Category Archives: discipline

Can I Ignore a Disciplined Life?

Intentional DiscipleshipThere are a few really critical factors in living a life of wisdom. One of them is discipline.

  • I can’t ignore living a disciplined life. Wisdom doesn’t come by a haphazard approach. When Jesus teaches me a lesson, I must put it into practice every second of every day.
  • I must choose to live wisely. I get to decide. I can be foolish if I want to be. I get to decide to live a life based on the wisdom Jesus has given me.
  • I must resist the temptation to squander what Jesus has given me. My standing with God is a gift. I can reject the gift of God.

“Mark a life of discipline and live wisely;
    don’t squander your precious life.” | Proverbs 8:33 (The Message Bible)

What is God’s goal for me? Primarily God wants me to grow up and not be a child my whole life. Growing up requires discipline from a father. God is in a good mood and disciplines me for a reason. It is out of true love. So, what is the goal of discipline? “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:11)”

Is discipline the same as punishment? The short answer is no. Discipline is a method of teaching a child self-control, confidence, and responsibility. The key to discipline is teaching a child what behavior is okay and what behavior is not okay. — Punishment is quite different from disciplinePunishment may be physical as in spanking, hitting, or causing pain. The focus of punishment is always past tense: “First you did this, then you did this, and now you have to pay the price.” In His mercy, God wiped away all eternal, spiritual implications of our pasts; He doesn’t treat His children according to the rules of punishment.

Discipline is future-focused, always pointing toward future acts. It has nothing to do with retribution and everything to do with redemption. Whereas the purpose of punishment is to inflict a penalty for an offense, the purpose of discipline is to train for correction and maturity. The origin of punishment is the frustration of the parent, the origin of discipline is a high motivation for the welfare of the child.  The result of punishment is fear and shame, the result of discipline is security. Discipline always holds the child’s best interests, not the parent’s anger, in the forefront. It is never out of control.

God’s goal is for me to love discipline. Now that is tough to do but the more I am disciplined, the more I know and grow. Consider Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.”

How do I know that God loves me so very much? King Solomon has a lot to say about discipline.  Proverbs 13:24 “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” It is in fact proof that I am a child of God when God disciplines me. “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:5)”

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Fearful, Bored Procrastinators

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. – Proverbs 6:6‭-‬11, KJV

There are 3 main reasons people are lazy:

1. They think they have time.

They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them
Matthew 25:3, KJV

“Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” This is a common saying, and perhaps you see the danger in procrastination. Putting things off can lead to sloppy, unfinished, and/or unstarted work, which in turn leads to problems, as seen in Jesus’ parable with the five virgins who missed the coming of the Bridegroom.

2. They are afraid.

“He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.'”
Matthew 25:24‭-‬25, ESV

“I want to make sure it is done the way they want it.” Whether it is the fear of failure, not meeting expectations, or doing something wrong, this fear stops us from doing anything. However, just like the servant hiding the talent, we could miss out on rewards in this life and the next.

3. They are … bored?

Laziness casts one into a deep sleep …
Proverbs 19:15 NKJV

“There’s nothing to do,” or “I am already doing something.” This is also an excuse for not wanting to do something. Living life, especially following Christ, is hard, so it is easier to do nothing. Laziness then breeds laziness. In boredom, everything seems pointless. At least while reading a book or playing video games or watching videos you feel engaged in something.

Yet, in all cases we are guilty of not doing what we ought.

May we follow the example of the ant. It is Christlike.


Of Sluggards and Worms

Old Words

As I was reading through chapter 6, the first word that jumped out at me – and in this case it could be scary – was sluggard.

Sluggard is an old word, and one not used very much any more. It can be found six times in the King James Version of Proverbs, with the same word translated as “slothful” eight more times in the same book. Amazingly, it’s also used in most other major translations. However, the NLT translates this word as “lazybones.” Yeah.

It would seem that sometimes old words are hard to replace, except when the old word is too offensive.

When I think of a sluggard, I think of a slimy, fat, slow, disgusting snail without a shell. A naked, slimy, disgusting snail. Are we to think of people that way? Well, if the slime fits…

Old Songs

Sometimes old songs contain old words that are too offensive for our modern sensibilities. One song that comes to mind is an old hymn that means a lot to me, “At the Cross.”

“At the Cross” was written by Isaac Watts (not Chris Tomlin) and published in 1709. The first verse goes like this:

Alas! and did my Savior bleed?
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Now, if you search for this old hymn in a modern hymnal what you will most likely find are the last words of this verse changed. It will read, “For sinners such as I?” Do you see the difference? Sinners sounds less offensive than “worm,” doesn’t it?

But here’s the problem: If we have to change the words of song which was written in order to display God’s love and grace in contrast to our unworthiness, all because we want to avoid offending, then maybe we need to reexamine our understanding of salvation and the grace of God. If we can’t see that the chasm between God’s holiness and our righteousness is that of a King and a worm, then maybe we think too highly of ourselves.

Old Adages

Along with the old hymns and old words, here’s an old adage that I believe fits perfectly: “If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.”

Folks, if you’re fat, slimy, slow, never work, never care, never try, always complain, always blame, and sleep more than you’re awake, you’re probably not an ant (Prov. 6:6-8). Face it, you’re a sluggard.

And folks, if we find ourselves lying, lusting, hating, abusing, neglecting, idolizing, wasting, and being basically rebellious, then we’re not the Sovereign King: we’re worms.

We need to realize what we are before there can be a change.

But praise God, because of Christ, the change is possible!


Heeding the Warning

And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
11 and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
12 and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14 I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”

Proverbs 5:7-14 ESV

I look for the context when trying to understand any message better, so when I hear the warning summed up in verses 12-14 in this part of the proverbs, I look to the verses preceding it to understand why it is given.

The audience of this passage is being urged to listen to a particular bit of wisdom and not forget it: keep far away and do not come near (being unfaithful to God). I see this as a big, bold-lettered sign on the straight and narrow path saying “wrong way” or “danger, keep out”. This is a warning against things of the flesh, the ways of the world, or in other words, that which causes us to sin (to separate ourselves from God).

It can be rather easy to get caught up in our own designs, or so focused on following certain directions (like a figurative GPS) that we miss the warning right in front of us. Honoring others and putting our trust in false teachings or false teachers will lead away from the best path, no matter how good it sounds or in line with current thinking. Yet, if we adhere to the truth and “do not depart” from it, we will be able to see the unfamiliar territory and turn away.

Giving our years to the merciless, those who do not have our best interests at heart will lead to wasted time and possible destruction. For when we follow someone else’s plan, as opposed to Gods, many wrong turns and necessary U-turns will be sure to follow. Yet again, if we adhere to the truth and “do not depart” from it, we will be able to see the wrong turns ahead and continue on the straight and narrow path instead.

As much as any journey is to be enjoyed, wrong turns and wasted time can be exhausting. And when the purpose of the journey is for anyone or anything against God’s glory, it is worthless, for “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) Instead, adhere now to God’s wisdom and see the danger in being unfaithful to Him, lest you find yourself on the path to utter ruin.

 

 


Death is the Reward of an Undisciplined Life

Image result for foolishJesus challenges me to be careful about the decisions I make. I must be disciplined in my approach to following Jesus. I must count the cost and be prepared to see my commitment through to the end.

Here is the deal. I will reap what I sow. There is no way around that. There is a path to life. It is a path of discipline.

Jesus makes that clear to me. God’s goal for me is to be disciplined. I must reject the foolish way.

“Death is the reward of an undisciplined life;
    your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end.” 

Source: Proverbs 5:23

God has a goal for me. Primarily God wants me to grow up and not be a child my whole life. Growing up requires discipline from a father. God is in a good mood and disciplines me for a reason. It is out of true love. So, what is the goal of discipline? “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:11)”

Is discipline the same as punishment? The short answer is no. Discipline is a method of teaching a child self-control, confidence, and responsibility. The key to discipline is teaching a child what behavior is okay and what behavior is not okay. … Punishment is quite different from disciplinePunishment may be physical as in spanking, hitting, or causing pain. The focus of punishment is always past tense: “First you did this, then you did this, and now you have to pay the price.” In His mercy, God wiped away all eternal, spiritual implications of our pasts; He doesn’t treat His children according to the rules of punishment.

Discipline is future-focused, always pointing toward future acts. It has nothing to do with retribution and everything to do with redemption. Whereas the purpose of punishment is to inflict a penalty for an offense, the purpose of discipline is to train for correction and maturity. Whereas the origin of punishment is the frustration of the parent, the origin of discipline is a high motivation for the welfare of the child. And whereas the result of punishment is fear and shame, the result of discipline is security. Discipline always holds the child’s best interests, not the parent’s anger, in the forefront. It is never out of control.

God’s goal is for me to love discipline. Now that is tough to do but the more I am disciplined, the more I know and grow. Consider Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.”

How do I know that God loves me so very much? In Proverbs 13:24 we learn “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” It is in fact proof that I am a child of God when God disciplines me. “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:5)”


Holy Whippings, Batman!

I know the following verses are not popular with the modern mind, but they are what they are…

My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. – Proverbs 3:11-12

My friends, I know that parenting can be difficult, and not all children respond the same way to discipline. However, I do believe that a lack of discipline – specifically of the corporal punishment type – is to blame for a great many ills in our society.

But even if the above verses don’t expressly describe “spankings,” discipline of any kind is hard for many to endure. So often, when God does anything to try to correct us, we cry out like a toddler who’s getting a whack on the rear end, “Your killing me!”

Now that I’m thinking about it, have you ever heard a TV evangelist explain that sometimes what we are going through just might be God giving us a spiritual spanking, a heavenly whipping? I’ve never heard it. As a matter of fact, I’ve never even heard Joel Osteen talk about divinely-appointed timeouts!

But if God is our Father, and if loves us like He says He does, then we need to expect a Father’s discipline every once in a while.

Credit: Wikipedia

Several years ago we were watching reruns of the old show Family Affair. In it, the little boy, Jody (his sister was Buffy), started acting out, but nobody could understand why. He was always very respectful and never did anything wrong, but now he was acting horribly for seemingly no reason.

Come to find out, Jody had heard about a boy at school who’s dad had spanked him. When he asked about it, the boy told Jody that it wasn’t that bad, because at least it showed his dad loved him.

Now, you see, Jody and Buffy were orphans living with their uncle; he never spanked them. Sadly, Jody put two and two together and assumed, because he never got spanked, he wasn’t loved. He was trying to get in trouble in order to feel loved.

So, be thankful for the times when God says “No.” Be thankful for the times He takes us behind the woodshed.

“For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth…”