Planting Trees While Not Missing the Forest

GT1For Lord’s Day, December 15, 2013

Dear Saints,

In the video Elder Renner began to share with us on Wednesday, Monumental, we learned about how the Pilgrims left our nation a monument so that we would remember how our nation will be great for our posterity; that is, by having Christ as our King: Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. (Psalm 33:12).

Among many things that profoundly struck me in the video was the comment that the Pilgrims “had a 500-year plan”.  Not a “5-year plan”.  They had an enormously “long-sighted” perspective for the future of their families, and thus they risked everything, gave up everything, and lost much on earth in their short-term present. Why? Because they had the spiritual and eternal welfare of their children and their children’s children in view.

We have seen in the morning preaching through Genesis, and now in Exodus, that God always includes our children in His covenant; so He wants them to learn of His mighty works of salvation for the church and all the families within her by His covenant signs.  Thus, we have seen in chapters 12 and 13 of Exodus that God wants us to pass on the Christian faith to our children with redemptive memorials so that they advance in this world knowing who they are and where they are going; this is how they will remain heavenly pilgrims and make it into the Promised Land.  I imagine Deuteronomy 6:5-9 came to mind while we studied God’s commands with the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread recently (Exodus 13:9).

In his article, “T-t-talkin’ Bout my Generation”, Dr. Carl Trueman concludes with a strong challenge for any of us who have a Biblical, covenantal purpose in life for Christ and His Kingdom: “… count no church leader as being truly faithful until you can see what steps he took to leave a faithful legacy. And for the rest of us, while we tend to spend our time talking about this generation, perhaps we might devote a little more time to worrying and praying about the one after next.”  The point in the article was that we only know the effectiveness of a minister by looking at later generations of the church after he is long gone.  How has the pastor planted seeds and grown them for the life and longevity of the future covenant family?  Is he committed to raising weeds for his own short-term gain, or oak trees for our covenant seed? And how have the adults in the church followed his lead?

Proverb 22:6 promises us: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

GT2Earlier in Genesis, while commenting on the Patriarchs raising their families in the Lord, Matthew Henry speaks of the ancient art of family worship.  More recently in Exodus regarding the Passover Feast commands, he speaks of the ancient art of catechizing our children in the faith.  Earlier in Exodus 11:1-10, A.W. Pink recognizes a call to commit ourselves to carefully raising our children as Christians:

The ‘training’ can not start too early. Just as a wise gardener begins, while the trees are young and tender to train the branches along the wall, so should we begin with our own children in their most tender years ... Children are, as a rule, very much what we make them.

Sadly, and sinfully, none of us do all that we can to make the best of our children, so these words from Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason Ministries about getting anything important started should encourage and motivate us: What is the best time to plant a tree? Answer: 20 years ago. What is the next best time to plant a tree? Answer: Today.

GT3Brethren, let us remember our Lord’s promise that even faith the size of a mustard seed is enough to grow into great things (Matthew 13:31ff; Luke 17:6.) And let us today plant anew in the garden of the church’s covenant family with generations after us growing in our mind’s eye.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant