Category: 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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Friday Five – May 5, 2017

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

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What is Holiness?

A group I participate in is slowly working our way through an inductive study of Romans; we’re in chapter one. Recently we came to these verses:

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:21-23, NIV)

Images. We should never allow them, the pastor said. If we allow them, we are allowing the spirits behind them.

I don’t think they always have to be connected with a spirit, someone else said. Sometimes they’re just for decoration.

This led to a lot of talk and not much of a resolution, so I want to delve in more deeply.

Let’s say I have a small Buddha in my garden “just for decoration.” You come to visit me because you want to talk about Christianity, and while you’re there you see my garden with the Buddha. What will that say to you about my Christian walk?

Won’t it make you wonder?

Wouldn’t it make you say “If it’s okay with her, it’s okay with me”?

We are called to walk in holiness.

And then….what if you begin to study the ‘religion’ behind the statue? And then….what if you become a Buddhist? Now my statue has become the vehicle that led you to Buddhism. Now my unholy walk has caused you, my fellow Christian, to stumble.

Now is it still okay?

There’s a word for avoiding statues and idol-symbols. It’s aniconism.

Christians have only a very early history of that. In Moses’ time, for example, having a statue of a bird would have represented paganism. Nowadays, the bird has no specific religious reference (that I know of). Would I have a bird statue? Yes. I actually have a squirrel and a dog statue.

I stayed at a retreat center once that had an African mask glued to the front of my lamp shade. Now, I could –and did—put small statues away, and plaques with unchristian sayings. But you can’t fit a lampshade into a drawer. I prayed about it and tried to leave it alone, but finally at bedtime I twisted the shade so the little mask could look out the window, away from me.

Paranoid? No. but, in my mind, no need to invite anything unholy into my spiritual retreat.

If we start becoming paranoid about pagan practices, then we cut out many of the various customs we consider our own, customs like celebrating Christmas on Dec. 25 and giving flowers at funerals. I don’t think paranoia is the answer. I think that customs we’ve already had in place for years are acceptable.

So the question becomes a matter of where to draw the line. After much deliberation and searching, I will give you my 2 cents’ worth.

Here’s the thing. We are called to walk in holiness. Holiness means avoiding even the appearance of evil. Holiness means emulating Jesus. Most of all, holiness means being “set apart.” It is in being set apart that we are able to fulfill our specific task assigned by our Maker.

God expects nothing less than our best; inferior gifts are not acceptable (Malachi 1:13-14). We are told to purify ourselves out of reverence to God.

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.     (2 Corinthians 7:1)

To be holy, we must spend time in the scriptures learning what holiness is. As we learn, we will grow toward a better example of a holy human. For me at this time, holiness means I won’t have a Buddha, I won’t put cutesy sayings on my Facebook wall that contain double entendres, profanity, or references to ‘other’ false gods. I will stand apart as I was created to do.

What does holiness mean to you?

 

A Big Announcement

Come Back to Jesus and Don't Bring your Blackberry

To all my faithful readers:

I’m happy to announce I’ll be leading my Bible Study, Come Back to Jesus–and Don’t Bring your Blackberry online. I’ll do this at GoodReads (goodreads.com) on my author page. If you don’t have a GoodReads account, sign-up is quick and easy, I used my Google account and it simply connected. There’s a link in the right column if you are reading this on my blog page. Here is a direct link to the Book Club page.

“I find that the people who say they don’t need it turn out to be the ones who need it most“

I’ll also present it here on the blog as a duplication if you prefer; just let me know! I’m really excited because this will be my first time leading it online, except for the focus group that helped me correct it prior to publication; that group had several online participants.

The book is about how to clear out the unnecessary bits of your life so you have time to worship God better. I find that the people who say they don’t need it turn out to be the ones who need it most; they come up and thank me later. So, if you’re saying you don’t have time for it– perhaps this is exactly where you need to be?

You can get a copy of the book at Amazon or at your local bookstore. There are 2 versions: paperback and Kindle.

Also~ Another announcement. Some  readers subscribed through the RSS feed. Some subscribed another way and I’ve been inputting your emails manually. Just today I submitted them all to Feedburner so you can still get the posts via email, but you’ve received a subscription notice in your email. You need to click that to confirm the subscription. Trust me — Feedburner is a lot more reliable than me!

Til next time,

T.

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.

An Angel Appears

I’m trying to imagine being a shepherd and seeing this angel. We don’t have a lot of information but I think they must have been some of the faithful who were waiting on the coming of the Messiah; that’s why the angel came to them—they were faithful. Humble, waiting on the God they believed in to send someone they couldn’t quite imagine. Perhaps they had talked among themselves about it, through those dark starry nights. Maybe they wondered together: What will he look like? Where will he live?
The angel was bright, shocking, but got right to the point. They were afraid but they got over it. Then they saw an entire host (a group) of angels singing praises to God. Because they were faithful and trusting they saw more.

FearNot

 

Once they recovered from the shock of seeing the angel, the shepherds raced to Bethlehem to see for themselves. They saw

 

Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Then they spread the word!
Much like the shepherds, we are called to spread the word, the good news of our Messiah. He is our Savior, and becauseof Him we have

  • Peace
  • Eternal life
  • A Relationship with God

You aren’t a speaker or an evangelist, you say? Well these shepherds were simply farmers, if you think about it. They weren’t particularly educated or eloquent. They simply told what they knew: The Savior has come.
This season, go and tell!

Book Review The Merchant’s Daughter

The Merchant's DaughterThe Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this book! The Merchant’s Daughter is a new take on an old story, Beauty and the Beast. However it’s set in the 1300s. Annabel is the daughter of a wealthy merchant, but due to unthinkable circumstances she becomes an indentured servant to Lord Ranulf. He’s been injured in an accident and carries his scarred left hand against his body; his scarred face wears an eye patch. His manner is gruff and frightening to those beneath him.
Yet Annabel sees only the good in him….
I won’t give away the rest, but this was a pleasurable read. The best part is, although this is a Christianity-based story, the faith was skillfully woven in. It never feels forced or pushed upon the reader the way many Christian novels do. Part of that is the setting, a time when faith and life went hand-in-hand; much of it, though, is the skill of the author.
I will be looking for more books from Melanie Dickerson. 🙂

View all my reviews

Living from a New Heart Perspective

Something as simple as whether to blog about a book you’re reading can put you into a sort of tailspin. I read recently that if I’m blogging, as a Christian author, my posts should only be about: 1. me in relation to my book 2. the book itself 3. Christianity as it relates to my book. After giving this some serious thought, I decided that I’m a lot more dimensional than that, and my readers (ok. My one reader?) might appreciate some insight into the thought process. Besides, if I found a blog like that, it would be boring!

So this is my  first day reading a 30 Day book called The Faith Dare, by Debbi Alsdorf.  My online Bible Study group — a lifeline, now that I am without a church home (until we find one here in FL)–is doing it together. I’ll be journaling about it here on Hooked On Jesus throughout the entire month, though possibly not daily. 🙂

So. Today we’re talking about the heart: having an undivided heart, giving God access to all of your heart, becoming a woman of purpose (a single purpose!), and living out of your new heart. This truth is speaking to me strongly, as I know I need a single, focused purpose. Actually I have one–I just keep letting myself get blown around in the tide. I need to sail straighter. Living out of that heart…that’s a difficult thing; if you’ve had pain or trials in your life, sometimes you live out of the past instead of out of the glory in which God has made you.

Today, God asked me whether I was putting other things in front of my Bible reading. Not Bible studies — the actual  study of The Word. Obviously I’m guilty, or He would not have gently presented the question. So I think I’ll start the day with Bible reading, before I even get out of bed.

I also have some awesome CDs of the Bible narrated by some name actors, I love listening to it. It’s just since we moved there is no way to listen privately. I have to play it on my computer in the (shared) office, or in the living room. Blaring out through the entire house, as it’s an open floor plan. lol I’ll have to give that some more thought, as I really enjoy listening to the Bible on Cd. Sometimes I try to follow along in my Bible at the same time; other times I just sit back and enjoy the Word washing over me.

Goals:
Live from my new heart
Find a way to listen to Bible on CD
Read my Bible more
Stick with Faith Dare the whole 30 days

14 Ways To Handle A Christian Introvert

Wow! This was written by…. some guy who is my other self? He totally put into words the way most introverts feel, MOST OF THE TIME. And, like the author, I am often in a leadership or speaking position (and no, I can’t explain how I can handle that but become exhausted after 3 hours with a group of friends).

originally posted here: http://jsparkblog.com/2012/12/13/14-ways-to-handle-a-christian-introvert/
Read on:
tumblr_mexhtaPbRX1qcs08a
If you ever met me, you would think I was an extrovert — I preach, I lead praise, I talk to everyone, I talk too much, and you can hear me laughing from across the street — but I am a full-blooded introvert.

If it were up to me, I’d rather be in my boxers all day eating Godiva while browsing food photo blogs and bothering my dog and cracking up at YouTube videos of Whose Line Is It Anyway and leaving dry ironic comments all over Facebook while reading the latest theory on how Sherlock survived the second season finale.

I intensely guard my personal space and my private life. It takes a herculean effort to step outside my comfort zone and interact with messy, fleshy, real live human beings.

Here’s how you handle us.

1) In a small group or Bible study or cell meeting, do NOT make us talk.

Introverts are much more methodical and tend to process things. In a group discussion, our silence doesn’t mean we’re not listening. We’re just trying to fit the pieces together in our own head. We aim to be thoughtful and deliberate. Please be sensitive to our secret mind palace. We’ll talk when we dang well feel like it.

2) We just don’t sing like the front row.

It’s great that extroverts can freely express themselves during worship time. But introverts sometimes just read the lyrics, connect inwardly, and keep their hands inside the vehicle. If you see us raising even one hand and singing a few words, we are seriously pushing the gas pedal all the way to the floor.

3) Do not ever rebuke us in public.

Or you and I are done. Forever. You should never do this anyway.

4) Extroverts: be patient in conversation and don’t treat my every word like your personal victory.

Extroverts, it’s okay if you monopolize the conversation. We do like to listen. But please don’t treat us like your personal project with a precious pearl inside. And don’t try to squeeze out my life story as if you’re trying to save us. Earn trust by being a friend first. Unlike extroverts, we’re not good at being best friends on the first day.

5) Fellow introverts: find us quickly.

See me standing awkwardly on the side of the sanctuary watching everyone else have fun? Hurry up and find me so we can make amusing sarcastic comments about life and possibly grow a lifelong spiritual bond that these extroverts can’t understand.

6) We can do anything an extrovert can do.

I’ve seen an entire spectrum of personalities take the “front stage” of church. Not every introvert is meant for “behind the scenes.” Just coach us with extra grace.

7) We get super-tired around a lot of people.

My limit is about four hours, and then I actually get a headache from just hanging around human beings. My Sabbath rest is leave-me-alone-time with my non-judgmental dog. Give us that time without trying to counsel us about it.

8) Don’t be offended if we don’t reply right away.

Sometimes when we see a Facebook invite to that next big church event, we just let it sit there and think about it periodically throughout the week and then come back to it before committing. We do the same thing with text messages, emails, phone calls, and you showing up at the door.

9) Don’t be offended if you see me being extra talkative or friendly with someone else.

Sometimes introverts just interact with people in different ways. It doesn’t mean we don’t like you: it just means we choose to reveal that specific part of us to another pastor, another church buddy, or that cool introvert I just met five minutes ago. You should be cheering us for even opening up at all.

10) Please do NOT bring a lot of attention to us.

Not in the church bulletin, not the church site, not for my birthdays, not for that nice thing I did for the homeless — just please, no spotlight.

11) Sometimes we’re just moody. It’s not depression or a “spiritual attack” or “unconfessed sin.”

One word: space. Lots of it.

12) We don’t always know what to say, but we still care about you.

We use less words and we don’t always use them well, but if we chose to spend this time with you, that means we care.

13) When life gets hard, you don’t have to say anything. Just be there.

Sometimes we just get totally flustered and want to give up: but that’s not the time for lectures or theology or super-awesome advice. Bring a movie or something; bake a cake; bring cookies. Be there for the meltdown and we’ll eventually ask for the wisdom. We very much treasure your scalpel-like gentleness with us.

14) When we get hyper, we are weird and corny and loud and awkward — so be ready for that and embrace it.

On the third day of a church retreat or when it’s five in the morning at a lock-in, the inner-beast might be unleashed. But it’s not very cool and calculated and witty like an extrovert. It’s all kinds of nerdy and neurotic with a shaky voice and twitchy flailing, as if we’re learning to use our bodies for the first time: and in a sense, we are.

When that happens, please don’t humiliate us. Roll with it, laugh with us, and endure our horrible dance moves and bad impressions.

If you do, we are loyal to you for life.