Tag: Christian

You wouldn’t Quote “Spare the Rod” If You Knew Where it Really Came From

Spare the Rod…

I’m long past the age where parenting is a part of my day. So I was surprised when I visited a message board and found a parent struggling with her choices and the “spare the rod, spoil the child” quote was thrown in her face. Surprised, because this argument was around when I was parenting. You’d think its legs would have worn off by now. Surprised, because Christian parents are still being encouraged brainwashed into believing they have to hit their children in order for them to become responsible/normal/loving adults. Surprised, because I wouldn’t think today’s enlightened young adults would entertain the idea for one moment.

The saying is attributed to the Bible, but that isn’t quite true. The attributed verse is found in Proverbs, and in the New International Version it reads like this:

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” (Prov 13:24)

Note that it’s not quite the quote we use.

The actual sentence is, instead taken from a poem written in the 1600s by Samuel Butler. It is a mock heroic narrative, and the sentence reads: “Love is a boy by poets stil’d /Then spare the rod and spoil the child. “

Wikepedia states, In the context of Hudibras the phrase is a bawdy metaphor suggesting the best way to curtail amorous passions or, through double entendre, to prevent conception.

Still want to quote it?

Back to Proverbs 13, or the perversion of it, many fundamentalist churches use to encourage spanking (“the rod”) as part of parenting. It’s part of the reason so many people struggle with who God is and what he wants from us. Corporal punishment is difficult to align with grace and love, isn’t it?

And since when does careful to discipline equate to hitting? But I guess I’m getting ahead of myself…

If we’re going to follow Christ, and be Disciples of Christ, we need to approach parenting in a Christ-like manner.

The overriding theme of Proverbs as it relates to parenting might be described as creating a culture of accountability, of culpability. God wants parents to give children the duty, the burden, of being responsible for their actions. Not beat them. Not verbally beat them, either; just teach them to bear the responsibility.

That’s a long way from hitting.

‘The Rod’ Defined

Thing is, the aforementioned “rod” didn’t have anything to do with spanking. A rod, in ancient times, was what a shepherd carried to care for his sheep. The Hebrew word used in Proverbs is “shabat.” A shabat had several purposes: it could be tossed past the errant sheep to startle him back to the flock, it could be used to fend off potential attackers, it was used to count the sheep (as they went under the rod), and it was used physically to pull back the wool in order to look at wounds or other defects on the sheep’s skin.

The rod would be pretty useless for these purposes if it were used as a weapon, wouldn’t it? I don’t think even a sheep would trust the rod being pushed against its wool for examination if it had been beaten with it!

At any rate, the rod is not a weapon, but rather a symbol for discipline. Sue Hille, in The Rod of Guidance, suggests the shabat has 5 symbolic uses in parenting:

Security—the child knows he/she is loved, cared for, accepted; 2) Guidance—the loving parent will teach the child and keep him/her from going astray; 3) Protection—the parent will not let outsiders hurt the child; 4) Evaluation—the child will be ʺcountedʺ and progress will be monitored; 5) Diagnosis—the parent will look for signs of anxiety or pain in the child and seek out treatment and healing.

These are solid principles, and they embrace the Word of God in the sense that they embrace grace and love – and forgiveness. I can’t imagine Christ raising a stick to beat a child, can you? If we’re going to follow Christ, and be Disciples of Christ, we need to approach parenting in a Christ-like manner. The Bible can help us do that.

My Story

I admit I did buy into the theory, for a number of years, that children needed to be spanked. You can only teach what you know, and I did come from a family that spanked. I gave fewer spankings than they did, and I really wanted to be able to align my parenting methods with God’s. A swat on a diaper when they ran toward true danger, like a busy road felt okay to me. But spanking didn’t seem to resolve anything, and as mentioned earlier it did not align with my idea of God as a giver of grace and love. Instead I searched for a gentler way…my kids are grown now and don’t seem to have suffered from the few spankings they got, though I am sure they’d tell you different.

Christian communities will suck you in and continually hammer you with what’s “best” for your child. It’s really difficult for new parents who are trying so, SO hard to do the right thing. Depending on your church family, you might be pushed to breastfeed, homeschool, use corporal punishment, and so on. Or you might be pushed in the other direction: bottle feed, use public schools, use time out for punishment. Going against either is like swimming upstream in a hard current. I know; I homeschooled and breastfed (in public – gasp!) and was from the “other” train of thought.

The one thing I know for sure is that God has a plan for you, the exact right plan that’s tailor-made for your child. His plan fits the child who is oversensitive, ADD, an introvert, and extrovert, and more. He already knows which of those labels fits the child, and He’s already worked out what to do. Getting into the Bible and knowing it will help to resolve the problem as well as the pressures that come along with belonging to a group.

By the way, if you started this article knowing that “spare the rod and spoil the child” was a distortion of the Proverb, kudos to you!

 

References:

Road to Happiness: 3 Ways to Experience Joy

I have a cockatiel that loves to whistle the song “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands.” He of course, can’t clap his hands claws, so he clicks with his tongue. He likes that song so much he tangles it into most of the other things he whistles. As a result of hearing it 14 hours a day, I sing it a lot too. Sometimes I even clap.

I wonder how our lives would be different if we continually sang such a song? It could be out loud, or simply in our heads. It doesn’t have to be a child’s verse. It can be your own creation. It could be a hymn or praise song, or just a mantra.  Something to reflect the deep joy of being alive, being God’s creation…just being. We are promised:

1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

True joy floods the soul. It overwhelms with a sense of comfort, of well-being, of love.

One reason we don’t feel that joy continually is that we don’t slow down. We’re overstimulated, bombarded with noise and offers and things that want to pull us in every direction all day, every day. Because of that, we are in such a hurried, harried state of mind that we miss the joy. What a tragedy!

Here are some ways to be sure you experience the joy:

Savor the existence of the Father.  Slow down to feel His presence, to appreciate His intervention.

“Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” Isaiah 30:21

Who else but us has this awesome private GPS signal?

Savor the blessings.  “What?” you ask, startled. As if there isn’t a blessing.

You’ve probably been so buried in work and home and church and life that you forgot about blessings altogether.

If one doesn’t come to mind immediately, try simply loving the moment. Spend today, just a day,  loving  your tiny patch of the world, with all its warts and turmoil and chaos and stuff. No, the world isn’t perfect. Yes, you wish your daughter wasn’t such a drama queen. You don’t understand why your friend talks behind your back, nor why your husband insists on being so loud.

But all in all, the world is a pretty good place and you are blessed.

Be the Optimist. You know that gal who’s always positive, who always sees the blessing in a situation? Be her.

To an optimist, obstacles are challenges. Waiting is God’s way of making you grow. She never sees loss as failure, but as a chance to change, and she opens her eyes for the next blessing headed her way.

People who think this way see life as full of opportunities. They tune in to God in order to see what awesome adventure is coming next. Their upbeat attitude is contagious.

You see, even non-Christians know that deep joy can’t happen until you are able to slow down, to embrace, to radically experience it. Sometimes the smallest things can bring great joy. Pause and allow yourself to encounter joy today.

Need More? Try the Get Closer to God ecourse.

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Disagreements in the Church

I’m reading in 1 Corinthians this week.

Actually, it’s more than that. I am leading a group in a very brave Read The New Testament in 90 Days project—and I am behind.

I. Am. The Leader.

I’m behind.

Anyway. I can’t help it; I’m already there. So let’s move over to 1 Corinthians.

When this letter was written (somewhere around 56 BC) the city of Corinth was full of every sort of shameless, flagrant behavior. It was so horrid in fact that the phrase ‘to act the Corinthian’ – in Greek – meant “to practice fornication.”

Corinth was on a narrow isthmus between two seas; it served as a wealthy port center. Therefore, it had plenty of taverns. And a tiny, newly saved fledgling group of Christians had little say over what went on. Much like now.

So in the midst of all this, Paul visited Corinth and ended up staying 18 months. After that some mail was exchanged between him and the new church at Corinth, and he wrote the letter we call 1 Corinthians as a response to some of their questions.

Right up front, Paul addressed divisions within the church. Apparently the people were arguing. Perhaps some wanted to be led by a disciple who had actually been with Jesus. Perhaps some preferred Apollos’ way of preaching. Perhaps a new Tea Party had formed within the ranks.

Paul wasted no ink before diving into the fray. “Has Christ been divided?” He demanded (1 Cor. 1:13).

I love his in-your-face method. Nowadays in the church we see it, but don’t name it. We know it, but turn a blind eye. We live with it, like living with a favorite shoe that rubs the foot but is, nonetheless, a favorite so we put up with it.

Paul is not putting up with it.

Paul is having none of it. No division, no arguing, no classes, no I’m-better-because-I-was-baptized-by-(Cephas/Apollos/Paul/Christ).

“I thank God that I baptized none of you…that no man should say you were baptized in my name. For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel.”

Paul knows his purpose. He has a clear, laser-sharp focus on what he was sent to do. Some might say baptism was a part of it; he says no. He knows his job is only to preach.

Today, the divisions are about carpet color, music style, who should be a deacon, etc. Yet a division is a division, and by focusing on those we are losing our laser focus. We forget what we were called for, to whom we were called, and give those up in favor of … well, let’s read on.

Then he went on to lecture them about the base, worldly things that they probably…held dear. Whoops.

One of the things esteemed in Corinth was knowledge. The learned man, the one who was clever and smart; not that their group was full of this sort of man, but they would have admired them. This, Paul says, is the very antithesis of God’s wisdom:

“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe…
“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. God has chosen the foolish thing of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that he might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.” * 1 Corinthians, parts of 1:17-31. Read in its entirety here.

Lest we get lost in that message, let’s just say that God uses those who we would normally consider weak, unimportant or even foolish to deliver his message. Paul then summarizes it beautifully in 2:2 :

”For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

As we think of all the things we do and are and want, I wonder if we could say the same? Could I say “I know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

Could you…

What if we…

Here’s another version:

“ I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.” *The Message

What if I took this as my mantra, and all I said or did to another – especially someone with whom I am apt to disagree, or argue—what if all was based on that one statement.

Jesus.

Jesus crucified.

Jesus and who he is.

Not:

whoyouare / whoIam

I’m better

I’m smarter

I’m more important.

Not: doggone it let me talk! I have something to say.

Not even: look at me.

Just this:

Look at Jesus.

Look at him.

See his crucifixion?

See his love?

What was I going to argue about, again? I seem to have forgotten.

God, a Dog, and Decisions

From iphone 024 (640x480)I knew it was only a matter of time until Fella, my 14-year-old Corgi, would pass. He has been unsteady on his back legs for some time. And yes I know they make those wheelie carts for long dogs who lose mobility, but those are not for him…he was afraid of loud noises, and it would’ve scared him to death, among other things.

So this week he went downhill fast. He had a yucky discharge from the nose, he has battled some sort of infection all around his lips for a year, he started dragging himself around by his front legs, refusing to even try the back ones any more. He was also losing control of his bladder. He’d seen vets in TN twice and FL twice, and I was dosing and applying and all the things you do when your dog is a senior citizen. I was even carrying him outside and holding up the back end for him to potty. It wasn’t working.

My husband went out of town and I sorta knew I’d be the one left with the duty of watching him die, or worse having him PTS. I hate putting pets to sleep. It seems like I’m playing God, making decisions that may or may not be the right ones. But I’d been praying that he wouldn’t have to suffer (the dog, that is) and yesterday and today he was suffering.

Speaking of God, you know that for me He’s always right in the middle of what I’m doing and today was no different. All night Fella dragged himself this way and that, trying to get comfortable. During the night I got up and tried to take him potty, which he refused, and served up 2 whole bowls of water, which he gulped from a lying-down position. I awoke with a start at 8:15 and started to call the vet when that still, small voice said wait until 9:00.

So I sat on the edge of the bed and waited. Watching Fella try to breathe, I thought he was going to die about then. I texted my husband: Fella’s all but gone.

During the wait, the Lord spoke to me about these decisions we must make for those who can’t do it themselves, and how it is best that little dogs not suffer, and it’s up to me to keep him from it.

At 9:00 Fella was still hanging on with labored breathing and my husband texted me. I’ll be praying for you. So that was what I waited for—someone to pray on my behalf, as I certainly couldn’t do it on my own. Someone to care what I was going through all alone. I called the vet.

At the Corgi Picnic, 2005 I think
At the Corgi Picnic, 2005 I think

I noticed then it was raining, which is important to the next part I’m going to tell you. I put up the top on the convertible and put a towel on the seat for Fella so he wouldn’t slide. Then I carried him to the car and turned it on. “We’re going to listen to ‘Praise you In This Storm’ by Casting Crowns,” the radio announcer said.

Not only is that one of my favorite songs, but the words were so appropriate I knew that it was the Spirit once again reaching to my heart. Here’s what I heard as I backed out of the drive: I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining

(The last line as I tried to find the windshield wiper button on my new-to-me car.) The song was exactly what I needed in that moment. The rest of the song is printed below, as well as a link to the video. Even in the horrid grief of what I was about to do I knew I could lift my hands because God is God and He is on His throne. Oh, except I didn’t lift my hands since I was driving. I so appreciate that God cares for the sparrow and even for my ailing, aged dog. I wish I had a better word to describe how much His goodness means to me–appreciate sounds so small.

The vet’s office is very good to whisk you right in, so I put him on the table but he scooted over against me and stuffed his head under my arm. A tech came and held him tight as he struggled—now I wish I had been the one to hold him—and they administered that last painful shot.

It is a blessing that we have this kind of service, that we are able to make decisions for our pets and give them comfort instead of pain. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t bawling my eyes out through the entire thing. I came home and flopped on the floor and cried like never before. Noelle the Honorary Corgi rolled around on me and tried to comfort me; mostly she covered me in hair. I thought only Fella understood my feelings but maybe Noelle pays attention too. Piper, a Maltese, licked crazily like she does every time I come through the door.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Fella won’t be back,” I told them, and burst into tears again. Fella, my heart dog. They say you only have one like that. One of my friends told me dogs are angels wrapped in fur. I want that to be true. But mostly I want him to be in the living room tossing a toy up in the air and catching it just to make me laugh.

“Praise You In This Storm”

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

[Chorus:]
And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can’t find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

[Chorus]

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

Casting Crowns Praise you in this Storm

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