Friday, June 24, 2016

To Spank or not to Spank: Part Two

IN PART ONE OF THIS series we noted some of the biblical commands to practice corporal discipline with our children. Of course, we are not talking about spanking teens. We are talking about toddlers, pre-school children, and to a limited degree, children in grade school. When parents diligently and consistently discipline with love, the need for spanking ends, depending upon the child, somewhere between the age of five and ten. Here are some reasons that spanking is the best practice.

First, the child must be controlled. Children need to be trained. A child not disciplined, a child left to itself, will be completely self-centered. That child will be a terror, and the parent of this child will be miserable. Even the most hardened social liberal understands this. So the question is not whether to control the child but how. What is the best way?

You can try reasoning, but just about every sane adult agrees that you can't reason with a two year old.

You can try time-outs, but again, time outs have limited persuasive power with most toddlers, especially one that is strong willed.

You can try rejection: you ignore the child for 24 hours until you have put them in their place. But what could be more damaging to a child's self-esteem? What could be more conducive to PBA, performance based acceptance?

You can try nagging. It usually looks something like this. Jimmy, set the table. Jimmy, I told you to set the table. Jimmy, why don't you set the table?  Jimmy, if you don't set the table, I am going to be really angry, etc. etc. etc. The parents voice gets louder and louder as they become increasingly angry and frustrated.

What is the result? First, you the parent are angry and frustrated. Your blood pressure is up. Your are agitated. In addition, you have taught the child that your command is irrelevant. You have trained them to not obey until the fourth or fifth command. Will they transfer this attitude to God and his commands? Even worse, you have taught the child to despise your authority. Will they will probably despise God's authority also? This is a problem because a child unable to respond to authority will have little capacity for adult happiness or fruitfulness. The eternal spiritual consequences are even more alarming.

How much better to say "Jimmy, please set the table." Jimmy ignores you. It is one strike and you are out. You place Jimmy in your lap and loving spank him. Then you hold him until he quits crying. Last, you guide Jimmy through reconciliation with you and God. You have trained Jimmy to obey on the first command.

When the "one strike" policy has been repeated consistently, the child will learn that you mean business, and the child will start obeying on the first command. No nagging. No screaming. No yelling. No frustration. Instead, happy, obedient children that you enjoy being around.

Christian parents should always use discipline to preach the gospel to their children. That is the subject of our last post.

(For more information on this subject see Pastor Farley's book, Gospel Powered Parenting). 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Is God Insane?

THE INSANITY OF GOD is a unique title for a book written by a man who is convinced that God is completely sane. However, it is a book that I highly recommend.

Written by Nik Ripken (a pseudonym), this book chronicles the  experience of a Kentucky evangelical who has given his life to mission work. Working with a relief agency in Somalia in very depressing circumstances, (Think the movie Black Hawk Down), the author became deeply discouraged by the lack of converts. He is haunted by this question: does God still do gospel work in circumstances hostile to the gospel? The balance of the book relates a series of interviews that the author conducted to answer that question.

The interviews relate the miraculous activity of God saving and preserving Christians in Moslem cultures, behind the iron curtain, and in the fiery furnace of Chinese Communist opposition, etc. The author relates one miraculous story after another. He consistently informs the reader of this one burning conviction: the miracles and supernatural activity common in the pages of the New Testament are being repeated throughout the world today. Despite the suffering of the saints, the church can thrive in exceedingly hostile environments.

Because of the Supreme Court's Obergefell decision (gay marriage), most evangelicals are anxious. We can feel which way the cultural winds are blowing, and they are against us. For those tempted to fear, this book is a tremendous encouragement. It convinces the reader  that, despite spiritual opposition, we can be more than conquerors through him that loves us.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

To Spank or not to Spank: That is the Question?

TO THE MODERN MIND any form of corporal punishment, i.e. spanking, is considered child abuse. This presents Christians with a problem. Who should they obey... the dictates of culture or the clear instruction of God's word, for the Bible takes the opposite stance. Failure to practice loving, gospel-centered, corporal punishment on our small children is the real child abuse. Who will we listen to? Whose voice will we follow? Amazingly, most Americans agree. There is a time and place for corporal discipline.

The Bible is excruciatingly clear on this subject. First, it reminds us that loving corporal punishment will not hurt your child. “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol" (Proverbs 23:13–14).

Second, scripture informs us that spanking is the loving thing to do for our children. “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him" (Proverbs 13:24). And, “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death" (Proverbs 19:18).  The implication is that the child raised without corporal punishment could be on the way to spiritual death.

Third, because sin destroys life and happiness, and  each one of our children is born with indwelling, sin, the best remedy is spanking. “Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts" (Proverbs 20:30). “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him" (Proverbs 22:15).

Fourth, the biblical wisdom books constantly contrast the wise with the foolish. Wisdom is the ultimate virtue, while foolishness is the one deadly vice you want to protect your children from. Appropriate corporal punishment is the key to avoiding foolishness and gaining wisdom. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother" (Proverbs 29:15). Notice: this text warns moms that reluctance to spank has a cost...shame to the mother.

Stay dialed in. Future posts will address the subject of why and how appropriate spanking is not child abuse. Rather, it is the best way to really shape our children's character. We will also discuss how to discipline in the context of God's gospel love.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

What is God the Father Like?

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF when you think about God the Father? Is he the angry member of the Trinity who sends his gracious and merciful Son to propitiate that anger? Is he primarily a disciplinarian, a great paternal figure eager to take out his switch and thrash his little ones? 

Yes, he gets angry, and yes he is a disciplinarian, but he is also love, and his love surpasses knowledge. "God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son..." (Jn. 3:16).  

You should also think of him as warm, affectionate, gracious, kind, and compassionate, yet also firm and unyielding in  holy justice. In fact, here is how he described himself to Moses, "The Lord, the Lord God, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin..." (Ex. 34:6-7). 

If you are struggling with your concept of God the Father, here is the secret to seeing him in all of his moral beauty. We know him through his Son’s life, death, and resurrection. In John 14, Jesus' disciple, Phillip, asked Jesus, “Show us the Father.” Jesus responded. “Phillip, if you have seen me you have seen the Father.” In other words, I am going to die tomorrow, and through my death and resurrection I am going to show you what the Father looks like. I and the Father are one. I have come to reveal the Father. I have come to demonstrate what my Father's words to Moses look like, in action. 

This is what the late, great Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones meant when he said, “You will never know God as Father except by Jesus Christ, and in particular, by his death upon the cross…Look there, gaze, meditate, survey, the wondrous cross. And then you will see something of him.” The Cross, MLJ, pg 72,74

My personal hero, Jonathan Edwards, adds these prescient words, “God the Father is an infinite fountain of light, but Jesus Christ is the communication of this light. Some compare God the Father to the sun and Jesus Christ to the light that streams forth from him by which the world is enlightened. God the Father, in himself, was never seen: 'tis God the Son that has been the light that hath revealed him. God is an infinitely bright and glorious being, but Jesus Christ is that brightness of his glory by which he is revealed to us: 'No man hath seen God at any time, but the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him'" (John 1:18).[2]

[2] Jonathan Edwards, Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol X, (New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1992) pg 535-36