Friday, August 5, 2011

God's Discipline is NOT Punishment

Hebrews 12:7-12

New International Version (NIV)
 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 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.
 12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

The word: DISCIPLINE has a negative connotation to it, right? Or is it just me? I think we have made it synonymous with the word PUNISHMENT. You know what I mean...when we were kids and our parents disciplined us didn't we get in trouble? weren't we punished?

And still today, when we're going through a trial, haven't we all thought that God might be punishing us for something...for some blunder on our part?

But what if Discipline isn't the same as Punishment?
Punishment is defined as: The infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offense.
Punishment includes some sort of condemnation in it.
But Romans 8:1 tells us, 1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

So this got me thinking. And as I was pondering the difference between discipline and punishment, the Lord led me to this passage in Hebrews 12. And I found it's a passage to rejoice over!  

So I'm writing this blog to share a couple thoughts with you about the goodness of God's discipline in our lives.
The first thing I learned when we're going through trials, is that trials identify us as HIS children! And He wants to make us better people! I praise the Lord that He is not content to just leave me where I am at, but He wants to show me a better way, the way of Christ. He does this for our good so that we may be more holy like He is holy. And that's is the exact prayer of my heart! Lord make me more like You, so that I may be a blessing to others!
I encourage you, friends, if you are going through a trial, do not be discouraged, but rejoice in the knowledge that we serve a God who loves us so thoroughly that He wants to make us better!
As children, our parent's methods of discipline made no sense to us, but now we see that it was done for our best. They were not satisfied to leave us as rambunctious, wild children, but rather disciplined us so that we might fulfill a greater purpose.
These trials can seem very painful while we go through them, and they are. But later on they will produce a harvest of righteousness and peace for us.
The results of our trials is peace, a quiet confidence in who God is and what He is doing.

Ultimately, when we go through trials, we have the chance to know God better, to become more like Him, and find ourselves closer to Him than ever before.

So in the midst of the storm, be encouraged.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Humming Hymns

Some of my favorite songs right now are old hymns and I thought I would share my favorite with you :)

I Come To The Garden Alone

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.


And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.


I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

What we can learn about trusting God from fireworks

Colossians 3:1-2, The Message: 

So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.

My dear friend Kendra invited my sister and I to the annual Londonderry township's Fourth of July fireworks display yesterday evening. We all had a wonderful time; people were chatting happily, children squealed their joy at the playground, a marching band filled the breeze with their medley of songs, and the smell of grilled burgers and hot dogs filled our noses. Around 9:30 the fireworks began.

We were sitting near to where they were being fired off...the sound was nearly deafening and the flashes were nearly blinding. My favorite thing about fireworks is how the land responds underneath them, for brief moments the sky doesn't seem so dark and the land glows. I like to see the trees light up in the flashes of the exploding fireworks. Last night was no different, I found myself watching the land and the trees instead of the fireworks themselves. 

As I was watching the trees glow with purple and blue and yellow light, I heard the Lord whisper to my heart. He said, "If you watch the response of earth too closely, you miss what is going on above you, the beauty that is filling the night sky. You're missing the true wonder of what's happening."

I think in ministry, it's easy to be focused on the response of others around you. We get caught up in the reaction to what God is doing, rather than watching what His hands are orchestrating. We keep our eyes open for students who seem to be responding to the Lord, or we watch for the ones who aren't. We rejoice in victory and success. And this is good! I loved watching the trees light up by the light of the fireworks, it was truly beautiful. But that beauty paled in comparison to the actual fireworks themselves. When I turned my eyes to see the fireworks, exploding right before me, there was a whole deeper sense of wonder and awe I experienced as I sat watching them, it was truly glorious. I could trust that the trees were still lighting up, even though I had taken my eyes off of them and set them above to the fireworks.

Last night was such a wonderful reminder...I don't want to miss the things that God is doing, how His hands are working, and how His voice is speaking simply because my eyes are searching for the result of His moving. I don't just want to see the clay taking shape into a pot, but I want to see the Potter's hands molding it and trust that everything else is responding just as it should be.

Happy Fourth of July, friends! And thank you to all who have served our great country. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gazing at the Wildflowers

"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met." Matthew 6:30-33, The Message

I'm an admirer of things. I like to notice things other people overlook or simply miss. I love to cherish friends, life, school, time. I do this on walks, feeling the breeze on my face, or savoring the smell of freshly mowed grass :) While noticing has its perks, it can also breed discontentment.

I feel like I'm constantly noticing things that my friends have and find myself wishing I could have them too. Sometimes those things are a relationship, sometimes it's status, sometimes it's a care-free nature or sometimes it's courage. Do you ever feel that way? I can get lost in hoping and dreaming for the "what could be's" of life. Hoping for good things to come in life is not a bad thing. But I've found that wishing for them, to the point of envy can put a bitter taste in our mouths if we're not careful.

All too often we try to make things happen, line the circumstances up just so, creating the best odds to get what we want. What foolishness! and not to mention, completely exhausting! I've realized the error of my ways. The Lord longs that we put our hope IN HIM! The Lord longs that we do not wish away the season we're in because when we do, we miss the blessing that's been right in front of us! 

And then there's these verses. Whoa. What a breath of fresh air! We don't have to be life-planners anymore! We can simply bask in the knowledge that the Lord will do His best for you and me. We won't miss out on His plans for our lives. I believe that it's the Lord's heart that we can simply rest in Him to allow Him to bring good things our way. I know this is an elementary teaching, but it was exactly what I needed to be reminded of today. 

I've decided I don't want to spend my time wishing to be someone I'm not or have something I don't. The most beautiful blessings come to us when we least expect them...and when we find those blessings, we can rejoice all the more at the faithfulness of our God and He is perfectly capable to do all the planning, all the arranging, and all the growing He needs to my life, and in yours. It's like walking in a field of nothing but grass, then stumbling upon a lovely wildflower right in your path. In all your wandering you could never find it. But thankfully we serve a God who orders our steps!