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Monday, October 31

Theopedia Web Site

There is now a web site up called Theopedia which has the same feel as Wikipedia. It looks very promising, though stripped down at this point. A good place to start would be here. Particularly, the first set of lectures will be very helpful in understanding how the Bible was compiled and why it can be trusted and why it is God’s very word (issues I had struggled with before).        

Friday, October 28

Terror and Life

During the First Great Awakening, many people were criticizing Jonathan Edwards and the other preachers for “speaking terror to them who are already under great terrors, instead of comforting them.” In other words, why don’t you put a big smile on your face, tell people how much God loves them, and tell them everything’s alright?

Edwards response:

The critics are right if the ministers are scaring people with things that are not true. But if the things they say are true, they should continue to speak them since this is the most loving thing to do. That is, when we preach things that are true we are helping people understand the seriousness of eternity. We desperately need to see the utter hopelessness of our estate. We have settled for pats on the back when what we need is a kick in the pants. There is not one person reading this right now who thinks that they are alright. When you are honest with yourself when you lay down at night, you know that you should not have said that biting word or thought that horrible thought or looked at that thing or done myriad of other sin.

This is not just a little problem. This sin issue pervades your being. You can’t escape it. It is the monkey on your back that promises sweet pleasures, delivers nothing but cackles, and latches on tighter. As Edwards said, “The truth is, that as long as men reject Christ, and do not savingly believe in him, [however religious they may be], they have the wrath of God abiding on them, they are his enemies, and the children of the devil (Matt 8.38; 1 Jn 3.10)...”

The truth is: no matter how good your external actions are (going to church, giving to disaster relief, taking a meal to someone, etc.) your heart must be converted. You must be born again, to use Jesus’ words.

The truth is: you need to realize your miserable estate and treasure Jesus as your only hope of being acceptable to God. You are required to obey God completely...from the heart. It is not enough to not steal, commit adultery, lie, etc. You must love God with ALL your heart, soul, mind, and strength AND your neighbor as your already love yourself. You can’t do this. But Christ has. That is what it means to embrace Jesus as he has been offered to us in the Good News of God.

To blame a minister for thus declaring the truth to those who are under awakenings, and not immediately administering comfort to them, is like blaming a surgeon, because when he has begun to thrust in his lance, whereby he has already put his patient to great pain, and he shrinks and cries out with anguish, he is so cruel that he will not stay his hand, but goes on to trust it in further, till he comes to the core of the wound. Such a compassionate physician, who as soon as his patient began to flinch, should withdraw his hand, and go about immediately to apply a plaister, to skin over the wound, and leave the core untouched, would heal the hurt slightly, crying ‘Peace, peace, when there is no peace.’ (Thoughts on the Revival, Part III).

Let us not forget that Scripture is very clear about the seriousness of life: It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10.31).

Do not think that God will just look over your sin. Every time you sin you join the soldiers who mocking the Christ, spit in his face. Think this is too much? Sin is denying that God’s way is the best. What more, it declares that God has no place in your living. You proclaim that he is a fool and you are the wise one. You know best. Truth be told: Sin is a lie.

Wednesday, October 26

Why So Serious?

I have been asked this question more than once and am sure some folks are wondering the same thing after reading my last post. Some may say, “You went from spanking to preaching about hell-fire and damnation. What’s the deal, buddy?”

Our culture is hell-bent on entertainment. We want our eyes and ears to be busy with light living. We opt for cotton candy fantasy rather than the solid meat of reality. Our television shows are replete with plots dreamed up in the minds of folks who hope for the best, but forget that this life is short.

People waste their time and once they are at the end of their time here on earth (granted they are growing old and they are not taken in a tragic accident) they wonder what the trip was about.

Everyone must fess up to the fact that they are going to die. Surprise!?!?! You must think about what happens after this. This surely is not it...Thus, my desire to wake people up to the seriousness of eternity. Call me what you will, but at least give me a fair hearing. The one who says the hard things is probably the one who loves you the most. Fact of the matter is: eternity is serious. What does that mean? Is that just some platitude I’m using to sound majestic and stay superficial. Not really. Don’t piddle your life away for 80 years only to find that there is more, much more afterwards. You must prepare during this blink in time for the rest of your life. Tomorrow I will post a quote from Edwards that will shed some more light on why I am the way I am, and long for you to seriously consider your short existence here on earth. Hey. No one else will get in your face like this, and it helps to have anonymity when you’re reading.

Tuesday, October 25

Closing Remarks...from Jonathan Edwards

I thought it would be nice to give an exhortation from Edwards in light of this rather lengthy series of posts on discipline and love. I find it a frightful thing that there are many who give their kids the best of this world but neglect, even deter, their children’s need for Christ. Parents must remember that although they give their children the world but neglect their souls, what will it profit?

There are many who contribute to their own children’s damnation, by neglecting their education, by setting them bad examples, and bringing them up in sinful ways. They take some care of their bodies, but take little care of their poor souls; they provide for them bread to eat, but deny them the bread of life, that their famishing souls stand in need of. And are there no such parents here who have thus treated their children? If their children be not gone to hell, no thanks to them; it is not because they have not done what has tended to their destruction. Seeing therefore you have had no more regard to others’ salvation, and have promoted their damnation, how justly might God leave you to perish yourself! (“The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners”)

Friday, October 21

Monergism BLOG

I was excited to see that Monergism has just started a blog here . The post today has to deal with the question: If God Chooses Who Will Be Saved, Why Evangelize?

For a phenomenal book on this check out JI Packer’s Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God .

The Discipline of the LORD

Below is my transcription of a handout given to my wife’s class on Biblical Parenting. I found it very concise and helpful when considering how to discipline. The most important point is what we discussed yesterday: discipline should point to the Cross.

The Rod of Discipline

The function of the rod is to impart wisdom (Prov 29.15)
“Provides an immediate tactile demonstration of the foolishness of rebellion.”
“The spanking renders the child compliant and ready to receive life-giving words.”

1. A Parental Exercise
2. A Responsibility
3. An Act of Faith
4. A Physical Punishment
5. An Act of Faithfulness
6. A Rescue Mission

1. Not the Right to Unbridled Temper
2. Not Associated with Anger
3. Not the Right to Hit Our Children Whenever We Wish
4. Not Venting Frustration

• Inconsistent Use of the Rod
• Failure to Be Effective Failure to Persist
• Chastising in Anger

• Teaches Outcomes to Behavior
• Trains Child to Be Under Authority
• Yields Harvest of Peace and Righteousness (Heb 12.11)
• Shows God’s Authority Over Mom and Dad
• Demonstrates Parents’ Love and Commitment
• Returns Child to a Place of Blessing

These tips can help provide discipline that preserves the child’s dignity:

• Take your child to a private place
• Tell him specifically what he has done wrong or failed to do (“You disobeyed Mommy by...”)
• Secure an acknowledgment from child of what he has done.
• Remind him of the function of the spanking - to restore relationship to parent (or the offended party)
• Tell the child how many swats he will receive
• Make sure it is felt and on your lap - this keeps spanking in the context of your physical relationship
• Don’t remove clothes
• Forgiveness and restoration should take place at the end

Loss of freedoms (loss of privilege, extra work given)
Verbal reproof


• Moral reasons why
• Distinguish Between Foolishness or Childishness (Prov 22.15; Example: clumsily knocking over a glass of milk is different than kicking a brother under the table)
        Consider these:
                - Frequency of the offense
                - Age of the child
                - Context of the moment
                - Overall characterization of behavior of child (know your child)
• Remain calm
• Demonstrate love in correction
• Consistency - it is what you are characterized by not just one mistake
• Immediate obedience is obedience (doing what you’re told without excuses)

Correction and discipline must find their mark in the God-given conscience (reasoning capacity) of the child (Rom 2.12-16) to make a true change.
        - Correction deals with the root problem not just the surface issues
        - Correct with a central focus of redemption (not punishment)
        - Work toward them having responsibility for their heart issues        

Thursday, October 20

Parents Carry God's Rod

We have discussed the relationship between the rod and authority as found in the Bible. I think it is an amazing thing that Proverbs does not just say “If you love your son, you will discipline him” or “Withhold good things from your child when he disobeys”. No, it says to use the rod of discipline - the same rod that God uses with his people.

The father is told to bring his child up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (we will discuss what this means in the next post). Proverbs makes it clear that loving your child includes hurting them. You do not want them to remain bound to sin like a prisoner. Instead, you must hurt them in order that they will understand that bad decisions reap harmful consequences.

This pain is a mere shadow and exhortation to the child that they seek true obedience from the heart. That is, spanking a child should be accompanied with an explanation that disobedience yields pain. Above this, a life of disobedience to God will yield eternal punishment where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. If you take the Bible seriously, you will teach your child that although this punishment is temporary, this is a mere pinch compared to the magnitude of God’s wrath.

Thus, the connection between God’s authority and parental authority. Before I go on, let me say this: I do not want these posts to be justification for abuse. Physical discipline is NOT giving pain to a child for no reason. Tomorrow I will discuss what godly discipline is. Today I want us to see the connection between the rod of parental discipline being an extension of God’s righteous rod.

Ephesians 1-3 explains what has happened in the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Chapters 4-6 explain the practical nitty-gritty outworkings of this truth in the lives of believers. Read the following:
Eph. 6:1   Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Children have an obligation to obey their parents because this is the expression of obedience to God. The child should obey the parents not because they are bigger, but because they have been placed over him as authority (to guide and teach him right from wrong). The obligation to the parent (especially the father who is the head of the household) is that he disciplines the child in a certain way - namely, in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. This is not the discipline and instruction of the way his parents did it or the way he thinks he should do it or the way irritated people in the supermarket think he should do it. It is the way that God has shown us. As a whole, it is teaching the child the Bible - God’s two-edged sword that convicts, slices sin, and heals wounds.

Too many parents are disciplining their children with their only reason being irritation from their child’s whining. Instead, spanking is one of the most loving and affectionate things a parent can do. No parent hates a child more than the one who refuses to correct his child with godly wisdom. Ultimately, discipline should point to the Cross. The Son of God suffered a grotesque and humiliating and anguishing death. He bore wrath to the nth degree in order that the one who deserves to die was given life. More on this tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 18

Loving by Hurting

I have not met a parent that enjoys spanking their child. Frankly, I would be worried. I had some friends in elementary school that relayed spanking stories as if their parents enjoyed doing it. I believe this is the case because the parents did not discipline under the authority of God.

Prov. 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him

This connection between discipline and use of the rod is the same connection made when God speaks to David regarding his son who will build the Temple. What is of particular note is the analogy that God uses. He compares himself to a father and it is assumed that this entails discipline.

I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men (2 Sam 7.14).


Prov. 23:13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.
14         If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.

Love is doing the best for the person. Whether that be laying one’s life down or laying down the rules. God wants us to love each other by offering encouragement AND correction. This is a reflection of who God is. He does not leave us in our rebellion as Christians. As a father he corrects us “for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov 3.12). And, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Heb 12.6).

Many people say that God is love. What our culture typically means by this is that God leaves a person in his sin and accepts him for what he is. This is only one side of love. God accepts us only as we are in Christ - not if we remain in sin. But he also disciplines us to get us away from our vomit. He is not a father who sits around watching SportsCenter while his kid plays in a pig’s sty - full of manure and rotten leftovers.

The most loving thing God does for his children is hurt them. This is the most loving thing that an earthly father can do. Sometimes when the child asks for Serpent Sin, Dad must give him a smack on the hands.

Monday, October 17

Great Question for Bloggers

Perhaps the best part is getting to know people by name and not "blog nickname".  I have been thinking more and more about Andy Jackson's admonition for Christian bloggers to be more forthcoming about personal information and point of view as a way of being more authentic and honest.  More and more I wonder if "anonymous" or pseudonymous blogs are contradictory to Christian witness (my emphasis).

Tod Bolsinger

The Child and Folly

In the past post we mentioned the rod being something that gives understanding and directs a way for someone (much like a bridle and whip for horses and mules).

Prov. 10:13 On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.

One might read this verse and think that it is ridiculous to put a rod to the back of a fool just because he does not have understanding. However, it is a kindness to correct someone. In essence, the reason you put a rod to the back is because verbal reason will not register. I get a picture of the couple who is angry with each other. The man is yelling, the woman is yelling...then all of a sudden the woman slaps the man. What is supposed to happen is the man is supposed to shut up and listen and become sensible enough to have a conversation. Thus, the idiom “knock some sense into you” comes to be.

One might even think it barbaric to hit a child in any manner. But notice Prov. 22:15:

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

The child does not have understanding, nor is he able to follow sound arguments all the way through - thus, the incessant “why” questions. The word “bound” literally means to have something confined with or bound (as with a rope). Therefore, the rod is used to shake loose the folly that is tied up in the child’s heart. It is not unloving.

Prov. 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

That is, if you love your son, you will correct him with the rod. Yes, he is cute and seems harmless. But as has been said, a baby would be a murderer or thief or liar if he only had the strength. Doubt this? Who has to teach a toddler to take from another kid or not share or hit? No one. Folly and rebellion is bound up in their heart due to the fall.

This is the connection we have been looking for...There is a rod of authority and correction that the parent wields. If you love your child, you will use the rod to drive the folly from him. We will deal with this tomorrow.

Thursday, October 13

A Temper to the Rod

I spoke with a friend of mine today whom I admire for his insight and desire to be biblical. He raised some doubts as to where I was going with my last two posts. Particularly, the word study of sebet gave him pause. I clarified to him and I am sure that I need to do the same for those out there who may be wondering the same thing.

I want to make clear that I am not making a 1:1 correlation between physical discipline (spanking) and sebet as used in the Old Testament. What I have been trying to show is that the sebet is representative of authority - God’s sovereignty when it is in his hand and man’s ruling under God when in his hand. That is, one of the marks of a king is not only his crown, but the scepter of authority in his hand.

The real application to parenting and discipline comes when Proverbs uses sebet. We have seen that it signifies authority...Let’s look at the context of two passages in Proverbs:

Prov. 10:13 - On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.
Prov. 26:3 - A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools.

So the rod is meant to be used by the one with authority in order to bring the fool into correction. In 10.3 the purpose of bringing the rod to the bak of the fool is so that they might be wise (notice the parallelism between the fool who lacks sense and wisdom being on the lips of the one who has understanding). In 26.3 the purpose has to do with bringing the fool into line with what he was meant to do - glorify God. This comes from the relationship between the whip for the horse and the bridle for the donkey.

Next we are going to draw the connection between the rod of correction and the child...

Tuesday, October 11

Soft Bottoms Lead to Hard Hearts {2}

As mentioned in the previous post, there is are two meanings for the word sebet in the Old Testament - tribe and rod/scepter. It is used almost exclusively to refer to the tribes of Israel until the book of Isaiah. When used to refer to a rod, it is always in the hand of the one in authority or power (the rod of the oppressor - Is 9.4; the rod of God’s anger - 10.5, cf 10.24; the rod belonging to the one who fashioned it - 10.15; God’s rod to strike the earth - 11.4; scepter of rulers - 14.5)

And in Ps 2.9 speaks of the righteous judgments of the Messiah when he comes with his iron scepter. Of particular note is Psa. 23.4:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,        I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod [sebet] and your staff, they comfort me.

Therefore, although there is definitely an affliction element to the “rod” (sebet), it is also seen as something of comfort. How? Hopefully we will answer that soon.

The texts most often cited to support physical discipline of children are found in Proverbs (Prov 10.13, 13.24, 22.8, 22.15, 23.13-14, 26.3, 29.15).

The comfort and love aspect found in Psalm 23 is pronounced in Prov. 13.24:

Whoever spares the rod [sebet] hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

The one who withholds his hand from correcting the buttocks of his son hates him! Let that sink in. This is the last thing you would think of. In fact, our culture speaks of spanking in the opposite way, “How could you spank your son? Don’t you love him? Doesn’t it break your heart to see him cry?” It may break our hearts, but better our hearts than shattering their lives.

The reason David is comforted by the painful rod (the same one he felt when he sinned with Bathsheba) is because he knows that God wields it for his sake - for God’s and David’s sake. David is very aware of the fact that when he does wrong he deserves punishment...and when he is under God’s wings of protection the rod is what keeps him safe. May the same kind of duality be true of the rods wielded in the hands of fathers and mothers.

Monday, October 10

Soft Bottoms Lead to Hard Hearts {1}

Let’s jump into one of the most controversial topics of parenting - spanking. I am specifically thinking of passages that relate to “the rod”. We are living in a day when child abuse is rampant, so why would I let it be known that I advocate spanking? Won’t I be considered an archaic caveman who wants to beat his child? Probably. But I want to be biblical more than I want to be admired. Let’s jump in...

The Hebrew word is: šēbet. . And interestingly enough, it is used for the first time to refer to the Messiah’s reign in Gen 49.10 as the “scepter” will not depart from Judah. It is used six verses later to refer to a tribe. Therefore, the word has two functions: a literal and a metaphorical - both of which denote authority or a derivative of authority.

The first time it is used related to discipline or physical harm inflicted on someone is in Exodus 21.20 when a master beats a slave so that he dies. Thus, there is a responsibility to the one wielding the scepter to not do so to the destruction of the one receiving.

What to draw from this? When the rod is used for discipline and correction, it must be used with restraint (the master is not supposed to beat the slave until he dies). It must be used with a purpose in mind. The amount of affliction given must be equivalent to the degree of transgression.

Right now I do not want to draw the connection yet between parents and these passages. I merely want to set up a biblical understanding is of the rod so that when we get to Proverbs we will already have a biblical import for the word.

Saturday, October 8

Before I Continue

Before I continue I need you to ask yourself something. “Am I willing to listen to someone based upon principles and not experience?”

Why would I want you to ask this before continuing? Well, many of you that read my thoughts have children and I am posting at this point regarding parenting. While this question pertains to all of my posts (that you ask the above question), it definitely should be asked while I treat the issue of parenting. Why? Well, truth be told...I am not a parent. In fact, I have only been married for two years.

So the question remains...will you listen to what I have to say? Will you not simply because you will say to me, “Man, you don’t understand. Wait ‘til you have kids!” I was meditating on this line of reasoning people give when someone who is not in the same place in life wants to help with biblical principles to live by. I think much of it rests in pride. But perhaps sometimes people genuinely think that someone who has not gone through various experiences they have nothing to offer to the conversation.

I remember when people continually told my wife and I that we should wait ‘til we were married to make comments on things. In essence, they said, “After you’re married 10 years you’ll understand.” This rationale is malarkey (yes, I used that word...). The principles will hold true whether I am single or married for 50 years.

My desire for us to receive instruction with those who may not have the life experience is rooted in Paul’s instruction to Timothy. Timothy was pastoring the Ephesian church...which like many, was full of elderly people. However, within Greek culture wisdom and age were considered interdependent. “Wait-til-you’re-older-” thinking pervaded the churches. So Paul encourages Timothy that he can be confident of what he teaches because 1) he knows from whom he has learned the principles and therefore 2) he should not let anyone despise (or look down upon him) because of his youth.

However, the example should be lived out when life presents you with the opportunity. So, Lord willing, as we have children I will implement the principles that I mention here for the glory of God and the witness of the Bible’s sufficiency for parenting and all of life.

Friday, October 7

Movie to Reach Familes of the UK with the Gospel

The Breakout Trust is a ministry located in the United Kingdom that “is a registered charity, committed to communicating the relevance of the Christian”. It was begun by Steve Legg and seems to be on target in terms of evangelistic fervor.

I e-mailed Steve yesterday and he replied today regarding an article in the London Times. If you want, you can e-mail me {commentsonthewire[at]mac.com} and I can send it to you.

You can check out previews to the animated movie here. They will be showing this Christmas in the UK with hopes of bringing it to the United States next Christmas. The movie tells the Gospel story in a fresh way through the mouths of quail. I am very excited to see what God will do through this film. Oh that we would think outside of the box to communicate the glory of Christ to people!

According to Steve, it is a buzz all over the UK. Let’s pray that God would use this film in amazing ways...especially as we think that: There are over 12 million children in the UK and only 756,000 of them go to church regularly (Steve Legg in the London Times).

Thursday, October 6

Open Your Mouth

5   Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king.” And he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. 6 His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, “Why have you done thus and so?” He was also a very handsome man, and he was born next after Absalom (1Ki 1.5-6).

Why didn’t Haggith open his mouth and warn his son that he was going down the wrong road? So many parents worship their children. They put their kid up on a pedestal and let them have and do anything they want. They define love by not putting any boundaries in the way of their child’s happiness. Only the best for Johnny will do. Maybe, but who let Johnny decide what is best for him?

Adonijah was committing high treason, but his dad didn’t say a thing. Neither do the parents who don’t say a thing to their Johnny when he talks back to them. That’s right...it is blatant rebellion against God to talk back to your parents. God, who is in control of all things, ordained that the parents of Johnny be his parents - and not the parents of Charlie. Therefore, God has set Johnny’s parents as his authority and as God’s representative to Johnny to how he should live.

I wish more parents opened their mouths and told Johnny not to talk back, or not to say that or do that, or...What ended up happening to Adonijah for his folly? He was revealed to be a fool. Haggith was more worried that his good-looking son would hate him rather than being more concerned about his welfare. He did not correct his son because he was afraid to not be the nice guy. Oh that parents would put their precious little reputations on the line for the sake of their children.

Wednesday, October 5

I am more excited about this conference than I have been for one in a long time, in fact I registered for it about four months ago. I mean, look at these guys. If there not jovial for no reason...Dr. Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Dr. Mark Dever, and Dr. Ligon Duncan are leading the charge in this conference that is sure to impact many in and outside the Christian bubble. Dr. John Piper and Dr. John McArthur will also be speaking.

This is the second interview with the four main speakers. Go to the conference website to find out more about this sweet conference and hopefully I’ll see you there.

Tuesday, October 4

Faithful Service

In one of my last posts I wrote about the need to evaluate why and how we serve other people [Be Careful How You Serve]. I want to direct you to a ministry started by the Christian music group Jars of Clay called Blood:Water Mission. It is a ministry I have been very encouraged by.

There are two major problems in Africa - AIDS and absence of drinkable water. This ministry seeks to alleviate both. They want to meet people’s physical needs and spiritual needs - not falling off either end present in missions.

Read about it and make a donation to help...
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