When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues,and everyone praised him. (Luke 4:13-15), NIV)
I’ve read this passage many times. This morning for the first time “in the power of the Spirit” stood out. I realized that not even Jesus could pursue his mission with power until he was filled with the Spirit. Jesus’ path to this supreme power was baptism, isolation, fasting, and rejection of the power, glitter and glory the world had to offer.
I need the power of the Spirit to accomplish my mission. I have been baptized. I have spent a day or so at a time isolated without speaking. I have spent days in fasting from time to time. I don’t feel particularly bound to a lust for power, glitter, and glory. Even so, my Spirit walk falls far, far below the example of Jesus. I am surely not walking in the needed power. What next? What’s a husband and father to do? I barely have the time to write this, and that only because the family is still asleep.
38 A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 40 I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.”
41 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied,“how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” (Luke 9:38-41)
I have always wondered why Jesus came down so hard on this dad. This morning, listening to this passage in Spanish, it came to me. The dad’s words reveal his motive: “for he is my only child.” He could have said first off something about how much the child was suffering. He did not. His primary concern was about himself, his position in society, the continuation of his family line, and all the things which in that society were associated with having a son. Since the boy was an only child, he was his dad’s only hope for all these things.
I think Jesus was angry because this dad was thinking of his son as an item of property, a possession. His core motive was not love and compassion for another human being, his own son, in such distress. The son was an important possession, and the dad wanted him fixed, wanted him to function properly, behave properly, fit in with the dad’s plans, goals and societal aspirations. I think that is why Jesus said what he said.
The take away for me? I’d better be darn careful about my own motives when I ask God’s blessing. Am I so focused on my needs that I disregard the sacred humanity of another person for whom Christ lived and died and lives today?
Last night I saw this post on Craigslist San Diego:
I need WordPress bloggers (Downtown San Diego ) I have a wordpress site I need someone who is an excellent writer to blog on my site about education events that are taking place in San Diego for kids. I am looking to hire several bloggers starting this week.
So I texted back:
I like WordPress and have Ph.D. in Ed.
This morning I’m thinking that liking WordPress and having a Ph.D. may be salient facts, but they are not my most important quals for blogging about education events for kids. Lots of folks have those quals but not the slightest clue about kids. The word manifesto came to mind. I need to share my manifesto to give the person behind the post a better idea of whether I meet the bill for the job or not. At the same time, I get to share some values with anyone who is willing to read on. So here goes with the first point of Allen’s Manifesto: Parenting. Future posts will deal with other points. I am passionate about parenting. Parenting is not just for biological moms and dads. It is for everyone. It is for you, no matter who you are: young, single, and never planing to have kids or at whatever stage in life where having kids is not on your agenda. Let me explain what I mean. I was a really little boy when a lady asked my a question. “What is your name, little man?” I ducked my head slightly. Timidly I glanced up sideways and replied softly, “Allen.” “Oh!” she exclaimed, as though she had just discovered some marvelous secret treasure, “That is a noble name. Allen is a name for a prince.” From that moment I began to think of myself as noble. I wanted to walk like a prince, look like a prince, behave like a prince. I do not know who the lady was who first gave me the clear idea that I was princely. She was visiting my Aunt Florene’s house on Ledbetter Drive in Dallas, Texas. Those details remain clear. I hope that some day her identity will come in to focus from the depths of memory. But whatever her identity, she blessed me for life with just a brief exchange. For a few moments in my young life, she was a parent to me. Years after the mystery lady bestowed upon me the royal rank of prince, I was a Fulbright Scholar in Paris studying at La Sorbonne. I discovered Le petit prince in the original. Antoine de Saint Exupéry first published Le petit prince in 1943, the same year my parents published me into the world back in Dallas. The princely thread goes on. Remember Viola Davis in her role as Abileen Clark in the movie The Help?
You is smart. You is kind. You is important. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZimx1wHYcs
Whoever you are, wherever you go, let kids know they are royal, they are smart, they are kind, and they are important. Nothing is more important. Let them know it. Treat them that way. Talk to them that way. Weave a thread into their lives that will go on and on, carrying your gift forward well after you are no longer earthside.
This just in. Venting my frustration here. I am an old school father who believes in regular dinner time and healthy food for children. There must be lots of young mom’s out there who understand the importance of discipline and nutrition in the life of a child. It’s just that I don’t know any! I get so frustrated when I see a mom take her child on her knees in front of the computer to eat junk food when it’s time the child should be seated and having a real and healthy meal.
I don’t believe there is much hope for these kids. They will likely lose out as adults to stronger, healthier individuals who learned discipline in childhood.
Both Jeremy Bentham and Charles Dickens advise against imputing motive. Even so, I suspect that often the indulgent mom does what she does to make herself feel good, not for the true benefit of the child. My sampling of experience indicates that too many moms behave this way. After all, it is an easier path. Essentially it is a lazy path. It is a job to discipline a child properly and successfully with love and empathy. On the other hand, it is easy, very easy to feed them candy and park them in front of the TV. And no government bureaucracy exists that can protect kids against this kind of abuse and neglect.
I think the perfect social storm is brewing.