Saturday, November 28, 2020

 What is Love

Experts say that you are not supposed to spank your children with your hand.  I have heard that this supposedly causes emotional scars on the child and damages the parent child relationship to the extent that the child may associate their parent’s hand with abuse and grow to mistrust their parents. I don’t know that I can fully agree with this assessment.  My dad’s hand swatted my tush more times than I care to remember, and I don’t feel that this affected my trust in him whatsoever.  However, watching Steven King’s, The Shining, at age 6, and seeing my brother accidentally hit in the face with a splitting maul may have led to some minor distrust…not to mention, having my dad throw an arrow in front of my nose as I stepped into the garage, (because apparently it was funny) and being deserted with my brother on the side of an isolated country gravel road??, (again…funny). Yeah, that didn’t exactly bolster trust, but the spanking???... no…not so much. 

I know that there can be a great deal of opinions tied to spankings, but as a pastor, I have no choice but to adhere to this controversial correctional system. As one who teaches to obey the Word of God, including Proverbs 13:24, “He who spares the rod, hates his son,” I must therefore be willing to initiate the task as necessary…because after all…I love my children more than any father ever has…save God himself.

Despite my personal growth experience as a child, I choose not to use my hand during the disciplinary action.  I have heard countless stories of wooden spoons being broken over children’s bottoms…and being an extremely frugal minded father…I really didn’t want to have to continually purchase replacements.  The implement of choice in our home was a plastic slotted spoon.  It was by nature a cooking utensil first and foremost…I couldn’t justify the purchase of a singular spoon…just for spanking…so the spoon was utilized in the cooking of spaghetti, beans, rice and the ever famous macaroni and cheese.  This came in particularly handy…when a spanking was needed during the cooking of the evening meal.  There was no need to waste time searching for the instrument of discipline.

Each night we would begin our bedtime routine; jammies, dental hygiene, potty time, drink of water, story, song, tuck in, threaten a spanking, close the door, open the door to see the child out of bed and threaten the spanking again, yell through the closed door...“If you are not in bed when I open this door, I will have to get the spoon!,” open the door just in time to see their little bare feet dash back onto the mattress, walk to the utensil drawer and rattle it…while loudly speaking to your spouse “IF SHE IS OUT OF BED WHEN I GET IN THERE I WILL HAVE TO SPANK HER.”

On one of these adventurous nights…after rattling the drawer…and continuing to see my threats disregarded…I was left with no choice but to take the spoon of doom…and march into my daughter’s bedroom.  I held the spoon aloft like a sword at the ready and boldly stated, “DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS FOR????....DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS FOR???...”

At the sight of the spoon…my daughter began to cry.

”No want panking!!! No want panking!!!”


Sob, sob, sniffle, sniffle…”iiiittts…iiiitts….iiiits…it’s for making ‘roni and cheese…”

How do you spank a child after that?

I took her gently in my arms and placed her face down over my lap…I raised the spoon…laid my other hand gently over her footie jammied bottom…and began to spank the back of my left hand as I sternly remarked…“STAY IN BED.”

She wailed…though the spoon never touched her. I hugged her. She hugged me…I tucked her in and she went to sleep.

I took that one for the team.  It was an act of love.  To let it go un-corrected…would not have been an act of love.  But that day, I took the correction for her.  I don’t know that she ever realized what I did that night.  But that is just a small taste of the love that God expresses to us in Jesus.  The Bible says that God is love…and then he “manifested” (big word for “made known”) his love…in Jesus.  When we say “yes” to a relationship with him, we then have that manifested love…living in us by His Spirit…we can then love…like he loves.  This manifestation of love first came…at Christmas.

May you come to see that the love spoken of in 1 John 4:7-20 and 1 Cor. 13 is all about God’s manifested love for us.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

 Windows 95

I bought my first real computer in college.  Prior to this monumental event, I had been resigned to engage all of my research in the nerdy depths of the technology lab…which was filled with gamers and over-achieving 100mph typists cranking out their 30 page theses weeks before they were due.  It was just my luck that every time that I entered the lab to cram my paper into existence 3 ½ hours before the midnight deadline…no computer would be available. This is just another example of how life just is not fair.

I needed my own private machine!

For a short time, I was able to land a 3 foot by 4 foot mother ship computer that covered 78.5% of my dorm room desk.  However, this green monitored machine didn’t last long…due to the fact that when I fired up the 10 minute ignition cycle, the main breakers would blow and the entire 3rd floor occupancy of the men’s main dorm would storm my room throwing rotting fruit and degrading insults.

I needed to figure something out to foster my procrastinating instincts…and the solution wasn’t black bananas.  My mother told me that her sister…my aunt…was selling a computer…for $100.  That was a high price for me to pay…especially at that time, but my pizza delivering tips from the past weekend would just about cover it.

I met her at a nearby McDonalds for the black market exchange.  However, after spending $5.75 on a double quarter pounder with cheese meal while waiting for her to arrive…I was forced to negotiate the priced down to $94.25…tax free…(let’s be honest…it was her fault…she should have been punctual).

Not long after launching my new machine in my dorm room…I came across a 1995 Windows upgrade disc!  Score! Now I was going to get even more stuff done…at the last minute…than ever before. 

However…I did not know how to install the upgrade.  “Hmmm…how hard can it be?,” I thought, “The new files…just need to go where the old files were…piece of cake.”

I dug into my “system files” folder…and began removing all of the old files…so that the new files could be inserted in their place.  Everything seemed to be going fine…until the screen went white…and stayed…white…forever.

“Hmmm…I wonder if you remove the system files…if the machine stops working?...“Apparently…the answer to that unspoken question was…yes.”

Having just destroyed my new $94.25 machine…I asked my next door neighbor if he had any thoughts as to what I should do.

“Go ask Nathan…down in the Tech Department.”

I cringed at the words…“Tech Department.”

This is the area of the college that I avoided…by all means possible…if I could.  That is the reason I delivered all those pizzas…to buy a computer…so I wouldn’t have to go there anymore.

With nothing left to do…but humble myself.  I walked into the Tech Lab…to abruptly hear…ALL of the incessant speedy typing stop…instantly…and felt every eye staring into my shallow soul.  I approached the  student supervisor…Nathan…and told him what I needed. 

“What did you do?” He asked.

“I deleted all of my system files.”

The laughter began with a rolling of the eyes and a chuckle…and crashed through the rest of the lab like a tsunami…

I felt about 3 inches tall…but the Lord has ways of keeping us humble. 

Nathan said…“Yes I can fix it…but it is going to cost you.”

“How much?”

“One package of Oreos”


Nathan fixed my computer in about 18 minutes.  It felt like my machine went from life…to death…back to life.  I was ecstatic! I think I would have bought him 6 packages of Oreos for what he was able to do.

There is something truly amazing…about life.  The miracle of birth can, perhaps, only be topped…by the miracle of rebirth.  Acts 21:17-23:11, brings to life several truth themes…but, perhaps, the most poignant one…the most powerful one…the one that give true hope beyond hope…the resurrection of Jesus Christ…and the promise of hope…the promise of new life…the promise of eternal life that that brings.

The Lord has struck me once again with this amazing…awesome truth.  I am slack jawed as I consider the hope of life…with Him

May we come to see the amazing hope in the resurrection!