Room for Discipline

I was 11, my brother 9, and we had been fighting like cats and dogs.  I mean, what brother and sister don’t have fights, but to hear my mom tell it, it was all out war in the home.  It was right around Christmas, just a few weeks until THE day, and my mother had had enough of our arguing.

“If I have to tell you one more time to knock it off, there will be no Christmas from your Pop and me.” (Please note here that we were not taught about Santa, so the presents from them were a big deal.) But does that sound real, folks?!  Of course it doesn’t.  Every parent says something like that once or 50 times in their life… “if you don’t knock it off, you’re gonna get a spanking/grounded/no tv/no dinner/no dessert, etc.”  So you can imagine how keen I was on listening to her warning.

Until we woke up Christmas morning and the usually blocked off hallway leading to the living room was without it’s usual blocking.  We walked into the open space….AND THERE WAS NOTHING UNDER THE TREE.  For real.  We bawled our eyes out, had breakfast and when on about our day.  What kind of parent does that????

And despite the devastation I felt that morning, as an adult now, I recognize the need for that kind of correction.

Sometimes correction seems harsh or unjust.  It doesn’t feel fair because we don’t see what we’ve done as “that bad.” In human eyes, we treat our sin as if it’s something that we can just brush off.  There isn’t a need to make a big deal out of it.  I mean, God forgives so what’s the harm?

Correction is needed for maturing and growth in your faith in God.  It’s a necessary step in the walk that we have as Christians.  Paul speaks of this in Hebrews 12:4-8.

4 “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;

5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him;

6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.” 

7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 

8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”

Because God loves us, it’s imperative there is discipline when we are headed down the wrong path.  When there is sin, we must be held accountable.  It doesn’t mean that God will not forgive us when we repent.  Rather, correction is meant to guide us back to the road that leads to the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  If we didn’t receive this, the Bible tells us we wouldn’t be children of the King.

What does discipline from God look like?  I’m no theologian, but I suspect that it’s different for each person and for each thing God is trying to correct us on.  Just like a loving parent does, three swats on the behind might be applicable to one offense, while an early bedtime with no dessert might work better for something different.  Here’s what I can stand firm on—God knows what’s appropriate and best.  And He loves us enough to do it.  We can stand comforted that His discipline comes from a right and just place.  He will always lead us back to Him.

I pray this week as we go about our business, that we recognize our attitudes and actions as Godly, adhering to the Word of God.  If there is correction to be received, may you see that it’s loving.

~Erin

P.S. We did finally get our presents…our parents woke up as at 1145pm to let us open the hidden presents. We never tested the waters again.

The Hard Decisions: Labor and Delivery

When I was a young Airman, I worked in Labor and Delivery as the primary surgical technician for c-sections. More times than I care to count, I was present when hard decisions were made about maternal or baby health.  Sometimes those choices had to do with a plummeting baby heart rate, a few times it had to do with a prolapsed cord, and once it had to do with a teratoma mass (this is a very rare cell tumor that can contain fully formed tissues, teeth, hair or bones).  The outcomes of those decisions were typically positive with both mother and baby surviving.  Sometimes those outcomes were much sadder.

In Exodus, we know there was a pharaoh trying to control Israel’s population through hard labor and ultimately by ordering Hebrew midwives to kill any male infants that they delivered (Exodus 1:15-16).  This is a much hard decision of the labor and delivery kind.

Within the scripture we see Shiphrah and Puah, the midwives, put into a scenario where they had to choose to follow the orders of the earthly leader or the commandments of the heavenly one.

It’s important to note that Moses refers to these two midwives by name.  Perhaps out of the multitude of other midwives, these two are most important because of their seniority in the area.  Perhaps they were mentors or teachers of the other midwives. Perhaps because of that leadership role, they would have been expected to follow the pharaoh’s orders and become an example to the rest of the midwives.  Perhaps they are remembered in the Old Testament scrolls because of their fear of the Lord and their disobedience of the murderous order (Exodus 1:17).

They could have been simply lost to the years as historically insignificant. 

But they were not. 

Why? Because they refused man and chose to obey God (Acts 5:17-19).  They did not kill any babies, let alone just the male infants.  In that choice, they remained faithful to the Lord.  They were able to stand before God as righteous servants rather than wretched ones.  They changed the course of world history by preserving God’s chosen people.

Their decisions were life and death ones with eternal implications.  Like modern obstetrics, they were making the hard decisions of labor and delivery. 

~Emily

“The midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.” Exodus 1:17 (NIV)

A Good Book

As a reader, I love a good book.  There’s something about diving into a story and recreating the scene in your head.  You can imagine yourself right there in the middle of it all, helping the main character figure out what to do.  While I don’t have to have a happy ending for the books I read, I do love for it to be finished, if you know what I mean.  I like to see development of a person-who they are, what they look like, the emotions they may be feeling.  I like to see the plot, no matter if it’s happy or sad.  It’s frustrating when I start reading a book and can’t really “get into it” the way I’d like.

Because of this habit, I’ve found that I’ve more than once been irritated with not knowing more about some of the people in the Bible.  What did Rahab look like?  What happened to her after the Israelites took down Jericho?  What happened to the widow and her son who fed Elijah?  Did they have an abundance of food afterward?  How about Cornelius in Acts 10?  He had a vision and was told to send men to Joppa to fetch Peter.  Were those men guards from his regimen?  Did they think he was off his rocker?  What was their conversation like on the way to Joppa?

I’d rather have the complete story.  But here’s what I’ve learned….

It’s not the point of the story.  Do we really need to know what Rahab looked like or if she took up new residence in a nearby town or went with the Israelites?  Is it necessary for us to know what the guards going to retrieve Peter were saying to each other about Cornelius’s vision?

In today’s society, we want the grand story, beginning to end, wrapped up as a complete package.  No stone left unturned.  If we don’t have the who, what, when, where, why, how, and how much, we decide it’s incomplete.  But the reality is that we are seeing exactly what God needs us to see.

In each and every one of the people I wrote about above, you know what they all had in common?  Immediate obedience.  They followed what they were told as directed by God and they were blessed because of it.  Rahab’s family was spared destruction.  The widow didn’t starve and her son was raised from the dead by Elijah.  Cornelius and his family made Jesus their Lord and Savior and are spending an eternity in heaven. 

Why?  Because they obeyed.  As we go through this week, listen and hear God’s direction in your life.  When He tells you to do something, I challenge you to obey immediately!  Don’t wait.  Follow what He says!  What a blessing it is to obey our Heavenly Father and trust what He says is good.

“But He said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” –Luke 11:28

~Erin