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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Be Fruitful and Multiply - Part IV (How Many Children Should We Have?)
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:25-ff [ESV]
Consider these simple questions in the light of this passage: 

• Who feeds the birds of the air every day?
• By extension, who feeds the bird's children?
• In the same way, who feeds you every day?
• And who feeds your children each day?

A lot of you reading will have heard that "Jehovah Jireh" is a name that means, the Lord will provide. It isn't a proper name of God - but is often quoted as though it was.  It is actually the name given by Abraham to the place where God called Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering (c.f. Genesis 22).

When Isaac, carrying the bundle of wood for the burnt offering asked his father where the sacrifice was, Abraham answered, that the Lord would provide a sacrifice.  In Hebrews 11:17-19, we get some idea of what was going through Abraham's mind at the time.  God had promised Abraham that through his son Isaac Abraham's offspring would be named.  Abraham stood convinced that God was going to keep that promise, and that meant even if Isaac died, God would certainly restore him life in order to keep His promise with Abraham.

The imagery there cannot be lost on a Christian.  The very place where this happened was named by Abraham, "The Lord will provide!" (Jehovah Jireh).  In 2 Chronicles 3, we learn that this very place where Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, but where the Lord intervened and provided a sacrifice - was where King Solomon eventually built the temple.  All of which foreshadows the sacrifice of Christ whom the Lord provided as our sacrifice.

Christians, we are told are children of Abraham because they share the of faith of Abraham who believed God and trusted God to provide.

It is ... unthinkably sad, that we find so many today, willing to call themselves Christians, who nevertheless have such weak, pathetic faith.  I don't stand above such people.  I am the poster child for weakness and pathetic faith.  But I do believe that what my Lord has said, is true.  I am not being fed daily, except by the providence of God.  Whatever I have, I have for His glory, and not for my own comforts or pleasure.

Would that I were perfect in all that I said and did, I could regale you with a wonderful history of my deep faith and the mighty deeds wrought therein.  But I nothing.  Every victory my Lord has managed to bring into my life, I have obstructed and hindered to the best of my ability - to my eternal shame, but to His self-same eternal glory.

I didn't want to have children because I was afraid I would be abusive to them in the manner in which I was raised.  I believed that such cycles were inescapably repeatable, and when my wife announced our first pregnancy, I discovered I was too weak a man to divorce her as I felt I ought - that a better man might raise my son to be a better man than I could ever raise him to be.  I say I was too weak.  That was the romantic sacrifice I thought I should do - to save my son from the legacy of my own abuse.

But I couldn't bear the thought of leaving my wife, and so I stayed in the marriage, certain that I would "ruin" my son's life, and all for entirely selfish reasons of not wanting to be apart from my wife.  I was a Christian in as much as I believed the gospel - but I had such a beggarly faith, I wasn't able to move a molehill, much less the mountain of the entirely secular life I had chosen to backslide into.

I didn't know that the Lord would use my son to draw me to himself.  I didn't know that my son would again and again be the catalyst that cast me upon the Lord in all my wretched need.  I could never have imagined how the Lord would use my children as they came, to humble me again and again.  I learned to own my mistakes, and ask forgiveness.  I am a thousand times better a husband and father than I would ever have been - though I tell you honestly, I am not half the man I ought to be by now.  But for God's grace; but for God's grace.

I have proven God in my life, or rather God has proven Himself to me in my life.  I am not like some of you reading, wondering if God is real, or if God ever answers prayers.  God has so thunderously changed me, and shown me the beauty of His truth, that I cannot play games with myself about whether or not He is real or whether He is there.  One look at me followed by a glance at my children will tell you all you need to know about the profound grace and work of God.  I often think that my greatest contribution to God's glory will be that God could use someone like me to produce someone like my kids - whom I adore all the more for their genuine faith, and the sweetness I find in them.

That God could squeeze such as these from such a prince of wickedness as I have been, and would otherwise be - is all the testimony I need to remind myself of God' very real presence and provision.  I've felt a mountain of hatred lifted from my shoulders with such clarity that I couldn't believe it had ever been there without my noticing it before.  To be set free from such life long bonds - well.  I could go on and on.  But I want you to know that I trust God.

That is the foundation upon which my family came to be.  A lot of Christians today would deny themselves children thinking that in doing so they are securing a better, more prosperous life for themselves, but I will tell you that a sad thing.  My children have been God's blessing in my life so thoroughly and profoundly, I can't explain it to anyone who doesn't already know exactly what I mean.  I am not describing a father's love for his children - every father can describe that - I am describing God's love for me in giving me the gift of being the father of my children.  In using my children to drive me to my knees before him in humility and my need.  To bring me to the certainty that I have nothing and can offer nothing to my children but what I receive from God.

Oh what a loss, what a sad and horrible loss it is to watch the children in this generation opt out of parenting, so that they can "live in the now" - they don't know what they are doing, because the blessing they are avoiding is so inconceivable, they cannot imagine it, and so they don't want it.

The bottom line for how many kid should a Christian have?  As many as God will bless them with.

Is it sinful to refuse the blessing of the Lord by practicing birth control?  Almost certainly!

If the reason for them not wanting to have kids is so that they can pursue something selfish, or because they don't trust God to provide for them, or don't want their standard of living to go down, or whatever.  That's not a biblical reason - that's just selfishness.

There aren't many "selfless" ways to deny God in what He would like to do for you.  My wife doesn't want to have any more children.  We have five children, aged 6 to 19, but during my wife's last pregnancy her congenital heart condition acted up in a frightening way, and we decided that it was time to stop having children.

We weren't on the same page however.  I wasn't sure what the Lord would have us do.  Was I over reacting?  She'd had this condition all her life, why now?  It had acted up, but never like this.  I was torn - I wanted more children, and in my selfishness, I felt that my wife would surely be able to produce a few more kids before this *really* became an issue.  I wish I could say that this was some fleeting thought - some madness that slipped into my head, and was dismissed immediately, but no.  I downplayed the whole thing to myself in order to hold onto my perfect picture of what our family ought to eventually look like.

When it became clear to me that my wife was not being evil in wanting to be there the mothering of all our children as they grew up; and again, that her unwillingness to risk her life on the altar of my familial expectations wasn't some secret way of trying to control my life, and dash my dreams - that is, when I finally came to see that my expectations were entirely selfish, and unloving, I realized that my trust that God would surely bless us if my wife became pregnant again - but like person who sees trouble coming and willfully ignores it.  I was not super faithful or wise, I was selfish, and worse, I was convincing myself that it was a bigger, better faith on my part to trust the Lord with my wife's life in our next pregnancy.  Surely he wouldn't take my wife if we were obedient in having as many children as humanly possible, right?

I've learned since then that I was not being a prudent man in that I was ignoring a real and present danger such that rather than hide my wife and I from it I was all for going further down an obviously dangerous road - and was bound to suffer for it (c.f. Proverbs 22:3).

It is enough to say that sometimes, having babies is dangerous, and you have to make a choice to be prudent and avoid the danger - even if that means forgoing a blessing, or going on like a simple minded person and perhaps suffering later for it.  On Judgment day we'll learn about all our errors and wrong motives.  Until then we should walk in the light we have.

My point is it would next to impossible to give a hard list of when it is "not sinful" and when it is "sinful" to practice birth control, but whatever list we could come up with - it will all roll back to a question of motive.  Few people are honest enough with themselves to quickly discern their own motives in a matter.  We always think we're doing what we do for the right reasons, until we're shown the truth.

What about when a husband and wife disagree on when to stop having kids?

Well, that can't happen when both husband and wife are seeking the Lord.  Like instruments that are tuned to the same fork will be in tune with one another - a husband and wife who disagree on when it is time to stop are a husband and wife that are not seeking the Lord together for the answer.

Don't mistake me.  I don't mean to suggest that they aren't praying about the same things etc.  I am saying that one or both of them is not really seeking the Lord's will (more often than not it is both)  You can be sure that you're the one in the wrong if you feel the Lord has given you peace about your decision, because that just dumb.  the Lord hasn't given peace to you if you're married and at odds with your spouse on such an important decision.  No, the Lord has given you strife.  If you feel you're at peace in your strife you're a fool, and if you feel that the matter is settled because it is settled for you - your a fool also.  As long as there is disagreement, then there is no peace, and whatever peace you feel is a very false peace.

Decisions like this will often divide us before they draw us together - that's because we often need to see how broken we are before we're willing to be fixed.

But My spouse and I cannot agree on this!

Don't worry about it.  You don't need to agree with one another, you just need to agree with God.  If you do that you'll do well, and if one or both of you can't do that, the problem is bigger/deeper than a question of how many children you ought to have.

That's my serious answer.

Listen: I tremble before the authority of God's word.  I am so hesitant to offer advice on such matters, lest in offering advice, I give an impression that runs contrary to the word of God.  God's word does not explicitly state that birth control is a sin, but it also doesn't say anything that makes it sound Okay either.

That tells me that God has given enough information elsewhere in the scriptures that an honest seeker of his will ought to be able to infer what God would want them to do in such and such a situation.  We have, for example a great deal that is said about living for one's self - which is always sinful, and putting the needs of others above yourself - which is selfless and what we're all called to do.  Even with only that much I find myself flailing to come up with any possible argument that would make it okay to set your life and what you want out of it, above the lives of the children the Lord intends to give you, but you refuse to let live.  How can anyone justify denying the children that God would give to them, the life that he would have otherwise given them?

That's why I hold to the thought that it is the Lords will for you to have as many children as He would have given you.  If having children puts one of you at risk - then you need to be honest with that.  But if you're just thinking you want to get more money (leisure, life experiences, ) in life than kids - you're not thinking like a Christian at all, and this quick series isn't going to do much for you.

What I want you to get out of this is the fact that you need to seek the will of the Lord as is found in His word.  Seek the counsel of godly, bible-believing and honoring saints, convince yourself from the scriptures of what God would have you do and do it.

Perhaps our Lord can summarize my thoughts, which all water down to His words from 1 John 2:15,
"Do not love the world, or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world the love of the father is not in him." [ESV]

Part I | Part II | Part III
posted by Daniel @ 2:57 PM  
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