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This is what the world wants from our rhetoric, what the man of God longs for in shepherds — daring enough to be different, humble enough to make mistakes, wild enough to be burnt in the fire of love, real enough to make others see how phony we are.

Brennen Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel

Matt and I have been reading Brennen Manning’s book The Ragamuffin Gospel. I just caught up with him and really enjoyed reading the chapter called “freedom from fear”. Matt quoted from this chapter in his blog a while back. I almost quoted the same passages, they really spoke to me as well. But so as not to be redundant I have a different quote that is from the same chapter.

We have undoubtedly heard that freedom is not license for lust. Maybe that’s all we’ve heard — what it isn’t. “Such an approach, whatever its limited truth, is defensive and afraid. Those using it wish above all to warn us of the dangers of thinking about freedom, of yearning for freedom. Such an approach generally ends up by showing us, or at least attempting to show us, that freedom actually consists in following the law or in submitting to authority or in walking a well-trod path. Again, there may be some truth in these conclusions but there is lacking a sense of the dark side of law, and of authority, and of the well-trod path. Each may be and has been turned into an instrument of tyranny and human suffering.”

What does freedom in the Spirit look like? “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is , there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Freedom in Christ produces a healthy independence from peer pressure, people-pleasing, and the bondage of human respect. The tyranny of public opinion can manipulate our lives. What will the neighbors think? What will my friends think? What will people think? The expectations of others can exact a subtle but controlling pressure on our behavior….

In Christ Jesus freedom from fear empowers us to let go of the desire to appear good, so that we can move freely in the mystery of who we really are.

This is where I find myself, learning to move freely in the mystery of who I really am in Christ. “Wow” and again she said, “wow”. What an incredible new and fasinating place to be.

Be blessed.

Matt has been listening to a lot of David Wilcox’s music lately. There are some very interesting songs from the last few albums he has done. I really liked this one called Break in the Cup. I thought it was a beautiful picture of relationships. Here are the lyrics:

Break in the Cup

from: Big Horizon

I try so hard to please you
To be the love that fills you up
I try to pour on sweet affection,
But I think you got a broken cup.
Because you can’t believe I love you
I try to tell you that there is no doubt,
But as soon as I fill you with all I’ve got
That little break will let it run right out.

I cannot make you happy.
I’m learning love and money never do
But I can pour myself out ’til I’m empty
Trying to be just who you’d want me to.
But I cannot make you happy
Even though our love is true
For there’s a break in the cup that holds love
Inside of you.

Now I begin to understand you
As you explain this fear you feel.
It’s when you see me fall into that sorrow
it makes you doubt the love is real.
‘Cause the lonely wind still blows through me
I turn away so can’t see
But now how could I still be so empty
With all the love that you pour on me.

I guess you cannot make me happy
That’s a money back guarantee.
But you can pour yourself out ’til you’re empty
Trying to be just who I’d want you to be.
You cannot make me happy
It’s just the law of gravity
And that break in the cup that holds love,
Inside of me.

So if you’re tempted to rescue me
Drowning in this quicksand up to my neck
Before you grab my hand to save me
Why don’t you ask me if I’m finished yet.
Because you cannot make me happy
Not when I’m empty inside of me
But you can pull yourself right in here with me
My misery’d love to have your company.

We cannot trade empty for empty
We must go to the waterfall
For there’s a break in the cup that holds love,
A break in the cup that holds love,
A break in the cup that holds love,
Inside us all. Inside us all.

Here is a scripture that I saw an someone else’s blog. They were sharing these lyrics as well. Jeremiah 2:13 says, “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

It is amazing to me to realize how I have done this in my own life; put demands on my husband, on my children, on others around me to give me something that I can only find at the Source; to realize that the pressure I feel from others to fullfill that same demand can never be realized by my own effort; try as I might to love them, my love will dissappoint.

What freedom there is in letting go, in coming back to Him who fills all!
Be blessed.

Another quote from Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson :

“Scripture is filled with examples of God’s punishment of His people through suffering and persecution. Though loved and guided by God, the nation of Israel was on the recieving end of His rod of correction and His hand of judgment when they disobeyed. Even those who love and obey God are not exempt from physical discipline that is meant to make them more mature. But this kind of discipline in Scripture is always directed toward adults, never small children. Children may suffer secondarily when God punishes adults, but His judgment is aimed squarely at those who are morally culpable. And as we have seen in previous chapters, children younger than a certain age don’t fit that profile.
This biblical background leaves Christian parents asking a crucial question: What role does physical discipline play in the biblical discipline of young children? When, if ever, should a Christian parent use physical punishment, for what infractions, and at what age? These are valid questions, but they are not answered directly by Scripture. The rod passages of Proverbs, as we saw in chapter 3, have young men in view, not young children. Those passages speak of the physical discipline of young men and adults (beating them on the backs with rods), so we cannot draw from those scriptures any principle that applies to the physical discipline of children.
The teaching of Scripture, then, brings us back to parenting by faith, the basis of heartfelt discipline. God expects us to follow our redeemed, Spirit-led instincts when it comes to using physical discipline on our children. Without a divine mandate to follow, parents must seek God’s will and pray to hear Him accurately in order to determine what is right for thier own family. If you decide to use physical discipline, do so out of personal conviction that the Holy Spirit has directed you to, not out of an incomplete reading of Scripture or an unexamined commitment to someone else’s views.”

I thought this was a good summary of this book and spoke to the questions raised previously. ( I left out references.)

I have been reading a book by Clay Clarkson called Heartfelt Discipline. I would highly recommend it, it was recommended to me by several good friends. It is a book that I started to read a while back, I just finished it last week and I want to go back and read it again. The author focuses more on the relationship between parent and child and between parent and Father God than on methods.

One thing I found interesting in the book was that Mr. Clarkson does a word study and finds that the word translated as child in the passages dealing with the “rod” is really a word that was used for adolescents, teenagers, or young adults not young children. A particular part of dicsipline that has been bothering Matt and I is spanking. This quote from the book sums up how Matt and I have been feeling about using corporal punishment: “There is a good reason that you should find it difficult to imagine Jesus raising His hand to strike a child in punishment.”

We had always been told that spanking was the way to deal with children and it seemed the only thing we knew we should be doing. Perhaps our method was wrong, the timing, the instrument used (hand vs. paddle vs. spoon etc.) or whatever, but even when we felt that the spanking was done “by the books” in our hearts we were uncomfortable. In my stubborness I continued to hang on to the idea that since this is what my parents did and it seems to be what everyone else around me is doing, then well I guess I will keep doing it even if the results are causing my conscience to squirm.

I have found that for me it is so much easier (being the lazy person I am) to decide to believe things or to do things because of something someone else has told me or exampled for me than to go to the Source. Do you want to know why? Because, I can then rely on my ability to blame that other person or source and thus take no responsibility for my own actions. It is a lot scarier to come to the Source for answers, because it means I must put all of my trust in Him. No one else will be responible for my mistakes, I will answer only to Him. So, in my frustration with my kids or my husband or my situation I find that most if not all the problem usually lies with me and my deceitfully wicked heart that tries to talk me into blaming someone or something else for my laziness.

I am not saying that there is not a lot of wonderful, insightful, parenting material out there that may be just the thing you need to help you with your children, but like several of you commented about in my last blog, we tend to look for that one perfect book, method, role model, or thing that will work, instead of realizing that each child, each family and situation is so unique that no one way will work for all, and that the One, who is the Way, holds the keys to all our hearts and our children’s. He is who we need to be studying and spending time with more than all the books, magazines, people we have put on pedestals, good intentions of friends and relatives, or whatever. The resources out there should help point us back to Him and not replace Him in our lives. Lord help us trust You more.

This is something that I am in the process of learning. As far as spanking goes, well I don’t know, but again I am searching for God’s heart in the matter and am not willing to do things just because anymore. I want to know what Jesus would do if he were the parent standing in front of my child. His mercy and love are what immediately come to my mind and the gracious way He has forgiven me and answered my cries and listened to my angry triads and held me close in his arms. Thank you, Lord, for loving me and showing me a better Way. Help me to point my children to You and to show them Your love instead of giving in to my selfish lazy frustrations.

(I know that this topic can be a hot spot for some and my intentions are not to make judgements but to try and be as honest as I can about where I am at in my life’s journey. Be blessed wherever you find yourself in your own journey and please feel free to share and make comments.)