Thursday, December 1, 2011

Do Discipline

Discipline isn't discipline when there is no restoration, it's punishment. And punishment isn't a godly example in any way shape or form.

This holds true whether you are disciplining as a parent, a pastor or a boss. If you never restore the one you have "disciplined" then you have completely missed the point of the discipline in the first place, and in all likelihood done far more harm than good.

If the one who is under the discipline walks away feeling condemned rather than convicted then you have to take a hard look at the process, more so than the person. It is the one who is in the position of authority over another who has the greater responsibility, not the one who needs the discipline. In reality, so often as leaders (parents, pastors, teachers, bosses) the reason for necessary discipline can in many ways be traced back to a lack of instruction. As the same authority who is responsible for the instruction as the discipline, we need to take a hard look at what we can do to correct what caused the fault/ failure/ sin in the first place.

The key to good discipline is love. And it isn't evaluated by how the one who doing the discipline INTENDS it, the love is defined by the one who receives it. Now granted this isn't a foolproof litmus test, some people don't receive correction well. The Bible describes those kind of people as "fools," but again, that would indicate a greater burden would fall to the one who is wise, the one who's job it is to correct, and to discipline.

A fool spurns a parent’s discipline,
but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.

Proverbs 15:5

I believe this passage refers not only to actual physical parents, but spiritual parents as well (pastors, elders, teachers).

The origin of discipline is in the Lord, more specifically, in the LOVE of the Lord.

My son, do not despise the chastening (discipline) of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the LORD loves He chastens
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

Hebrews 12:5-6

But discipline always, always, ALWAYS should come with RESTORATION. I think of when Peter "sinned" against Jesus in his denial of Christ. It's an account in in the 21st chapter in the Book of John, and sincerely, for many reasons, it is one of my favorite stories in the Bible, including what I see in restoration. Three times Peter denied knowing Christ. It's an interesting dichotomy here of Christ's prophecy of it, could it have been a warning? If it was, it was one that Peter blazed right past. (I love that Peter, he gives me hope!) But either way, Peter committed the sin, and three times he denied Christ.

Peter's discipline was the natural consequence of the guilt and pain of committing the sin. (Sometimes, natural consequences, a parent's disappointment, seeing the pain one has inflicted IS sufficient discipline, other times a harsher consequence must be added on-- whole other blog post.) The reality is, Peter sinned THREE times, THREE denials of knowing Christ. And when Jesus came to the side of the sea and called out to Peter on the boat, I can't begin to imagine Pete's joy, because he saw standing there on the side of the sea, a second chance, of that I am certain. Old Pete put on his coat and dove right in to swim after it.

Next comes, to me, one of the most tender scenes in all the Bible. As Jesus sits down and has a conversation with Peter. I think there was more discipline here, because he asked Peter hard questions about whether or not Peter truly loved Him, and poor Peter felt the weight of his failure, but for the restoration of his failures, Jesus told him THREE times, to get back to doing what Christ had called him to in the first place, “Feed My lambs.” “Tend My sheep.” “Feed My sheep."

Oh glorious God, I could bawl my eyes out right here reading it! That is true restoration, restoring one to be able to serve and walk out his or her faith in the Lord! How many wounded walk away never to find their place in the family again because someone has not disciplined properly, and instead they have added to the list of the bitter and wounded, those hurt "by the church." The heart of God is not in the discipline, it is in the restoration! And that alone is the sole purpose of the discipline in the first place!!

We have to grab hold of this people. This is Truth, and as parents, pastors, leaders, teachers, we need to remember the power and responsibility to discipline another should be worn as a weighty burden, not lorded over others, but carried with fear and trembling. And if we are EVER called to do it, we have not done it properly unless we have completed the process with restoration.

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Galatians 6:1-3

The heard of God is always in the redemption, and the redemption is found only in the restoration. Praise be to the God who restores and redeems, let us each seek to be like Him.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Suffer an Awakening

We've been at our new church home for eleven Sundays now. Honestly, we couldn't be happier. All change has its challenges, but God has had His hand in our transitioning.

We've been slowly getting plugged in, meeting new people, making new friends. We've joined a home group, Jake has been attending youth group, Ethan and Victoria have started Awana. We took the membership class (and signed on the dotted line) and even participated in a couple of outreach fundraisers, and even attended a really fun concert with one of the pastors and several members of our church.

We haven't plugged in yet to serve, Neal's not playing drums yet, Jake hasn't stepped up to get involved with children's ministry, I haven't even found a place where I fee like I might belong, but all of us still feel a part. My younger kids have actually started serving, and I have been reminded about the Lord's encouragement that what they need as we're raising them is different than the things that were best for Jake.

It's starting to feel like home, and all of us feel really grateful to be there. But for the past few weeks, I have been feeling something else, something new, and painful.

As a church, we are currently going through a series based on the book "The Hole in the Gospel" written by World Vision CEO Richard Stearns. It's a powerful and thought provoking book that talks about where our "personal gospel" is missing the mark, and the way each of us as individuals is missing the heart of God, specifically in what the book of James calls "pure religion."

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
James 1:27

The pain I've been feeling, is the slow realization that my personal religion has not, at least for sometime, been either pure or undefiled. These last few Sundays as my family and I drive away from our church, I have sensed such a heavy pain and ache in my chest. It's almost as though I can feel the weight pulling my proverbial heart from my core.

It's a funny thing this ache though. As much as it hurts, it's a good thing. It reminds me of the way I have felt when my arm feels when I've laid on it wrong at night and I wake to a numbness in it. When I shift and move and the circulation is restored, it begins to tingle, and to ache. It's because where life has been held back, the blood begins to flow, and feeling is restored, but before it's "well" and feels healthy again, it has to suffer the discomfort of awakening.

I feel like my heart has been suffering an awakening. Where it has been asleep, and the blood of Christ has not been flowing, life is slowly returning. When the flow of blood is fully restored, so will its strength be.

I want my heart to feel the full flow of the blood of Christ, so that it may wash clean my "personal religion," and make it both pure and undefiled, but the process is painful. Even admitting that this pain is a reality is hard. It's not as though I was backslidden or in rebellion, I was just missing the mark. Which in reality is how sin is defined.

I have been challenged to pray for the Lord to break my heart for what breaks His, and I think this crushing pain I feel is exactly that. He is breaking my heart. But I am grateful for the pain, because it is a sign of life, renewed life, I pray.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

100 Verses - Week 12

It's a holiday weekend, don't you know. And I'm not going to lie, I am BEHIND! That's part of the Walk of Faith, really, sometimes you're running and sometimes you're stumbling. I'm not stumbling in the "being left behind sense," but I am a little focused in other areas this week, like family time and getting my home in order. I've been working my tail off to get my house clean (yes, it was that much work) and to get back on track with my coupon clipping and what not with grocery shopping (today I spent $121, saved $129... I'd like a better margin, but it's a start.) So the truth is, I haven't even read the chapters for this week's verses in 100 Verses Everyone Should Know By Heart, and I have no clue what Robert J. Morgan has to say about them. But I have said all along how you don't even have to have the book to participate in the Challenge, so this week I am going to start out experiencing a little of that for myself. I don't even have the scripture up on the board yet!!

In all honesty we struggled practicing the verses together this past week as well. My little kids were off school for the whole week and we lost our regular practice time, so we will be doing some review this week, and I am already thinking ahead about how I will handle Christmas Break differently. It's obviously going to be an issue.

The good news is this weeks verses are linked to last week's verses, so there's an opportunity to learn them together still. Before I give you this week's verses, let me remind you that you need to RSVP to the 2nd leg if you want to continue with us in the New Year. The current leg of the Challenge ends on New Year's Eve. Click HERE to RSVP to continue in the 2nd leg of the Challenge. Hope you will continue with us! (Of course you can also just continue here on the blog as well.)

OK enough stalling, here on this week's verses:

Verse 1:

If I go away and prepare a place for you,I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.
John 14:3

Verse 2:

Jesus told him, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
John 14:6

Hope you're Thanksgiving was awesome, I'm thankful for all of you who support the blog and are joining us here in the Challenge!!