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For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

I have a list. Actually I have several lists. Some are written on scraps of paper. Others are stored digitally on my Smartphone or computer. They are work related, personal and, of course, my honey-do lists.

The frustrating thing about my lists is that many of the things on them are things that really wouldn’t take that much time. That’s the issue. Time. I’m lousy at time management. Before you give me a list books to read or ten easy steps to time management let me tell you I’ve read many books and articles about that and have a few more on my list. (Have I already mentioned I have plenty of lists?)

What’s true in my physical life is also true (unfortunately) in my spiritual life. I love Jesus Christ. He is my source of comfort, encouragement, forgiveness, acceptance… (There I go again making another list!)

I have to confess though, that there are many things in my ‘spiritual side’ that don’t get done, or don’t get done well. Like my physical side, most of the time it’s not an issue of difficulty or time consumption; it’s a matter of self-discipline.

Self-discipline. I hate that term. ‘Self’ gives me the picture of who it all relies on. It’s all about me. I need to try harder. I need to organize better. I need to prioritize. I need to delegate. ‘Discipline’ to disciple, to follow a standard. To accomplish what you have set out to do. To suffer consequences for failure.

The Apostle Paul writes to a young pastor named Timothy. It seems like Timothy was almost like a son to Paul. It also appears that this young pastor was ministering in a difficult place and time.

So ‘Father Paul’ writes (my paraphrase), “So remember Timothy. This God we serve has given us the ability to stand courageously, live powerfully, love passionately and accomplish the task set before us by the Lord Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

For someone like me who already feels overwhelmed at times this can be small comfort. I’ve been given the Holy Spirit to accomplish all that but reality screams at me that it’s not working!

Here’s one thing I’ve discovered. I need to continue reading on in Paul’s letter. Just a couple verses later, Paul explains more of life and ministry to his young protégé.

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” (2 Timothy 1:9)

Did you catch it? The solution to my (and perhaps your) dilemma? Go back and read it again. One tiny little phrase we often overlook, ‘not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.’ Once again, I’m reminded that this life isn’t about my power, my ability, my ‘self-discipline.’

From now on my endeavor is to shelve the old term ‘self-discipline’. From now on my goal will be to live in Christ-discipline. To let his power live in my, through me and in spite of me. I’m not relinquishing responsibility. I’m handing it off to the one who said to cast all my cares on him.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I’m tired of trying to do things on my own. I hereby give you back the reigns of my life as you’ve commanded me to do. Empower me with your Spirit to live a life of ‘Christ-discipline.’ Amen.


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


Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

One of the amazing things about the Bible, in my opinion anyway, is the nuggets of truth that are scattered throughout its pages. Little phrases that hold in them tremendous encouragement for us and open to us a clear view of how much God really does love us.

1 Peter 5:7 is one of these nuggets. To set the stage a bit, the book of Peter was written by Jesus’ disciple, Peter. You remember good ole’ stick my foot in my mouth, hot tempered, proud and boastful Peter. The same guy that promised to honor Jesus and then denied him a few minutes later?

Peter wrote this letter to Christ-followers who were going through persecution that was so severe that it was considered the most heinous treatment of human beings in history. He’s writing to people who felt outnumbered, misunderstood and in constant threat of imprisonment, torture and death.

Towards the end of his letter he says “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Did you see it? The nugget of truth for us? Look again. “he cares for you”.  Let it sink in. “he cares for you” He, Jesus, the Son of the most high God.

Now personalize it. “Jesus cares for me.” Mull that over. Jesus cares.  Doesn’t sound like a distant, removed or uninterested God to me. He cares. He doesn’t just care for the world. Jesus cares for me!

That’s not stuffy theology. It’s not restrictive doctrine or rigid rules. It’s love. You see, what Peter is really telling his readers then and now is this. During those times when life is impossible. When your relationships have failed, when you are misunderstood or caught in sin, when the addictions seem to be overpowering you, when fear and ruin seem inevitable. Jesus cares.

When someone cares for you it’s evident. You know someone really cares for you when they listen intently to your every word; when they know what you like and dislike; when they understand your anger or sorrow or frustration.

A person who really cares for you is always proud of you. Not for what you have done but because of who you are, the real you. You know, the one that others rarely get to see?

A person who cares of you challenges you. He encourages you to strive for your dreams, but doesn’t get disappointed in you when things don’t go as planned. He’s the kind of person that attends every one of your games, or recitals, or concerts or workshops and listens intently to the same words you’ve said a thousand times and acts like each repeated thought is brand new and profound.

That’s Jesus. He cares for you. When the world crashed in, remember. Jesus cares for you.

Caring has another side to it. It’s not a pleasant side at the time, but it’s an important side none-the-less. If a parent, for example, cares for his child he disciplines his child. Discipline isn’t punishment. Punishment has anger at its base and revenge as its motive. Discipline is more about love, about shaping, about molding. Its motive is love. Its desire is pure.

Alongside discipline is its twin, tough love. Discipline says I’ll mold you. Tough love says, “if I have to, I’ll let the consequences of your decisions run their course. Then, I’ll mold you when you are ready.

Discipline and tough love are never fun. Not for the receiver or the giver. But discipline and tough love both work together to create character and integrity that will bring us through the tough times.

That’s Jesus. He cares for you. He loves you the way you are, but loves you far too much to leave you that way. When life gets hard, don’t get angry or bitter. Remember that Jesus cares. Talk to Him. Rest in Him. Let his healing arms of love surround you.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. Thank you for caring for me. I know I’m not always an easy one to love. I make bad choices. I hurt people and myself. I get angry at you when I don’t get my way. I’m just a spoiled two-year-old sometimes. I’m so undeserving of your patient, loving care but I thank you for being here for me. You truly are an Awesome God. Amen.

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