Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why you need a punch in the face

...but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:27

I casually looked up the word discipline in the above verse. I was rocked by what I read. We so easily use the words discipline and disciple but I'm not sure we are ready for what Paul is talking about here. Another version uses the word buffet.

Here is the definition: This verb means to strike on the face with resultant disfigurement; to beat black and blue. It's a boxing metaphor.

Paul is using strong words because he knows disqualification is possible. He knows that a body and soul needs serious treatment if they are going to line up with God's ways.

But it's not just the physical body that needs a punch but something far deeper.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 1 John 2:16

Are we serious about what it takes to escape the damage and corruption of the world? What we see, what our body wants, how we think more of ourselves than we should; these things can push out God.

How about this: You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin. Hebrews 12:4

Jesus sweat blood in the garden as he struggled with the battle that was ahead. What kind of fight do we put up when tempted? Do we give a punch to the face or wimp out and surrender?

So why do this? Is it because we are on a glum journey to holiness? No, it's because there is a joy and peace we can experience when we are making progress in our walk with God. The hard work has a reward that far surpasses the struggle to attain it.

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:11

Our struggle is not new: And Jesus said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:46

Don't let the things of the world lull you to sleep. Wake up, pray, and when necessary, punch yourself in the face - your eternity depends on it.


Monday, September 3, 2012


Who are we really?

So here is the story: A friend who was a recovery room nurse says that many times people say strange things when they are waking up from surgery. She kept it confidential but said that one time someone from her church, who she was caring for, said something very inappropriate. She felt strange around him after that.

How about when someone has had too much to drink? There are endless stories about things people have said or done that will haunt them for a long time.

Have you ever had an impulse to do something or say something but you held back? Or probably more often, in the passion of the moment, something was said or done that you regret.

So who is the real person? Is it the bad impulse inside or the person that we want to be and are trying to be?

It’s true that many of the outward things we do show what’s in our heart but what about when we truly want to be different from what we were or are?

There may be a person who wants to follow Jesus but battles homosexual desire. We tell them to fight it. We encourage them to not give into the impulse.

If a married person has feelings for someone other than their spouse we rightly tell them to resist and to get away from the temptation.

I think of myself and the lust I have for food; every single day I fight the impulse to eat whatever I want whenever I want. It’s right for me to fight. Or am I just a big phony and defined by what I want to do? I was thinking yesterday that it has been over two years since I have had a Big Mac. I remember how I loved Big Mac Monday when they were two for $2.00. I would stop on the way home and devour two between breaths. It was a snack and then I would go home and eat dinner.

Who am I really? Am I defined by the impulse inside or the person that I want to be and have fought to be for two years?

Back to the recovery room story: because the person said something inappropriate does that show they are a bad person? What about the drunk?

Could it be that these things show that we all have darkness inside? There is the desire to gossip or lust. Pride swells up. We covet what we don’t have. We want to eat too much. We want to be liked too much. We are lazy. We want to lie. We sow discord. We want adultery or fornication.

So we fight the impulse. If we are in the recovery room we hope that people will understand that maybe that is not the real us. If we have a problem when we drink then maybe we should cut back or abstain. I have to be careful what magazines and cookbooks I look at.

Addicts have an acronym that helps prevent relapse. It’s called HALT - Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. These things make us vulnerable.

Another of my problems is my mouth; my tongue gets me into a lot of trouble. Many times as evening rolls on I find myself getting angry and I want to say something that I know I will regret. It’s usually time to go to bed. Many of the worst conflicts my wife and I have had have been when I should have already been asleep. That doesn’t excuse me; I was the one who said the bad things but maybe if I had been in a better place I would have held back or used better words. I really do want better things to come out of my mouth. Or should I feel like an imposter and fraud?

When I understand the Gospel I realize that I will never be perfect. I will never be the vine. As a branch I will always need to be connected to Jesus. The Holy Spirit living through me will make me different but I will always be marred by sin and darkness. There will always be bad trying to get out. I will always have to fight impulses. I will need to try to control my environment so that I can practice self-control.

I will continue to have bad stories to tell and confess. I am a fallen human in the process of redemption.

Hi, my name is Philip.