The ‘Facebook vs The Shack’ Conundrum

The ‘Facebook vs The Shack’ Conundrum

When I started this blog I knew it would rub some people the wrong way. I knew that some would see me as the hypocrite who writes about things he used to, and might even still do. I knew that I would be seen by some as the holier than thou type who stands on a pedestal and waves his finger at people. I knew, that I might be seen as a Pharisee.

I try really hard to not be those things, I try even harder to not make it about me but to make it about Jesus. He is after all the Savior of the world and deserves any and all glory, needless to say I have failed at that numerous times.

One of those big failures is how I was using my Facebook page to thump readers on the head not with the Bible, but my interpretations of it. I used Facebook as my world to judge, I sat on a throne and perused all the offerings that people would put out there. I ‘liked’ the things I like, I shared the things worthy of sharing, or worthy of sharing so that I could put my own two cents in and I commented on the things I felt I should comment on. None of which is inherently or necessarily bad on its own, I mean that is the premise of Facebook isn’t it? To let the world know your thoughts by putting them out there? But I saw all of those posts as things for me to either agree or disagree with and I’d find Scripture to back me up.

One of the things Facebook was and is still good for is to get the scoop on upcoming movies. As a Christian who loves movies I long for the day when Hollywood will put a true bona fide effort into making a Christian movie. “The Shack” seemed to be that movie. Much to my dismay this movie was slammed by Christians even before its debut, Christians everywhere condemned it first for its representation of the Holy Trinity and second because the book by the same name it’s based on was written by someone who many see as some new age, heretic. I read article after article about why we should not watch The Shack and how those that do and don’t see a problem with it aren’t real Christians. It seemed to me that a lot of good, well meaning Christians were sitting on their thrones in front of their Facebook kingdoms and declaring that their interpretation of the Bible and The Shack were the only ones worth entertaining. I know because I have been that guy. So I decided that I would indeed watch it, I would do so with a critical eye and a notepad…err, smartphone with a notepad ready to type down my thoughts so that I could come to my own conclusion.

I must say, I thought it was a good movie. Not just the production either, I thought the moral of the story aligned with scripture and I thought the message itself goes hand in hand with what the Bible teaches about forgiveness, fatherhood and the Father heart of God. I liked the story of how an angry, bitter man can come full circle, I liked how it taught that all people are God’s children and mostly I thought the scene where the main character Mac is told that both he and God can’t sit on the throne, it’s got to be one or the other and Mac has to choose which one it will be.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there might be some aspects of theology in the movie that differ from mine, but I have a hard time condemning the movie based on that alone. I mean, I saw the latest Transformers movie and if I were looking through the lens of theology at it I could say that it’s an idolatrous, blasphemous movie filled with idols and lies and any number of ungodly things that I disagree with. But I didn’t go expecting to be taught about God, I went for entertainment. The Shack and other faith based movies however get put up on a pedestal for some reason, a different set of standards if you will. We expect that they’ll all align perfectly with our interpretations of the Bible, we expect that our theology will be presented exactly the way we see it and I think that we Christians often forget that in order for me to condemn another person’s view of the Bible I have to assume that my view is the perfect one, I have to stand on that pedestal and point my finger at everyone else, I am the one on the throne.

To be clear, The Shack is just a movie and that movie is someone’s view of God, it is not perfect. God didn’t write it after all. Likewise, Facebook is just a program and it’s a program that has changed a lot since it’s inception, it’s not a bad program by any means and people who use it are not bad because they use it. Both The Shack and Facebook have one thing in common that can either make them good or bad – people.

I deleted my Facebook account a week ago. Not because I think it’s evil or that I have a problem with any one of my friends or family that use it, I want that to be clear. I deleted Facebook because I was using it as my kingdom to judge and I, not God was sitting on the throne. I deleted it because other people were influencing my views of the Bible, I have people close to me that I trust that can influence that but Joe Schmo on Facebook whom I’ve never met shouldn’t have that privilege.

I deleted Facebook because I don’t want to be the one on the throne anymore, that’s God’s job. I don’t want anyone to read this as me saying social media is a bad thing, it’s not. It is however what we make of it – I made my Facebook page a bad thing by how I was using it. The same goes for Christian movies, either they’re just entertainment or they’re teaching tools and I believe that that’s up to its creator. If a movie claims to be a tool we can use for evangelism, than we hold it up to scripture and see if that’s true. If a movie claims to be entertainment than holding it up to the Bible would be unfair in the same way it’d be unfair to hold SpiderMan up to the Bible – it never claimed to be Biblical.

Before I deleted Facebook I read a lot about The Shack, I already told you that, what I didn’t say was how much those things I’d read influenced me to form an opinion on The Shack before I ever even saw it. If someone else’s opinion can influence my opinion long before I should have one about a movie, how are they also influencing my opinions on other things? And how are my Facebook opinions influencing others’ opinions before they should have one. I think we should all make our own decisions and form our own opinions. When it comes to the Truth of Jesus Christ however, everyone needs to know Him. So my aim from this point forward is to spread less opinion and more Jesus, less interpretation and more Jesus, less head thumping and more Jesus… And no more Facebook, at least from me. For you? Feel free to share, or not share. Like, or not.

How Have We Gone From “It Takes a Village” to Mommy Wars? 

I love when friends share Bible verses on social media! It always makes me smile knowing that others take the time to read it and are encouraged by the word. It also makes me feel like I’m not alone on this journey and it’s encouraging to know that others struggle with the same thing I struggle with. 

This morning it was 1 Thessalonians 3 that was shared. It’s just one of the examples of Paul encouraging other believers, and encouraging them to be encouraging. 

We all love encouragement, receiving it that is. Giving it is another story. Did you know that as a culture we are so bad at encouraging one another that we’ve come with the term mommy wars? What that means is that mommies everywhere judge other mommies everywhere for everything they do from the moment they announce their pregnancy to the moment their child eventually marries and moves out. 

I read a story recently where a 30 year friendship ended after the two friends became mommies. They were so critical of each other’s parenting techniques that the friendship ended in a spat about breastfeeding vs formula feeding. “She had an opinion on everything I did, and I was always wrong. At first I distanced myself but then the passive aggressive comments came via Facebook posts that she knew I’d see. Eventually I had to end it, I mean why did she care so much about how much screen time my kids had, or how often I bathed my son, or the fact that I fed him store bought food?” Said one of the moms in an interview with a parenting magazine. 

As a foster parent I’ve had more than my fair share of unsolicited advice. Everyone knows what’s best for the kids, and I apparently know nothing. Since I knew that I would be under the critical eye of a government agency I’m somewhat okay with their criticisms, these aren’t my kids after all. It’s the scrutiny I felt from the day…. no, long before the day my first son was born from everyone under the sun that gets under my skin. They all want to tell you what’s best, even people who have yet to have their own kids! “You should go with a midwife” “no, you should use a doctor” “have your baby at the hospital” “do a home birth” “refuse pain meds” ask for pain meds” “don’t have any ultrasounds” “get as many ultrasounds as possible” “find out the sex” “don’t find out” and that’s just some of what I can remember hearing before my son was born. 

Afterwards it got even worse, from whether or not to vaccinate, to the oh so controversial topic of breastfeeding vs formula, then to what baby foods we should buy or better yet…make! I remember hearing criticisms about how we rocked him to sleep and that he slept in our bed and that we are spoiling him and ruining him and on to how much screen time he got on the tablet and so on. It became so hard to navigate through all the opinions of other people to actually determine what is truly the right thing for my son and my family, that I began to tune out all of the voices and that’s when I found some clarity. Nobody knew my little guy better than his parents, and his Creator, between God, my wife, my son and I we would figure out what he needed, and when. 

Tuning out those voices is an ongoing battle, which I’m sure it is for you too. You’ve probably been at the playground and saw the judgemental glances from other parents, or heard the whispers when your kids falls and scrape a knee. You’ve probably been at the grocery store trying to reason with an irate toddler demanding a bag of Oreos and seen the ‘mom of the year’ walk by with her perfectly dressed kids, walking hand in hand asking their mother politely if they might please have a bowl of broccoli for a snack whence they return home. I’m a dad, and therefore don’t hear quite so much of the cattyness but I’m not oblivious to it either, I can read between the lines when I see one mom ask another if she’s sure if she wants to put that in her kids’ mouths. 

The approaching school years get even worse, you’ll hear from people you didn’t even ask which school you should send your kids to, and they are all very passionately convinced that they are right. Private vs catholic vs homeschool and obviously public is only for the heathens. Then come the birthday parties and one parent out bashing the other when it comes to how elaborate they should be. Bouncy castles are a must now and any kid who doesn’t get one is obviously living below the poverty line. 

Okay, I’m done ranting, I just can’t figure out why so many people preach diversity in parenting and then demand that everyone parents the same way. Why does the homeschool mom and the public school mom have to be at odds with each other? Why can’t they each arrive at their own decision and be happy for each other? These pics say what I’m trying to say best. 

Putting aside all sarcastic ranting and the fact that I’m a dad and not a mom, wouldn’t harmonious parenting be better than competitive parenting? In my experience dad’s don’t do this, at least not to the level I’ve seen moms do it. If you don’t believe me just read the comments section of any topic related to parenting. Mommy shaming is a term someone came up with in an effort to describe what it’s like to be the subject of all that unwanted criticism, and I think it hits the nail on the head. 

Remember the old adage ‘it takes a village’? Well now it takes a mom and the village just scorns from the outside looking in. 

Look, I’m not saying I’m innocent in all of this, like I said I’m a foster parent. That means I take in kids coming from bad situations and I’ve done my fair share of judging those parents. I’m just asking that we put aside our opinions and what worked for us and we think they should do, and support each other and encourage each other in all the different ways we parent. Like the Apostle Paul when he wrote to his fellow believers, be an encouragement. Lift each other up and for goodness sake, lighten up! Life’s hard enough raising kids in this crazy world, why do we want to raise other people’s kids anyways? At the end of the day if that kid is a brat, it isn’t your problem. 

Challenge of the day: Speak Life (With Grace and Mercy) in the Face of Certain Death.

I wish I could say that not tithing the rightful tithe is no big deal. I wish I could say that God doesn’t take it that seriously and that we don’t need to repent of our sin of omission. 

I wish I could say that crude jokes and locker room talk about what men would do to certain women is harmless. I’d like to brush it off as just boys being boys and no one is hurt by it. 

I wish I could say that Monday through Saturday idolatry is no big deal, that the way we worship our jobs and our money is just what we do six days out of the week.

I wish that I could tell the lustful desires in the hearts of men that looking is fine, that their thoughts are okay, and that it’s just a natural desire that God gave you and therefore it’s nothing you need to repent of. 

I wish I could say to all those living in sexual immorality that you were born this way, God made you this way and that the Bible does not call it a sin. 

I wish I could say to the drunkards, the idolaters, the adulterers, the thieves, the greedy, and the con artists that what they’re doing and how they’re leading their lives is just what they have to do to get by. 

The truth is: I can’t say any of those things and still call myself a follower of Jesus. 

The truth is: I can’t say any of those things and still be considered as following the teachings of the Bible.

The truth is: I could say those things and the world would accept me with open arms and embrace my acceptance and tolerance and my willingness to coexist. 

The truth is: I could say those things and never call sin for what it is, but I would be living a life of heresy. 

There’s a growing church in the western world and in this church there are no sermons on sexual purity, no teachings about repenting of sin, no pastors who will lovingly call out the sins of the people, no need to confess and be accountable, no words spoken that might offend the diverse congregation.

This church is called “The Emergent Church” and it’s growing because millenials who grew up in church want to worship God but they want to do it in a place that doesn’t use the word sin unless it’s used to say that their parents and grandparents were the sinners. That it was generations past who practiced bigotry, intolerance and hatred. It was the years and years of past Republican presidents who marginalized everyone who wasn’t white. It’s the fault of baby boomers and generation X’ers who messed up the world and that the new crop of uber tolerant millenial christians are the ones fixing it. 

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

2 Timothy 4:3‭-‬4

The emergent church teaches from the Bible, but also uses ‘holy’ books from other religions. They also use Oprah, Hillary Clinton and the Dalai Lama. The emergent church does not like the parts of the Bible that talk about sin, so they don’t teach those parts. They like the parts where Jesus heals, raises from the dead and protects would be victims of stonings. 

As a more conservative Christian who rejects tradition for the sake of tradition but also embraces the fundamental teachings of Jesus, I have a hard time with the Christian climate of today. It seems that another great divide is coming and maybe it’s already happened, and like the split that happened in Martin Luther’s day this one will be about how the Bible is taught. Unlike Luther’s reformation however, this one will hinge on the level of authority we ascribe to the Bible. 

What I’m saying is this, the Bible is either God’s Word or it isn’t. You see some of the new age teachers and pastors do not give the Bible the authority that God did. 

“Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.”

1 Thessalonians 2:13 NLT

As the very Word of God we need to take it very seriously. When it calls certain things out as sin, those things are sin…no matter what and no matter if we don’t like it. 

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:9‭-‬11

Acknowledging sin is only the first step, we need to know if what we’re doing is wrong according to God. The Bible does this for those that see it as God’s Word, for others, they have to have someone fill them in. In other words someone has to tell them the good news about what Jesus did to save us from those sins. 

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

Proverbs 28:13 NLT

Emergent teaching focuses on the mercy mentioned in Proverbs or the grace that the New Testament talks about. And that’s not a bad thing, the grace and mercy we receive are amazing, way more than we deserve and we should be shouting for joy that we’ve got it. In order to know how awesome that grace is, we need to know how serious our sin is, when we down play our sin we also down play grace. 

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

Romans 6:1‭-‬7 NLT

This is where the balance of truth and grace comes in. We have been commissioned by God to tell the world about Jesus. The world on the other hand doesn’t want to hear it, they tell us to keep it to ourself and that faith is personal. The emergent church doesn’t recognize sin or the authority of Scripture so they aren’t going to be the ones who teach the hard truths of the Bible. On the flip side people like me can sometimes focus too much on the hard truth and not enough on the grace. 

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Ephesians 4:29 

So here’s the point; Christians need to know the Bible and what it says, even when they don’t like it. Like I said, I wish I could tell the people I know who continue to indulge in sin that it’s okay, God loves you and there’s no need to repent. But I can’t. God does love them, but He hates the things that come between them and Him. Sin is serious, it must be recognized as such and then be repented of, if we leave out that very important step we run the risk of paving that road of good intentions straight to you know where. 

Like Paul told the Ephesians, none of this truth telling needs to be done with harsh or foul language. It should be done in a good and helpful way that encourages the listener but not saying what is true is just as good as lying. 

God DOES Care About The Small Things

God DOES answer prayers!
Sometimes I wonder if God cares about the less significant aspects of our lives, like when I see hockey or football players all asking God to bless them with a win.
The Bible instructs us to bring everything to Him in prayer (Philippians 4:6), not leaving out anything at all. This concept is hard for me because when I think of how great God is I see the teeny tiny things that matter to me as insignificant to Him. I mean He created the universe in a word! He spoke life into existence, He manages the weather and the solar system. What does God care if my feelings are hurt, or how tough work has been, or if my kids are driving me crazy? And yet He says to bring it all to Him.
Jesus’ first recorded miracle in John 2:1-11 where He turns water into wine is a good example of how He cares even about the smaller things in our life. I mean here He is at a wedding when the wine supply runs dry. Jesus’ mother is the one who calls on Him to do something and in what can only be an act of honoring his mother, Jesus obeys her and performs a miracle turning water into wine so that the guests have more to drink. Moreover, this miracle saves the wedding party from embarrassment. At the end of the day Jesus could have done nothing, it’s just a wedding where people were probably going to drink too much anyway, but Jesus cares about the wedding party and prevents their embarrassment, actually His miracle makes the wedding party look even better because some of the guests commented on how great it was that they brought out the “good stuff” later rather than sooner.
The first miracle in the Bible performed by Jesus is not a healing or bringing the dead back to life, it was an act of obedience to His mother, one that helped someone with what really is just a small spec in the greater, much larger picture of life.
God cares about the small things! I know this in my life as He has answered the prayers of many of my small things. When I asked Him to bring me to a church where I could feel like I belong, He answered and gave me Meadow Brook! When I asked Him for some people I could trust and to talk to about those smaller things that feel like are bigger things, He gave me some awesome new friends. When I asked Him to make me a better husband and father He gave me a wife that loves me when I shouldn’t be loved and kids that adore me – warts and all.
Our God cares about us and all of our little struggles and of course the bigger struggles too, point is, He cares and He answers prayers. Bring it all to Him and see what happens.

An Awakening in the City

I spent a few days in Canada’s largest city this week, and even though it was a business trip I was able to glean much from the experience that I can apply to my personal life. Skyscraper after skyscraper, building after building, the city of Toronto is home to millions. I did more than my fair share of walking around taking in the sights, sounds and smells of downtown T.O. One of the things that struck me was how everyone walked, everywhere. The streets and sidewalks were crowded day and night with walkers, all going in different directions. Which is a good thing, walking is healthy after all. In the middle of those crowds however, hiding in plain sight, unseen by the vast majority of those walkers live the forgotten, former walkers – Toronto’s homeless. 

On one of my walks I came upon a man sleeping on top of a sewer grate. It kept him warm you see, and since nobody cared if he smelled a little unsavory, he welcomed the warm air escaping the city’s underbelly. He looked like the homeless person you’re imagining right now – long grey beard, messy hair, tattered clothing, leathery skin that hadn’t been washed in years and not far from his reach sat the shopping cart that secured his belongings while he slept, shivering in the cold. 

At first I thought it odd, the spot he picked to sleep, right in the middle of the sidewalk. I was able to put the pieces together quickly enough and realized it was the sewer warmth that invited him there, and maybe, just maybe someone who walks by will actually notice him there and take pity on him. Maybe they’ll leave a sandwich for him, a few coins in his cup or leave a blanket that smelled of home, rather than the alternative. Nobody did, not even me. I did hesitate, but only because you don’t see this in my hometown, but the pace of city life beckoned and the crowd urged me forward as they brushed past me, subtly telling me to keep moving. So the crowds moved past him, walking around him as if he were a fire hydrant or some other immovable object in their path. And the man slept. 

I was early for my meeting so I ducked into a nearby Tim Hortons where I encountered two more of T.O’s homeless enjoying a cup of coffee, they must have gotten their hands on some money I thought to myself, quickly realizing how ignorant I am when it comes to homelessness. Their conversation was distasteful, at best. Ridden with cuss words and obscenities that would make a sailor blush, the two of them ranted on about racism and Donald Trump and the problems of the world. I wondered if the obviously louder than necessary conversation was more for the benefit of those around them, than for themselves. My suspicions were confirmed when a passerby held the door for them as they left the coffee shop, one of them thanked the guy for noticing that they needed help and apologized for the language. They just wanted to be noticed, that’s all. Instead, everyone (again including myself) would rather just move on than have to face someone with bigger problems than their own. And the two disappeared into the crowd and down the sidewalk. 

Leaving the coffee shop I noticed that I had gotten two breakfast sandwiches instead of the one I asked for, after checking the receipt and realizing they did indeed charge me for two I decided that instead of making a fuss I’ll just give the extra sandwich to a homeless person. Walking through a park I came across said homeless person and decided that he was the one. He took the sandwich, thanked me and I carried on with my walk. Now, I know that it was a small gesture, one that happened only because Tim Hortons misunderstood my order, but that didn’t stop me from congratulating myself, patting myself on the back, and letting the feelings of superhero-dom take me over. Look at me, I’m a giver, if only everyone were like me. 

Then I realized the problem (or at least part of it), me! Me, and everyone like me who walks by the guy sleeping on the sewer grate, ignores the cries for help from the cussing pair in the coffee shop, and oblivious to the fact that I would have walked by the hungry guy in the park if it weren’t for someone else’s mistake. I didn’t go out of my way to help someone, I was a tourist going for a walk, admiring the buildings and the architecture, the history and you know what I’ve come to realize? Cities today are nothing more than modern versions of the tower of Babel. 

There I was, in the middle of a city, worshipping what man has done. I spent the night in a hotel room that cost more for one night than it would to feed a dozen homeless people for a week! Granted, I didn’t pay for that room but nevertheless, still true. My valet parking voucher could’ve bought a nice fur coat for the man sleeping on the sewer. My dinner voucher could’ve paid for twenty more breakfast sandwiches and my compassion could’ve soothed a couple of troubled souls and not cost anyone a cent. 

If you’re like me, you’re thinking a couple of things right now. A. Many homeless people are there because they did it to themselves, either by refusing to work, making bad decisions, or just plain being dumb. Or B. They’re not my problem, they could go to a shelter, family or at least try and get out of the situation. Admittedly, some might be homeless because of the decisions they made, some might be lazy, some could get a job and fend for themselves if they’d just try. However, I’m going to say something now that you’re going to hate, you might even accuse me of hypocrisy and you’d be right to do so. You might ignore it and you’ll probably think of that person who’s always thumping people on the head with a Bible, but I’m going to say it anyway…


Or better yet, what did Jesus do? When He met someone in need did He question why they were in need? No, He just helped. Did Jesus ever say that the needy weren’t our problem? Did He just walk by? Ignore them? Or worse yet, did He smite them by accusing them of being sinners? 

I’m not a wealthy person, at least not in terms of money (a statement that’s debatable, but that’s another blog post), my life at home is fairly modest and I don’t blow my earnings on unnecessary luxuries like the accommodations I had in Toronto. Truth be told I loved the room I stayed in, the shower, oh my gosh, the shower! Have you ever been in a shower so big it felt like a room? The shower head was one of those rain shower heads that felt like a tropical waterfall. The floor was heated, the bed was sooo soft, there was a TV in the mirror! the curtains opened and closed at the touch of button, if I left the room and came back only minutes later the hotel cleaning ninjas (that’s what I called them cause you never saw them) cleaned up, put on some soft music, dimmed the lights and left a mint on the pillow just so that when I came back it always felt like the first time. The first morning I was there I went for a coffee at Tim’s and when I came back there was a professional’s preparation kit waiting for me, basically everything someone might need to get all dressed up in a suit and tie, complete with a shoehorn that cost more than the shirt I was wearing from Giant Tiger. A comb encrusted with diamonds (I made that up) and a warm towel for my hands just in case they got cold. All of this was completely new to me, I didn’t need it and didn’t use it. It was all a bit much and I appreciate the experience but it’s not me. I like wearing shorts and shirts I got from the store that teenagers used to shop at. I would’ve been fine at the Holiday Inn Express with a continental breakfast. And most of all, I never felt like I fit in there, nor did I have the desire to. 

So my experience in Toronto was confusing to say the least. On one hand I was being wined and dined and treated like royalty. On the other hand, I was exposed to a level of poverty that shocked me, how could a city so obsessed with individual rights and freedoms allow the homeless population to remain homeless? They were like the invisible inhabitants of the city’s underworld, they would come out of hiding once in a while in hopes of being fed only to be completely ignored. I didn’t get it. 

Then, it occurred to me, on all my walks, all that time spent taking in downtown Toronto, I hadn’t seen but one church. A million people live in the downtown core and there’s only one church? God has been evicted from the city, banished to live in one building and told to stay there. On top of that, God’s Word has become watered down with the waters of relativism. That one church I saw had a large poster near the front door that bragged of being inclusive and welcoming with the rainbow colors as the backdrop. I wonder if they know what the original meaning of the rainbow was? 

Without God the virtues of charity and generosity and compassion have gone the way of the VCR, and chivalry, and the dodo bird. Toronto, like most major urban centers are more like the ancient cities of the Old Testament with their pantheon of gods that aren’t really gods than ever before. They may not necessarily have altars set up and places of worship to go to, but as an outsider looking in it’s clear as day. God and His church are just one of things in their mixed bag of idols, they keep Him there, at arm’s length just in case. Who knows, they might need Him someday. 

Anyway, I really wasn’t trying to judge although it came out that way, it’s just that I see more churches in a town of 30,000 than I saw in Toronto’s downtown. Indicative, I think of the way culture is going. More and more towards what mankind can do, and less and less concerned about what Jesus already did. 

Jesus Loves the Little Children

Everyone has certain things close to their heart – a short list of either people, causes or virtues that shape who they are how they treat others. 

Jesus loves the little children, He saw them differently than the culture around him did. Children weren’t treated the way they are now – they came after everything else and we’re often rejected, disposed of and forgotten. Jesus went counter culture on all of them and even gave a stern warning to anyone who would cause a little one to stumble, saying that it’d be better for an adult to drown in the sea than to even be the cause of one child’s stumbling into sin. 

I have a list too, Jesus…of course, my wife and my kids are the people on it. Autism and foster care are my causes. And patience, forgiveness and grace are my virtues. In no way am I perfect in these things but these are on my list for a reason – Jesus saved me – God blessed me with a wonderful family – He also blessed me with a little boy with autism – He called us to become a foster family from which I’ve seen my son with autism really learn to grow – of the virtues, people often comment on my patience, I’m actively working on forgiveness and grace is something I intentionally use on a daily basis. 

Like I said, that’s not supposed to sound like bragging, rather I want you to know that before Jesus saved me, that list looked different and so did the causes and virtues. 

Jesus does amazing things! Through my wife and kids He made me who I am today, through His grace I was allowed to grow and through it all I continue to rely on Him every single day. 

You, are a child of God. He loves you and can and will do amazing things in your life. Just lay it all down at the cross. 

Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Matthew 18:2‭-‬6 NLT


Once upon a time I was the guy who thought new ideas about parenting were all hogwash. All a bunch of new age hippies talkin’ ’bout peace and feelings and way too ready to throw out the good ol’ fashioned methods of parenting. You know the tried and true tough love never talk about your feelings kinda parenting that has worked for years?

More and more I find myself transforming into one of those new age hippies, don’t get me wrong some of the tried and true methods from the days of old have their merits but many of those methods worked better in times gone by because those times? Well, those times, they were different. 

I’m not saying we throw away all the advice offered us from our elders, just that maybe some of it can be filed away in the archives under the title ‘once valid methods that worked, but don’t anymore’. 

Okay, enough with the sarcasm, I grew up in the good ol’ days and I was raised well. My parents did what they could and I think they’re proud of who I became. My M.O is different and it’s not because I think my parents were wrong, because they weren’t. But even they know that today’s world is different, much different than the one I was raised in. I mean just last week in my small hometown a man tried to lure a kid away from a school! That stuff was unheard of where and when I grew up, but it’s all too commonplace nowadays. 

It’s for that reason that I get just a little bit irritated when when I hear people talk like I used to talk about parenting today being weak and fragile versus the parenting of yesteryear being the only true method. 

Yeah! I parent in a way that when seen from the outside may look overbearing, I admit that. But since we’re talking about stuff from the olden days, remember this adage: better safe than sorry? I’m sticking with that one. 

Do you know what the defenders of yesteryear’s parenting use as their defense? The Bible. Problem is their ‘spanking is biblical’ argument comes from a proverb that doesn’t exist, all too often “spare the rod – spoil the child” is quoted and everyone around nods their heads in agreement saying mm hmm, but do you know what it actually says? 

“He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”

Proverbs 13:24

Nothing about the affect the lack of discipline being the cause of a spoiled child. The emphasis is on the father who refuses to discipline his child. If he loves his child, he’ll discipline him. Not one word about what the child will turn into without the rod. 

Now when we talk about the rod in that verse there is some debate among scholars about whether or not it actually means a rod – something used to spank, or hit a child in a form of punishment or, a rod -(in the metaphorical sense) something used to guide or steer a child in the right direction in the same way a shepherd uses his rod to steer his sheep. I tend to lean toward the former, not because I think the end all solution for discipline is a good spanking (I don’t) rather because for centuries that was the method used and biblical times would’ve been no different. 

With that said, I tend to disagree with people who use the Old Testament book of Proverbs to defend their use of corporal punishment. Even with the many other uses of the word ‘rod’ in Proverbs I still think we should refer to the words of the Apostles and Jesus in the New Testament and line them up with Proverbs and make a decision based on what the Bible as a whole says, rather than cherry picking a couple of verses that suit what we want. 

For the record, the ‘rod’ is referenced in Proverbs in 29:15, 22:15, 23:13-14, and there may be more depending on the translation you read. 

Do you know what the New Testament says about physical discipline? 

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”

Ephesians 6:4 NLT (you’ll find a similar verse in Colossians 3:21)

I have yet to hear a good answer for my question of “how exactly does someone use a rod on their child and NOT provoke them to anger?” 

“In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.”

Titus 2:6‭-‬7 NLT

I know that one may not be directed towards fathers per se, but I don’t think we can exclude them, it is talking about teaching and what is a good father if not a teacher?.

“Don’t Lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.”

1 Peter 5:3 NLT

“But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.”
1 Timothy 5:8 NLT

“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise:”

Ephesians 6:1‭-‬2 NLT

That one in itself could be a blog post because Jesus quotes the Ten Commandments reiterating that children should HONOR their parents, through honor comes the willingness to obey, not the other way around. I could type for hours about that one.

“You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

2 Timothy 3:15‭-‬16 NLT

I’ll ask again, what does the New Testament say about physical discipline? As far as I can find, not a single thing. In fact there’s more about caring, not lording over people, and encouraging one another than anything else. But that doesn’t mean we ignore the OT and it’s references to the rod of discipline, 2 Timothy 3:15-16 says all scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching. So I think that if, at times some form of physical discipline is needed it isn’t wrong per se, but before we use the Bible as it’s defense we need to know the verses in that Book that may offer up an alternative form of discipline. 

Speaking of alternative forms of discipline, God the Father uses the most patient, compassionate, love filled approaches to being a father, so much so that if we saw someone use half that amount of patience on thier kids we would probably call him out for being too soft, giving in too much and not using the rod enough. God the Father disciplines in a way more akin to live and learn rather than the heavy handed obey and submit demands many kids still grow up with, but He does it in a way that is constantly reminding us of the dangers of going against Him 

Yeah, the good ol’ days were good. I cherish a lot of those memories and if I could go back in time and raise my kids in a world that felt safer I would do it in a heartbeat. Rather than reminiscing in our childhood years and thinking “I was raised this way, and I’m fine. So I’m gonna raise my kids this way too” shouldn’t we look at the bigger picture and admit that the world is different now? If that means we can’t let our kids run around town doing God knows what, than maybe that’s a good thing. If we have to adapt our parenting to today and admit that not everyone can be fixed with a spanking, than maybe it’s time. 

Maybe, for those open minded enough to see it, being a parent that actually watches their kids, being someone who prevents bumps and bruises through teaching rather than waiting til after and then scorning them for it is an approach that encourages wisdom. Maybe it’s time we take some of the thinking that we were raised on and change that thinking into methods specifically modified for our kids, some might react well to a little physical discipline, some won’t, and for those that won’t maybe another form of discipline is needed. 

Maybe instead of twisting the Bible to say that if I don’t spank my kid will grow up to be a spoiled brat, we should begin quoting the New Testament scriptures that talk about love, gentleness and kindness. The verses that talk about encouraging our kids and maybe, just maybe that old textbook in grandma’s basement about how to properly spank every child into submission should be added to the pile of things to burn at the next campout. 

These are my thoughts​, feel free to leave yours below and thanks for sharing.