, we often get frustrated with our kids because we (parents) have unrealistic expectations. Namely, we want our kids to get sanctified faster than us. We want our kids to learn the importance of obedience within a few days or weeks. Yet, we struggle with sins for years without even a second thought. Now most of us aren’t fighting against the temptation to walk in front of a car. But, we are battling lust, greed, anger, laziness and a whole catalogue of other issues. No one (including us) expects us to overcome lust within a day or to conquer anger within the next week. But because we are impatient people, we can easily expect our kids to perfectly grasp our system for their life within a few minutes.

God gives us grace, and repeatedly. And, we should extend that same grace and patience towards our kids. Sure, we must faithfully discipline our kids when they sin. Discipline (when done with love) is a sign of grace and we can’t tirer of it. But, we also can’t be surprised that our kids disappoint us. We too are sinners in need of grace.

I need to extend more grace to my son. How about you? Do you parent with ridiculously high expectations? How do you balance grace and discipline?