Discipline Thyself

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

Proverbs 25:28

Discipline Defined

For purposes of this discussion, discipline is:

1. A branch of knowledge or learning (Christianity)

2. Strict control to enforce obedience (controlling flesh to do God's will)

3. Temperance/self-control and orderly conduct (results of discipline)

4. Acceptance of and submission to authority and control (to God and others)

We oftentimes think of discipline as punishment--but it is much more. Did you know that the words "disciple" and "discipline" are based on the same root word which means to learn? As disciples of Jesus Christ we must disciplined. It is imperative that we be:

In order to become a strong, adult Christian, well hedged in and protected, you must exercise discipline in these areas. Otherwise, a lukewarm Christian life results and all the guilty feelings that come with willful disobedience.

Our theme verse for this discussion is Proverbs 25:28,

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

This scripture should be a wake up call for the disobedient. In the old days, a fortified city had big, thick stone walls around it to protect it. In the absence of these walls, invaders could come and go, at will, ravishing the city and its inhabitants. When a person has no discipline they are like that city with no walls. There is no protection so Satan, Beelzebub, and all other manner of foul spirit can invade your life and do as they please. (Remember when Jesus called Peter "Satan" in Matthew?) No wonder so many Christians are walking around defeated. They have exercised no discipline to know God and resist sin. As a result, they are a broken down city.

People oftentimes want a quick fix to their spiritual powerlessness. I've got it--read the Bible, obey the Bible, seek God's face. Once you get into it, it is not long before you begin to see the Lord move.

I hear Christians talking about needing some therapy for sin. This is one of the most ridiculous concepts I've heard. You don't need no therapy, you need forgiveness and discipline over yourself to seek Jesus and stop sinning. If your problem is overeating, say no to the chow and go pray. I had a problem with watching too many animal shows on television, so I stopped watching television and to this day, I rarely turn it on. Paul said some good stuff about disciplining/controlling yourself:

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

I Corinthians 6:12

Did you see it? He said, "I will not be brought under the power of any." You too can say it out loud right now. I will not be brought under the power of television. I will not be brought under the power of work. I will not be brought under the power of sin. I WILL be brought under the power of God. In Jesus' name, Amen. Paul also said:

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I Corinthians 9:27

Your inner man should dictate what the outer man is going to do as you are guided by the Holy Ghost. You have a part to play in your relationship with God. If you love Him, you will read His Word and obey it. He's not asking you to do anything grievous like cut your hand off! The scriptures say that it is your reasonable service to get to know Him through service and obedience.

Discipline Your Flesh

Paul said in I Corinthians 9:27, we've got to keep under our bodies by discipline. Let's look at the specific sin of adultery. How and why do Christians get involved in adultery? Because they do not discipline themselves to say "Yes!" to God everyday. There come days when they say, "I don't need you today, Lord. I can handle this." Notice I said, "days." Christians don't just jump into an adulterous relationship. There are early warning signs from the Spirit of God and they ignore them. Think about David looking at Bathsheba bathing in the moonlight. He knew he shouldn't have been watching her but he continued. In the end, he got her pregnant, killed her husband and the child died too. Not only that, but the sword never left his household.

How would you respond in the following situation:

You are alone in the church library selecting a book. Someone of the opposite gender walks in and makes a remark that you look nice. It doesn't seem like a run-of-the-mill compliment and you are a little taken aback. What would you do?

a. say "thank-you" and leave it at that
b. say nothing
c. tell your spouse what happened

The answer should be an overwhelming C. When you don't tell somebody about this seemingly harmless incident, you can hide it in your mind and roll it around later. Then it's like you and that person have a secret. Tell your spouse so the two of you can watch and pray together. Even though it wasn't your fault, I believe the following verse applies because it points to accountability:

Confess your faults one to another
James 5:16

Trust me, the above incident is not far-fetched. The Lord showed me that close interaction with people of the opposite sex (other than your spouse, of course) should be minimal. Titus 2:3-4 says that the elder women are to teach the younger women. I Timothy 5:2 says men are to treat the older women as mothers and the younger women as sisters with all purity.

Victory over the flesh comes by walking in the Spirit which requires that you discipline yourself to hear and do the Word of God, the Bible.

...Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

Are You a Teacher?

Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?
Romans 2:21a

If you are a teacher, you have an even greater responsibility to discipline yourself. How can you teach something that you do not know personally? Jesus said that the Pharisees be blind leaders of the blind and that when the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Don't take your students down with you. Discipline yourself. (This applies to any kind of teaching formal or informal)

When I first began teaching Sunday school, the above verse repeatedly went through my mind and galvanized me into action. Beloved, how can a person teach a Sunday school class when they have no clue about the Bible? How can they testify of God's goodness when they don't know nothing about it because they won't seek Him? How can a person go to church and say, "Amen" when they don't know enough about the Bible to agree or disagree?

You Have a Will

If you have a Bible sitting in your home on the coffee table, don't ask God to make you read the Bible. Just pick it up and read it. Now, if you want to ask God to give you increased desire to read, that's alright, but don't ask Him to make you read--that won't cut it. You've got to make the decision to read. I know that sometimes you're tired or your favorite t.v. show is on, but...

If you won't read the Word, you won't grow and bear the fruit you should. And when you stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give account of what you've done as a Christian, you'll be ashamed because you did practically nothing. This is shameful especially considering what the Righteous One did for you.

Examine Your Life Daily

When you see yourself slipping, get back on track--fast! One day as I pitty-pattled around the house, I found an old secular CD that I used to enjoy. I said, "Why not?" and played it snapping my fingers to the tune. I knew I shouldn't have listened to it, but I overrode what the Lord said. Two days passed and God made me realize that I hadn't read, or I hardly read, my Bible. That CD is in a garbage dump somewhere. It shouldn't have taken two days for me to wake up. When God tells you something ain't right, don't override what He is saying to you, make haste to make amends.

Be a Strong City, Built Up and Fortified

Don't live a spiritually powerless life. God can do for you what He did for His people of old. James said:

Elias [Elijah] was a man subject to like passions as we are...

James 5:17

Yet that man, Elijah, was mighty in deed by God's grace. He submitted himself to the Lord. You were made to be a strong spiritual city too. Read about the mighty men and women of God. They were mighty because they believed God and did what He said. It is no different today. Believe God and do what He says and you too will be what God created you to be. Built up and rooted in His Son Jesus Christ.

Let's stop blubbering about our problems and become examples to other believers and the world of charity, peace, and spiritual might. Christ overcame this old world and He said that you are an overcomer because of what He did.

This last section is taken practically verbatim from a course that my husband and I taught to Awana. leaders on how to have effective club discipline. This section is rather choppy because it is part of a handout. Much of the explanation was verbal; however, I believe that you may be able to glean some tips from it. The last two portions are designed specifically for people that work with children.

We felt compelled to teach this course. I'll leave it at that.

Other Important Reasons for Teaching Discipline

Leader Discipline

Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?
Romans 2:21a
-Love God supremely and submit to Him (not the television).
-Love your neighbor as yourself.
-Read the Bible and obey it.
-Be filled with the Spirit and walk in the Spirit.
-Recognize the spiritual battle going on and pray for the ministry.
-Be excited about Jesus Who hath given us the victory.

Techniques for Maintaining Club Control

-Start off your talk with prayer to quiet their hearts. Don't begin prayer until all are quiet.
-Accept nothing short of complete quiet when you are speaking.
-Explain truths on the children's level.
-Allow children to participate in your talk e.g., ask questions, read Bible/workbook, breakout groups for appropriate activities.
-Allow kids to talk as they go to game time.
-Use 5-count sparingly (we use it almost exclusively for game time).
-Administer penalty promptly.
-Show no partiality in correction.
-Be a good example. Leaders should not talk when there is a presentation (counsel/prep/prime time) going on.
-Be prompt and prepared (even if you're late, still expect order).
-When your young people are going to be under the leadership of someone from another church, let them know that good behavior is expected.
-Recognize that your end goal is to teach the children, not to be their peer.

Corrective Measures

These are progressive:

1. Give a stern look instead of interrupting the class. (in a disciplined club, this is the beginning and end of corrective measures.)

2. Separate the two that are talking.

3. Make the offender sit next to you.

4. Deny offender game time. Let him sit and watch.

5. Take the child home and have them explain to their parents why they were brought home early.

6. One week suspension from club.

7. As a last resort, ask offender not to return.

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