Saturday, August 29, 2009

Self-Control Part II

There seem to be two types of self-control: involvement and abstention. That is, there are things that we are to discipline ourselves TO DO. And there are things that we are to discipline ourselves NOT TO DO. Colloquially, it seems common to speak of self-discipline in the positive sense, and self-control in the negative sense. We discipline ourselves to exercise, to prayer, etc. We control ourselves to keep from overeating, being lazy, etc. I´ve been focusing on the abstention side of self-control with my personal study: How do I keep from doing what I know I shouldn´t? How important is it anyway? Paul certainly thought the topic was important. In Acts 24:25, when he stood before Felix, it joined righteousness and judgment as a topic of choice.

Many people and cultures over the years have made honest attempts at self-restraint. The Stoics celebrated the mastery of the body. Some religions attempt to suppress and even destroy desire. The military prides itself in creating men and women of discipline and order. At some level, this is possible. But what about "taking captive every thought" as 2 Corinthians 10:5? For Christians, is self-control different?

Check out this quote from
"Does Scripture give us any direction concerning self-discipline? The word "self-discipline" isn’t even found in the King James Version of the Bible. However, I wonder if another word for self-discipline in a Christian’s life might not be "obedience." Consider this. If I choose not to get up in the morning when I know I should get up, that is in reality disobedience to the Lord Jesus, Who is the director of my life.

I usually view this type of choice with seemingly minor implications—sleep in or get up—as a decision that, as an adult, I am free to independently make. While I might not be pleased with the outcome when I miss out on my morning time with the Lord Jesus, don’t get my exercise in, and start school late because I didn’t get up, I will simply sigh, blame it on a lack of self-discipline, and plan to do better tomorrow. Telling myself that I struggle with self-discipline sounds much better than to say that I am disobedient to the Lord Jesus.

The Spirit has a way of prompting, nudging, and not allowing us to be content in a life void of self-discipline and obedience. For the mom who struggles with self-discipline, it becomes a choice in her life. Will she follow the dictates of her flesh, or will she follow the promptings of the Spirit? Will she be obedient or disobedient? We can be sure that it is the Spirit Who puts the need and desire in her heart to read the Bible and pray. This probably requires her to obediently get out of bed in the morning when the alarm clock goes off so that she doesn’t miss her personal time alone with Jesus. I believe if we evaluate most, if not all, of the areas requiring self-discipline in our lives, we would agree that they are the promptings and directings of the Spirit, and they require our obedience."

Ouch!!!!!! Truthfully, I have a LOVE-HATE relationship with that quote. I recoil at the personal responsibility. Maybe you do, too. The truth is if we know to do the right thing, and we don´t do it, it IS sin. Because of that, I believe is truly impossible to have this higher level of self-control apart from a relationship with Christ. I´d like to suggest that perhaps we should be striving for living a Spirit-controlled life rather than a Self-controlled one. So. Is is a fruit of the Spirit, something produced in us automatically as we live in obedience to Christ (Gal. 5)? Why are we told to put it on, then (2 Peter 1:6). Where´s the balance?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Self-Control Part I

The school bus is barreling by the house at 6:58 this fall. All the sales at the store are for school supplies, and I’m back into private tutoring for the first time in years. I suppose it’s a habit from being in school from age 5 to 22, plus teaching some after that. That is, every fall, I suddenly feel like delving into academic subjects, buying glue sticks and scissors, even organizing my life down to the bathroom drawers. All that to explain why the sudden diversion from months of newsiness to an “academic” series.
This is the promised blog on Self-Control. I did this study for my own profit; maybe it will be useful to someone else. Of course, it is by no means comprehensive, but I found it challenged my assumptions and even my lifestyle.
All my life, I’ve “struggled with self-discipline.” My three top defeaters have been words, laziness, and food. My words have consistently gotten me into trouble. And although I have tried to be sensitive to any promptings to apologize, it irritates me every time that HERE WE GO AGAIN – AWKWARD! Laziness. Maybe it follows all non-work-aholics around; I don’t know. But I’d sure like to be sleeping right now. Yes, I do have a genetically lower serotonin level than some, which means I CANNOT pull an all-nighter, and I’m not functional on 6 hours of sleep or less. I wish I was. I still lean toward laziness. I’ve been able to hide some of this “struggle” pretty well. Especially with food. I have had so much pride and fear of others seeing me as out of control, that I would balance any, shall we say, “indiscretions” with extra exercise. Alex is two, and I’m still trying to pull off those last few pounds.
As you can see from the above confession, I have good motivation toward the study of self-discipline/self-control. I’m going to pass along some of the thoughts I’ve had in the last few weeks over a few separate blogs. Here are a few questions I’ve been looking into:
1. What is self-control?
2. How important is self-control? (Considering it’s a rather quiet topic in the Church)
3. How different is a biblical self-control from the world’s view of self-control?
4. Where’s the balance between it being a fruit of the Spirit produced in us and being commanded to “put it on”?
5. What is the goal of self-control? (This hit home for me. What are my motives in being self-controlled? Pride? Others’ opinions? Hmmm…)

*Great Quotes* (There’s a bunch of these, so I’ll include one with each post.)
“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first.” ~Harry S. Truman

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Velveteen Rabbit and other things...

Kathryn cried over the new Velveteen Rabbit film tonight. Her first time to truly connect emotionally with a character, as far as I know. I said, "Are you crying?" She said, "No... (pause)... tears are just coming out of my eyes." She didn´t seem to know she was. Her very good daddy said, "That´s good, Kathryn." I know some people who would have laughed at a child´s sensitivity in that moment. It reminded me of the value of a good father.

On other things, she came to me yesterday and exclaimed, "Did you know Curiosity killed his cat!?! Isn´t that terrible?! He killed his cat!!!" Every day she makes me smile.

Alex is going through another seriously defiant stage. He´s not belligerent (thank you, Lord), but still disobedient. Sigh... so I feel I´m on him constantly. Tomorrow, I making a mental note to myself to remember to smile at him and give him lots of love and affection. I don´t know about you other parents, but it´s hard to feel warm and fuzzy toward a child who´s under your continuous discipline.

I´m working on a blog on the topic of self-discipline. Any random thoughts you have may help. Right now, I´m searching Scripture and good books, trying to teach myself some things on the topic. It´s not a very popular theme for Christian discussion, but I´m finding it more and more a major issue in the Christian walk. Speaking of which, I need to get offline and go to bed. So I will. Night, all.

Friday, August 07, 2009

What We've Been Up To

Well, we're in the last gasp of summer. Of course, like all of you, we've been pretty busy. Nathan's been running the Basic Seminar by Gothard at our church on Sunday nights on top of his regular work week. This is my first time through the sessions. I am thoroughly enjoying myself. Like 99.9% of speakers, he has some faulty info, but not everyone can be Nathan! ;o) (Ugh... that sounded totally cheesy... picture big AND toothy grin). In an attempt to tighten his end of the budget, Nathan's been suffering through Lean Cuisine lunches. I think he may end up voting for a sack lunch every other day or something. He's also looking forward to the soon-coming cessation of yard work. Bermuda grass LOVES Alabama summers, and as long as we get a little rain, grows like mad. He has been enjoying's demotivators. One of my favorites: BLOGGING: Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few. Hee,hee!

Kathryn is in full swing, as usual. She spends her days as a great indoorswoman (must take after her daddy). She's enjoying her daddy's old Nature Corner episodes, informing me that she wishes Vida the cat was diurnal, and that there are many species of potato chips. She does Dr. Gramme proud. Character-wise, I'm excited that she seems to be glaring at people less (she calls it shyness, but agh!) and has decided that heaven by death is not a good deal. She wants to be 'caught up in the air.' I happen to agree.

Alex is officially two. Pictures haven't happened yet, as he celebrated this milestone with 5 stitches to the forehead. Yep, full-scale, wonder boy destructo machine. Yesterday, some surreptitious red-ants scaled the outside of his jeans and headed in under his shirt. I couldn't find the Calamine, then remembered that he'd recently dumped the whole bottle into my carpet. Cortaid to the rescue. His favorite phrase is, "Mudder? You happy? (Yes, Alex, are you happy?) Yeth!" 5 seconds later: "Mudder? You happy?... and so on" He has adopted his first stuffed animal, a rabbit. Or as he calls it: "my waddit." Actually it was Kathryn's Easter rabbit from my Grammy, so it has a pink bow. But he has personalized it by systematically pulling out all its tail fuzz.

I'm about to begin teaching 4 homeschool girls Spanish I. I taught the same BJU curriculum at Tuscaloosa Christian 5 years ago, but I'm having to revamp everything for a totally different format. I've decided to teach completely in Spanish, something I was too chicken to do last time. The immersion is such a helpful, if intimidating, experience. It requires me to think a lot more about how I'm going to say things. Come to think about it, maybe that's a good thing ;o)

The next section is only for those attempting to save money...

The last few weeks, I've been working hard to plug money leaks around here, doing research, etc. I thought I'd pass on a few things I found in case you are interested. To give credit where it's due, let me applaud my sister-in-law, Marianne (the Queen of Frugality) for giving me some great tips. Her blog occasionally showcases her savings, so keep your eyes open. She recommended Aldi Grocery Stores. I was a bit skeptical, but I've tried cheeses, juice, milk, cereals etc. They were all TOP QUALITY. And where else are you finding milk for $1.50 a gallon?! A few websites that I heartily endorse: (gives great tips by store for saving megabucks, especially at CVS; my only ugh has been their 3 Day Sale starts on Sunday, leaving us Sabbath observers looking at empty shelves Monday morning. I'm going to revamp my strategy and work with their other sales) (free signup, legit site with millions! of books available; in short, you post any book (think kids' textbooks, or anything!) and other members request it. You have up to 8 days? to mail it at your expense via media mail (about 2.50 per book); now you can pick anyone else's book free. It's genius, really. You can actually exchange a child's Golden Book for an expensive textbook. I consider my account to be a 'book budget' of sorts) (free signup, also legit. This is a search engine. I must admit it doesn't return the best results all the time, but you can work with it. Just for searching through it, you get points. In about 3 weeks of regular web use, I earned enough points to trade for a $25 gift certificate. Starbucks, Target, Amazon cards are also available)