Category Archives: discipline

No Excuse for Fainting

If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. – Proverbs 24:10

Believe me, this verse hurts my feelings about as much as it does some of yours. And it doesn’t matter what translation you use, the painful truth of this proverb is the same: If you faint or fail when times get tough, you’re too weak.

Weak? Who does Solomon think he is? Frankly, that’s pretty insulting, don’t you think?

Who is Solomon to judge me? How does he know what I’ve been through? Yes, I’ve failed, faltered, and fainted in my time, but I had good reason! When the pressure increased, it was too much. When it got tough, well, I wasn’t prepared.

So I gave up, you know?

You’ve been there, haven’t you? You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

It is sort of like Solomon is nothing more than some drill instructor who doesn’t understand what life is like for us. Sure, it’s easy for him to say we’re too soft or weak, but what kind of pressure has he had to face, right?

What kind of “wisdom” says to someone, “Hey, I see that you caved…you must be a weakling”?

Where’s the compassion? Where’s the understanding? What about our emotions?

Who writes this kind of stuff, anyway??

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. … But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. – Isaiah 40:29, 31

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. – Ephesians 6:13

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Here’s the thing: There’s no excuse for fainting or failing under the pressure or adversity when we have access to strength, armor, and grace from God. Frankly, it comes down to a choice.

But let’s be honest, sometimes we are a little wimpy. Some of us just look for excuses to quit when things don’t go our way. We’re not tough, strong, and determined; we’re weak.

Maybe we should copy this proverb and post where we can see the next time we feel like giving up.

Truth hurts.

 

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Politically-Incorect Advice

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. – Proverbs 23:13-14

As of this writing, Rahm Emanuel, the soon-to-be-ex Mayor of Chicago and someone with whom I have rarely agreed, is in trouble for saying what needed to be said in the wake of unabated violence, including hundreds of murders:

“This may not be politically correct,” he said, “but I know the power of what faith and family can do. … Our kids need that structure. … I am asking … that we also don’t shy away from a full discussion about the importance of family and faith helping to develop and nurture character, self-respect, a value system and a moral compass that allows kids to know good from bad and right from wrong.”

He added: “If we’re going to solve this … we’ve got to have a real discussion. … Parts of the conversation cannot be off-limits because it’s not politically comfortable. … We are going to discuss issues that have been taboo in years past because they are part of the solution. … We also have a responsibility to help nurture character. It plays a role. Our kids need that moral structure in their lives. And we cannot be scared to have this conversation.” (source: FoxNews.com)

What was so wrong with he said? Oh, I know! It gave the impression that the actions of parents have a lasting effect on children, and children grow up. It took the responsibility off of the government and placed it back on the parents. It didn’t lay all the blame for violence on poverty but suggested that the decay in the family, faith, and morality is at the root of what’s wrong.

In response to the Mayor’s suggestions, a former president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, Shari Runner, refused to accept any responsibility on behalf of families. She said, “I cannot see the victims of racist policies and bigoted practices shamed by anyone who says they need to do better or be better in their circumstances. I won’t accept it!”

Well, somebody needs to accept the blame. Who is responsible for rearing one’s children? Who is responsible for applying the rod of discipline to the seat of instruction? Not the government, that’s for sure! And, I’m sorry, folks, but racist policies and bigoted practices are no excuse for immorality, having children out of wedlock, and men with 16 baby mommas.

Folks, the stats don’t lie: “Children from broken homes [are] nine times more likely to commit crimes.” (source: The Telegraph UK)

And when it comes to Proverbs 23:13-14, we need to understand that a lot of grown men and women are on their way to hell and taking others with them all because of delinquent parenting.

It may be politically incorrect, but I’m not running for office – I’m telling you the truth…and so is Rahm Emanuel.


Beware: Fierce lions in my yard

cat-2536662_1920“A man generally has two reasons for doing a thing.  One that sounds good, and a real one.”

That’s from the practical wisdom of J.P. Morgan, one of most influential bankers of the early 20th century. 

Of course, then there are those who are a bit more honest about their motivation, like Phyllis Diller:

“Housework can’t kill you, but why take a chance?”

On the one hand:

A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.
    The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

On the other hand:

The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there!
    If I go outside, I might be killed!”

Why is one cautious person congratulated for being prudent while the other is vilified as a three-toed sloth?

It really all has to do with motive. 

The prudent (wise, forward-thinking) one “foresees”, meaning he’s diligently done his research and understands the probabilities (are lions endemic to this area?), and based on those probabilities, he may take his gun out with him and search the area before proceeding. 

The lazy person, by contrast, stays on the coach and opens another beer…because that’s what he really prefers to do.  Making excuses for his decision assuages his own conscience, regardless of how ridiculous those excuses seem.

In fact, humans are probably the only part of God’s creation who uses the art of rationalization, that finely tuned skill of making excuses, even deluding ourselves into thinking those excuses are true.  

Here’s interesting application: “I don’t read the Bible because I don’t understand it.”

I’m glad medical students don’t adhere to that philosophy: “I don’t read my A&P text because I don’t understand it.”  A student—a real one, that is—does something about their lack of understanding. 

And for my sake, I’m glad they do!

Proverbs 22:3,13  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Kick Them Out

Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease. – Proverbs 22:10

As I was reading through chapter 22 this morning, looking for something to write about, several verses grabbed my attention. However, I feel moved to address this one.

One thing that I have learned during my years as a pastor is that there will always be people who disagree. No matter where you go, church or not, there are going to be people who don’t see eye-to-eye.

But then there are those people who do nothing but complain. They find a way to see the negative in everything you do. They have a sense of arrogance, even, that does its best to belittle any suggestion other than their own.

Sometimes these people put on a false face, smiling all the time while secretly scheming against every plan in which they had no part or didn’t conceive. And even worse, with mocking words of derision they try to subvert another’s leadership in order to gain control or set up another who is more considerate of their wishes.

My advice: Cast them out!

Solomon’s advice: Cast them out!

So often we put up with people who sow discord and foment contention, all because we love them and don’t want to see them go. However, a “scorner” in the midst does harm to the whole, and much like a cancer that threatens the life of a body, he/she must be put out for the good of all.

Think of it this way: when you get rid of the scorner, you get rid of the reproach – “confusion, dishonour, ignominy, reproach, shame” (Strong’s H7036). After all, if the scorner is not happy where he is, send him away! You’d be doing him a favor and helping the rest.

…How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! – Psalm 133:1 NIV


T-bones or corncobs?

bag-147782_1280I love the story of the Prodigal Son, on several layers.  Did you know that the word prodigal doesn’t mean “sinful”?  It means extravagant.  Wasteful.  Lavish.  I guess I didn’t know that until well into my adulthood.  The kid in the story certainly exemplifies the concept quite well.

But do you ever wonder why that father acquiesced to his son’s request for the early payout on his inheritance?  Maybe I just don’t know the Jewish custom back in that day, or maybe it isn’t relevant to the point Jesus was trying to make, because here’s the thing:

An inheritance obtained too early in life
    is not a blessing in the end.

This kid was in no way ready to handle his inheritance wisely.  His father had to know that, but handed over his intended wealth anyway and, well, we know the end result…something about trading T-bone steaks for empty corncobs.

Recent brain studies are telling us more about the frontal lobe of the human brain; in particular, how this part of our brain (which determines good judgment, actions/consequences, as well as being the reasonable brakes on otherwise impulsive emotions) does not fully mature—are you ready for this one?—until early to mid-twenties. 

I wonder how long it takes my spiritual frontal lobe to mature? 

Here’s an example: I heard a pastor say, (see? I really do listen!), that many times God intentionally withholds His blessing because we’re not ready to use it properly.  That this withholding is, in fact, God’s discipline preparing us to handle the blessing in the most sustainable way, in the way which produces the highest return to bless others and build His kingdom. 

Maybe instead of asking for blessing, I need to pray for disciplined maturity.  I think somehow the blessing will naturally follow.

Proverbs 20:21 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Spoon-fed

study 2Dad is a retired engineer, a graduate of Purdue University, a true Boilermaker is ever there was one.  He was the first of his family to go to college, not a small accomplishment having been born at the start of the Great Depression.  After his stint in the Navy, and a bit of disgruntlement with the union’s treatment of his hard work ethic, he decided to go back to school.  So here was a seasoned vet in his early twenties heading off to classes with fresh-faced high school graduates in a post-Korea university setting.

The stories are hilarious, and quite enlightening. Continue reading


Take Me To Church!

Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. -Proverbs 18:1 KJV

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. -Proverbs 18:1, ESV

This entry is on Sunday, the day most churches meet.

If you are not attending, why?

Do not forsake the meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing. -Hebrews 10:25

We have the biblical command to meet with other Christians regularly.

This does a few things:

  • Gives us opportunities to encourage each other (the rest of Hebrews 10:25)
  • Gives us opportunities to spur each other on to loving others and doing good works (Hebrews 10:24) It can be easy to only “seek his own desire” or be lazy apart from the Church.
  • Keeps us on the straight and narrow path (Hebrews 10:23). It can be easy to stray from sound doctrine and teachings. Why do you think there are so many cults and people who believe crazy things? (How many raptures have we survived in the last decade alone?)

It is important to meet with others, if for no other reason than to keep us from getting weird ideas.

Most importantly, being together helps us grow more Christ-like.

Therefore, take me to church!

Then I know you came to!