INTEGRITY: First things First

As Judith neared her fourth birthday, she became feverish and lethargic. We took her to the doctor on Tuesday. He didn’t seem overly concerned, and we went home. Wednesday was a little worse; but on Thursday, her birthday, she seemed better. We had a little party.

Friday, she was worse again; and Saturday, her color was gray. We spent most of that day in the emergency room trying to find out what was going on. Again, they could find nothing out of the ordinary and were ready to send us home when another doctor was brought in for his opinion. He recommended a spinal tap, explained how it worked, and proceeded with our permission. In short, Judith was at death’s door with spinal meningitis. Admitted immediately, she spent the next ten days in the hospital fighting for her life. I spent the next few days crying for God’s mercy and coming face to face with this truth: Judith did not belong to me; she belonged to God. I had to answer this question within my own heart, “Will I trust God even if she dies?”

Sometime in that few days, I gave Judith to the Lord. Mercifully, He gave her back to us.

A few years later, my oldest daughter was leaving to live in Costa Rica. As we were worshipping at a conference, we were singing “Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” When we reached that part that says, “He gives and takes away,” I sensed God asking me if I would trust him with Anna. I confessed that she belonged to him . . . and wept.

God is a jealous God,

And he will not allow us to worship our kids.

Gen. 22:1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey.

God promised Abraham a son when he was seventy-five years old. When Abraham was one hundred, Isaac was born. A few years later, God tested him to demonstrate whom he loved most: God or Isaac. It is amazing to me that Abraham did not hesitate but early the next morning got up and obeyed. He went as far as taking the knife in hand before God sent an angel to stop him. Then God said this to him, “. . . because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son . . . through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

God is amazingly clear on this point.


Substitute anything or anyone else,

and the world will not be blessed.

Loving our children more than we love God is idolatry and idolatry is destructive. Psalm 115: 8 “Those who make them (idols) will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.”

We will become like what we worship. I realized that if I worshipped my kids, I would become like them, just a big kid. If I worshipped God, I would become like him. Our kids need their parents to be more like God than like kids. We need to be moved by what is righteous instead of by what we want.

We cannot please God and please our kids.

We cannot be ruled by God and ruled by our kids.

If we fear God first, that is, if we are attentive, receptive, and responsive to him above all else, then we will respond rightly to our children. But if we are attentive, receptive, and responsive to our children first, we will miss God entirely. Which comes first is the issue. Compromising on this issue will poison our sons and daughters and their children, too.

Putting Jesus first will bless

our sons,

our daughters,

their children,

and the world.