Discipline = Freedom

“The temptation to take the easy road is always there. But discipline is paramount to success and victory.”

We keep hearing, “I need to be the best me possible.” Truth or lie? It depends on the definition of me being used. The me that is the work of art that the Father created in me to be and to become (Eph. 2:10) or the me that brought Jesus to this earth as the ultimate and last sacrifice for the sins of me?

The former leads to victory and fulfillment. So, have you ever wondered why one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control? Self or me needs to be controlled by the Spirit not unleashed on the world, let alone on myself!

Peter writes that me is to gain truth and add self-control to it while practicing that truth because this process leads to becoming more like Jesus (2 Pet. 1:6) or ultimate freedom (John 8:32).

Discipline equals freedom, which leads to victory and fulfillment defined as acting consistently with who the Father created in me in Christ!

The easy road leads to bondage while the harder road requires self-control that brings greater freedom. It’s a choice the Father gives us at the cross. Let’s hope me chooses the later.

Come Sit

You don’t need to be in continual motion.

An old black and white TV show character would often say, “Come sit a spell.” It goes with an adage that says, “Take a load off.”

The English word Sabbath or Shabbat in Hebrew means to rest. Yet this word carries addition meaning when we examine the word group that it belongs to.

We are to sit or take a load off by dwelling in God’s presence. These words are used of Jewish schools called yeshivas where students would sit around a table discerning what God said in His Word.

Another word in this group is to return. This speaks of returning to the only One who can give true rest, God. Resting then means to realign ourselves with and to stay close to our Father.

Yet, as Jesus believers, we often think that we have to do for God. Seriously? Like He needs us to do anything for Him. Remember, He is God and simply asks us “to be still and know that He is God.”

We are children of a God who knows the future and will work everything we face out for His purpose and glory. The world’s direction and fate are in His hands, not ours.

Slow down (rest – de-stress, take a deep breath). Take a load off (sit – stop running your mind 24/7 over life that’s outside your control) and come sit a spell with (return – it’s not about you!) Him (dwell – be with Him).

He’ll show you what He wants you to do with Him, even if that’s to literally come sit quietly and simply with Him.

Christian Cliches – Not!

“The church is who we are, not where we go.”

Have you ever heard someone tell you, “Just lay it at the feet of Jesus”? I have and I want to scream, “How?!”

Clichés are nice sayings, but living in a broken world as broken people trying to grow in our love for and obedience to Jesus is not, I repeat, is not easy or in any way a cliché experience.

Walking against the flow of our past inputs (Galatians 5:17) is a difficult process. This is why the Spirit put us into the church – a group of people walking toward Jesus together – the moment we became children of God.

Yet, we struggle to let fellow brothers and sisters into this struggle. We either fear being judge, tossed aside or worse thinking that we are the only ones struggling with loving Jesus the way we struggle.

Lie. Lie. Lie. The Spirit tells us that we all struggle with something (1 Cor. 10:13) as we are all broken people being made whole (i.e. saved).

We are the church so be the church. So, who shares this walk with you in a non-cliché, honest and transparent way? This is the process to be made whole (James 5:16).

Stop the clichés – Christian or otherwise. Only truth worked out with other believers does. Lay it at the feet of Jesus means to let others know about your struggle so they can pray for and carry it with you.

Lessen your load. Let others into the real struggle so you can experience being set free, the changed life, Jesus promised to give you when you became God’s child.

The Rock Works

“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” Hymn

Did you practice the thankfulness exercise last week? I did…partially. I started out strong and it worked. I felt peaceful. My nervous foot stopped bouncing. My stress levels went down. 

And guess what happened when I wasn’t being watchful for those peace robbing situations (see June 1st entry)? I forgot to be thankful, which brought back the bouncing foot and the rising stress levels.

The truths God gives us in His Word are the metaphor Jesus used when He said if we build our life on the rock, we can weather any storm. If we build our life on the sand, however, life can wash us away. 

When we say Jesus is our rock, this is not just a saying or a mere word. The rock must be put into your daily life through implementing His truths into your life. Merely saying the word or a verse is sand. Practicing the truth the Spirit gives you is the rock. 

I had a little of both last week.

The Power of Thankfulness

Thankfulness helps us to see who is there.

Paul writes to the Colossians that they should be devoted to prayer, be watchful and thankful. And to the Thessalonians he says to rejoice always, pray continually and to give thanks in all circumstances.

Why did God have Paul repeat himself? Life is not easy, but focusing on what we don’t have or where we currently are only makes it tougher. When we create an attitude of gratitude, though, we will experience huge benefits that will help us through those tough times.

Research studies show that those who cultivate an attitude of gratitude have been “consistently linked to higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction.” They also tend to “have more positive and supportive relationships, cope with stress and adversity more effectively and have less anxiety that promotes a more peaceful and restful sleep,” which allows both the body and the brain to recuperate and heal.

Think God knows what He is talking about? He tells us to be watchful for peace robbers by staying in constant contact with the peace bringer; and then, to fight back through being thankful for what we do have and rejoicing over who we are in Christ to keep moving forward despite our present challenges.

Here’s an exercise. When you go to bed tonight, tell God three things for which you are thankful. Then throughout the day, especially when life gets rough, repeat them to Him and see what He does in and through you.

I’m going to practice this truth and report back next Wednesday. Hopefully you will as well.