Welcome message

Dear friends,

Welcome to my blog. I am honored to have you visit. I hope you'll find my articles a blessing. I welcome your input and especially comments and questions.

I write as a Christian from Jerusalem, Israel about Biblical subjects.

I am particularly interested in the subjects of children, families, women's issues, corporal punishment, science and nature as these subjects relate to the Holy Scriptures.

For more information, see my website: www.biblechild.com

With every good wish - Samuel Martin

Saturday, June 28, 2014

What Kind of a Dad Would Jesus Be by Samuel Martin

What Kind of a Dad Would Jesus Be by Samuel Martin 

1) Jesus bathes His own children. (John 13:4-14)

2) Jesus is a merciful father to His children even when they are in the wrong. (John 8:1-11)

3) The Lord Jesus prepares his own meals. (John 21:9-12)

4) The LORD wipes away tears from His children's faces. (Isaiah 25:8)

5) The LORD sets the table for His family to eat. (Psalm 23:5)

6) Jesus is a long suffering, patient parent who shows perfect love to His children, even when they don't exhibit the same feeling back to Him. (John 21:15-17)

7) Jesus is a parent who would go without food and water to care for His children. (Matthew 4:1-2)


8) Jesus uses the example of quiet correction for sin. (John 8:1-11)


9) Jesus is a father who is ready to bind up our wounds. (Matthew 9:20)


10) Jesus is a parent who would die (and did die) for His children to keep them safe. (The message of the Gospel).

Thursday, June 19, 2014

No Biblical Text Is An Island

No Biblical Text Is An Island

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting the island of Malta. What an amazing experience that was. I really enjoyed it. It was so wonderful on a whole number of levels" the people, the architecture, the climate, the geography, the language, the sea. Great all the way around. 

Now, I enjoy islands. I have always been fascinated by islands. Generally speaking, I am not too keen about living on an island (I am personally much more comfortable in Jerusalem at 2,500 feet above sea level), but I have fond memories of some trips to islands. I remember going to Maui once when I was about eight and I loved that trip. I hope to go again to visit Hana in Maui again one day.

So my recent experiences have helped me a little bit I think to put some of my own Biblical studies in perspective and it gives a good opportunity perhaps for some teaching. 

Now, on my recent trip to Malta, I was very interested to learn that Malta (the country) is in fact made up of several islands. I know this because when I visited Malta, I spent most of my time in Gozo. Now, most people who have never visited Malta have never heard of Gozo because Gozo is a smaller island just to the west of the main island of Malta.

Now the people who live in Gozo are just as much Maltese as those who live on the main island of Malta, but rest assured they are very different people. They are much more conservative and more religious in fact. But, here is a point that I think we can all relate to. 

The point is, if you wish to understand Malta, you would not for one minute think that arriving in the airport on Malta, getting in a taxi, driving to the ferry and crossing to Gozo, spending two weeks in Gozo travelling up and down and talking to people all over Gozo and then think after that, that you could just return to the airport and come home and tell all your friends that you now understand everything about Malta? Hardly.

One could say the exact same thing about the Hawaiian islands. Maui and Oahu are different in some cases different as daylight and dark.

Let's not stop there. 

I have also visited Cyprus before. It is another beautiful island in the Mediterranean. However, were a person to only visit a certain part of Cyprus they might only get a certain part of the story of what life on Cyprus is like. Why is this? It is because the northern end of Cyprus is a part of Turkey, so one could visit northern Cyprus and get a whole different point of view on what life on Cyprus is like.

Now, islands are beautiful and wonderful, but we can see I think that visiting an island has many issues connected to it if we wish to develop an accurate understanding of the individual island itself or a collection of islands. 

Now, how does all of this relate to the Bible and to our understanding of it? Very much if we just have "eyes to see" and "ears to hear."

Using an "Island" oriented approach to Biblical understanding

So, now let's look at an example of how potentially dangerous this whole issue of this kind of limited approach of compartmentalization (like visiting an island) can be when we talk about the Bible. Unfortunately, this type of approach to the Bible is so common and widespread, but be warned of these types of practitioners of "island theology". What they may be teaching may be fine, but we need to make that we are getting the whole picture of life on the island and not just being directed to a small corner of the island and being told that this is all we need to know about that island.

The "Spanking" texts in Proverbs and an "island" mentality among many Biblical interpreters when it comes to them

Now, most of you reading this post will have encountered well intentioned Christian interpreters of the Bible who will home in a few Bible texts in the book of Proverbs (10:13, 13:24, 19:18, 22:15, 23:13,14 and 29:15) as their main authorities for their approaches to child rearing and for the absolute necessity to follow the face value information in these texts according to how they interpret them for you the reader.

Now, this approach really resembles someone who visits Hawaii (the subject of child rearing in the Bible), goes directly to Hana, Maui (these texts in Proverbs) and leaves and then thinks that they know everything there is to know about Hawaii (biblical child rearing).

I think we can all see how potentially dangerous, reckless and in fact ridiculous this potentially is. Let's look a little deeper into the whole subject of Hawaii (child rearing in the Bible) by taking a fuller trip around all the Hawaiian Islands (the entire Bible) to help us develop a more accurate picture of this subject.

For more information on the subject of corporal punishment/spanking/smacking in the context of the Bible, please download my free ebook here - whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/

Monday, June 09, 2014

Be careful of the "Tip of the Iceberg" theological thinking

Be careful of the "Tip of the Iceberg" theological thinking

We may not realize it so well on the surface, but we, I think are all aware of what I am talking about here.

It is those good old Bible teachers and even well intentioned lay people who use those wonderful phrases like:

"Just tell me what the Bible says!"

"I am a Biblical guy. I just like the plain and simple, straightforward meaning of Scripture."

"I prefer a literal interpretation of the Bible!"

"The Bible means what is says!" (one of my favorites)

"The Bible interprets itself"

"If the King James Version was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me!"

These are just a few phrases that I have heard over the years (and regularly continue to hear) from well intention brothers and sisters in the Lord who really mean well, but these types of statements can represent a very dangerous approach to the Bible.

Let's see this in a practical sense. 

I was engaging recently in a discussion on Facebook and a person said the following talking about what the Bible "says" in Proverbs 13:24:

"This is what it says in Proverbs 13:24 "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." (quoting the King James Version here) However you discipline your children is up to the parents. Interpret the scripture any way you desire, it’s not my words."

It is clear from this comment that this dear friend in the Lord simply just reads the text as his beginning and ending point of attempting to develop any understanding of what the text may mean. How unfortunate this is. How simplistic this is. How almost disrespectful this. Yet how widespread and common this approach is.

What I am going to suggest is that well intentioned people who take these approaches to Biblical understanding are potentially riding on the spiritual Titanic and they do not know what they are doing and how damaging it might be. We all remember what happened to the Titanic. It hit an iceberg.

Now, iceberg's often are very small and inconsequential if looked at just from the top, but get underneath them and there is a whole different picture. Here is where I think we can have some teaching about what I call "Tip of the Iceberg" theological thinking.

So, let's see a very specific example to this issue of "Tip of the Iceberg" theological thinking. It is an extreme example, but if you were to Google this idea, you would come up with hundreds of examples of people pointing to this text and interpreting it literally. 

The text we are going to focus on is that found in Deuteronomy chapter 21:18-21. It concerns the so-called “stubborn and rebellious” son.

The text reads: “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of the city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”

Now, this text seems so clear and simple to understand. This is what so many people think. This text is quoted constantly by many people I come into contact with showing that we need to be tough with children in particular. Look at how someone might understand this. Here is something I just found on Google which is a good illustration of what I am talking about.

"My son is 16 years old and he has been acting rebellious lately. I've asked him to do his chores yet he refuses to do them. He's even been drinking alcohol at parties. I read the Bible a lot and I'm a very devoted Christian. So I get my morals from the Bible. As a god-fearing man I'm scared because the Bible says that I should stone my son to death for not obeying my commands in Deuteronomy 21:18-21. I'm really scared because I don't want to have to kill my son. I love God more than anyone else though so I try my best to follow his laws."

Pretty extreme that in this day and age that someone would entertain such an idea, but in fact, these ideas are widespread and one could see how such an idea could possibly get out of hand and even be used by some to justify very serious (even violent) acts against a child.

This is what I call "Tip of the Iceberg" theological thinking. It just looks at a little "tip" of something which is so much bigger, so much broader, so much deeper, so much more substantial than many may have ever considered.

So let's take a look at this text and see how big, broad, deep and substantial it is.

Point Number One - The Death Penalty in Judaism

Now it is clear in this text that we are talking about the death penalty. A capital offense! Pretty serious stuff. Not something to be undertaken without some very serious consideration and deliberation.

Now, here is a quote about this issue from my own "Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy" from page 134:

"First, the death penalty was imposed only when the Temple in Jerusalem was in existence. “Under Jewish Law capital punishment was imposed only when the Temple was still in existence, when the offerings were still brought to the altar, and when the Sanhedrin still sat in the Chamber of Hewn Stones (in the Temple). 346 This means that no matter what this text says, following the destruction of the Temple in AD 70 by the Romans, this text has never even once been applied to anyone."

Another point that we have to understand concerns the rarity of the death penalty itself in Judaism:

"Second, death sentences were not every day occurrences. We need not to rely on the images of colorful Hollywood films that perpetuate historical inaccuracies. We need to examine the historical documents to teach us what was indeed taking place based upon eyewitness testimony. Note the following: “the death sentence was imposed only after much investigation and deliberation on the part of the court of justice. The judges made every effort to avoid imposing capital punishment.  Circumstantial evidence was not accepted in trials for a capital offence and once the defendant in the such a case had been acquitted, he could not be brought to trial again for the same offence, even if direct evidence had turned up in the meantime to prove his guilt.” (ibid.)

Point Number Two - This text only took place in a court environment

If we refer back to the text above where the father is taking it upon himself to interpret the Bible himself, we will see, if we look more carefully at this matter, that this text is not to be understood as something that one could take into his own hands. It only is to be understood as taking place in a clear legal environment! This after all is a law and laws are only understood to be administered by courts and under the control and auspices of legally mandated authorities. To think that people in ancient times just simply took wayward children out and stoned them to death simply because dad thought junior was a little out of control is just absolute ridiculous nonsense, yet such ideas (as I said earlier) are so widespread and common beliefs among some well intentioned (but misinformed) Christians. (Let us also be clear. Christians don't just come up with these ideas on their own. Often such information is transmitted by well-intentioned but seriously misinformed religious authorities.)

Note the following:

"It must be pointed out here that we are speaking about a Jewish cultural background. This quote refers to “judges,” the Court of Justice,” “defendants,” and a “case.” These terms must be understood as referring to courts that were in existence to adjudicate matters of law and in this case we are talking about matters of Jewish religious law. In addition, on reading this quote, some may be reminded of the concept of “double jeopardy” which is a component of our modern Western judicial systems. Jewish legal scholars have known about “double jeopardy” for over 2000 years and it was applied in ancient times." (ibid. pgs. 134-135)

The Death Penalty was so serious major efforts took place to avoid it 

When you read the text about the Stubborn and Rebellious Son it comes across as so every day and so commonplace and something which people were seemingly doing on a regular basis. Yet this is so far from the truth. Note the following also:

"We find other sources making even stronger cases against the death penalty. Note the following: “Should the court find that the homicide was deliberate, sentence of death was passed; but there was great reluctance to resort to capital punishment and every endeavor was made to avoid it. Indeed, it was remarked: ‘A Sanhedrin which executed a person once in seven years was called destructive. Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah said, ‘Once in seventy years. Rabbi Tarphon and Rabbi Akiba said, If we were members of a Sanhedrin, never would a person be put to death.’” So, we see that the death penalty itself had very strict rules and regulations associated with it." (ibid. pg. 135)

Point Number Three - The Stubborn and Rebellious Son - How Old?

Now in the example above given by the father, he refers to a 16 year old son as meeting the criteria in his mind for the designation "Stubborn and Rebellious Son". But isn't it interesting. The text does not indicate an age. So who decides according to the Bible? The father? The mother? Hardly.

"Next, what constituted a “stubborn and rebellious son?” There is no age mentioned in the text, so who decides? Rabbi Chill shows that “who is considered a ‘stubborn and rebellious son’? Any young man three months past bar mitzvah age…” This means that this punishment was never inflicted on anyone below the age of 13 years three months." 

This matter has been established by authorized legal authorities and is to be understood as a part of interpreting this law.

Point Number Four - Death Penalty for the First Offense? No!

So, if we refer back to our father whose first thought that comes to mind is taking his son out and stoning him to death, how does this square with practice in ancient times? It really doesn't make any sense at all. Here's why:

"Rabbi Chill points out that the death penalty was not the first solution to a family choosing to apply this law to their child. “The first offence reported by the parents made the boy subject to flogging; if he repeated the offence and was again brought to the court by his parents he received the death penalty – execution by stoning.” So, we can see that ancient Israelites were not taking their children out and stoning them to death every time a boy ate too much or drank some wine. There was strict due process involved and those accused of these crimes had legal rights before the law." (ibid.)

Point Number Five - Mitigating Circumstances

When we look at this approach of this dad to the 16 year old and we review similar ideas held by many people today, we feel there is a very simplistic, one size fits all approach with no rhyme or reason, no individuality and certainly no exceptions. But wait a minute? How does this square up with historical fact? Let's see:

"Not only that, if one of his parents was lame, blind or deaf, or if one of his parents was unwilling to have him brought to court, the offender was exempt from the death penalty. This meant, in effect, that the death penalty for a ‘stubborn and rebellious son’ was very rarely carried out.” (ibid.)

Yes. You heard it correct. VERY RARELY CARRIED OUT. Why? Mitigating circumstances!

Point Number Six - Who is to really to blame? Only the child? Again No!

When we once again go back to the dad of the 16 year old, we get this feeling that this guy is absolving himself of all responsibility. A child going and drinking alcohol and parties? And where is dad? Apparently not running after his son! 

Biblical authorities will have none of this. A death penalty sentence on a child will never happen unless it can be demonstrated that the son is really himself a "bad apple", but for him to be shown to be a "bad apple," the parents have to demonstrate that they have done everything right in the eyes of a court. Note this idea:

"We also find that the child himself was not the only one on trial. The great medieval Jewish scholar Maimonides placed some of the blame for “stubborn and rebellious sons” squarely on the parents. “How does a son become ‘stubborn and rebellious’? Through the fault of the parents who are too permissive and permit him to lead a life of irresponsibility.” Parents who did not guide their children were a part of the problem and contributed to their children becoming “stubborn and rebellious.” Two giants of Jewish scholarship further echo this idea. Rabbi Moses Al Sheikh said: “He explains why the Torah insists that parents personally bring their ‘stubborn and rebellious son’ to the court of justice. In this manner, he says, the parents acknowledge that they are to blame for the way in which their son has turned out. No child becomes intractable from one day to the next. The process begins when the child is at a very early age when many parents, unfortunately, tend to view such behavior as ‘just a phase.’ This is a mistaken notion, and the parents are now asked to face the fact that they failed their child when he was in the greatest need of their guidance.” 

Rabbi Ibn Ezra puts it a little bit stronger placing some of the blame on the parents: “He is not prepared to place the burden of responsibility entirely on the child. The son can be justifiably tried and punished for his behavior only if the conduct of his parents themselves has been beyond reproach. If they did not provide a good example for him to emulate, they have no right to bring him to court for ‘stubborn
and rebellious’ conduct.” So what we find is that not only the son is on trial, the parents as well have to demonstrate that they did the right things. If not, no death penalty will ever be inflicted." (ibid. pg. 138)

So, were I one of the judges for the 16 year olds' dad above, the first question I would ask is: "Where were you when your son was allegedly out drinking alcohol? Seems were you taking a bit more care, he would be at home where most 16 year olds' belong, especially in this day and age."

To conclude, clearly, this dad (and many others out there) needs to rethink his approach to not only Deuteronomy chapter 21:18-21, but also to how well he is connected to his 16 year old. Perhaps were he to do that, he'd be thinking more about the hand that draws near rather than the hand that pushes away.

Finally, let me close with a comment that I got on my blog in response to a post I did which is linked here:

http://samuelmartin.blogspot.co.il/2011/11/should-we-preach-publish-or-proclaim.html?showComment=1321587301553#c65173358067302786

The person commented the following:

"Sam, I really am enjoying your book. It makes me realize how ignorant I am to the real depth of Scripture."

Here was my response at that time:

"Your comment about your understanding how ignorant you are to the real depth of Scripture is an important one. Join the crowd."

We all have weaknesses and flaws and need to correct these. We also have incorrect understandings of Scripture which we also need to correct if we can. To do this, we need to do the following:

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." (II Timothy 2:15 ESV)


































 

Friday, June 06, 2014

Guest post from SR - Know your children - A Father Shares How Knowing His Children Makes For A More Successful Family Life

Guest post from SR - Know your children - 
A Father Shares How Knowing His Children Makes For A More Successful Family Life


Note: It is my honor to have this word of exhortation here on my blog from SR. You may have read this other post from this dear father of four (pictured above with his beautiful family). 

http://samuelmartin.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-father-of-four-shares-his-journey.html

This post is guaranteed to minister to your soul. It certainly has to mine! Thanks SR!

"I have discovered that with parenting, a good defense is the best offense. When I take the time to know my children and set them up to succeed, most of those tension-filled moments when I am tempted to spank disappear.

One of the most beautiful passages in the Bible is Psalm 139, where David illustrates the intimacy God the Father has with His child. The first four verses read:

1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

This reminds me of how I know my own sons. I know what time they go to bed, and I know when they get up. I can tell you the order they will wake up, too, because it is almost always the same. I know what they’re thinking and what they enjoy. I know who likes apples, who likes fish, who likes juice, and who my chocolate milk drinker is. I don’t even have to ask them their preferences on so many things because I already know what they will choose. Sometimes they think they want something and I respond, “No, you won’t like that.” How do I know? Because I know them even better than they know themselves. This is how God is toward us, and it makes life so much better.

The key to all of this is the first verse where we find that God has “searched me and known me!” God desires to know us and have a relationship with us. This makes all of the other elements of our lives easier. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.” But how does He know our abilities? Because He knows us.

As a father, I can bless my children so much by searching them and truly knowing them. Then I will know what they like and don’t like. I will know what will trigger outbursts of anger or feelings of being left out. I will know how to calm a situation and bring about peace between squabbling siblings. I will help prevent those tempting situations where they will seem out of control and when they say and do things I know they do not mean. I parent like God when I do not allow them to be tempted (put into situations) they cannot handle. One recent example of a change we have made in this regard is avoiding food coloring and artificial flavors. These tend to make my kids act too hyper and dramatic. We like to celebrate and give treats, but we avoid the ones that will make it difficult for them. This is not “babying” them; this is setting them up to succeed.


Finally, David says to God in Psalms 139:5 that “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” This is how I strive to be. I try to surround my children with opportunities to succeed and be safe. I try to make it easy for them to be “good.” And in the process, I try to place my hand on them to let them know I am there and I love them no matter what. 

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

"Mothers - Follow Your Instincts" - A Guest Post by Debbie Davidson

"Mothers - Follow Your Instincts"

A Guest Post by Debbie Davidson

Note: Many of you have rejoiced with me at some of the deeply important posts that Heather Schopp has graced this blog with. 

Now, I am honored to say that Heather's sister, Debbie, helps us appreciate an important message that she first shared with Heather a number of years ago. 

What was that message? Simple. "Follow Your Instincts"! In this case, we are here talking about your maternal instincts. 

I've taken a bit of a risk and shared some of my own experiences in several posts on this blog about information I have heard from mothers over the years. Note one of those posts here:

http://samuelmartin.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/womens-intuition-did-you-feel.html

After hearing it over and over again, I finally saw that what we might call "that still small voice", "mother's intuition", a "moral center" or however one wishes to define it is so important for mothers to listen to and heed. 

Of course, in the context that I heard about mother's intuition, it was always in the context that the mother's I was hearing from were saying things like spanking "never felt right", "didn't sit well with me", "I did it against my will", etc. I have heard this same message scores of times and one can easily search the web for these phrases and one will come up with dozens of blogs with mothers saying exactly the same thing.

We can see stories these days all over the web of the guilt and shame mothers felt when they listened to the advice of well-intentioned but often misguided religious leaders telling women messages that were diametrically opposed to what their own motherly voices or personal intuitions were telling them and guiding them.

Thankfully, today, many more mothers are open to listening to these voices because a new environment of women's empowerment exists which in times past just did not exist. 

Join me in here sitting at the feet of some great teachers who I am deeply honored to learn from. These messages are words spoken by sincere God loving Christian women who call on the name of the Lord Jesus with the deepest reverence. Let these words minister to you as they have to me because they come from a very special place in the heart of a Christian mother.

What you will find here is truthful, simple, practical, elegant, lovely thoughts that will touch your soul.

To find my name mentioned among these words is indeed a deeply special honor which I find so touching and humbling.


"wise words from my sister Debbie Davison, who was the first 

person to tell me "follow your instincts" ..... Heather Schopp


"It took years for me to realize that my motherly instinct was a 

gift from God, something to be listened to; not ignored and stifled.


It took many years to slowly awaken to the reality and truth that 

insights I offered as a mother were more valuable than the latest

in child discipline (even those which came from Christian

leaders like Dr. Dobson, who I followed) or church leaders.


In addition, much of the counsel I received from my obstetrician

and pediatrician about childbirth and nursing was downright

wrong.


Fortunately, I followed my instincts on some things. On other

issues, like child discipline, however, I followed inaccurate

Scriptural interpretations.


For that I am not only deeply grieved, but angered: that hitting 

children was and is still promoted by many Christian leaders.



Since we are Christ followers, Christians, of all people, should

be advocates and protectors of those who are vulnerable, just as

He was. This includes children from the moment of conception.



Mothers, if you are told to do something that is cold and harsh

to your child, the person telling you, whether a husband,

grandparent, physician, or pastor, is very likely wrong.



I implore you to read books by Samuel Martin and Stephanie

Cox which address Scriptures quoted by pro spanking

advocates.


As a Christian, I believe that Scripture is God given, inspired,

and relevant to our daily lives; however, it behooves us to ensure

it is being interpreted properly.


History is rife with examples of the misinterpretation and 

misapplication of God's Word. It is very difficult to revisit a

topic like spanking, particularly if the deed is done.


However, it is always appropriate to study God's Word,

especially on such an important subject as child rearing.


And it is never too late to either change our behavior or 

acknowledge that our choices were misguided and wrong and 

ask forgiveness. 


For those of us who have the privilege of being grandparents, it is 

a precious option." 

Note: For more information about Stephanie Cox's book (which I have wholeheartedly endorsed, please visit Stephanie's FB page here - https://www.facebook.com/GentleFirmness

Download my free ebook here - whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/


Hard copies of my book available on Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Thy-Rod-Staff-They-Comfort/dp/0978533909

Sunday, June 01, 2014

A Plea to Mothers - Guest Post from Heather Schopp

A Plea to Mothers - A Guest Post By Heather Schopp
You are your own, and your child's, biggest advocate and protector--and you were made to be that. Own this, accept it; and never forget it. 

We women have been engrained with the thinking that our doctors, preachers, husbands "lead" us and should have the last word. we are told to conform to rules, expectations, routines, schedules set by others who "know best" for us and for our children. we are told we are disobeying God, we are being negligent, we are unwise, we are spoiling and being manipulated by our children, if we do not listen to the "experts" and the "authority."

Here's the thing: God has given us a gift, a voice He hasn't given to anyone else--the gift of maternal instinct. When we are told to follow another's advice at the expense of our instincts, we are being told to disregard this God-given gift (....to quench the Holy Spirit).

Years ago I was talking to a mom about her colicky baby. She told me her doctor said to put the baby in her crib, leave her, and let her cry--there was nothing else they could do for her. I did not express outwardly the grief I felt and said "God has given you instincts that He hasn't given to the doctor, I encourage you to consider those as well." she bristled and said tersely "we trust our doctor and do what he says."

It's not about shaming, insulting, denying medical studies and facts, not considering others' opinions or shutting out others' wisdom; it's about trusting that our instincts are valid and worth heeding and following.

...but sometimes it is about a paradigm shift in our thinking, even in our spiritual beliefs, and recognizing the authority and insight God has given us as women; and it may mean acknowledging the times we haven't responded according to our intuition (whether purposefully or not), and apologizing. That can be painful--has been for me anyway, because I've had to take ownership for the choices I've made that caused pain in my children. and I will have to continue to do so.

But children are quick to forgive, and through my apologizing and their forgiving I believe they heal and grow. and so do I.

God is THE expert and THE authority and only He can speak to you through that inner voice. What a gift He has given us--an inner guide and source of strength and wisdom....Use it!!!!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

What to do if your Christian family members or friends are at odds with your decision to pursue gentle parenting

What to do if your Christian family members or friends
are at odds with your decision to pursue gentle parenting

Of late, I have noticed some of my friends on Facebook who have encountered serious opposition to their decisions to pursue gentle parenting. Often it is an older relative. It can be a father or an uncle, but it can also be a mother or another female relative or sometimes an older brother or sister. 

This situation makes for some difficult circumstances and causes lots of pain. However, it does not have to and here is where it really gets hard.

It gets hard because of one thing that we all have to realize and accept. This concerns the following.

It is not nice to say it this way or think about it, but the simple fact is that your loved one who you grew up with, who you have prayed for, who has been someone so close to you and even someone who is a major part of your life MAY NEVER EVER COME CLOSE TO WHAT YOU KNOW IS THE TRUTH DEEP DOWN IN YOUR HEART!

The sooner that we realize that they may NEVER GET IT, the closer we are going to be to accepting this fact and realizing that it is really time for us to move on. 

Our tendency is to keep praying, keep talking, keep holding on, keep hoping, keep advocating for our positions, to keep trying to convince that dear soul to see it our way. However, you can pray, argue, beg, hope, convince or whatever, but it may be that that person IS NEVER COMING AROUND!

There are some things in life that no matter what you do, 
no matter how much you fast or pray, things may not change. 

This is one of the hardest things to accept as a believer, but the sooner that we realize it, the better off we are going to be. 

We have to remind ourselves that Jesus spoke about people who did not have "eyes to see" or "ears to hear" (Matthew 13).

For reasons only known in the mind of God, it may just be that you may at some point need to step back and acknowledge that this could be the circumstance you may be in with your loved ones.

As hard as it may be, there may come a time, when you will simply have to stand your ground and lovingly say: Enough is enough. 

Now, when, according to Scripture is that time? I can give you my own opinion, but it strikes me that we need to look to God's Word for counsel if we ever find ourselves in a disagreement over a spiritual matter. I think that we will find in God's Word a suggested approach, which is Biblical and will keep us on the right track spiritually. 

God's people have encountered disagreement and opposition when they were teaching the truth

One of the things that I think we should expect in our lives is a bit of opposition from time to time, but how we react and deal with it is up to us and hopefully the Holy Spirit guides us.

Obviously, whatever we do, we want it to be motivated by love, but depending on the circumstances, and we might have to separate ourselves from someone if the situation merits it.

I think that sometimes this is the exact approach we need to follow and I think we have a good Scriptural precedence for this. Note the example of St. Paul and what he did when he encountered opposition to his message of sharing the Gospel. Note the first section Acts 19:

"And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John's baptism.” And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all. And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks." (Acts 19:1-10 ESV)

Now, in this text, we see that Paul was a patient man. He waited for three months. But then what happened? Some people who were not going to be convinced began to start "speaking evil of the Way before the congregation". This was Paul's signal to separate himself. 

I think that in this text, there is some important Biblical teaching if we can just see it and it concerns not only those who embrace gentle parenting (which is our subject here), but also other issues.  

If you have embraced a teaching which you believe the Lord is guiding you into and He is leading you, if you encounter a situation where even a loved one speaks evil about that which you know is truth, here is where I think you have to think about separating yourself from that person for a time. 

I am not talking about cutting that person off, but I am saying that now, you have to turn your attention elsewhere by God's advice as they have stepped over a boundary and said that what you are thinking, feeling, believing or trying to share with others is evil. This is the signal I believe that tells you to go elsewhere. 

Now, if you get this opposition from someone in your family, it might be time to do a bit of mapping in your own family to see who shares that persons view and who might be open to your ideas.

A good example in this regard comes from my friends Julie. Here is what she said and I will quote from her testimony from another post on my blog. Here we see exactly what she did and what were the results she achieved from her action. She separated herself and waited things out and look what happened!

"It concerns the fact that some parents of these mothers "who have embraced non-violent parenting are now starting to change their views! This is an exciting development and I hope to have more to say about this in the near future as I collect more information. But not the following. Recently, I have received these two testimonies. Let us look at them in a before and after. The first one is from Julie and she posted the following on my blog:

Before:

I just wanted you to know that I am one whose mind was changed after reading your book on corporal punishment. I know that it was a process for me to get to the point where I would even read it...but the Lord used "secular" books on child training to begin to open my eyes. When I had my first I was given every Ezzo, Pearl, Bradley, Fugate book available by well meaning relatives .. including my mom (who didn't read the books herself). My first child had severe reflux and was a terribly fussy baby. 10 years later he has been diagnosed with a severe learning disability that has to do with auditory processing. So much of his inability to "listen and learn" had nothing to do with defiance and everything to do with his disability. I hate the fact that for the first couple of years of his life, I felt like if we were just consistent with spanking that he would learn. Thankfully, God gave me enough common sense to not do any of the extreme spanking but I still feel horrible about the spankings he did receive. I feel like a burden was lifted after reading your book. I had stopped spanking before that but always somehow felt like I was "disobeying His Word" by doing so. Your book gave me a newfound freedom and I want to shout it from the mountain tops. Unfortunately, I have many relatives and cousins who were deeply into the Gothard movement and are now part of Vision forum. So the conversations are not easy. Even the conversation with my own parents has been difficult. I think they are afraid that my 4 very well behaved children are going to go bad because of it. My dad has agreed to read your book. It will be interesting to discuss it with him after. We were spanked as children but I only remember a few my entire childhood. My youngest sister was spanked once. I'm not sure why my mom gave me all the Pearl books. Anyway, just wanted to say thank you. (Note that this is unedited)

Now, this message was posted in 2011. Now let's look at what Julie just sent me by email a week or so ago!

AFTER

"I know it was a few years ago that we decided to quit spanking and we are still reaping the benefits! I am also proud that my little sister who has a 2yr old and an 8 month old has also chosen gentle parenting because of my choice. My parents have been very impressed with the outcomes and seem to be embracing our viewpoint and have been nothing but supportive. Woohoo!" (Email dated March 1 2014)

Now, this change is dramatic. The witness that Julie is providing to her family is changing her whole families view of corporal punishment/spanking/smacking." - http://samuelmartin.blogspot.co.il/2014/03/anecdotal-evidence-showing-that-impact.html

This is such an instructive post. Julie stepped back from those who were not listening and who were in fact a barrier, but note that she did not stop her advocacy for her point of view. Like opening up a new line of communication in the School of Tyranus, Julie instead started talking to her little sister who was open to her ideas. 

In addition, note also what happened. The barriers for Julie have started to come down. Why? Because of Julie's witness, her persistence and because her family have been able to see the fruit of Julie's decision to go with gentle parenting. 

As the old saying goes, "the proof is in the pudding" and I guess if even the most obstinate parent gets to see the fruit of your gentle parenting work in your children and gets to compare those to some kids they can also observe who are spanked, guess what is going to happen?

I think we all need to be willing to take a longer-term view. If we take a longer time frame perspective of years we might see the result we are looking for in the longer term and might see that blocker person actually come around in the future. 

Final thoughts

I recently was assisted by a friend (Dara) who made some memes which I started to post on my page. One meme can be found on this link. Check it out.

https://www.facebook.com/byblechyld/photos/a.364276846988593.87567.363890843693860/633162033433405/?type=1

Now, this status got 49 shares. When I looked at the statistics, it was very interesting. This post about 148 interactions and 95% of those were from women aged 25-44 (75 clicks from women aged 25-34 - 42 clicks from women aged 35-44 - the remaining from others).

I think this is instructive and can give some encouragement. If you are looking to share your beliefs on gentle parenting, I say consider this information as potentially instructive because in my experience these moms in particular are the most open to new ideas on gentle parenting.

Look forward to hear your feedback. 

Thanks so much

Samuel Martin