Discipline Yourself

1 Corinthians 9:25-27

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So, I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

The Holy Spirit shares HIS character with us which includes self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). He provides us with the added resources and support to live the good life. However, we still have to make the choice. Yet how often do we waiver between two opposing options? We know what is the right thing to do but yet our carnal desire seeks the opposite. 

Paul compares the Christian walk to an Olympic event. The Christ-follower is like the athlete being trained to win a race or a boxing match. If you have ever played sports, you know the preliminary practice and training required to prepare the body and mind for actual competition. The Christian life is no different.

One of the life long battles with the self is disciplining the body to pursue godly attitudes and behavior. In our current culture overran with luxury and pampering, many of us are out of shape to enter any type of Olympic event. This is nothing new under the sun. The way our forefathers managed this process is through “the disciplines of grace” as Richard Foster describes in his book “Celebration of Discipline.”   

The disciplines he describes are simple exercises we intentionally put ourselves through for the long-term outcome of subduing the body into subjection of God’s grace. We train ourselves to yield our desires for a more eternal outcome.

For example, I love to eat. And of course, the foods I desire are typically high in calorie, sugar, and other ingredients which in moderation would be OK but in the hands of an addictive personality, very dangerous. To overcome and better manage the urge of gluttony, I turn to the discipline of fasting. Fasting is an old-time tradition that Jesus and his disciples spoke about as the Bible has much to say about its merit. Yet when practiced on a regular basis, science has demonstrated its effectiveness for physical health, and the Bible has shown its importance for spiritual nourishment.

Other disciplines include worship, giving, celebrating, silence, and at least another dozen that one can choose from to better help in managing the carnal desires of the body. The way to choose which discipline one practices most often is to understand one’s character defaults. For example, if friends and family members point out that you may over talk at events, then maybe one could better control the tongue by practicing the discipline of silence. Another example is if one finds it hard to donate money to others without any strings attached, then maybe the discipline of giving would help balance out the selfish heart.

There are many others options to choose from. The point is to make the intentional decision to practice the discipline one needs to better shape the character within you. For life has a way we either discipline ourselves or life will hit us from the outside with such a punch that we may find ourselves the victim of a knockout. I for one would rather be prepared for the unexpected.

The disciplines of grace help me better manage myself through the obstacle’s life throws us each and every day. I am sure you will find like many others who practice these disciplines they would also make a positive difference in your life. Take time this week to investigate. You may be pleasantly surprise in the difference they will make in your life.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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Church Trap

Matthew 6:24

No one can be slave to two masters; for he will either hate the first and love the second, or scorn the second and be loyal to the first. You can’t be a slave to both God and Mammon.

Are you serving the Church or the institution? Are you serving the Church, or yourself? Are you serving the Church or Christ? These three questions I have asked of myself a number of times over the years. And I didn’t like the answer most of the time.

When you truly understand Church are people and not the building, nor institution, nor any denomination, then you have a better grasp than I had back then. Over the years I have witness many heart-driven, God-loving servants slowly change their demeanor as they begin serving within their faith communities. Initially, their attitude is child-like and open to helping out wherever. But over time, as they are drawn into the various responsibilities of operating an institution, the business side begins to over shadow the people’s needs.

The A.B.C.s of operating a Church begins to become the measurement of success and the idolatry of self-importance. Attendance, Baptisms, and Cash become the units of measurement. Church slowly becomes a weekend hobby or sport to impose their brilliance in operations. People become the means of stroking their personal insecurities. Christ is no longer the center of anything but an icon to get what they want.

Transactional thinking becomes the norm. Relational giving a façade. The intense need to collect funds for large building debt and salaries becomes the principle driving force for weekend services. The gospel message doesn’t become the goal to communicate but the means for self-preservation. The switch from serving people for the Lord’s sake to serving a dream or goal for self-sake happens so quickly that most of us didn’t know it happened until 20/20 hindsight kicked us in the behind.

You cannot serve God and money without one having a greater priority than the other. Whether we act within our families, business, or the Church, the truth always is revealed through the actions of the heart moving the hands and head away from God. We can justify and put a spin at the moment of decision-time, but the truth eventually will slap us in the face.

Church is people serving people as the hands and feet of our Lord. Jesus Christ is the central-core of every meeting between two or more saints. The purpose of the Church is not the self-aggrandizement of the institution, but the love, freedom, and spiritual development of God’s children serving others as Christ serves us.

The trap is when all the activities, rituals, and traditions become the central-meaning of people gathering together rather than allowing the life-giving Spirit conduct God’s work in and through his people. When the trap door of cultural influence dictates the interpretation of Scripture rather than the proven historical facts built on the text, than in hindsight people wonder why their affairs are in a mesh. Whenever Jesus Christ is not the center of one’s motives, actions, and thoughts, the trap door initially looks very enticing but eventually leads to an empty grave.

So be involved with a faith community, but don’t get pulled away from who you are truly serving – Jesus Christ. Keep Him the as the central-core wherever you go and whatever you do and you will experience His abundance and not get trapped into the political, business side of Church. That is why I enjoy listening to the music group Newsboys sing one of my favorites “Wherever We Go.”  The words remind me what life is like when Jesus Christ is my central-core wherever I go.  I left the link below for those who enjoy listening to contemporary Christian music.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Leadership 360
Author of e-Books:

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2013-2020 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved