Eat the Weeds is a cool site, which I’ve referenced frequently since moving here. Like in Ukraine, people in Bahamas forage quite a bit. The other day dropping off a friend at the airport, I saw a woman picking a couple of coco plums in the parking lot and popping them in her mouth on her walk to her car.
Themes of God’s holiness have been recurring in my Bible reading lately.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.
Holy is he!
The Lord our God is holy.
While meditating on Psalm 99 today, I wondered whether I was just assuming I knew what God’s holiness is. I remembered that Louis Berkhof had a great section on the attributes of God in his Systematic Theology (free, here!)
Intuitively, I consider holiness as something that refers to God being completely Other, and so I was surprised to see that Berkhof places that in the category of God’s communicable attributes.
Communicable attributes are aspects of God which He can pass along to us, as humans — such as spirituality, knowledge, morality, grace and mercy. Incommunicable attributes are aspects that are wholly God and can not be exhibited in us — such as God being an absolute being, self-sufficient, unchangeable, infinite, perfect.
Berkhof talks about the nature of God’s holiness having both a relational aspect and an ethical aspect. Relationally, God is wholly distinct from us — His infinite majesty reinforces to us our creatureliness. He is our Creator, we are His beloved created.
“The numinous” is how this Berkhof (citing German theologian Rudolf Otto) describes this aspect of God’s holiness:
“It is this holiness of God…“the numinous,” [is] part of the non-rational in God, which cannot be thought of conceptually, and which includes such ideas as “absolute unapproachability” and “absolute overpoweringness” or “aweful majesty.” It awakens in man a sense of absolute nothingness, a “creature-consciousness” or “creature-feeling,” leading to absolute self-abasement. ”
You may be familiar with the idea of “the numinous” from the writings of C. S. Lewis, and experienced something like what he described in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:”
“None of the children knew who Aslan was . . . but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning . . . so beautiful that you remember it all your life.
In addition to the relational aspect of holiness, holiness is an ethical attribute of God. As revealed in the Bible, God is completely unassociated with any sin and is completely filled with moral excellence. Berkhof defines this ethical holiness as “that perfection of God, in virtue of which He eternally wills and maintains his own moral excellence, abhors sin, and demands purity in his moral creatures.”
I know that I understand (and can understand!) God’s holiness only in part. My mind and heart are finite, and God’s holiness is infinite. Yet as get glimpses of God’s holiness in Scripture and in commentaries, my heart is drawn to worship and continued meditation.
It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since the news of Sean Paddock’s death rocked my world.
We had been back in the U.S. for just under a year. God had already worked on my heart in ways that changed my attitude and actions towards my children. I understood the conventional wisdom about the rightness of spanking was a cultural value more than something mandated in the Bible.
And then Sean Paddock died.
Died of child abuse. Died at the hands of his adoptive parents. Died a young four-year-old boy, acting simply as four-year-old boys act.
Why did his mother, who some say always wanted to do the “right” thing, abuse her child to death? Part of the legal defense points to her own abuse as a child. Part of the legal defense and the investigation point to the influence of Michael and Debi Pearl and their book, “To Train Up A Child.”
Within many churches and home school circles, copies of this self-published book was handed out to every new parent by others who bought it at great discount by the case. I read it in the early ’90s, while babysitting for a lovely family. Just enough sounds good or Biblical–build relationships, “tie heart-strings,” nurture your children–and just enough Bible references are scattered throughout, that many parents have bought in to its harmful teachings.
Then Sean Paddock died. Slowly the few voices that had warned about the extremism of the Pearls’ teachings grew. I thought it would shock enough Christians that churches as a whole would stop promoting these teachings. But not everyone was listening. . .
And, honestly, I know there are many hundreds or thousands more who have been abused at the hands of their well-intentioned, loving and Christian parents. Perhaps others have died from the abuse, but the connection has not been made to TTUAC by the media.
Still some parents are lured by the promises of Michael and Debi Pearl of instant obedience and fewer spankings, charmed by their folksy common-sense stories, and deceived by their shiny website with faces of happy families. Some are not only sucked into their false teachings, but promote them actively to others.
Stop a moment.
Three children died of abuse at the hands of their Christian, adoptive parents.
February will always be a month for me to remember. I believe we all need to mourn these little ones and warn other parents.
““Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.””
Six years ago today, Lydia died of abuse from her adoptive parents. I’m reposting this in memory of her and to protect other Lydias (and Seans and Hanas. . .)
One year ago today, 7-year-old Lydia Schatz died after her adoptive parents disciplined her to the point of death.
Lydia was a vivacious little girl, adopted from Liberia. People who knew her say she had the most heart-warming smile.
I sit here crying. Heavy-hearted. February is a difficult month for me: mourning Lydia and Sean Paddock, facing the reality of abuse within the church and Christian families.
Lydia’s adoptive parents, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, are currently in jail in Butte County, California. They are awaiting trial. (See records here: case numbers CM032009 and CM032008.) Later this month are scheduled the trial readiness conference (2/17/11) and the jury trial (2/28/11). They each have been charged with murder, torture, and cruelty to child by inflicting injury. The murder charge is related to Lydia’s death, the torture charge is related to her sister (also adopted) who was hospitalized but recovered, and cruelty charge related to a biological son’s injuries.
Lydia died from rhabdomyolsis, a condition related to kidney and heart failure from toxins released when muscle tissue breaks down. Lydia’s muscles broke down as a result of repeated beatings over time, though her death was proceeded by an especially long “discipline” session.
Lydia’s parents used a plumbing supply line, which is recommended by Michael and Debi Pearlof No Greater Joy Ministries in their book “To Train Up A Child.” Both plumbing supply line and TTUAC were found in the Schatz home and the older children have attested to those methods being used in their home.
While death is not a common result from the implementation of TTUAC, this is not the first time that a child has died when parents have carefully and consistently applied the so-called “child training methods” espoused by the Pearls. In February 2006, 4-year-old Sean Paddockwas killed. How many other unreported cases of quiet abuse are happening under the influenced of these harmful, unBiblical teachings?
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will( strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
Compounding the tragedy is the professed love of these parents for their children, the desire to nurture their children through homeschooling, the commitment to seek out help in parenting.
Further compounding the tragedy is that Lydia and her sister Zaraiah were adopted. Her parents needed to provide love, security, attachment. . . and instead beat them with a plumbing supply line. Sean was a foster son in the process of being adopted.
Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;
his name is the LORD;
exult before him!
Father of the fatherless and
protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
We need to remember Lydia. We need to remember Sean.
We need to remember the children who need families, who are in families.
We need to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
We need to open our eyes to the abuse within our own communities.
It was just one week ago that missionary Mike Riddering left Les Ailes de Refuge Orphanage to travel to the capital of Burkina Faso to meet up with a visiting short term team. He was first having a meeting with a local pastor at the Cappuccino Café.
When we lived in Nairobi, Java House was where missionaries coming in from the bush would indulge in good coffee–their office in the city.
It’s easy for me to imagine… walking past sidewalk café tables, finding a seat near a businessman working on his Mac, waving at the waitress who knows that I like an extra large water with my latte.
I remember Hubby scanning the seating, looking for anything suspicious, choosing a seat away from the entrance, scoping out an escape route if necessary. It wasn’t just his former Army hyper-vigilance kicking in — Nairobi is rated “critical crime, critical terrorism,” and the Westgate Mall terrorist attack sadly proved that valid.
Though Kenya has seen quite a bit of violence from Islamic terrorists, it seems like Burkina Faso was caught off guard by the attack from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Mike and Pastor Valentin wouldn’t have been scanning the crowd, wouldn’t have prepped their families on emergency protocols in case of attacks.
This has hit close to home to me, even though I didn’t know Mike and Amy Riddering. I have been mourning for them. Praying for their four children. Imagining the shock of their community of orphans and vulnerable people with whom they work in Yako. What does the future hold?
Johann Esch and Heinrich Voes are often considered the first Evangelical martyrs, burned at the stake in 1523. When he heard of their deaths for the cause of Christ, Martin Luther wrote what was possibly his first hymn.
Thanks to the usual postal delays we have living overseas, I’m not the first to have Katy Bowman’s new book … but I didn’t have to wait long!
My womb has held in firm embrace six children, from zygote to full term. My body has marathoned through the intense forces of childbirth. My babies have been nourished at my breasts. My body has served me well.
It’s time to use the movement and forces of daily life to better support my body.
One of my most vivid memories from childhood is my mother pushing me on the swing and reciting Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem. We had a “little pink house on the corner” in Waveland, Mississippi. The house was on about an acre with tall pines. I remember watching my mother mow the lawn. I remember the smell of the pine needles and grass. I remember my mother telling me that it was good that the pine trees would bend and sway with the strong winds that scared me — the trees that bent in the wind wouldn’t break.
The playground was about a block from our house. I have memories of walking there alone, and sometimes stopping at the Tiger Mart across the street for a slushy. I remember hearing sounds carry through the warm, humid nights–the crackling speakers from the baseball diamond at that park in the distance and the cicadas nearby.
But the best times were when my mother came with me, and pushed me on the swing. Rhythmic pushing. Rhythmic recitation. Oh, how I love (push) to go up in a swing (push), up in the sky so blue (push). . .
BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—
Till I look down on the garden green,
It’s my Martin Luther figure from Playmobil. A3 was amused by “mommy’s toy”…
I’ve been reading lots of Luther lately… On Reformation Day (October 31), I realized that soon it would be the 500th celebration of the one of the pivotal times in Christian history.
I realized I had only a cursory understanding of Martin Luther and his contributions to Chrsitianity, in spite of having a decent grasp of Reformed and Biblical thought.
I’ve been reading. Reflecting. Scribbling out my growing understanding of Christ, as I see Luther ponder the Gospel.
And, I’m excited. Well, excited is too energetic a word for me these days. It’s been good to feel my growth in the Lord, feel my brain used in this way again…
Way back in 2004 (twelve years ago!?), Hubby bought me my very own URL. . . I started blogging. It was a beautiful outlet for me — a place to ponder, a place to keep a family journal, photos. . . a soapbox!
And then a move and change of life rhythm — me at work, Hubby in grad school and homeschooling the kids — and writing and blogging became more infrequent.
Another move. . . and another, and another, and another. . . some posts and pics along the way, but nothing like the routine of writing I had been in before.
I miss it. I really do.
Ironically, it’s harder now with teens to make the time than it was for me with a lot of littles running around. Now we have teens and littles and I love it — and am still trying to find the rhythm when I can write.
I’ve also been discouraged along the way with stupid behind the scenes crud with spam and wordpress not working as it should. We thought we had that all straightened out last year, but nope. It took the wind out of my sails. I can write here, but I miss my own URL.
Here I am again, feeling the need to write. Feeling the need to reflect. This medium “works” for me in a different way than pen and black & white composition books do.
So here I am again. Feeling a bit vulnerable starting again after fits and spurts in the past several years. Sad I have those years not documented, those thoughts not captured. Ready to press on.
“It is surprising how seldom books on parenting talk about prayer. We instinctively believe that if we have the right biblical principles and apply them consistently, our kids will turn out right. But that didn’t work for God in the Garden of Eden. Perfect environment. Perfect relationships.
And still God’s two children went bad.
“Many parents, including myself, are initially confident we can change our child. We don’t surrender to our child’s will (which is good), but we try to dominate the child with our own (which is bad). Without realizing it, we become demanding….
“Until we become convinced we can’t change our child’s heart, we will not take prayer seriously….”
Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life