Category Archives: discipline

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!


Interpreting a Proverb

I am going to do something a little different – I’m going to ask you to do some investigative work.

Please read the following verse from the King James Version of the Bible, then think about what it means.

Don’t look at another translation just yet. Don’t do anything other than read the following verse:

A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth. – Proverbs 17:8 KJV

What is it talking about?

Is the meaning obvious to you? What first impression do you get when reading it?

Quickly! Leave a comment below as to your first thoughts, then go do your research and leave a second comment.

Don’t cheat! The eyes of the Lord are watching 😉

 


It Takes Diligent Work to Thrive

This is the real world, and I’m going to share a little slice of mine with you.

Right now, as I am writing this, I have a list of business names and phone numbers to call. The purpose of this is to make sure the business is still in existence and to make sure of the current address and name of the owner.  The business that I am now doing requires that I “qualify” businesses before I try to contact them to discuss employee benefits.

In case you didn’t know, I now work with a great company named Aflac. You may know them by the duck.

But, so you don’t get the wrong idea, even though I am an agent with a Fortune 500 company, I’m still an individual business owner – I have to do all the work to survive.

The insurance business is not easy, but it can be very rewarding. The only thing is that one has to always be prospecting for new business, and in my case, I’m always looking for businesses in need of what we offer and are willing to talk about it. Consistent, diligent, measurable and trackable activity is critical to my success.

If I am not diligent in all I do, I can talk about my future in this business all I want, but I’ll have nothing in the end.

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and [hath] nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat. – Proverbs 13:4

Sometimes, in order to do what we feel is important in life, we have to take risks. I chose to take the risk and return to the world of sales in order to have more flexibility in ministry. I also did it because driving a school bus has become too demoralizing, dangerous, and detrimental to my physical and mental health (I can’t risk another shoulder surgery and then have nothing to show for all the work I’ve done through the years).

In this situation, the wisdom of Proverbs is directly applicable to my life. I must be diligent.


Be Kind

My wife and I have taught in schools. She has almost only ever taught Kindergarten (about 4 months of not in eight years), and I taught 7th Grade Mathematics and further back in Special Education.

I tell you what, working with a lot of kids can teach a lot about life! Especially how cruel and mean people can be.

A recent movement in the past few years is called “Be Kind”. The name is pretty self explanatory, and they do some good work helping teach students to simply be nice to each other.

Proverbs chapter 12 can be summarized this same way: Be Kind.

Think about it: it starts with advice for controlling yourself (discipline, vv. 1-4), transitions through recognizing it starts with our thoughts (vv. 5-8), moves to our actions toward others (including animals! vv. 9-12), and the majority focuses on what we say (vv. 13-26).

Words probably get the most time because of how much we tear each other down with our words. Sometimes it is unintentional.

But we must remember that kindness starts internally, with our thoughts and beliefs. So, to be kind means we start by changing our thinking, and ultimately it happens by trusting in God.

He first showed His kindness by coming to us lowly sinners to reveal truth and die for our forgiveness. The ultimate kindness is leading others to life in Christ.

The path of the righteous is life, and in its pathway there is no death.
Proverbs 12:28


Instructionless Brutes

It might be nearly the end of the week, and one might think we’d already gotten past the first verse of the chapter, but Proverbs 12:1 stood out to me this morning, and I’d like to tell you why.

Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish. – Proverbs 12:1

There are a lot of people who feel like there is no need for preachers, teachers, instructors, professors, or pastors. I read their comments any time I write something having to do with the ministry and ministry needs.

Often, and usually with poor spelling and grammar, the irate and biblically-illiterate employ arrogant language and out-of-context verses to “prove” their point. Consider a brief excerpt I copied from one particular conversation…the write goes by the name of Paradox7:

I don’t need an operator to call my LORD , and I have been reading the Bible since I was a child , don’t need an interpreter either…

Jesus actually spoke of wolves in sheep’s clothing , referring to religious leaders of his time , the same people who set him up for murder because he asurped their authority .If you have read the Bible , you can’t really disagree with that sentiment… It is a common bibical theme to be wary of authority figures , but of course many do not get the message , even as Jesus predicted ” for wide is the gate that leads to destruction , and there are many who will walk thru it .”

There is more to being instructed than simply reading the Bible. Many people do that, just like the Ethiopian Eunuch who asked Phillip in Acts 8:31, “How can I [understand], except some man should guide me?”

Godly teachers are a gift from God to the Church (Ephesians 4:11). Some people need them more than others.

 


Bring On the Red Ink

doggie dunceIt’s been years since I have taken a written test, but even as an adult I still get some well-suppressed jitters when the paper is handed back.  (That is, unless it’s all on computer; I’m showing my vintage, I suppose.)

Who doesn’t remember the composition class in high school with the completed assignment coming back marked up in red from the teacher?  And I only made it to trigonometry and “college math” when I was in high school—I begged off from calculus, thank you very much.  My first trig exam came back into my hands with something like an 11 out of 40 or 50. (I still distinctly remember that “11” at the top of the page.)

Thankfully, nursing school didn’t need calculus or trig, but since this was before the days of ubiquitous computerized machinery—or Google—we needed a special form of math that had to do with calculating IV drip rates, converting “household” and “apothecary” measurements into “metric” portions, and the like.  There’s no wiggle room in this kind of math—the patient’s health (and life) depended on it. 

I’m not sure what kind of memories King Solomon was drawing upon when he wrote this…

“To learn, you must love discipline;
    it is stupid to hate correction.”

…but he may have had a time when he also hoped his own personal physician hadn’t tried to cheat, fake or argue his way through medical school. 

To be a student of any kind takes discipline, and discipline takes humility.  It means embracing the (eventually inevitable) fact that I’m not smart enough on my own to get it right the first time.  Maybe not even the second or third.  That someone may actually know more than me.  That knowledge and skill comes only with persistent personal application, and that, in itself, comes with the price of time and sacrifice.

In reality, the dunce hat doesn’t belong to those who make mistakes, but to those who refuse to learn from them, and from others.

Your future “patients” will thank you.

Proverbs 12:1 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.

Doggie Dunce photo from StrangeDangers.com, Google Images


Do I Love What goes with Learning?

Intentional DiscipleshipThe first thing is to cultivate a love of learning. To be wise, means I need to grow. It isn’t something we are naturally born with. We must have a passion for learning.

When I commit to learning the way of Jesus, I am opening myself up to correction. The student doesn’t learn without correction.

Learning isn’t easy. It requires work. It requires a real discipline to do it even when I don’t want to or feel like it. Learning means I willing to hear, no, that is not the right way. Jesus calls all of to be disciples (learners) of His way.

When I fall short, I must submit to God’s discipline and receive correction. I must be open to hearing I wan’t correct in my thinking.

I can be foolish and be headstrong. I can do what I like, not what Jesus wants me to do. If I am wise, I will take advice.

If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it. How shortsighted to refuse correction! ~King Solomon (Proverbs 12:1 The Message Bible)

The Greek term for “disciple” in the New Testament is mathetes, which means more than just “student” or “learner.” A disciple is a “follower,” someone who adheres completely to the teachings of another, making them his rule of life and conduct. The Pharisees prided themselves in being disciples of Moses (John 9:28). Their discipleship began with Jesus’ call and required them to exercise their will to follow Him (Matthew 9:9).

Jesus was quite explicit about the cost of following Him. Discipleship requires a totally committed life: “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). Sacrifice is expected: “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’” (Matthew 16:24).

Not all of Jesus’ followers were able to make such a commitment. There were many who left Jesus after a while. “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66).