Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Therapeutic discipline

“For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines” – Heb. 12:6 Of course, Barney Fife called it “therapedic,” but if something is truly therapeutic, it is something that cures or treats disease. We all like to take medicines that taste good. I used to love having “fever” when I was a child because I loved to chew ‘aspergum.’ I loved the orange flavor. Yes, I even faked having fever a few times to get to chew it. But truth is, most medicines taste terrible. Most things that bring healing happen to hurt. But in the end, they cure. God is the ultimate physician. He knows exactly what we need. Someone said, “Discipline yourself so someone else won't have to do it.” God knows when we need to be disciplined and exactly what medicine we need and how much and when to take it. There is no area in need of healing more than pride. Example: Uzziah was 16 when he became king of Israel and he was awesome. He reigned 52 years. The writer of 2 Chronicles recorded in 26:5 that, “He continued to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding through the vision of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him. ” Wow! Uzziah prospered because he sought God. No therapy needed for him. He was seeking God and all was well. A few verses later, in 26:16 the writer describes King Uzziah again, “But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.” What? How did the humble, seeking Uzziah become the proud, unfaithful Uzziah? He simply quit seeking the Lord. Chapter 26 in 2 Chronicles records that Uzziah contracted leprosy and died of the disease. Pride replaced humility and Uzziah went from prosperous to leprous. We all have that tendency to drift away from the Lord. The old hymn records “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” Sin keeps us wavering on this side of heaven and it often takes God’s discipline to keep us on track. Someone said, “Drifting away from God is usually not a blow out but rather a slow leak.” It happens so subtly. It happens so passively. It happens so discreetly. Yep, the evil one knows what he’s doing. But the Greater One, our Lord, knows when to step in and produce circumstances to bring us back on track. He’ll never force us, but that atmosphere toward humility points us back to God. We have to believe that “God loves His people when He strikes them as much as when He strokes them.” As God orchestrates trial in our lives, he isn't just trying to mess with us, He’s trying to make us better and teach us how to depend on Him alone. God’s discipline is always therapeutic. It’s always for our best. And it’s always right. So, let the medicine go down. As hard as it is, swallow the whole tablespoon. It’s worth enduring the bad taste… …for the goodness of His grace. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Staples Family Legacy

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” -Psa. 127:3-4 For many years, the Pelham Porter Staples Sr. family tree gathered in Roopville, Georgia, at the “old home place,” and celebrated the legacy and heritage of the Staples family. I remember attending those reunions as a kid and then as a young adult. I loved meeting and seeing the “legends” of the Staples family. All the “old” people told stories and I listened and took mental notes. I sensed that those times were special. I could feel the roots going back for generations. But soon the aunts and uncles began to pass away, the old Roopville house was sold and the reunions ceased. But the seeds remained. This past weekend, we had the Staples’ reunion for the branch of one of Pelham Staples Sr.’s sons, Pelham Staples Jr., my dad. Thirty of his son’s, grandkids and great grandkids gathered in Branson, Missouri for a great time together. We came to celebrate the legacy and heritage of the Staples family and the roots continue to grow. I teared up several times over the weekend just watching all the great-grandkids being themselves. They were happy and secure and free. And while the Staples family is far, far from perfect, it is mostly healthy. It was a special time for lots of reasons: We saw loved ones in the great-grandkids. The Staples’ have a Scotch-Irish heritage. The tendency toward blond hair, blue eyes, high cheekbones and fair skin has left sunburns on the Staples family for generations! Watching the family interact was amazing as so many of the clan looked like each other. It was beautiful. We needed to visit about what we were missing. Most of us are good stuffers. We all have a tendency to take our hurts and tuck them away. But we truly shared the weekend together. Dad passed away in 1988, Pel in 2013, Marc in 2015 and mom this past January. We have been through a lot of loss as a family. Being together and telling stories helped us all. We mourned the losses but embraced the gains, especially in the faces of the eleven great-grandchildren. We had fun. We spent a lot of time swimming, diving, riding roller coasters, playing in forts and sitting outside. Though we all came from different parts of the country, there was ease in being family. It was just good to sit on the back porch and chill out together. And to eat and eat and eat some more! God was present. The Staples’ certainly have varying views on God and denominations. The early Staples clan had roots in the Methodist church. The old Methodist church in Roopville has the Staples name written all over it. But the Staples worship the God of all the churches, Jesus Christ. My dad, Pelham Jr., passed away in 1988. He has two symbols on his tombstone, the caduceus, representing his medical career and a cross, representing his faith in Jesus Christ. Definitely not in that order, because God was important to my father and is to the family as a whole. This past weekend, we certainly validated our “Staples pass.” We’ve all signed an unwritten agreement to pass on our heritage. Sometimes, family members decide they are “disqualified” to pass on the legacy, but we all have something to offer. It’s not about what we do, but who we are. As we talked and hugged and loved on each other and our kids, we renewed our commitment to family. I think everyone was glad they made the long trek to the Ozarks. I encourage everyone to take the steps to initiate family time. The weekend was precious and will never be forgotten. As is written in “Dixie” - “old times there are not forgotten.” They are not forgotten if we choose to remember. Let’s all be advocates for family- for reaching out and loving those who share our DNA. Thank you Lord for the Staples family… …and may we never forget. By Eric Joseph Staples ©