Volume 15, Issue 6: Meander
Puddles of Platitudes
The reason Episcopalians canít play chess any more is that they have forgotten the difference between a bishop and a queen.
Austere fathers are often attracted to certain elements of the Reformed faith, and by emphasizing that faith partially, they often stumble their children, not to mention others who see what is happening. An austere father is quick to criticize and find fault. He is slow to praise, slow to affirm, slow to encourage. He is quick to see the systematic coherence of the great doctrines of the Reformed faith, but through his treatment of his own children, he brings the faith he loves to a place where it is easy for outsiders to misrepresent and slander it.
Our Father in heaven knows our frame; He knows that we are but dust. And behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God. And so how is it that fathers who delight in the doctrines of our particular redemption fail to exhibit that same kind of particular love, tenderness, kindness, and compassion upon their own children? What is this but a functional denial of those glorious truths?
Fathers, your temper is a doctrine of God. Is it true doctrine for your children? Your critical fault-finding is a doctrine of God. Is it true doctrine? Your reluctance to praise, and your miserly spirit with regard to encouragement is a doctrine of God. Is it a true doctrine? Your coldness and distance is a doctrine of God. Is it the truth ?
You may think that your austerity is really a love for godly discipline. But test that conviction by this means: How are you receiving the discipline of these words? Do you love discipline as much when it comes to you as when you bring it to your children? If not, then God will receive and forgive you completelyóprecisely because He is not like your portraits of Him. Do not despair, just come.
I came across a fine book recently. I am not sure if it is still in print, but it is called Finding the Will of God . A Pagan Notion? by Bruce Waltke. In this book, Waltke does a masterful job in showing how a number of very common evangelical pieties about determining the will of God are actually forms of recycled paganism. Everyone wants to read the mind of God concerning the future, which is why newspapers print horoscopes, and why many Christians treat the Bible as though it were a horoscope. Not content to leave us there, Waltke goes on to a fine discussion of what it is to walk by faith.
The Old Testament has a curious law (to the modern mind). When someone was flogged, an upper limit was placed on how far the discipline could go.
Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee (Dt. 25:3). In other words, the dignity of the one being disciplined was to be kept in mind (and protected) from the beginning of the process to the end of it.
This principle is neglected by many parents who humiliate their children in addition to the discipline they actually administer. Discipline should be painful, but not degrading. Some examples of things that could be more humiliating than they are painful (and therefore more disobedient than they are corrective) would include striking a child in the face, spanking in front of the rest of the family, upbraiding the child in front of others, and so on. The discipline should be calm, judicious, and done in such a way that the form of discipline does not cause the one disciplined to
If you really like basic meat and potatoes rock/blues, get the album Okie by J.J. Cale. One cut, Cajun Moon, is one cut above the rest of the album, and the entire album is really good.
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien reveal a sub-creator of Middle Earth who was truly a humble creator. In a very real sense, he would submit to his creation. People would write to him, wanting to know where orcs came from, or what happened to the Entwives. The answers Tolkien would provide were always offered with a profound respect for the world as already written. He would never say,
I am the author; Iíll just make something up! The answers had to flow out of what was already there.