Girlfriends in God - Jan. 28, 2010

January 28, 2010 

Dare to Discipline 

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth 
Hebrews 12:11 (NIV) "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

Friend To Friend 
I rarely watch television but occasionally flip through channels, in search of a few minutes of mindless entertainment.  I especially enjoy shows featuring children in candid conversations because kids really do say the funniest things!  The Bill Cosby Show is one of my favorites, especially the shows in which he dialogues with children - one on one. I recently watched an episode where Cosby was talking with one of Rudy's friends, a bright seven-year-old boy. "Do you have any pets?" Cosby asked.  The little boy thought for a moment and then replied, "Well, I don't have any pets now, but I used to have some goldfish." Sensing a story, Cosby responded, "Tell me about the goldfish. What happened?" "Well," the boy began, "my science teacher said that our water is too hard for goldfish to live in but my mom puts stuff in the washer to make our clothes soft." Moans rumbled through the audience as the little boy continued, "So … I got me some of that stuff and put it in the aquarium … but Rudy said I put too much soft stuff in, ‘cause the goldfish softened to death." A lack of Godly discipline in our lives renders us "soft" to the things of God.  When we surrender our lives to Him, He sets our feet on the right road.  To stay on that road demands Godly discipline. 

I am constantly amazed at the arrogance of which I am capable, daring to think I have the power within myself to intimidate Satan or thwart his efforts in my life.  I have no power apart from God. I am weak without His strength, vulnerable to sin and a prime target for temptation.  I can easily get caught up in human affirmation, my own sense of self-importance or the flattery of others.  The result is always spiritual arrogance.  The solution is always godly discipline.  Godly discipline is not only a hedge of protection in our lives; it is a catalyst for spiritual growth.  James Dobson says, "If one examines the secret behind a championship football team, a magnificent orchestra, or successful business, the principle ingredient is discipline." 

Now, I know the very word, "discipline", evokes distasteful images of pain, deprivation, sacrifice and surrender when, in fact, true discipline is simply a wholehearted "yes" to God.  True discipline neither barters with God for control nor attempts to supersede His plan.  Discipline does not make us worthy but is the result of understanding that we are already worthy in God's eyes and living life as a response to that love. We are chosen, loved, bought and purchased by God who has a sacred blueprint for each one of us. Discipline accepts that blueprint, following it with an eager obedience wrapped in sweet abandonment and absolute trust in the architect of the master plan - God. Godly discipline allows us to rest within the framework of God's sovereignty.

When our son, Jered, was seven-years-old, he fell while skateboarding, cut his chin and needed stitches. We raced to the nearest emergency clinic where we were greeted by a young doctor, who at first glance, seemed friendly enough. Jered, however, took one look at the strange man in white and panicked in the midst of his first experience with stitches. 

After several attempts to gain Jered's trust and cooperation, the doctor grew impatient and threatened, "Son, this won't hurt.  If you cannot be still we will have to put you in restraints." This man obviously did not know who Jered was - mine - nor did he understand that he was now dealing with the wrath of Mary, something too horrible to describe.  However, I was more than willing to enlighten him.  I could see the warning in Dan's eyes, but chose to ignore it. 

I had two major problems with the doctor's statements.  First, no restraints were going to be placed on my son. Secondly, of course the stitches would hurt. Glaring at the doctor I firmly explained, "If you will just tell Jered the truth and explain what you are doing he will be still for you." The doctor looked up at me as if I had just arrived from another planet and then, with an edge of sarcasm, spit out, "Right, lady.  I know how to handle this."  So did I - but before I could rip off his head, Dan intervened, telling the doctor that we did indeed have a plan!  I knew what my plan was but thought it wise to consider Dan's plan. 

Gently holding Jered's head in his "daddy-sized" hands, Dan softly explained what the doctor would do, how he would do it and sweetly instructed our son to fix his eyes on me while I told him a story. It worked! Jered calmed down and the stitches were done in a matter of minutes. The doctor even offered a sheepish apology, thanking us for teaching him a lesson in working with children.  I decided to let him live. 

Even though Jered did not fully understand the process or trust the doctor, Jered did fully understand and trust his father. Godly discipline is the basis for trust and is found at the feet of Jesus where we will come to know Him better, love Him more and find the discipline we so desperately crave.  

Let's Pray 
Father, I need You desperately in my life. I need Your discipline as a hedge of protection. I want my life to count, Lord, and I want to be Your fully devoted follower. Help me to see and do Your plan. Today, I submit my life goals to You and choose to line them up with Your purpose for my life.

In Jesus' name, 

Now It's Your Turn 
Tucked away in my notes are the following words:  "The road to success is not straight.  There is a curve called Failure, a loop called Confusion, speed bumps called Friends, red lights called Enemies, caution lights called Family.  You will have flats called Jobs.  But, if you have a spare called Determination, an engine called Perseverance, insurance called Faith and a driver called Jesus, you will make it to a place called Success!"

How would you define success?  The world defines success in so many ways and most of them are wrong. I believe that a successful life is totally surrendered to God and fully devoted to discovering and doing God's plan for our life. Purpose in life produces success in life.

What are your life goals?

What will you be doing in two years or in five years?

Read and memorize Jeremiah 29:11.

Read and memorize Philippians 4:14.

More From The Girlfriends 
We all want to be successful and live according to the purpose and plan God has for us. Setting meaningful life goals is an important step in that process. Should Christians have life goals? I believe learning how to set life goals that are submitted to God and line up with His will is a Godly discipline. Need help? Enroll in my online Bible study, Light for the Journey, and get in on the current series, If You Aim at Nothing ... You Will Hit It!

You can also connect with Mary through e-mail or on FaceBook! Let's talk! 

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Originally published Thursday, 28 January 2010.