Just Do It

When I even mention the word “discipline,” every group I speak to outwardly groans. You should see the people squirm and watch their eyes roll. I get more reaction to this word than when I occasionally cuss. What’s up with that?

I think it’s because people equate discipline with failure. They put discipline in one of two boxes. It is either akin to the “punishment” they received as a child and have vowed to never repeat, or they liken it to New Year’s resolutions. And they are so sick of letting themselves down they forego both – resolutions and discipline.

Let’s do a little test. Do you regularly:

Brush your teeth
Eat a meal
Wear deodorant
Eat dessert or chocolate or candy
Go to see friends
Sing (in the shower, car or to radio – they all count)
Wash your sinks, socks, or car

If you answered ‘yes’ then the next question is, why do you do that? I’m guessing you see some benefit, goal or payoff that matters to you. Bad breath is a very good reason to brush your teeth.  Good tooth health and a pearly smile are good reasons too. So teeth brushing is a “both/and” kind of action. You do it to get both the good and to prevent the bad. I ask this in such a simple way because you already know discipline. In fact you already DO discipline. You just need to broaden your perspective a bit especially as it comes to the spiritual life.

It is very important that you have a Biblical view of God’s discipline. God no longer punishes us for breaking the law. Christ did that for us on the cross. So when God disciplines, it is always and only for our good.  Discipline, in its truest form, is the actions and training that enable the very best to be revealed.

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.” Matthew 7:13-14 The Message

Discipline Equals Love

If you had a tough or misguided childhood, then you no doubt have a tough or misguided notion about God and His Discipline.

In fact for many, punishment and discipline seem the same. But this is a gross misunderstanding. Punishment is payment for crimes. But discipline, in its truest form, is the actions and training that enable the very best to be revealed.

You have already witnessed this in the natural.

We watch the Olympics, or World Cup, or listen to symphonies, and we marvel at the fruit of such discipline. The hours of strain and purposeful training crescendo into a beautiful expression of precision and refined vision. It is a revelation of skill or talent that has been “disciplined” to the degree of awe and honor.

Now put that into the spiritual realm.  No one sees the beauty within us like God does. And no one is more committed to our “revelation” than He is. So He will purposefully train and strain us so that our skills, talents, lives, and hearts are a beautiful expression of Him. He has no greater goal.

My friend Kristen loves to say, “He can only give you love.” And discipline, causing your best to be revealed, is part of His loving nature.  He can only give us love.  Discipline is a part of that affection.

Let yourself be trained by the Master. We need your masterpiece to be revealed.

Willing to Change

My head is abuzz with a newly scratched out “To Do List” for 2010. It is full of a grand vision, scary possibilities and deep, deep longings of my heart.  And it is a lot of work.  I was so inspired that I had to take a nap.

I figure I might as well rest up first before beginning anything new. Have you ever felt this way? Wanting to quit from the sheer hugeness of a task?  Throwing in the towel before you have even dared to go one round in the ring?

There is one key ingredient that the Lord keeps whispering to me and Chuck as we look down the coming year: Discipline.

Before you groan, listen to the definition. Discipline:  training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.

That doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?  And to throw my own spiritual spin on it, discipline is being willing to be taught a better way.

Isn’t that what we are all hungry for?  A better way to — fill in the blank — get in shape, manage money, improve our marriages, stop addictions, have healthier relationships, perform better at work, etc.? And if we were honest, what we are doing right now may not be working so well.  We aren’t getting the results we long for.

But when we ask the Lord for discipline, we are in essence asking Him to teach us a better way for better results. Now instead of us working it up in our own strength, we are seeking the supernatural, the God Factor.

Last night, John Dee quoted Roman 2: 4  – that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. “Which means,” he added,  “It is the kindness of God, His love and affection for us, that causes us to ‘change our minds.’ Repentance is changing the way you think, to agree with what God thinks.”

So now put these two words, discipline and repentance, together – willing to be taught a better way, and aligning our thoughts to think God’s way – and we have a pretty potent cocktail.

Change is bound to a happen because you have tapped into what God wanted from you all along: His strength in your weakness. Make your lists. Take your naps. Then go after your dreams.  God is with you all the way.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32

“Lord, grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” Psalm 51