The Carrot and the Stick

By the works of the law, no human being will be justified in His sight. Romans 3:20 The other day,I overheard a mom asked her 2nd grade son to run and get her umbrella from the car, to which he replied, “What do I get for doing it?” In return, she retorted, “you will walk home if you don’t go get it right now.” We  all know about the donkey who is motivated to pull the cart in order to reach the carrot; and we know of the stick used to prod the donkey when he stops. The “carrot and the stick” theory is ingrained in our culture as a motivational standard for training kids. This philosophy originated in the 1800’s when Jeremy Bentham, an English philosopher, theorized  that all human action is driven by an avoidance of pain and the pursuance of pleasure. This  theory is still very much around today, showing up in a variety of ways in both homes and schools.  Both parents and teachers  readily offer up rewards: candy, beans in a jar, charts and stickers, stars, privileges, a trip to the ice cream store, cash for good grades.  They also quickly resort to threats, groundings, loss of cash, loss of privileges, suspension from activities. But our kids are not donkeys. They are people with souls and hearts issues that need addressing.   I wonder if we short cut their learning by employing this strategy too quickly and too often. I can quickly get my young grandchildren to do what I want with the offer of candy. Likewise, the threat of punishment brings about quick results....

Love Never Fails

This is the supreme work to which we need to address ourselves in this world, to learn to love.  Is life not full of opportunities for learning love?  Every man and woman has a thousand of them.  The world is not a playground; it is a schoolroom.  Life is not a holiday, but an education.  And the one eternal lesson for us all is how better we can love. Henry Drummond Since August 26th,  my posts have focused on the analysis of love, (as described in I Corinthians 13), a process that has personally been both stretching and humbling.   To summarize this series, I have elected to copy for you a few profound statements by the renowned 19th century Scottish evangelist, Henry Drummond from his booklet, “The Greatest Thing in the World.” His explanation of love is the best I’ve read and I pray his words inspire you as they have me. Love never fails. Therefore, the one eternal lesson for all of us is how we can better love. To that end, Mr. Drummond says “do not quarrel with your lot in life.  Do not complain of its never-ceasing cares, its petty environment, the vexations you have to stand, the small and sordid souls you have to live and work with.  Above all, do not resent temptations; do not be perplexed because it seems to thicken round you more and more, and ceases neither for comfort nor for agony nor prayer.   That is your practice.  This is the practice which God appoints you; and it’s having its work in making you patient and humble, and generous, and unselfish,...

Overwhelmed By Promise

And we desire that each of you do not become sluggish but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promise. Hebrew 6: 20 2011 is a year of promise. The word “promise” refers to something guaranteed with assurance but it is also a verb; something I pledge to do.  This year I promise to walk fully in God’s promises. As children of God we are granted exceedingly great and precious promises. (2 Peter 1:4)  I desire to be overwhelmed by them rather than overwhelmed by the circumstances in life.  I yearn to persevere victoriously in life with energy and joy and not be sidelined with flat tires or an empty gas tank.  I am ridding myself of weight this year by casting off self sufficiency and a performance based people pleasing mentality, which serve only to make me sluggish. I am a very responsible person who works hard. I think everyone should. The trap I fall into is the mistaken idea that I have to prove myself worthy of a relationship with Jesus.  It is then that I lose my grip on God and grow exhausted by trying to satisfy others’ demands and striving to make everyone happy. Ironically, when my focus becomes performance oriented my actual performance suffers. For too many years I operated  by a deception that kept me anxious and striving for worthiness, yet never quite acquiring it.  No amount of work and effort was enough.  I failed to fully grasp that I am saved and loved and safe in God’s love.  How grand is that.  I am free to work and perform without...