Sunday, December 21, 2008

life with lots of kids

I was just thinking about this, certainly one goal for me and my wife is that by God's grace, our example may be a blessing to many who's perception of children has been way too influenced by the culture. Currently we have five boys 4yrs and under and one (another boy) on the way in March 2009.
Why and How? I'll tell you that it is not what people usually think: We didn't come from large families, we weren't affected by 'full quiver' groups, nor did we adopt these beliefs AFTER we heard or read something.

Even before coming to solid reformed doctrines, we believed FIRST that children ARE a blessing (i know of NO other blessing that ANY Christian can call TOO much). We SECOND believed in the Sovereignty of God (at least in this point) according to the testimony of scriptures: which makes it absolutely CLEAR that the closing and opening of the WOMB is in God's hand and with that, we believe that if God chooses to give us children then they WILL be provided for and we WILL receive MORE joy.

Life with 5 little boys, is FAST, EXHAUSTING, LOUD, CRAZY, and absolutely GLORIOUS!!! It is so sad to see people stressed out over their children and always speaking of them as BURDENS (don't curse the blessings of God). It's absolutely heartbreaking to see Christians limit their potential for JOY and their ability to influence their culture through the abundance of children.

The effects of Biblical illiteracy and the way culture has shaped the minds of people has led many to adopt views that are absolutely contrary to the testimony of scripture and church history. Just as with homeschooling (for example), their are many who have had strong convictions at the outset to separate their children from such a wicked and secular influence, seeing the souls of their children worth more than more stuff or prestige. Yet many have later put their children back into the public school system and joined the two worker families. I say this to make this point, those who had such strong convictions in the past did NOT first have their convictions changed, it was that they were affected first by the culture (need more money, need more things, this is too hard, i need significance in the career world, our children need sports) and THEN they adapted their convictions by their doubts. Do you not see the influence of the culture in these areas, good parenting is seen as "keep them busy, keep them popular, keep them happy, keep them getting good grades, and then keep them away (in college) by paying for it. AFFECTS of this: A generation of spoiled, athletically minded slobs, 'strike it rich' without effort, prideful, lust-filled, monsters who happen to go to church (maybe).

HARD???? YES of course, but by the grace of God it is easy and delightful. LOOK we live in a culture that wants everything easy and fast, but nothing worthwhile comes that way: NOTHING!!! God's way is through diligent work, through toil and sweat, yet God's way brings LASTING satisfaction and ENDURING joy!!! That goes for spiritual growth, ministry, marriage, and child-rearing. Which of those doesn't take MAJOR sacrifices in order to be fruitful and God-honoring??

BELIEVE MORE!!!! Trust the Lord for MORE, that He CAN and WILL give you the strength to do these things, that He CAN and WILL provide for all your needs, that He CAN and WILL give you wisdom, patience, endurance, diligence, peace and fruitfulness!!

It would also help if you limit your understanding of the word 'NEED' to the biblical definition and not what the world calls 'need'. I look and hear many that don't have HALF the children we have and make at LEAST triple what I make, have homes 5x bigger and YET THEY ARE MISERABLE, and YES many Christians are like this and WHY? One because they won't trust the Lord to provide and they don't EXPECT their contentment (joy) to be found in HIM.

Currently we drive a 2003 van that was given to us (before that we drove several 'every week being repaired' vehicles you know the kind where they force you to become a regular at hertz rentals---all because we refused to go beyond our means trusting that the Lord would provide in time) and we live in a two bedroom apt (yes i said a two bed apt with 5 small boys). What cracks us up is how upsetting that is to so many people, how ridiculous the times we live in (even TODAY compared to the rest of the world we are living BIG). Would it be nice to have a home? Sure if the Lord 1.moves us to look for that (or we get evicted because of noisy kids) 2.provides that without undue financial strain, yet it's not on our minds, nor do we bitterly just pretend to be content. The pursuit of God must be a greater desire as well as the salvation (and sanctification) of our children rather than being consumed with bigger and better cultural status.

Too many believers have been trapped by these snares and infected many others: yet IF only we would hope for MORE, we would yet receive MUCH blessings.

We all must get back to the more important things, we must ALL return to our first loves: for the great majority of us (certainly for us) returning to our PRIOR convictions (the ones we had BEFORE our circumstances or emotions caused us to justify changing those convictions) we would truly be on that pathway of holiness.

Does this sound too legalistic? Why? Would you answer be "because the scriptures say......." If you think that i am being legalistic, i guarantee one of two possibles: You are either not letting the scriptures shape you thoughts on this or 2. you have come from legalistic backgrounds perhaps even the mean, gray, and hairy homeschool mom that really needs Jesus!
This of course has much to do with the sufficiency of the word, the admonitions and responsibilities that God gives to Parents and the effect of the culture on the life and thinking of our children.

I like what Paul Washer said in regards to the objection: "well i just want to give them better than i had", Paul replies "God never called you to give them better, and most likely you are who you are today because of the things you had to go through". Now that's sound advice, even in the department of saving for their college (1st who's to say that's best-how many move back home after school?), Wouldn't it be better for them and you to train them to save and appreciate the things they work hard for, even if they have to take a short break or juggle a job (i've seen and heard many testify to the difference in attitudes of children that had to pay their own way through school and those who had it all given to them (many are the undecided majors and the kids who just hang around on campus)- of course i'm not saying all do this.
Men! Yes men i also have a bone to pick with you! Can you not let go of your doubts and your toys in order to bless that wife who WANTS more children have some. Who are you to deny her such a privilege and blessing? (is that part of your headship?) On the other hand i'm not speaking of 'romanticising' about having 'babies', not the 'oh so and so had a baby so lets try again' but later 'why did we have another?' This of course is the prevailing attitude of teens who WANT a baby, like they want a new hairstyle; but have no desire to 'raise' a child.
May the Lord bless a change in your attitude concerning children, may you find greater delight in your own children, may you experience a deeper awareness of the stewardship you have been given, and may you see what great opportunity you have to bless this world for the glory of God.

in addition to this:why not be counter-cultural in this too? Have you ever heard the phenomenal birth rates of Muslims vs Christians? Of course you've seen them walking around with a truck load of kids; i say that this shouldn't be, if anyone should cherish children, if anyone should trust 'things to work out' it should be the CHRISTIAN.
Oh magnify the Lord with me.

in addition to that: There are so many, and i have met my share of older couples that said 'i wish we had more, i wish we did it different'.
Voddie Baucham and his wife greatly REGRET their choice to surgically prevent themselves from having more children. Also countless other couples that have NO children and want them and can't understand why the people that have the ability don't cherish it. well that's all folks!


Ryan Kasza

I enjoy reading this blog. I was wondering if there is a conviction against birth control(because of the reference to the Lord opening and closing the womb) Is that why you believe you may be sounding legalistic?

Julius Mickel

Thanks. Well from the beginning we were motivated by the 'reception of children' as a blessing. SO birth control was not an issue or a factor.
Years back, i remember hearing Hank Hannegraf (when i used to listen to him) make the comment in answering a question about how NEW the Christian (rather than exclusive to Catholics) attitude is towards children and birth control.
In fact i was just at a conference (in Sept) where i saw a back of a book that enlightened me on some church history (which i wondered before but never looked into), I can't say i would recommend it (i haven't really read it or read anything dealing with this issue) but the back of the book has a list of quotes from reformers, puritans, etc that are quite interesting. {THE BIBLE AND BIRTH CONTROL, Provan, Zimmer}
I perceive that the very idea will SOUND legalistic, because of the rarity of the subject and also because of the idolatry of convenience (which i hope people would examine what has really motivated their choices).
Voddie Baucham's 'Family Driven Faith' intially reveals quite accurately the attitude the culture has toward children (and being a parent with many I know by experience the attitude of many believers---which in a negative way the comments or questions always center around money and convience). At the present (if i was asked for counsel on this subject) i would certainly attempt to expose these attitudes and persuade couples to welcome the blessing of children (although i might add that my conviction might be a lot looser than it should be, perhaps i'm too influenced by this culture on not giving enough thought to this).

Julius Mickel

Hey I just looked at your blog and saw that you listen to Waterdeep, a friend of mine introduced me to the worship circle stuff (it's been a long time since i've listened to them) but more than i ever liked listening to that genre, I LOVE playing drums. From unuse: my congo drums (one head needs replaced), i also have a small doumbek, a Klong Yao, and i bought my first son Ezekiel, years ago a Remo Kid's Gathering Drum 21X22 Inches anyways bless you bro

Ryan Kasza

Hey, thanks. I'm a little embarassed that you read that was a weak attempt that I hope to grow in soon. I have not even added anything since then. Yes! their worship circle stuff (for the most part)some stuff is a little too mystic for me. I get ancy when I start hearing God did all He did just for me (Not emphasizing for His glory or His sovereign choice), but still enjoy the rawness andhonesty of "Since I am so sick" and "You have redeemed my soul". Now, back to the birth control isssue. Good point, I must admit I am learning day by day just how much I havw been affected by my culture and the reality that this "ife" is NOT "reality". There is a war raging in my bones daily, trying to seek the truth in God's Word and depend solely on the Work of Christ and not my sad performance that day (Hey, i prayed twice today and didn't curse the driver who cut me off this morning, etc.)It is something to consider, yet, if your spouse had endured severe post pardum depression,has a history of depression, would you be quick to either question her faith, or "lack thereof" for using birth control due to an inability to cope with many children and with PPD? Now there is much to say about the selfishness of men in general, and in myself specifically, but if it is used as a means to limit a stumbling block from someone burdened with PPD, is it still a sin/wrong and why? Now I write this knowing there is a plethera of excuses and walls placed up by sinful people who seek any defense for their actions. I try daily not to be one of them. I seek to be consistent.
Anywyas, I love that you have a huge family. I would love to have a larger family, and am currently working on it. Sidenote-I saw that the true church conference is coming up- would love to go. I am finishing up my BSN this spring @ Lourdes and help lead worship @ Coveneant Church in Perrysburg. Not sure if I'll get to go, but will definitely get the DVDs or CDs. Anyways, I hope to begin actually blogging soon and will look forward to chatting with you in the future. Grace to you in Christ!

Julius Mickel

Good to hear from you Ryan,
Concerning your difficult question: I hesitate answering too quickly because i want to symphatize with such a circumstance, yet I would suggest that we might often get into much trouble when we consider such scenarios. First does the bible commend children, does it encourage birth, are children a blessing? Secondly is God the giver of life? DOes GOd give each individual life and would He give such a life to a believer as a curse?
Let me stretch a thought (that might not even apply) Could this be likened to a Pastor that doesn't want MORE spiritual births, because of the strain it puts upon him, his family and the church at large?
No i personally wouldn't want to think of such a person lacking faith (even if that's the reality) i would want to deal with the depression (encoraging 'real' biblical counseling). Yet another way to consider it is what exactly is the stumbling block? Is part of the Christian life to prevent suffering and sacrifice (i mean this in a Piper way, not wanting to sound like it's a 'piece of cake'). SHouldn't we first be convinced and convicted of truth and THEN to seek by God's grace to obey it.
Yet i must again say, i haven't given enough attention to such things as concerns others, although i sure better, I don't want to be impersonal but i guess that's where we must start (if something is right or wrong) and then to take those truths to each situation. I must be honest that the mere weight of the norm on such issues makes me want to be looser and yet i'm not sure if that's right. Look forward to meeting you!

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