Saturday, May 30, 2015

Ministry Pictures

  As some of you know, for the last few months we have been going to the  local Salvation Army and preaching while serving food.  It's been a blast for a number of reasons.  Sometimes the nature of public ministry limits who can comfortably participate and I personally have always struggled  for a way to include my family in  our ministry. I mean, my kids love holding scripture signs, but they are kids, and have the attention span of kids.   This open door has enabled our entire family to participate in  serving the food, preaching, and cleaning up. Here are some pictures.
Darnel Robinson preaching

Darnel witnessing  after it quieted down a bit

Darnel and David Brown witnessing one-on-one

Our Salvation Army Minions

Chalk-talk preaching

We preach while they eat

Cleaning tables after hours

Cleaning tables after hours

Mrs Shelia Seremak working the  food line

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Common Mans Commentary on Genesis, Chapter 6

Available in full on Amazon

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,  That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose .  And the LORD said , My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh : yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.  There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. ( V1-4)
  Hang onto your seats, folks, this ride may get a little bumpy.
  There are 4 groups mentioned in these verses. Those groups are ‘men’, ‘daughters’, ‘sons of God’ and ‘giants’. The ‘men’ is self-explanatory, as is ‘daughters’. Even ‘giants’, as fantastic as the idea might be, at least carry a very clear connotation.  But were we wind up in high weeds (and run afoul of respectable Christianity) is in trying to identify the ‘sons of God’. But rather than shrink from the fantastic, we will compare how the term is used in other parts of the Bible, and follow that truth wherever it may lead us. 
  Starting from the back of our Bible and working our way towards Genesis, we see that saved people are referred to as sons of God in John 1:12.  There were no modern New Testament Christians around in Genesis 6, so it can’t be them.   Jesus Christ is referred to as the son of God, and so is Adam (Luke 3:38) but it can’t be either one of those individuals.  Israel as a nation is called ‘sons of God’ in Isi 43:1-6, and Hosea 1:10, but obviously this early on in the Bible there is no Israel so it can’t be them. That leaves only one possibility.
  In Job 1:6 as well as Job 38:4-7 angelic beings are called the ‘sons of God’.  So in Genesis 6 we have angels leaving their ‘first estate’ (Jude 1:6-7) and somehow mixing their seed with the seed of men, producing a race of giants.  Not only has this happened before, but it will happen again (Daniel 2:43).
 The offspring of these sons of God and human women were not only giants, but men of renown. These unnaturally large people show up over and over again in your Bible, (Josh 11:21 and Deut 2:10-20, for example) usually when a descendant of Israel is about to take the throne (1 Sam 17).
  Interestingly, the mythologies of ancient peoples are full of legends of ‘gods’ cohabitating with human women and producing remarkable offspring.  This  hardly surprising, considering that although there is one God, there are many gods (Ps 82:1-6, Ps 86:8, Ps 97:7-9, 96:5). In Acts 14;11, the  people  thought it entirely reasonable that the gods had come down to them in the likeness of men.  But outside of the Bible, we have examples like Isis the first woman who gained immortality from Ra the Egyptian sun God by enchanting him with a serpent. The first emperor of China claimed to be half-god, referring to himself as ‘the son of the great red dragon’.  Hercules was the result of a union between Zeus and a human woman.  The 5 Pandava brothers of India were flying giants who were born of a human woman impregnated by a god.     Thesueus was the son of Psoiden and a human woman.  Even Gilgamesh, the king of modern Iraq was reportedly a god-woman hybrid of some sort. These legends show up in almost every culture and probably have their basis in the very real exploits of these men of renown.  The legends survived the flood and then were carried to the four corners of the earth by the people leaving the tower of Babel.
 In verse 3, God makes an interesting statement. He says man is ‘also’ flesh.  Many have taken the 120 year limit on man here to be some sort of ‘upper limit’ on how long a man can live. As interesting as that is, I think there is a much simpler explanation. God is talking to himself here.  We know that Noah had   kids when he was 500, and the flood happened at 600, so God decides 20 years before he talks to Noah about the flood. This means 120 years left for the wicked population on the earth to live.

“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.  And the LORD said , I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” (V5-7)
  The word ‘repented’ is used a couple of different ways in the Bible, and people have written whole books on the subject that are  much better than what I could produce, but primarily ‘repent’ is used to indicate a change in direction. Just being sorry isn’t enough; if you sin against God you should be sorry, but until you stop the sin, you haven’t repented. In 2 Cor 7:10, the sorrow isn’t the repentance; the sorrow is what causes you to repent. God tells man to repent (Matt 3;2, 4:17, Mark 6:12, Luke 5:32, Acts 20:21), and there is an element of repentance in the gospel, but one has to be careful not to make that repentance into a work.  It’s amazing how we can overthink salvation and rob ourselves.
 In verse 6, God shows his heart to his creation.  Not once in the Koran does Allah the moon god show any emotion or compassion. This is because he is a stone idol and incapable of caring.  But the God of the Bible not only cares, and is grieved, but takes the time to let us peek behind the glory and power and majesty and see his heart (Ezek 6:9,  Heb 4:15).
 In verse 7, God vows to kill man, beast, creeping thing and fowls of the air. For obvious reasons, he never vows to kill fish, although one night out on the street a man asked me if I thought Noah took any fish on the ark. I asked him, “Why would he?”
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.  These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.  And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt ; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.  And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” ( V8-13)
 This is the first mention of grace in the Bible, and here, as in every other place, it means ‘unmerited favor’. A grace you can earn is no grace. As Kyle Stephens said “Grace isn’t something God invented at Pentecost.”  Why did God give Noah grace? It looks like, according to verse 9, that Noah’s family line might have been the only family line left on earth that had not been corrupted by the reproductive efforts of the sons of God.   After all, in verse 11, the phrase “his way” shows up, which means whoever or whatever was doing the corrupting is male. The corrupting is being done” through them” according to verse 13, and the destruction will come “through them”. Noah certainly wasn’t perfect, but he was perfect in his generations. Perfect also means ‘finished’, according to Lev 22:21. Heb 2:10, Job 1:1, and Heb 5:8-9.

“Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.  And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.  A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.  And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die .” ( V14-17)
  The ark is for floating, not sailing. One of my pet peeves are illustrations of the ark where it has a lovely  keel and a little room on top, along with  lots of windows and the obligatory pair of giraffes sticking  their heads out the window. The ark, as it is described in the Bible , looks like a big floating  box, almost like a coffin, but as a coffin contains death,  the ark contained life.  The ark is made of gopher wood, which means something organic has to die to protect Noah and his family.  There are no nails in the ark, nothing  iron, just like the Temple.
  Verse 15 lists the measurements of the ark as 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high.  If a cubit is 22.5 inches, then the ark winds up being 562.5 feet long, 93.7 feet wide and 56.25 feet tall, which is 3,500,000 cubic feet.  If you use a giants cubit, it’s even bigger. Furthermore, the ark is described as having a window, and a door.  There are  three stories to the ark, just like there are 3 heavens,  3 sections to the tabernacle and 3 stories in Ezekiels temple (Ezek 42:5-6). The pattern seems to be that if God intends to inhabit something, it has 3 parts to it, just like he does.
  Verse 16 also has mention of a door in the side ((John 19:34, Heb 10:19-20, John 10:1-9) and in verse 17 everything that breathes air is put under the penalty of death.

“But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.  And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.  Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.  And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.  Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.” (V18-22)
 This is the first mention of a covenant, and this covenant is conditional; get in the ark and you’ll be safe. Stay out here and you’ll drown. 
  Noah is told two of every sort, male and female.  A misreading of this has led to all sort of well-intentioned error.  He takes two males and two females of every unclean animal and of every clean animal he takes 7 males and 7 females. Also notice that Noah did not run about scooping up animals, the animals came to him.  This also relives him of the burden of distinguishing which animals are clean and which are unclean, since he didn’t have Leviticus 11 to fall back on. Noah gathered up food for the animals, not animals.
  The animals had lived off of vegetation before the fall, and will live off of vegetation again during the millennium, so it’s not inconceivable that the animals getting on the ark switched back to a temporary grass diet.
  Now since God made man in one spot, but put animals all over the earth, some of these animals had to have started out on their journey towards the ark a long time before, possibly years before.
  People educated beyond their intelligence have long railed against the account of the ark with such platitudes as ‘Noah couldn’t fit two of every animal on earth in the ark’.  He didn’t. He  fit  at least four ( 2 males, 2 females) of every ‘kind’.  If you want an interesting  little Bible study, take a look at what God considers  ‘kind’, and keep in mind that our idea of how to classify animals (Kingdom. Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species) isn’t God’s way.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Common Mans Commentary on Genesis, Chapter 5

Available in full from Amazon

“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;  Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created .” (V1-2)
  The phrase “book of the generations” only shows up twice in the Bible. Once here, and once in Matthew 1:1. This confirms that the human race has only two sources: Adam and Jesus Christ. You are either a son of Adam or a son of God. 
  There are some interesting comparisons and contrasts that can be drawn between the first Adam and the last Adam.  One is made in the image of God, and the other IS the image of God (2 Cor. 4:3-4, Heb. 1:2-3). One lost in a garden, one won in a garden (Matt 26:41-46). One produces death, one produces life (John 11:26). Neither one had a human father.  One is father to a fallen race, the other is a brother to redeemed sinners (1 Pet 1:3).
  Eve, apparently was Adam’s name for her, not God’s name for her.
 “And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:  And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:  And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died .  And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos:  And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters:  And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died .” (V3-8)
  I don’t claim to understand all the implications of verse 3, but Seth was made in Adam’s image, not God’s. The image of God appears to be lost until John 3:3-5. Man will accept the wrong image if it shows up (Rev 13:16-18).
  Noah and Adam are only separated by 28 years. Noah was also still around when Abram’s father was born.
  In verse 5, the first man dies. This starts an interesting connection in the Bible between 5 and death.  For example, the devil (5 letters) had the power of death (also 5 letters).  Christ had 5 wounds and 5 pieces of clothing (John 19:23). David had 5 stones with him when he killed Goliath (2 Sam 17, 2 Sam 21:22). Benjamin received 5 times the food and clothing of his brothers (Gen 43:34, 45:22, 35:18-19). Out of all the brothers, he was the only one whose mother died giving birth to him. In Acts 5: 5, a liar dies. In Romans 5, the death of Adam and Christ are compared and contrasted. In Rev 5, the Lamb appears ‘as slain’.  Take a look at 1 Sam 6:4 and look at the price paid for the plague. In Ex 27:1, the measurements for the altar, a place of death, are given as 5 x 5.  And as a parting shot, take a guess which rib is most often mentioned in connection with murder (2 Sam 2:23, 3:27, 4:6, 20:10).
“And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan:  And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters:  And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died .  And Cainan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalaleel:  And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters:  And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died .  And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared:  And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters:  And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died .  And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch:  And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:  And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died .  And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:  And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:  And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:  And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” ( V9-24)
  Everyone on that list has two things in common; one is that they all descended from Adam, and the other is that they all died.  Compare the very similar list in Matthew 1, and you’ll find a striking difference; their deaths aren’t mentioned. That’s because in Adam all die, and in Christ all are made alive. This list is a list of Adam’s relatives, while Matthew 1 is a list of Christ’s relatives.
  In verse 21 we have the appearance of the only man who never died. Not even Jesus Christ got that privilege ( Heb 11:5).  Enoch has the same name as Cain’s son, and has an interesting testimony.  We know that, before God took him in a foreshadowing of the blessed hope (John 11:26, 1 Cor 15:52-54), Enoch preached and foresaw the 2nd Advent of Jesus Christ (Jude 1:14). Living in a wicked time is no excuse. In a wicked age he tried to stand for God, and God honored it. What we don’t see in Enoch’s life is any converts.  That hardly makes him unique in scripture, and   absolutely does not make him a failure in the ministry. Too often in the ministry we emphasize and gauge ourselves by the   physical fruit that we can see, when that is never given as the guideline for a successful ministry.  He ought not seek to please God without our results, but with our obedience. Results gained by compromise aren’t results worth having.
  Also notice that there is nothing special about Enoch’s family. Anybody can stand for Jesus.
  No warning was given to anyone about Enoch’s translation.  In your Bible, every time something is ‘translated’ it winds up better than when it started.
  Now it’s necessary to point out a distinction here in light of Jude 1:14 lest the reader get caught up in all sorts of silliness.  There is an assumption that since he preached, and the essence of his message is captured in scripture, that somewhere out there is a ‘Book of Enoch’ with the full content. But the Bible never says that he wrote it down, it just says that he prophesied it.  It isn’t even necessary that anyone else wrote it down and   that it survived the flood. The Holy Spirit as the author of all scripture  is more than capable of revealing things like this thousands of years after they happened whether anyone wrote them down at the time or not.  For an example of this, look at how God told Paul the names of Pharaoh’s   magicians in 2 Tim 3:8 even though it never gives their names in Exodus.  The sort of people that go around always looking for more Bible usually aren’t happy with the Bible they have.  They hope to find something else God said that will give them liberty to ignore what God already told them.
  Enoch sires Methuselah the oldest man in the Bible who checks off the scene  at 969 years old just before the flood.. Interestingly, Methuselah’s name means ‘when he dies, it will come”  I wonder if Enoch, as a man who walked with God, had some inside scoop that he  revealed in the naming of his son.
  When the flood comes, as far as I can tell, the only people listed in the genealogy that are already  dead are  Adam, Enos, Cainan, Mahaleel, Jared and Lamech.
“And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech: And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters:  And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died .  And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:  And he called his name Noah, saying , This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.” ( V25-29)
  Noah’s name means ‘rest’, or ‘comfort’, it appears Noah’s parents expected their son to bring some sort of relief from the curse. 
In verse 25, Adam is still alive. Noah is the 7th from Adam.
“ And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:  And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died .  And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” ( V30-32)
 In verse 31, Lamech comes up ‘all sevens’ and dies. He is the last person to die before the flood.
  The birth order of Noah’s three boys here and in Gen 10:21 is Shem, Ham, and Japeth, but in Gen 9:24 they are listed as Japeth, Shem and Ham.  The meanings of their names become particularly interesting later on when the destinies of their descendants are studied out.  Japeth means ‘to spread out’, Shem means 'name of God', and Ham means ‘burnt’.
  The best calculations on the year of the flood, based off of how many years from Adam to Noah and how many years from Adam to the flood, put the flood at 2344 BC.
  It is an often refrain in personal soul winning for a lost person to try to jump track by implying that God is unrighteous. They do this to justify their wickedness, and it’s a common tactic to say that God would never send a man to hell, especially the ‘heathen that don’t know’.  In my experience, and in the experience of my many missionary friends, you might be surprised as to how much the heathen really do know.  As a case in point, before we close out this chapter we are going to take a quick look at what  mankind knew before the flood.
  They had the testimony of creation from the overlapping lives of Adam and Methuselah. They had the promise of a coming redeemer given to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3.  God had told Adam that blood covered sins in Gen 8:20. The mark on Cain testified that God would judge sin. They had the preaching of Enoch, and his translation. According to 2 Peter 2:4, they had the righteous preaching of Noah. They had the testimony of the animals arriving at the ark.  They had the testimony of God’s spirit striving with man to repent (1 Pet 3:20).   Mankind had adequate information, but as always, men loved darkness rather than light, and so God was forced to deal with it.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Value of Kindness

  The older I get, the more  I appreciate the kindness other Christians have shown me over the years, and the more apparent it is to me how little kindness I have given out.  When I first got saved, I was, by all indications, a handful, and  that probably hasn't changed as much as I  think it has. I said stupid stuff, and I did stupid stuff. I mishandled probably  just about every  situation I was faced with.  I knew just enough Bible to be dangerous.  Other Christians, mostly older and mostly women, were very kind to me, and that kindness allowed me the chance to grow into the slightly grayer, slightly more nearsighted handful that people are kind to today.
  The first appearance of  the word kindness in your Bible is in Genesis 20:13 which says "And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come , say of me, He is my brother. ". The context is interesting in that Abraham is trying to  pull a 'fast one', but the definition is valid; kindness is treating someone like they are your brother. Kindness is defined in 1 Samuel 15 as having the ability to destroy, but refraining from using that ability. In Joshua 2, Rahab tells the  Israelite spies that she has shown them kindness in not turning them over to the men looking  for them, and she expects  kindness in return in regards to her family.  David showed Mephibosheth kindness, taking him into his house and  making him as one of his sons.   God says to Israel over and over again in the Old Testament that, in the midst of apostasy and idolatry that he has shown 'kindness' to them. The Proverbs 31 woman is  said to have "the law of kindness" in her tongue.
   Kindness never involves glossing over sin or misrepresenting the truth of God.  In fact, in 2 Samuel 2:6, kindness and  truth  are paired together, and kindness and mercy are paired together repeatedly in the book of Psalms.   In the New Testament we are  commanded to "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved , bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;"  with Jesus Christ  being our example. We are admonished in a similar vein in Ephesians 4 to "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers ."
  Just as a scalpel can both heal and destroy, truth without kindness can actually be quite destructive, It's clear from the verses cited here, as well as  scores of others, that kindness involves treating someone  as a brother while  imparting to them the truth for their edification, not their destruction.  It is having the ability to hurt, but refraining from doing so. It is exemplified by the behavior of God towards us, and it is a behavior we are commanded to emulate.
  In a previous post, I tried to highlight my own failures as a young parent.  It's worth mentioning that, in the midst of all that, there were people who showed me great kindness. There were people who were obviously on my side even as they occasionally took me to task.  As we felt we were doing a horrible job, and maybe we were, these people never  pointed out our shortcomings just because they could. One of them was an older lady named Miss Barbara. One  of them was an older mom named  Mary.  One of them was a  younger lady with her own passle of kids named Emily. There was a Miss Robby, who didn't go to church with us.  One was the mother of  some dear friends. One of them was my pastor, who over and over in the office let me know that  I could do this, and that he was on my side.  Even if I disagreed with his recommendations ( most of which I followed anyway) , I always left knowing that we were all wanting the same thing, even if we didn't agree on how to get it. If I was remiss in mentioning them, the fault is entirely my own.   The post was supposed to be about my failures, not other people's successes.
  I said all that to say this; in light of that last post, I have been the recipient of both kindness and cruelty. My wife spent most of the day crying as people of our acquaintance weighed in on my failures, both past and present. Some people's remarks were  surprisingly personal given our shared history.  Apparently a poor opinion of me and my family had been latent in their hearts for quite some time, and having an  opportunity to make it known, they did. That's fine, I'm a big kid, and I 'm certain I deserve a certain amount of that, having been so unkind and so harsh on other people in the past.
  You see, we like to quote the verse in Galatians 6 "Be not deceived ; God is not mocked : for whatsoever a man soweth , that shall he also reap ." outside of it's context. The context of Galatians 6 is  that  kindness must be shown to others if you expect kindness in return. A brother in error must be treated a certain way  or , when it's your turn to be the  idiot, nobody will be kind to you.  I have decided, in light of all this, to assume that I am simply reaping off of seeds sown long ago, and this affair has made me more mindful of how to act in the future.  So to both the kind and the cruel, thank you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Tyranny of Other People's Expectations

 "For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders;" Matt 23:4

 Raising kids is tough. Raising kids in church can sometimes be even tougher.  We have 4 kids that are  6 years apart, and so for roughly a decade we were in diapers and for roughly  8 years we had  various stages of toddlers running amok. We did a couple of things right, but one of the things that I did wrong was to let other people's unscriptural expectations influence how I treated my children. Let me explain.
  When you have a child, everybody has an opinion about what you should or should not do.From diet to diaper choice, everybody from your  grandmother to your next door neighbor wants to weigh in and  criticize or critique. Most of these people mean  well, but when you are a new parent it can be overwhelming.  Then, you take your kid to church for the first time.
  All four of our kids were born while we attended the same church, and at this church, during that period of time there were a bunch of us cranking out offspring.   There was a lot of emphasis at the time on child training, with a special focus on making the children sit still and be quiet during services.  This was emphasized from the pulpit as well as from  almost every older person in the church.  Individually they meant well, but cumulatively I felt like my 1 year old was the most disruptive child on earth.  It was implied that , if lost people came to church that morning, my  child could prove to be such a distraction that they never hear the gospel. This put an enormous amount of pressure on us as parents, as you might imagine.
  Now let me tell you something you already know. Little kids are squirmy, and little kids don't like to sit still. Little kids get bored in church. Little kids have no self-control and no self-discipline, and they must be taught.  I'm in favor of all that.  The problem we ran into is that  such training seemingly absorbed our entire time at church. It seemed I was always taking Robert or Cameron or Belle or JJ out of the building.  Literally eight or nine times a service we would go out and I would attempt to persuade this  squirmy bored ball of flesh to sit perfectly still and be perfectly quiet. I did this because I thought that 's what was expected of me and that souls might just hang in the balance.
  What made it that much harder is the same people who claimed I was disrupting services by having a whiny kid there claimed I was disrupting services by taking him out.  People sighed, shook their heads,  rolled their eyes, and the cumulative effect was that I  convinced myself I was doing a horrible job.  Everybodys kid was better behaved than mine. I had the most  squirmiest kid ever.  I found myself getting angry at my kids, and doubling down on my corrective efforts.  I wanted to make sure everybody knew, out of pride, that I had this kid under control. This inexcusable overreaction is entirely my fault.
  The result of this was that  my kids dreaded church, and so did I because I knew I would be  exhausted  emotionally at the end of it. From my kids point of view, church was a place where inhuman things were required of them, and that  every older person  looked down on them.  Church was a place where their dad got angry at them.  I had placed  both myself and them in an over-reactive bondage.
  It is so important in this Christian life to adhere to what the Bible says, and politely ignore everything else.  The child rearing book you  bought at a homeschooling convention may be helpful, but it is not the word of God. Your grandmother hopefully has some wisdom but she also, is not the  infallible, inerrant word of God.  Your pastor may have good intentions, but he is not the  word of God.  When someone puts on you an  expectation that scripture does not, you must fight with all you have to  keep a scriptural perspective. I promise you, if you don't, you will regret it and you might reap the fruit of those decisions for some time.
  Having said that I will give you the top 3 things that I struggled with and what I wished someone had said to me.

1. Absolute stillness and  quietness is a requirement. This idea exists nowhere in scripture.  The Bible does say "Let all things be done decently and in order", but God knows that kids are kids.  You as a responsible adult shouldn't let them tear the sheet rock off the walls or disrupt things, but the idea that  the slightest whisper from them is somehow rebellion is an unscriptural idea.  We had people tell us that  kids coloring in  coloring books in church was improper training. That's not in the Bible, that is their opinion. Kids that sit perfectly straight and still and silent and stare rapturously ahead at the  preaching would be nice, but if that doesn't happen, you aren't violating scripture.
2. "Your baby might just send somebody to hell" The Bible doesn't say that you are responsible for  the distractions or daydreams or short attention spans of unregenerate people. The Bible says in Ezekiel 3:18 "When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die ; and thou givest him not warning , nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life ; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand."  God  holds us responsible for not warning people, but there is nothing in scripture to indicate that we are expected to  live, work or witness in a distraction-free environment.
  To the contrary, John 3:19 says "..this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."  People reject the gospel not because your baby was distracting them. They reject the gospel because they love their sin.  They make goo-goo faces at your toddler and ignore the preaching because that's what they want to do. They want to to ignore the preaching, and that is not your fault, and its certainly not your toddlers fault.
3. You have the worst baby ever.   Really, what are the odds of that? The Bible says in 2 Cor 10:12    "For we dare not make ourselves of the number , or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise ."  I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at  how easy this looked in everybody else's pew.  I still do this sometimes. Now that my oldest is  almost a teen, I see other parents fighting the same battles we fought. I see other peoples kids didn't get a nap, or he's teething or he's just bored.  Reasonably,  this  must have also been the case 10 years ago, but I didn't see it.  For some reason I couldn't see it.  If I could go back in time I would tell myself to cut myself some slack. Calm down. It will be Ok, I promise.
  So if you are a parent of a bunch of little ones, please know that I am on your side, and the best advice I can give you is to take what the Bible says, live the best you can , beg God to help you, and ignore everybody else. They might get mad, but they'll get over it and when your kids are happy, reasonably adjusted non-toddlers nobody will remember what everybody was so mad about.