Tag Archives: discipline

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.

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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!


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


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).


A Tale of Two Dads

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

Loves Knowledge

My dad has always loved knowledge. For a long time he had a subscription to National Geographic magazine. He still enjoys watching a good documentary. (Sometimes even a bad documentary.)

He made sure his children understood why he loves these things, to be able have a better understanding of our world and the people and places in it. Then he could avoid stupid mistakes, or, when a mistake was made or he flat out did something wrong, he could learn from it.

Hates Correction

A friend of mine had (yes, past tense) a dad who “never did anything wrong.” He taught his kids how to weasel out of responsibility, to not get caught. Since nothing was his fault, he could live with a “clean conscience” knowing no one was coming after him. His only sense of discipline was in crafting better excuses and his body to deal with those who got in his way. (One day, this mentality is what helped lead to his … past tense-ness.)

Outcomes

Clearly, my dad’s instruction and discipline helped to lead me toward Christ (which then led my parents to Him).

My friend and his dad never (or at least not yet, for my friend) saw a need for the Savior. If nothing is your fault, you are guiltless, right? It is easier to fight or weasel your way out of trouble.

Wisdom sees our need for knowledge and correction, and those will ultimately lead to our good God.

Oh, and happy father’s day!


How Do YOU Respond To Correction?

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. -Proverbs 9:8‭-‬9, KJV

Schooling

I taught 7th Grade mathematics last year. There were a handful of students who, whenever corrected or disciplined, would lash out. One in particular said he hated me. Who was I to tell him how to live his life?

Most of the students in the class reacted negatively to correction, to be honest, but a few (and eventually more) saw the benefits of following through with the correction. Somehow, I became the favorite teacher of many students.

The Church

Now look at the yourself and even others in the Church. When presented with biblical truth about sin, what is the response?

If your reaction is to lash out, deny, or get angry, ask yourself, Why? If it is not true, why get upset?

Fighting a correction can cost more than listening, such as hurt/broken relationships and/or wasted time.

The wise person wants to change, for the goal is to be Christ-like, perfect as God is perfect. You may even find you love that person more for helping you grow closer to Christ.

That is not possible if we continue in sin.

Refusing to even acknowledge the need for correction could imply you are heading the opposite direction, and you come to hate those who offered the correction.