Daily Devotional for Monday April 17, 2006

The Bigger Story Behind the Sad and Tragic Death of Sarah Lunde

(Matthew 18:6; Psalms 127:3; Deuteronomy 6:7; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4)

TODAY'S DEVOTIONAL IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF SARAH LUNDE, the 13-year-old Florida girl who was reported missing and found dead a year ago. Sarah found refuge from her troubled life through faith in Jesus Christ and is forever with the Lord. Our prayers continue to be with her family to know Christ's strength as they cope with their great loss, and for the man accused of committing this heinous act to ask the Lord's forgiveness for what he has done. This message today is for PARENTS and is a MUST READ if you have children.

In the aftermath of the horrible death of yet another child, the focus of the media is on the sick man who killed Sarah and the debate on what to do with these people who molest and kill children. Crime is a choice. Those who make the choice to harm children should pay a huge price. There are enough legitimate studies showing that the highest recidivism rate are by those who commit crimes against children. The very first offense against a child should carry a significant amount (a minimum of 20 years) of jail time and all of the mental health resources the prison system offers must be employed during those years of incarceration.

Upon release, not only should every person convicted of a crime against a child be forced to register, but must wear a 24/7 monitoring device so their movements can be tracked. I personally feel Martha Stewart got off easy for lying to the government, but the reality is, if she is such a danger to society that they need to monitor her 24/7, how much more do they need to monitor those who have a history of harming children? ANY violation of probation must automatically send the person back to jail. While state governments have to deal with this issue from the legal side, my focus today is on the bigger story which is a spiritual one.

So many of the topics that I have spoken of frequently over the past 80+ months are in play as we look at these sad stories, one after another, of children being abducted, in most cases sexually abused, and then killed. Topics like the breakdown of God's plan for the family, sex outside of marriage, and the role God calls parents to play in their children's lives. I am aware what I will say today is going to upset some people, but this is a word that must be spoken. What I am sharing in no way minimizes or in any way justifies the actions of these sick and demented people who hurt children, but the fact is, in almost every one of these cases the PARENT or PARENTS have to bear a significant portion of the blame.

The sad story of Sarah Lunde is far too common. Here is a young girl being raised by a single mother (the man who fathered her was never in her life) who must be held accountable for her actions in this tragedy. Children are a gift from God and He has called you to not only raise them in the admonition of the Lord, but to PROTECT THEM the best you can. This mother who has a drug history, was sleeping over at a boyfriend's while her 13-year-old daughter was home all alone. Sadly, this was common for Sarah to be home alone while her mother was "out." The man who has confessed to killing her was actually one of her mother's boyfriends. I deal DAILY with men and women who bring people home to have sex with. They are bringing people into their home they barely know and exposing their children to them! YOU ARE NUTS TO DO THIS! You don't even know these people and you are giving them access to your children!

This is not something that happens once in a while, it is COMMON TODAY! Remember Amber Frey? She brought the charming Scott Peterson home to spend the night, even let him pick up her daughter from her day care and watch her! She didn't even know Peterson who turned out to be the one who killed his very own pregnant wife and baby! You women and men who are giving complete strangers that you are having sex with access to your children better wake up. The fact is, you need to be aware of ANYONE who has access to your children, and that includes your family. How well do you really know "Uncle Bobby" or "Cousin Joe?" You better do your due diligence and know all you can about anyone that has access to your children, and I hate to even say this, that also includes the people in your church.

Listen, you can't live your life in total paranoia, but you have the right and RESPONSIBILITY to know who your children's teachers are, the background of their Sunday School teachers and those who run the youth group, their sports coaches, and anyone else who is in your child's life. Get on the Internet and find out if there are any registered sex offenders living in your neighborhood. Find out who your neighbors are! You also need to be aware of anyone in your family that may have problems with children. The fact is, in almost 100% of the cases where a child is abused, it is by a family member, friend, or someone you are close to. THE PERSON MOST LIKELY TO HARM YOUR CHILD IS SOMEONE THAT YOU KNOW!

So you have Sarah's mother who is not married, a drug history, doesn't work, many men in her life, who completely abandoned her child often, and, sadly, now her little girl is dead. Does this mean that someone who looks to harm children can't do this to a child in the home of a Godly man and wife who do everything they can to insure their children's safety? Of course not. But these predators are looking for easy prey. They are looking for children who are neglected and alone like Sarah.

Just a few weeks prior to the Lunde murder, we had the sad case of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford who was taken from her home in the middle of the night. This time it was a single father who was not home, sleeping over at his girlfriend's while this happened. His parents were watching the young girl, but this brings up another major societal problem, grandparents being asked to be parents again.

As the family has broken down over the past 40 years, grandparents, people who have already raised their children, are playing a larger role in many children's lives. Children whose parents for many reasons can't or won't take care of them are being raised by their grandparents. In many cases, these grandparents have health issues and a host of problems that make raising a child a huge burden. Sadly, there is nobody else so they are forced to raise these children. At a time in their life when they should be enjoying their golden years, they are thrust into the role of being a "parent" all over again.

The root cause of this problem is mostly from people having children outside of marriage. Every time I deal with the issue of sex being God's gift for marriage and all sex outside of marriage being a sin, I get floods of emails from people telling me how "out of touch" I am. This is especially true from young adults when they are told that sex is NOT a game and that God's plan for sex is ONLY in the bonds of marriage. A natural by-product of sex is a baby. When you are engaging in sex, no matter what "protection" you may be using, having a child is always a possibility.

God's plan for children was clearly in the context of marriage, not outside of marriage. As I share with you often, God's way works. His plan for the family is a man and a woman in a committed lifetime relationship who have children and raise them in the admonition of the Lord in a loving and nurturing home environment. When you are having sex outside of marriage and are having children, you are cheating yourself and your children out of what God planned for the family to be.

So many young women having children out of wedlock have NO BUSINESS having children at all. They are not equipped to take care of themselves, let alone their children. The Children Services Department in every state is overwhelmed with the incredible volume of cases they have to handle. The government was never supposed to have to raise your children! My friend, there is probably no more difficult job in the world than being a parent. It is a special role God has called a man and woman in marriage to play. God has entrusted into your care those children He gives you Raising your children to follow the Lord is the greatest ministry you will ever have.

I love you and care about you so much. A byproduct of the breakdown of God's plan for the family are these sad cases that we see too frequently on our TV sets. While these are law and order issues, they are more importantly spiritual issues. Men for the most part, who are living their lives in rebellion to God and perpetrating evil on the most innocent in our society. Preying mostly on children left vulnerable by single parents who are also living their lives in rebellion to God and exposing their children to the evils that exist in this world.

I have written often to encourage single moms and dads. Life is not always perfect. We don't always follow God's plan at times and have to deal with the consequences of trying to do it our way. Sadly, divorce for a host of reasons is a big part of our current culture. So regardless how you ended up being a single mom or dad, you have the difficult task for this season of your life of being mom and dad to your child, working to bring in the money necessary to live, helping to train up your child in the ways of the Lord, while having a life of your own. I will be praying for you today for God to give you the wisdom, discernment, and strength to make you adequate each day. Never forget your number one responsibility is to your children. To train them up in the ways of the Lord, to love them, to nurture them, to encourage them, and to protect them.

We only hear of the most tragic cases like Sarah Lunde and Jessica Lundsford, but every day children are being abused, sexually molested, and having their lives scarred by evil men and women living in rebellion to God. While the media is focused on the sensationalism of these crimes, the people who commit them, and the legal arguments, I want you to hear clearly today that these are spiritual issues. More and more people are growing up, living their lives in rebellion to God helping to destroy God's plan for the family, having children who grow up in homes void of God, many experiencing the evils of this world as they grow up, who are themselves eventually have children, and this cycle continues. In living void of God we see every kind of evil imaginable in these lives.

This is the bigger story and, sadly, is where millions of people are living this very moment. Now more than ever we have got to get the message to the masses that Jesus Christ is their only true answer, and only true hope.

I know from the thousands of emails we get daily from people who have been abused physically and/or sexually as children, that many of you are still hurting and dealing with these issues, even as adults. I want you to know that Jesus loves you and wants to heal you today. I am praying for the Lord to heal you of all that you have experienced in your past, and for you to move forward with your life. He has much left for you to do.