From Lazy to Self-Disciplined – Part 3

Before we move to the Corner, I have to share with you about Sweet Journey, a book that we have just released. So many moms come to me, through e-mail and are struggling. As I have worked with them, giving them projects to help them to build foundations in their walk with the Lord, their e-mails suddenly take on a new lilt: one of excitement, encouragement, and hope! This book has been on my heart for many months, possibly even years, and it’s our prayer that the Lord will use it in the lives of Christian women throughout the world. For more information see this page.

This month we are continuing to delve into the area of moving from being lazy to self-disciplined. If you haven’t read the other two parts of this series here is the link.

In the first article where I shared an e-mail with questions on this subject that kicked off our discussion, one thing the mom asked me was if I thought other moms struggle with being lazy. I assured her that I expected we all do to some extent or other. I am now even more convinced of that because in the last article, I asked for readers to share their testimonies of moving from being lazy to self-disciplined. I only received one story!

We have evaluated the Biblical basis for choosing self-discipline rather than laziness in the previous articles. I encouraged you to be looking for verses that would endorse self-discipline rather than laziness as you were in the Word. Amy did just that. Here is what she wrote.

”I came across this verse while reading Ecclesiastes today, and I thought it fit with the current Mom’s Corner series. ‘By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.’ (Ecclesiastes 10:18)” Amy

This verse hits right where our hearts are—in our homes. A building decaying and a house dropping through could be literal or figurative. In the figurative sense, it might be along the lines of what we discussed last month. Our example to our children—whether it is an example of laziness of an example of self-discipline—will have profound effects in their lives. Laziness can be the root of children who grow up but cannot be successful in their adult lives. Certainly for a mother’s heart this would be a house that dropped through. Would it motivate us to be a model of self-discipline if we thought about the impact it might have on our children throughout their lives? Would we give in to laziness if we realized that it wasn’t just a harmless choice that we make with no visible consequences, but that it was a decision that could devastate our children’s lives?

Once we have it firmly embedded in our minds that laziness is to be avoided and self-discipline practiced, I would suggest we begin by taking it to the Lord. We can repent of our laziness and ask forgiveness by confessing them to the Lord Jesus. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Then we will petition the Lord in our prayers for His grace and strength to help us change. He does tell us we can do all things through Him. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

The Lord Jesus also says that His grace is sufficient for us because His strength is made perfect in weakness. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Rather than feeling defeated because of our laziness, Paul would encourage us to see our infirmity of laziness as an opportunity for Christ’s power to become our strength.

Next I would encourage that we memorize—that in itself is a great self-discipline activity—at least one key verse that directs us to self-discipline and two or three would be even more helpful. Those verses are going to be the truth that we use to take our thoughts captive. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Memorized verses will help us move our minds from “I deserve to do nothing,” or “I never have any time to myself” to the truth of “Serving is a blessing,” and “I want to do what the Lord has for me to do.” So when the self-indulgent thoughts begin to formulate, you can remember this verse, “. . . Arise therefore, and be doing, and the LORD be with thee” (1 Chronicles 22:16).

After the first article in this series, Amy also wrote this testimony about how she motivates herself to accomplish her tasks.

“I just read the Mom’s Corner about laziness versus self-discipline. I’ve realized that sometimes when I don’t feel like working it is because I am tired or overwhelmed with a task. But, I can also self-indulge and waste time too. I’ve noticed that I am happiest when my house is clean and organized. I am not happy when I spend time online and get behind on housework.

These realizations help me to make decisions. Should I unload and load the dishwasher or get on the computer? What is going to make me happiest in the long run? What is going to make my life easier? What is going to be best for my family? I’ve also realized that God has given me enough hours in the day to accomplish what I need to accomplish. I’m the one who wastes time and then gripes that I have too much to do.” Amy

Amy has some good insights into her heart and her time. How often it can be true that we murmur about being too busy, but then choose to waste time. If we don’t feel like working because we are tired, then it would be better to sleep and refresh ourselves than to fritter our time away doing nothing.

When a task is so overwhelming that we don’t want to attempt it, I have found that if I tell myself I am just going to work on it for a certain amount of time, I will get started. I often do that when writing a Mom’s Corner. Because I only have two homeschool students left and one doesn’t need any of my teaching time, I normally have two hours a day scheduled for computer time. During those two hours, I am mostly answering Titus2 ministry e-mails that Steve sends to me and other miscellaneous tasks that are done at the computer, but each month I also need to write a Mom’s Corner. That is more difficult for me than answering e-mail. So I will sometimes allow other computer activities, ones that aren’t as taxing as writing the Mom’s Corner, to be an excuse not to write it. Then I will determine that I will spend at least one hour on the Mom’s Corner each day until it is completed. When I am finished with that hour, I can move on to other computer tasks that aren’t as difficult for me. Before I know it, the Mom’s Corner is written, one hour a day at a time, and I am very happy to have it done! This tactic could apply just as well to fifteen minutes a day as to an hour a day. Rather than being overwhelmed, spend fifteen minutes on the task and be encouraged by the progress you will make.

I want to motivate you in your desire to please the Lord Jesus by letting go of laziness and developing self-discipline. The Lord’s grace is available to us in this task, and His power will allow us to be successful. As you make self-discipline one of your goals, you will find great personal blessings, and you will also bless your husband and children. Next month we continue with more practical ways to move from laziness to self-discipline. If you have any stories or hints you want to pass along, please share them with me. They will likely fit well into this series and be a help to others.

A Godly Legacy – Part 5

If you read the note at the beginning of our Corners, you will see that Teri’s new book, Sweet Journey, is available. So, why am I mentioning it here? I feel that we dads have a great responsibility in leading our families. So many ladies are struggling in being the wife, mom, and Christian the Lord wants them to be. They aren’t sure how to fix their problems, and sometimes they spiral into more discouragement. As the saying goes, ‘If Mama ain’t happy, nobody is happy!’ Teri shares from her heart, guiding ladies into a sweeter walk with the Lord. The material in this book is tried and true. Even if your wife doesn’t appear to have any struggles, Sweet Journey will still encourage her. Consider giving your wife this book as an “I love you” gift.

This is the fifth part in the series on important aspects of our lives in order for us to leave a godly legacy. If you haven’t read the previous articles here are links to them: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Need we be concerned about reaching the world for Christ when parents can’t even raise children who live for Him? It is one thing to bring children into the world who can function in society, but it is quite another to raise children who will be righteous instruments in the hands of the Lord Jesus and used as He directs. What is the desire of our hearts for our children as the days count down for our departure from this world, and what are we doing to move our desire into reality?

Preparing our children to be a godly legacy involves preparing their bodies, spirits, minds, wills and emotions. This month we will discuss some thoughts on the emotions. We generally think of emotions as good or bad, positive or negative. We might put love and excitement in the category of good emotions but anger and frustration in the bad one. Are we to live according to our emotions? Do they direct the course of our lives or should they our children’s lives?

Perhaps a place to start is with a Scripture that admonishes us to cast down anything that goes against Scripture and the Lord’s leading. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). God gave us emotions—both good and bad ones. However, anytime they are contrary to Scripture, they are to be taken captive and our thoughts are to come into the obedience of Christ.

The angry man in the next verse is ruled by his emotions and is a good example of the potential danger of emotions, especially the negative ones. “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul” (Proverbs 22:24-25). When left to rule, the negative emotions can get us into trouble because they easily lead us astray from the thoughts, attitudes, and actions the Lord would call us to have. As dads we can’t allow anger in our lives because our children will learn our angry ways, and we will risk our godly legacy.

I remember when Nathan was getting married. He was our first child to be married, and I was so sad at his moving out because of the closeness of the relationship we had with each other. One morning during my Bible time, the Lord prompted my heart with this verse. “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).

The Lord convicted me that my sadness was rooted in me being selfish and focusing on myself and not Nathan and his future. I had been letting my negative emotions rule me and my thoughts. I repented of those feelings, took my thoughts captive, and chose to think about Nathan rather than myself. I was then able to rejoice with him, and God gave my heart peace and joy. Negative emotions are powerful and will totally dominate our lives if we let them. Then instead of being an obedient servant of the Lord Jesus, we might find ourselves bound up with hurt, anger, fear, or lust. We are then of little use to the Lord because our focus is on our self, and our life is controlled by emotions.

What about the wonderful, God-given emotion of love? We would consider that a positive emotion, but is it to dominate our lives? The answer might be “yes” if it is love for the Lord Jesus Christ. However if we are talking about love for another person, even that positive emotion must be under the control of the Lord. If it isn’t, we can become too focused on the object of our love whether it is a person, an activity, or something else. If our behavior is dictated by emotions, what about when that emotion is no longer? Does that change our behavior? Consider marriage. I love Teri, and I’m grateful that the emotion is there. However, there have been times when I did not feel the emotion of love for her, and there have been times when that was true of her for me as well. I expect that is the reality for every married couple. Does that mean I treat her differently? Is that grounds for divorce? Of course not! What a shipwreck our lives would be today had we followed our emotions and divorced at a time when the feelings waned.

The Holy Spirit through Paul told us of the type of love a husband is to have for his wife in Ephesians 5:25-31. The Greek word used there for love is agape. Agape is primarily seen in God giving His Son Jesus to redeem fallen man. That was a rational, sacrificial choice of mercy and grace. Whew! That is exactly the foundational kind of love God calls us to in marriage—a love based on choice and reason—not emotion. The beauty of agape love is that as we choose to love a spouse that way, we will find the emotional love follows. As husbands we need to live out godly love in the home for the good of our marriage and as an example for our children.

A person who is emotion-controlled may also struggle with doubting their salvation. Scripture doesn’t tell us that our salvation is based on feeling, but rather that it is based on faith and fact. If people are looking to their emotions, then they will doubt their salvation anytime they don’t feel saved. That sort of person is spiritually unstable and like a bottle tossed on the waves. Our godly legacy is in great danger when our children are looking to emotions rather than believing the truth of God’s Word.

Look closely at the fruit of the Spirit. It does not depend on emotions. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:22-24). The more we dads learn to depend on the Holy Spirit, the greater the spiritual fruit in our lives. Spiritual fruit is a much surer rudder for our lives than emotions. It better equips us to disciple our children in the Lord thereby, yielding a godly legacy.

Preparing our children for life by helping them learn to deal with their emotions is a key aspect in preserving a godly legacy. Just because we experience an emotion does not mean it is to be trusted. We are to cast down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We are to pass everything through the grid of Scripture, and it is embraced or thrown out based upon that grid.

This was a difficult topic, and it is certainly not easy to disciple our children in how they should deal with emotions. However, if our desire is a godly legacy, it is just one more thing for us to be aware of and seek the Lord Jesus for His direction and grace.