You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2012.

The Lord corrects the people he loves and disciplines those he calls his own.” Hebrews 12:6 (CEV)

Say the word ‘discipline’ and the picture most of us have conjured up in our minds is a child sitting in the corner or being spanked or some other painful situation. ‘Discipline’ and ‘punishment’ are often considered to be the same thing even though they are really quite different.

Punishment is backward looking. If I get a speeding ticket, it’s not offered to me because I may speed tomorrow, it’s given to me because I wasn’t paying close enough attention to my speed in the past several miles. Punishment is intended to cause pain either physically, financially or emotionally.

Discipline, on the other hand, is forward looking. A championship runner is considered disciplined because he/she forces themselves to run every day and push themselves to better themselves every time they step out of the house.

Discipline and punishment have on thing in common. Both are painful. Both are intended to make you ‘better’ but the attitude behind each is tremendously different. Punishment comes without relationship. Discipline almost always comes as a result of relationship. I discipline my children by teaching them standards, principles and skills that will prepare them for life in the future. Why? Because I love them and I want more than anything for them to succeed.

Will the discipline be hard? Sometimes. Will there be pain? Yes, especially if they make choices that are contrary to the principles we’ve established. But that pain will come as a result of the consequences of their behavior, not as a result of my anger.

Discipline, while painful, is necessary if we are going to succeed on the path our journey takes us on. Frank A. Clark states, “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”

God, as our loving Heavenly Father, wants nothing more than for us to feel fulfilled in life. Many people see his rules as restrictive, out of touch or even painful. Some focus on the ‘punishment of God’ and refer to it as God’s punishment when, in reality it’s simply the consequences of behavior God warns us against.

If you passionately love someone you will do everything in your power to prepare them for life ahead. You’ll tell them the things to avoid. You’ll warn them of the consequences of certain behaviors. You’ll tell them of the dangers associated with certain places. Why? Because you love them. As one writer states, “discipline is administered by a loving forward looking parent with an eye on helping the child become all that they can become.” Your Heavenly Father feels this way about you.

Don’t mistake the consequences of your choices as God’s punishment. Listen to his direction and realize they are only for your good. Remember that even while enduring the consequences he offers hope, forgiveness and strength to carry on.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for loving me enough to discipline me even though at times it’s painful. Give me wisdom and courage to follow your way. Amen

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)

“Blood is thicker than water.”

That statement is often used to describe the bond of family. Brothers and sisters may fight and bicker among themselves, but be wary of stepping between them or attacking one of them because you may find a united front against a common enemy…and that enemy will be you!

My father was the second oldest of three children. He was a rather small man, especially compared to his taller, older brother. Their personalities were as distant as their stature. My uncle was tall, athletic and quiet. As a result he’d often be picked on by other kids. He would never fight back though, never stand-up for himself.

Dad, on the other hand, was a bit of a firecracker and apparently felt is was his duty to be ‘uncles’ body guard. On more than one occasion he got in trouble for fighting. His fighting was most often a result of his decision to protect his brother!

The bond of ‘family’ is taking on a different face today as more than ½ of our children are living in families in which the parental bond is divided between mothers, fathers, stepparents and other caregivers who for whatever the reason have taken on the parental role. As a result, the concept of being adopted as children into God’s family may lose some of its impact.

God’s family isn’t like our earthly family. In God’s family we are chosen by him to be his children because he desires to be our Father. There is nothing we did or can do to change his love for us. There will be no time in the future when he tells us he won’t be our father anymore. He will never take advantage of his strength and position to make us do things we don’t want to do. He will never, ever abuse us or punish us in anger.
Sometimes we confuse God’s discipline for punishment when, in reality we are suffering natural consequences of our actions. That doesn’t mean God’s love for us is any less. His decision to love you as his own child came long before you were even born. His desire for you to be his child began at creation as he looked into the future and saw what this new world he’d created would become.

It’s a sad fact that the earthly, human form of family is in disarray and under attack by those who seek to destroy it. But God’s family is secure. You will always be his child. With that promise comes a challenge for us to live as brothers and sisters. An admonition to live in unity under the father and not based on religious tradition or dogma. You can’t change your physical DNA. Nothing you can do will change your spiritual DNA as well. You are and always will be a child of God because of his great love for you.

PRAYER: Father, there are so many voices here on earth defaming the concept of father and family. It’s hard sometimes to see you as father and to grasp the concept of family as you ordained it. I thank you that your family is permanent, healthy and alive. I praise you for choosing me to be a part of it. Help us, as your family, to live in the love and unity you planned for us. Amen.

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel. 2 Timothy 2:8 (NIV)

Just two little words but they mean all the difference in the world. Two little words that can change how we push forward during those times of grief when a dearly loved person dies and leaves us with a huge hole in our lives, a hole that will never be completely filled.

Two little words that give us strength to endure a relationship that is far from fulfilling; that shatters our dreams; that saps our lives of the energy we need to use our gifts to reach the potential long buried under the sands of time.

Two little words that offer hope as we kneel by the bed of a sick child, or read a letter from a distant son or daughter. Two little words that help us see new light in the midst of old struggle.

Remember Jesus.

Remember the one who promised he would never ever leave you or forsake you. Remember the one who lifts you up, looks you in the eye and says gently, “Then neither do I condemn thee.” Remember the one who stops from his busy schedule to touch you so that you can see. Remember the one who cries with you, rejoices with you and encourages you on the way.

Sitting on the mantle in front of me as I write this is a US Flag folded into a triangle. It’s a special flag given to the families of veterans when they die. The flag is special. Not because of the nation it stands for, or the freedom that flag represents. It’s special because that flag was given when my dad died. Sitting beside that flag is a picture of dad. When I look at those two items there is almost always a memory of all he meant to me, and a reminder that someday we’ll be united again in glory.

Paul, in perhaps his final hours tells his young pastor friend to always remember Jesus. Always take him with you, remember that he is the basis for all we do. He is the motivation for our existence, indeed he is the very reason for our existence.

Take the banner of heaven with you today. Have a picture of Jesus placed firmly in your mind. Regardless of the hurdles you encounter on the journey, he will always be there with you. He’s the shoulder you can cry on; the friend you can vent to; the partner you can celebrate with. He loves you. Never ever forget that, and because of his great love for you, you are always on his mind.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I have many challenges ahead of me today. Thank you for the promises you have given me of your constant companionship and unending love. Fill me with your Spirit and empower me to see your way on the journey. Help me remember you. Amen.

I appeal to you, my friends, as strangers and refugees in this world! Do not give in to bodily passions, which are always at war against the soul. 1 Peter 2:11 (GNT)

My daughter came home from school the other day full of all sorts of information and questions about the Civil War in the USA. She wanted to know about slavery. She wondered what it must have been like to be a slave.

I realized at that point  how lucky I was that we have never had to deal personally with slavery. How comfortable we were in our nice middle-class rural existence. How far removed we were from the reality others face in their daily existence. An existence in which they are completely dependent on people who have not interest in their own physical, spiritual or emotional health. An existence built on getting the most out of you and giving back as little as absolutely possible; the bare minimum in order to keep you productive and alive.

Such was, from my very limited perspective, the life of a slave. Such was the life of a refugee. Yanked from everything they knew, from family, friends and homeland, they were (are?) sent to a foreign land where their culture is not recognized and their needs are disregarded.

The physical harshness must have been tremendous. The emotional trauma must have been staggering. But the biggest, most shameful thing that happened was the destruction of the soul. The soul is the very essence of our existence. It tells us of our value. It tells us who we are. When the soul is wounded it makes life difficult and we question who we are. When the soul is destroyed  we lose all sight of who we are and give up completely with the dreams, goals and potential of what we can become.

No wonder Peter calls us refugees. No wonder he warns us of the tactics of the enemy. Tactics that give no regard for who we are. Tactics that aim to destroy our freedom. He’s ruthless, cunning and full of hate and anger. His weapons are deadly, his goal is your destruction. But his banner tells us his way is best, most pleasurable, the ‘right thing’ to do to be free.

God’s way contradicts his way in every way. His rules are for our benefit, not our destruction. His plan is for our emotional stability and freedom. Living according to the principles of the Creator God gives us victory over The enemies attacks. Following him allows us to corral the passions that can so easily pull us down. When we are living in victory over the evil desires, the outward stressors will not change but our ability to endure and be at peace will be evident.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you that you are so aware of the battle for my soul. I praise you for the victory you gave me over the enemy through your work on the cross. Empower me to endure the pressure of enemy attack so I can enjoy the freedom of my soul. Amen.

May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests. Psalm 20:5

We don’t celebrate our victories or the victories of others often enough. In old testament times armies that would go off to battle would do so behind their banner, a flag of sorts that told the world who they were. When victory was accomplished they raised their banners high in celebration.

The ultimate victory each of us has as believers is our salvation of course. We don’t fight for that; it was done for us by the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. That alone is cause for celebration on a daily basis. Our banner, in a sense, is life itself. As followers of Jesus Christ we have a hope the world can’t gain, a future in heaven for eternity and forgiveness and freedom from guilt. We have plenty of things to celebrate, so let the celebration begin!

This was brought to mind recently when a friend told me of a huge struggle he was having with a co-worker. My friend’s marriage was struggling and he wasn’t sure how much longer he could endure the pain of the failing relationship. Everything he did to try to make the relationship work seemed to fall by the wayside.

In the meantime, a woman at work had become a very good friend and sounding board. On one occasion she invited him to lunch with other co-workers. He went and had a great time. Then she invited him to her home for an after-work drink. It would have been very easy for him to give into the invitation but, as he said to me, “Right now with my marriage the way it is, I can’t trust myself to be alone with her. I feel like such a jerk for letting this happen.”

I realized what my friend was saying. He’d been struggling with thoughts of this woman for some time, yet had always put those thoughts out of his mind. He’d done nothing physically with the woman and had never been alone with her, but there was a strong emotional attachment.

Rather than allowing him to dwell on the ‘might-have-beens’ I reminded him of the victory he’d had! I encouraged him to celebrate the victory he had over temptation and sin. We read the story of Joseph and how he fled from the advances of Potiphar’s wife. I don’t think for a moment that he wasn’t tempted to give in, but he didn’t. That was time to celebrate even though for a time is seemed like a tough situation.

We need to take sin seriously in our lives, but we also need to take time to celebrate the victories we have over sin. We need to join in celebration with our friends when they overcome obstacles on the journey. We need to lift our banners high not only in our own victories but in the victories of others.

I’m happy to say, by the way, that my friend and his wife are rebuilding a rocky relationship. They aren’t out of the woods yet, but things got better once he started to celebrate the victories he had over temptation.

Take time each day to celebrate the victories you have through Jesus Christ. It will do your soul good!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I’m guilty of dwelling on my past, my failures, my struggles and my temptations. I realize now that those things have kept me from celebrating the positives and dwelling on the victories I have in you. Thank you for setting me free. Empower me to live a life of victory and celebration. Amen.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,828 other followers

RSS Podcasts from Zion

  • I AM the Good Shepherd
    From our series "Who Am I? The Seven I AM statements of Jesus". Our Good Shepherd, Jesus values us emotionally (he knows us), physically (sacrifices himself) and spiritually (brings harmony)
  • The Gate to Abundant Living
    From our series, "Who Am I?: The Seven I AM Statements of Christ". Jesus identifies himself by seven I AM statements found in the Gospel of John. In today's lesson, Pastor Mike teaches us what it means to have Jesus as the Gate in our lives.
  • I AM the Light
    From our series, "Who AM I: The Seven I AM Statements of Jesus", Jesus came into a world full of darkness politically, spiritually and relation-ally. He is our light in the darkness and we are his light to others when we allow him to shine through us.
  • I AM the Bread of Life
    From our series, "Who Am I: the Seven I AM Statements of Christ". Jesus shows us that as our bread of life he fills us in ways that will help us live life to the fullest.
  • Healing Prayer
    From our series, "Praying with Purpose". Pastor Mike teaches us from Jesus' parable in Luke 18:9-14 on the Pharisee and the Publican. Prayer that heals is prayer that sees us as we are and accepts the mercy God offers.


Candle Lighter Award

Built With Grace

Twitter Updates


May 2012
Follow Built with Grace on
%d bloggers like this: