February 23 – Found to Follow

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One of the toughest things in the entire world is to get boys to follow. That’s the truth, even if I am a boy. Many of my lumps and bumps came from not following whoever was in charge of leading me at the time.

Very rarely was it because I was being willfully defiant or stubborn. On the contrary, most of the time, it was a matter of memory; I’d forget the instructions about as fast as they were given. At that point, I would follow the first fun-loving notion that popped into my head. Now I’m a dad raising my own crop of boys and nothing’s changed!

I’ll never forget the time my Caleb almost spent the night at the zoo. He was about four at the time and all he had to do was stick with his big brother. That’s it. But between big brother’s own set of distractions and Caleb’s desire to go another direction, when it came time to board and depart, little Caleb was nowhere to be found.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Just about the time Caleb realized he was lost, the park security guard and his big brother came to the rescue. Now, if you were a bit panicked reading this, imagine being the parents hearing about it after the fact! Like I said, getting boys to follow is no easy thing, but very necessary.

In the case of Jesus and Philip, I see Jesus, like a big brother, looking purposefully for Philip. Now, the Bible doesn’t elaborate a whole lot about Philip’s particulars, but it is clear that Jesus sought him and instructed him to follow. The amazing part of the story is Philip’s response. With no questions, no qualifications, and no qualms, he obeyed. God knows, I want to be like that!

The truth is all of us have been sought after by the Lord. And like a big brother, He is telling us “Come, this way.” May we recognize His demands as divine direction. The Father has sent Him to help us get to the right destination without too many “bought lessons.” Today, I make a fresh commitment to pay attention and follow His lead, no qualms. Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you!

 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. John 1:43-44 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

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February 16 – Not Such a Dirty Word

Wise discipline imparts wisdom; spoiled adolescents embarrass their parents
Proverbs 29:15
Discipline your children; you’ll be glad you did—they’ll turn out delightful to live with. Proverbs 29:17

Discipline: Education; instruction; cultivation and improvement, comprehending instruction in arts, sciences, correct sentiments, morals and manners, and due subordination to authority. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

This little “D” word is so often misused and totally misunderstood. If the truth be told, even when we aren’t trying, we are “disciple-ing.”

Our actions, or lack thereof, educate, instruct and cultivate the lives round about us.

So why not focus attention on the ways of wise counsel, mixed with self-disciplined examples?

Kids, co-workers, or kinfolk don’t care how much you know…until they know how much you care.

Lorenzo

October 28 – Gentle Persuasion

He who spares his rod [of discipline] hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines diligently and punishes him early. Proverbs 13:24 AMP

This morning, my boys and I loaded some calves. One was ready for the butcher and a couple of others were on their way to the vet for a little “male maintenance.” These calves were bottle-fed and have been handled much of their lives, so they move around rather tamely.

But when it comes time to load them in the trailer, persistent persuasion is necessary until the job is done.  My oldest son makes fun of me, respectfully, because I tend to lean toward a more gentle approach, while he’s all about the task at hand. He’s naturally gifted when it comes to farm and animal activities, but I am a dad. So, when it comes to using pressure, I have learned application requires a sensitivity to the will and nature of the individual. This is tantamount for a desired outcome that will be achieved regularly and successfully.

One description of discipline is controlled behavior resulting from such training. In other words, the word “rod” has as much to do with guidance and direction as it does corporal punishment. Diligence is the key to discipline (I totally believe this) because when I have been able to put the time in early on with my children, as they grow, guidance works a whole lot better. We can communicate because we have an understanding.

Fear is never what you want from anybody when you are training them, especially your kiddos. Unfortunately, because of misunderstandings of the broader insight of this Proverb, those who shy away from corporal punishment have tossed its wisdom aside thinking, “I am not going to whip my kid to make them mind. I don’t want them to be afraid of me.” I agree!

Discipline, however, is all about relationship and clear boundary lines. God designed our universe with absolutes and order. Therefore, if we navigate outside the realm of the absolute of gravity, things get dangerous in a hurry.

The same is true when little Johnny doesn’t abide by the absolute of mommy said “no” and tries to go down the steps by himself too soon and takes a tumble. For a while, mommy may have to use the rod of “holding little Johnny’s hand” a bit firm for a while so he doesn’t wiggle away until he truly understands how to go up and down without harm.

At the end of the day, discipline and training is this: yes, no, who’s in charge, and . . . I love you.

October 21 – Everybody Plays the Fool Sometimes

Whoever loves instruction and correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is like a brute beast, stupid and indiscriminating. Proverbs 12:1 AMP

Nobody gets it right every single time. On the contrary, we all have much to learn on a daily basis. No matter how old we are, school is constantly in session. We just have to be willing to admit we don’t know everything and be able to receive constructive criticism, and blame, in some cases.

Back when I was managing retail stores, my boss challenged me one day. He gave me three tasks that would have taken a couple of days each to complete, but he required I get them done in the remaining three hours of my shift. It was nuts!

Up until that part of my training, I was doing pretty well. Nothing I faced was outside the scope of a little hard work and a dab of common courtesy. But the assignment afore mentioned was ridiculous, unfair and absolutely impossible…I thought.

Of course I spent more time on what I couldn’t do because of lack of time and expertise than I did on the three tasks themselves.

The next day, my boss questioned my unsatisfactory results and let me squirm a bit before he demonstrated how to “get the job done!” To date, that moment in my life ranks high on my list of “game changers” because I was so sure that it could not be done and I was so very wrong. I played the fool that day.

I didn’t know how to empower people. If I couldn’t do it myself or hire it done, or boss folks around because I was paying them, I was dead in the water. Empowerment requires skill in the art of personal limitations, confidence in self-worth and wisdom of task individuality.

Before that day, watching my boss walk up to busy associates (that’s how he referred to his employees) and invite them to “take a look” at a little opportunity with him that “we had” that needed attention, I considered such action beggarly and weak. But I also had no clue about running a multi-million dollar enterprise that provided employment for close to two hundred “associates.”

Thank God I had sense enough to not play the fool twice and quit that day. And today, maybe someone will read this proverbial story just in time and let what they don’t know override what they think they know . . .and maybe they’ll play the fool just long enough to get the wisdom and grow thereby.