10 Jan 2016

What God teaches us about Discipline so we can get it!


If we won't discipline our thoughts, feelings, bodies, motivations and energies; they will overrun their banks. 

They will get unruly. They will fake a sense of freedom. They will lap you up and drown you under. 

I think that may be what happened way back in the Garden.

Before Eve reached out to accept the fruit and bite into it, she failed to rein in her imagination to the boundaries of obedience. Before Adam acquiesced and partook of it, he failed to retrieve the file called 'God has said' and let something else take over.

This is a mighty lesson for all our souls, and especially for us parents, teachers, leaders of all stripes.

If you are going to build your life, any life; then the big D word must feature prominently.

How is the million-dollar Q isn't it? Like this famous? The famous marshmallow test {if you have 4 minutes}

Which also means that the D word  connects Obedience, Free Will, Relational Trust and Rewards.

As a parent, coach, leader, I grapple with this for myself and others. And then eureka! Perhaps I can
take a leaf from the All-Wise!

Here's how God does it for his children; and we can imperfectly follow in it:

1. He accept us 
Before we could do a thing or feel even an itty-bit 'godly'; He sent his Son to die for us. It's a decision God made without reference to our condition or response.
I'm not the most diligent person ever; but God's acceptance stirs up a desire in me to be my best.

2. He gives us a vision
So much of what God says about his children don't make sense logically. While the children of Israel, yes, that bunch of wandering Arameans were stuck in the mire of their sins, God sends prophets who often painted pictures of incredulous future outcomes: rivers in the desert, peace, light to nations. If ever we whimper, God whispers, "You ain't see nothing yet".

when western Sahara meets the Atlantic..and how the waters shape it

3. He tells us there is a reward
God always leads by promises. Promised Land, Heavenly City. He invites, He draws, He woos. We continually confuse him with some other deity conjured by our guilt and fear; who scolds, pounces and withholds. 'No good thing will He withhold from those whose walk is upright' the Psalmist says. 'There is a crown of life' waiting. He even weaves rewards into the journey like celebrations of milestones. Maybe a rainbow, a surprise visit by a friend, a timely prayer, a kind helping hand, a new friendship.

4. He journeys with us
Isn't this our favourite part? The Immanuel bit. But before we get all chummy about it; let's remember God is not a tag-along. I have found so much relief and rest for my soul to remember that I am the passenger going for the ride here. Even so, I can particpate in the navigation, respond to the conversation, take in the views and record the sightings. Sometimes, i drift off and snooze even! But it takes discipline to stay on the road and not keep complaining about breaks!

5. He takes us through valleys and allows us to reap what we sow
We need to stop avoiding the tough stuff. They build muscle and stamina. We also need to understand and accept that the law of cause-and-effect is a universal law that the children of God are subject to as well. God is not SOS, heli-rescue, 'break the glass for emergency'. No one ever grows up who is always rescued.

6. He has a customised plan
This takes the cake! No cookie-cutter with the Creator. Run the race 'marked out for you'. We all run a common race; but each of us also has a particular pace, gait and even route (unless you like stepping on toes endlessly). This is so mercifully exciting! 

O look, my favourite! Now to reach for it...
And then, He gives us specifics for the 3 huge areas of our life:

your thoughts: renew them by anchoring back on your purpose
if something doesn't serve you, it's trivial and possibly a distraction. i don't store a lot of information like bargains and celebrities. they don't really impact my life direction or help me stay on course with my purpose to grow into who I am in Christ. instead, i check where my files are thin and weathered about God, my self-awareness, my love for others, my abilities and the needs of the world. I make sure i chuck material in those files regularly.

your feelings: redirect them by practising gratitude and praise
sounds holy-moly but would you rather hang around with a sulker or a smiler? From writing down gratitude on small slips, doing it on big charts, praying it out each night...find a way to remember to be thankful.

your time management: review regularly
slip-sliding is easy. Facebook and computer games can suddenly take up hours. Once every other week, just check in to see if your time reflects your priorities. If God is important, where in your schedule have you set aside them for it? If knowing your children better is important, where in your schedule have you placed that; and is watching TV with them the way to do it?
This is easy to apply to your work and finances. Use the priority principle.

Looks to me like Papa God has given us mighty ideas for parenting, for treating our fragile souls right and for being leaders who raise a missional people.

So, if you are looking to grow. You need the mighty D. There is no other way around it.

Thing is, besides the sloth juice that courses in our vein which makes our reflexes choose the easy way, there is plenty to weaken our resolve and cause our discipline to cave in.

This is why at the end of 2015, I did this Spirit-prompted exercise with the family.

What is one thing in the new year you will -


"... for God is not a god of confusion, but of peace..." ~ 1 Corinthians 14v33

"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline" ~ 2 Timothy 1v7 

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