Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Punishment vs Discipline

I came across this great blog dealing with punishment vs discipline of our children.  We have been spending a great deal of time during our Sunday evening services dealing with the stewardship of our children and one topic that has come up repeatedly is dealing with this issue.  It is critical that we, as parents, speak to the heart of our children and deal with our need for grace....we carry our children to the cross every time we discipline.  Take a few moments and be encouraged by this blog.


Mark's teeth were clenched and the veins in his neck were bulg­ing. His son, Chad, had skipped school again — the fifth time in the last two months. Somehow, Chad and his buddies figured a few days of surfing were more worthwhile than an entire semester's worth of grades. So whenever the wave reports were favorable, they'd meet off campus, drive down to the beach together, and return home about fifteen minutes after school was out, hoping their parents would never discover their adventure — but clearly not too worried if they did. And they almost always did. Today, after getting a call from the principal and smelling the lingering scent of saltwater on his son, Mark was at the end of his patience.

"Chad, I can't believe you did it again!" Mark yelled. "How many times have we had this conversation? You're in so much trouble...."At a loss for words, Mark's mind searched for a punishment that would be severe enough. He felt betrayed by the son who had promised him two weeks earlier that this would never happen again. He was so mad that all he could think about was payback.

That's an understandable emotion for a frustrated parent to have, but when action flows out of that emotion, parenting has taken a turn for the worse. That dynamic will eventually render your efforts to raise godly children ineffective, and here's why: The idea of punishment implies repaying someone with what he or she deserves. That's the antithesis of the gospel. Punishment produces a child laden with guilt and determined to get out from under it, and Christlikeness is never the result. An effective parent has to learn the 
difference between punishment and discipline.

punishment versus discipline chart

As you can see, although the actions parents take to correct their children may look the same, understanding the difference between discipline and punishment makes all the difference in the world in terms of attitude and results. Allow me to take a brief look at the theological background behind these concepts to help you grasp how understanding this difference can transform your approach to your child's misbehavior.

The Gospel of Grace

We love the gospel of grace when we come to God with our sins. None of us wants justice in 
the sense of God giving us what we deserve. But as much as we love His mercy when applied to us, we have a really hard time applying it to others — especially when the "other" is someone who can wound our hearts as deeply as our child can. The closer the relationship, the more betrayed and frustrated we feel. And those kinds of feelings can lead to ill-conceived punishments.
Think about how God disciplines. Some translations of Hebrews 12:6, where the writer quotes Proverbs to demonstrate that God disciplines His children, use an inade­quate word: "hepunishes everyone he accepts as a son" (italics added). The translation itself isn't wrong, but it doesn't capture the full meaning of the word. Literally, it means to forcefully correct, to scourge, to take whatever drastic measure is necessary to get someone to obey. Punishment, when not clarified in English with a fuller definition, implies retribution. It can be entirely a matter of payback.

As you know, that's not the gospel. When we've put our faith in Jesus, God doesn't punish us for what we did. The focus of 
punish­ment is always past tense: "First you did this, then you did this, and now you have to pay the price." In His mercy, God wiped away all eternal, spiritual implications of our pasts; He doesn't treat His children according to the rules of punishment.

Very simply, the gospel is that God became a man, came to earth, lived a perfect life, died on a cross to pay for the sins of all mankind, rose again from the dead on the third day, and was seen by over five hundred witnesses. Those who want that redemption applied to themselves must understand that we have a sin problem — we've all violated the commands of a holy God — and that there's no way to the Father except through the Son. Salvation means receiving the gift of Jesus' work on the Cross.

When we do that, the Spirit of God enters our lives, we are born again, and the Spirit dwelling in us now begins to develop the life of Christ in us. God's wrath toward sin was spent on Jesus as the Son hung on a symbol of the curse. When Jesus said, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34), He was experiencing the full wrath of 
God for all the sins of all mankind for all of history. He was the propitiation for us — in our place, He absorbed God's anger toward human sinfulness. Sharing the gospel isn't about convincing people to believe a doctrine and live better; it's about letting people know the really good news that we've been forgiven. All one needs to do to receive that salvation is turn from wickedness and receive Christ's gift.

What does all this have to do with parenting? If Jesus took all the punishment for you and me, He also took all of it for our children. I don't want to teach my kids that I need to pay them back for the bad things they've done. I want them to understand that the only way to make right what they did is to trust that when Jesus died on the cross, He paid for their sins. It makes no sense for me to fellow­ship with God on the basis of mercy and with my children on the basis of judgment. Since Jesus took the punishment, my role as a parent is not to punish them. My role is to provide appropriate consequences and instruction to help them see how their 
behavior displeases God and to teach them how to cooperate with God's work in their lives. The Bible calls this discipline.

Punishment produces some very negative characteristics in your children: guilt, shame, bitterness, resentment, regret, self-pity, fear, and more. Because it's focused on the past, children feel helpless. They can't undo what they've already done, and they can't change the circumstances that their behavior has produced. Punishment doesn't give them a means to right their wrongs; the tools they need to understand redemption aren't included in the punishment pack­age. It is simply retribution that leads to a lot of negative emotions.

Discipline, on the other hand, is future-focused, always pointing toward future acts. It has nothing to do with retribution and everything to do with redemption. Whereas the purpose of punishment is to inflict a penalty for an offense, the purpose of discipline is to train for correction and maturity. Whereas the origin of punishment is 
the frustration of the parent, the origin of discipline is a high moti­vation for the welfare of the child. And whereas the result of punishment is fear and shame, the result of discipline is security. Discipline always holds the child's best interests, not the parent's anger, in the forefront. It is never out of control.
Parenting Myth: Discipline requires parents to penalize their child as payback for an offense.
Parenting Reality: Discipline means applying appropriate consequences to encourage a child to make better choices in the future.
What messages are you sending your kids? Few parents will bluntly declare that they're penalizing a child for his misbehavior. We don't express punishment in terms of vengeance. But when the veins are popping, the voice is escalating, and the parent towers intimidatingly over their children, the message is easily confused. You may have 
discipline in mind, but your children probably inter­pret your outbursts of anger as pure punishment. It needs to be clear in their minds that you are imposing boundaries for their good because you love them.

There will be times, of course, when you are angry. Just because you don't discipline out of anger doesn't mean you won't feel angry. My kids have done things that made me livid, and it took me between ten minutes and an entire day to calm down. But I've learned that I am not ready to discipline my child until I can do so under control. The best way to do that is to have your child go to his room, or for you to go to your room, or both. There's nothing wrong with taking time to invite God to "clothe" you in the Spirit of Christ, remind yourself that Jesus has already paid for your children's sins, ask God to help you handle your anger appropri­ately, and then deal with the situation rationally.

It's fine to tell your children how upset you are, but the focus soon needs to turn to helping them get right with God and learn 
how to correct the behavior for the future. I confess that this approach takes a lot more work on the parent's part, and a lot more self-control. But in our home and countless others, it has turned the disciplining process from an ugly exchange of hurtful emotions to a time of resolution and deeper intimacy between parent and child.

Now that we've talked about the "why" behind disciplining our children, let's look in the next article at what Scripture says about the "how."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Blog Post to Check Out....Why We Should Legalize Murder for Hire...Great Blog!

Ok, so alot of you are skeptical about the title of this blog and are probably thinking, "Wow, our Pastor is condoning legalizing murder?!  This is not going to go over well in the community!" But, think about it - would I do anything controversial?  Would I really cause such a stir?  Please....(sarcasm implied)

Check out this fantastic blog by The Gospel Coalition:


I'll be the first to admit it; hit men are shady. But they are shady because they are doing work that no one else wants to do, work that is, in fact, illegal. By labeling contract killing a "crime," we have obscured the fact that hit men provide a valuable service to society.
Bourne SightMany women find themselves trapped in unwanted marriages. Matrimony severely curtails a woman's freedom, and husbands can be unreasonably demanding. A woman in such a situation is vulnerable. She sees only one way out, and so she makes the difficult decision to kill her husband.
But the inconvenient truth is that a woman hiring a hit on her husband will likely have to pay tens of thousands of dollars, with no guarantee that the kill will actually take place. Legalizing the transaction would remove uncertainty. Hired guns could be vetted, trained, and held to professional standards of safety. No one wants a hit to go bad. Removing the threat of prosecution would drastically lower the cost of contract killings. Legalizing murder for hire would bring a sordid industry into the light.

While divorce may be an attractive alternative to murder for hire in most cases, some women do not have the emotional and financial resources to go through a divorce. A contested divorce can take more than a year to resolve. After attorneys drain the couple's finances, the woman will be left with little money to get on with her life. Additionally, a discrete and well-timed hit protects a husband from the pain of discovering that he is no longer wanted. A truly skilled assassin can take his target painlessly in an instant, without any suffering. The end of a marriage can potentially ruin a woman's life, but if her husband can be taken out quickly and cleanly, it can be a new beginning for her.

Murder for hire is an uncomfortable subject, and I personally could never order a hit. The better course is to avoid unwanted marriage in the first place. Yet this is not a decision that anyone else can make for a woman. It is her marriage; only she can decide when it must end.

I realize readers may be hesitant to endorse this proposal, but stop to consider the profound way that the legalization of abortion has taken away the stigma against a woman who wants to kill her child. Abortion was once considered murder and thus could only be obtained secretly and at great risk to women. Now, our country celebrates women who exercise their choice to kill their family members. Why shouldn't we extend this right, and give women the choice to kill their partners?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Real Religion....Caring for the least of these

We believe that the Bible commands us to care for the widows and the orphans...and at Trinity, one of the many ways we are trying to participate in that calling is through a partnership with Compassion International.   If you have never looked in to this ministry, you might mistake it for one of the many "social aid" agencies in the world - but Compassion really is different.  Their mission is distinct and apologetically Scriptural. 

From their website: 
Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.
Founded by the Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952, Compassion began providing Korean War orphans with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training.

Today, Compassion helps more than 1.2 million children in 26 countries.

Our family has sponsored Jhon Jairo M from a South American country and have had multiple opportunities to write back and forth with him.    Jhon Jairo had been waiting for a sponsor for over 8 months when we found out about him.  We recently learned that he and his family are having to leave their village due to an increase in violence in the area and threats against them: Jhon Jairo's biggest fear is that he will not be able to continue in the Compassion program where ever they end up living.  

Compassion International's sponsorship program is a wonderful way of teaching your children about real people, in real places that have real needs:  not "I need a new playstation," but I need clean water and a meal.  Compassion allows our boys to sponsor a child that they can correspond with, get to know, see pictures of and learn more about.  For $38 a month (less than a meal out for most families), Jhon Jairo gets to go to the Development Center nearby and receive food, education, medical care and have other material needs met.  His parents get to learn entrepreneurial skills and the community receives educational resources. 

This Sunday, October 20th, Trinity will host Shaun Groves from Compassion International for a free concert during our evening services.  Join us for some incredible worship music and to learn more about how we can carry out this incredible calling!  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Making Sure Our Kids Get the Right Stuff...

As a kid, I remember drilling multiplication facts in my head – I worked everyday trying to memorize these facts and learn any tricks that would help them to stay with me.  All of us still know and probably sing the “ABC song” in our heads when we are alphabetizing.  How many times do you quote, “I before e, except after c” when we are writing?   As parents, we are pouring as much information into our kids as we possibly can to help them later in life.  As Christian parents, we add Bible verses and principles to this plethora of information we are stockpiling.  One of the greatest gifts God gives children is the ability to learn, almost by absorption.   It is almost as if kids can just take in new information like a sponge and retain it for a lifetime.  So, why as parents and churches, would we spend all of this valuable time pouring in only multiplication tables and simple, watered-down truths when they are capable of learning and retaining so much more? 

We have been working through different difficulty/detail levels of the Westminister Shorter Catechism with our boys since they were 2-3 years old.  We began with a story book style (such as Simple Truths for Young Hearts), simple answer form of the catechism to allow them to grab basic truths of doctrine and its importance.  Now that our boys are a little older, we are working through Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade and we are filling in more detail and more valuable information around the truths they learned at such an early age.  We take just one to two questions/answers per week and we review the purpose of the doctrine, what it means and they memorize the answers.  The great part of this resource is that if you are not already working through a family worship resource with your family, this book gives you outstanding daily devotions for use with your pre-teens and teens.  We have a limited amount of time to “pour in” what they will need for the rest of their lives.  The Lord has given us this calling as parents and churches, and we are to maximize our time.  I want to encourage parents at TBC to take a serious look at spending some time catechizing and explaining correct doctrine with our children.   

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Beating the Same Drum

Without checking, I would say that there is not a subject that I have written about any more than family worship and the importance of dads leading out in this area. I have preached on this, taught this, and blogged on this, but I do not want to ever quit beating this drum. Below is a blog that inspired and encouraged me as I read it as it deals with the “Why?” of family worship. I hope it resonates within your heart as well:

Family Worship. Why?