If I hear another pastor say, God does not have big stick to discipline us I am going to scream. I cannot believe how a pastor could read the Bible (maybe they do not) all of the examples in both the Old and New Testament and say God does not have a big stick of judgment. From Genesis to Revelation God flexes His muscles in an attempt to get us to do the things we must do so that He can bring us to the plan and purpose He has created us for. Now many Christians say this is not true or it is not important, let us focus on God’s love for us after all God is love, well God is, but here is the problem with this wrong thinking, when we lose the fear of God (by believing He does not have a big stick of correction) we also lose restraint and an understanding of goodness and righteousness in our lives. We also lose the desire to have obedience worked into our lives. Our thoughts and motives are unto ourselves, like sheep we all have gone astray each to their own way. We see this today in the world and even sadder we see this thinking infecting (like a quick growing cancer) the church. God is the old man with a white beard upstairs who loves us and only wants good things for us. He would never do anything bad to us. Joel Olsteen and many others you watch on TV are good at telling this half truth (also know as a lie) not preaching on God’s requirements to receive His blessing, sin, hell, or that God will not hold us accountable for our actions. My friend if there are no consequences for our actions then we will always take the path of least resistance. Our desire for righteousness, obedience, and wisdom will not be needed in our lives, our choices will always be selfish and self-centered, our earthly lower nature will rule our mind and spirit. Please my friend do not be deceived by them, they have been deceived by the humanistic, new age religion, and diversity gods of this world out from a desire to gather people for personal gain and ambition to be held high in man’s eyes, but in God the way up is down. This thinking reveals a great disrespect for God. Many Christians think God the ruler of the universe, creator of all things will not and can not correct or punish us, rubbish. This thinking reflects a willful disrespect for God’s plan and purposes in our lives, thinking we know better than God. Their words reject God’s authority and it is an out and out rejection of God Himself. These folks are fools and know not God. David said, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” (Psalms 14:1) When we cast off restraint and think there are no consequences for our actions we have told (in action and maybe not in words) God; He is not God we are the captain of our ship a very dangerous presumptive place to be in. It is an admission of our inability to be discipled and to be taught, we “are corrupt” and “have done abominable works.” If this is your perspective of God please repent of your wrong (most denominations, after all it takes a lot of money to run a denomination and the bigger the denomination the more money it takes to keep it alive) thinking and ask God to give you a heart felt wisdom and understanding to the truth from God’s perspective. It is our perspective that must match up with God’s not the other way around. My friend God is a loving God, but please never forget God does have a big stick and it is only His long suffering and mercies (that are new every morning) that keeps Him from smiting us. One of my favorite Far Side cartoons is God at His computer and on the screen you see a man walking down the street and a piano is being held over his head by a rope while God has his finger ready to touch the smite button. Also in the Psalms David also said, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” (Psalms 111:10) The fear of the Lord always brings us to God on our knees broken and contrite before Him which is the beginning point of all wisdom. The place of being useful to God. Watchman Nee said, “the broken and humble alone are useful” and boy do I see that more and more as I get older in my life. The writer to the Hebrews encourages us to come boldly before the throne of grace, well I promise you my friend if you come before the throne of grace with the wrong perspective of God you will leave from God’s presence as you entered probably still misguided and disillusioned. God will let you enter, but to receive from Him there must be the right heart condition in us He is looking for (a pre-condition) and an understanding of who God is and how He operates, if not we will have nothing of God, nothing of His Spirit, and no hope of a future in Him.

I know I turned out well. The lessons and training my parents invested me was well worth their dedication and commitment to see me turn out to be a Christian and a productive citizen of society knowing right from wrong, knowing honor and integrity when I see it. But when I was a child growing up I was petrified of my father. Now I know my father loved me very much even if he did not tell me, because every day of my life I saw his selfless actions of love providing for his wife and six kids. You know most often words are cheap, actions speak louder than words. His hard work and dedication sometimes working three jobs to make sure we had food on the table and clothes on our back gave me stability, I was (and even in his death still am) so proud of my father. I did not want to disappoint my father because I knew if I disappointed my father I knew what was coming. He had a narrow leather dress belt which was the fashion at the time we kids (John Chris, and I) called it the fire belt and I can remember many a time dad lit a fire on my butt with it for my own good. My dad also had the fastest wrist in the world. In church we kids would not sit with our friends like today in most churches oh no, we would have to sit in front of our parents in the next pew and if we even looked like we were going to talk my father would hit us in the back of the head and have the song book back in the holder before we hit the pew in front of us or the floor. My parents were concerned about our behavior and attitudes, concerned that they be what God expects in our lives. And that was accomplished out from a healthy fear and respect of my father. Today my prayer for my two brothers and two sisters is that they remember what our parents taught us and if need be return to the fear and wisdom of our heavenly Father. Growing up I saw the usefulness in my life and tried to instill this training and usefulness in the lives of our kids.
If we do not see God having a big stick not to beat us, but discipline and train us then we can never be called His son or daughter, the requirement for his favor and honor is quite restricted and according not to God’s love and mercy for us, but according to our ability to endure God’s chastening and rebuke. Again the writer to the Hebrews says to us, “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Hebrew 12:5-8) What do you mean God does not have a big stick? Read that verse again. Now I am not talking about the hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, famine, and etc. at His disposal that He often uses to get our attention , but of the deep work God must be able to do in our heart and mind to correct our thinking to get us to think like and act like Him. Even Jesus had this work done in His life and is the servant greater than the Master? Yet again in Hebrews we read where Jesus learned obedience. Please do no think Jesus became the author of eternal life because He was God’s precious Son, oh no the Bible says, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;” (Hebrews 5:8-9) Does God have a big stick? Please read those verses again, “yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” and “being made perfect.” Again is the servant better than the Master? In Philippians Paul tells us of Jesus, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:” (Philippians 2:7-9) Jesus, “humbled himself and became obedient unto death (death to His self-life and His desires), even the death of the cross.” I would consider a wooden cross a big stick. If this was the way everlasting the Father had for Jesus (the Master) to go what then will be our way to go?

I wonder what does God use to comfort His children? Well, David gives us a clue to God’s tools of comfort, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalms 23:4) What strange tools to use to comfort someone. You would think God would use these tools to chasten His children with, but no David said, “they comfort me.” We would think God would use a good blessing, a new car, or new job, but here we see God uses a metal rod and a hard wooden staff. How strange but not so, if you understand the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep. Many years ago I was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for about two weeks ministering in huge church and wherever we would go I would see a shepherd herding the flock from the back of the flock. Now the sheep close to the shepherd did not stay near the shepherd too long because the shepherd had a whip and he knew how to use it quite skillfully. The shepherd would keep the flock moving and discipline them by striking the sheep closest to him. Not too many of the sheep wanted to be close to the shepherd. They would quickly jump free of the swing of the shepherd’s guidance and get over into the fringe of the flock where danger like a car or bus was waiting for them. Not too many sheep wanted to stay in a safe place under the shepherd’s discipline, but the ones that did were safe from all harm. So too, not too many Christians desire to stay near to God, nor near His discipline. Maybe that is why the shepherd has to do other things to bring the awareness of danger and destruction to the sheep. We have a statue given to us by Karen’s brother John many years ago. I am sure you probably have seen one it is of Jesus standing with His staff (to strike or hook the sheep around the head so that He can get the sheep’s attention) in His hand and a baby sheep on his shoulder. I always liked that statue and theme until I traveled to Israel and found out why Jesus was carrying the lamb on His shoulder. I thought Jesus wanted the lamb to rest, He would do all the work or Jesus did not what the little lamb to get its little feet dirty, but these were not the reason. The reason Jesus was carrying the little lamb was because Jesus broke the leg of the lamb because it was straying to far from the flock out on the fringe where the wolves, the enemy lurk and to teach the little lamb to stay close to the shepherd. The shepherd would break a leg so that the little lamb could get a good smell of the shepherd, learn to know how the shepherd walks and talks, and learn the shepherd will take care of its every need until his leg mends. Now the lamb has learned to stay close to the shepherd for only near the shepherd is life found. The lamb also learns the shepherd has a big stick that can both care for and discipline him. This is way God has to break our heart sometimes and hopefully He will not have to break a leg, but for those who walk with a limp they know the Good Shepherd’s (Jesus Christ) loving touch.