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Posts Tagged ‘discipline’

This is an article a friend shared from the Gospel Coalition. Don’t Segregate the Youth.

We live in an entertainment-centered world. What is youth group but a place to hang out with your friends, play games, eat snacks, and maybe find romance, right? When I was in youth group it started out well; there were some older students who I looked up to, who helped me and encouraged me in my walk. We went to youth events like Aquire the Fire, which taught me and helped me grow. We had a youth drama team, that allowed everyone to participate and share a message through an art form. But was this enough? After the older students graduated and moved on with other aspects of life, I was one of the older teens in the youth group. I ended up leaving youth group when I was 16 because it was too “seeker-centered”. I had grown up in church, knew the doctrines, understood the concepts, and lived it; there was nothing left for me in the youth group. I was not respected enough by either the students or the youth leader to help mentor or teach younger students, and I lacked the confidence, so I left and attended “big church” instead.

I am very much in favor of youth group and youth activities, but there comes a time when a teenager simply has to learn to “deal with it”. Young children and teenagers need to learn when it is time to be entertained, and when it is time to sit quietly and listen. I am appalled when I see family make a quick trip to the store and their 5-year-old is walking around with a tablet watching movies, or when children are given some technology in church just to make them sit quietly. I am ok with activities like Christian-themed coloring books when a little kid needs to sit through service, or a children’s Bible for them to read and look at the pictures, but technology is just an excuse. Parents trying to appease a child who is usually poorly behaved.

I like the way the church I currently attend handles the youth: children stay through the music portion of the service and participate with their families. They get to see how adults worship, and also learn most of the regularly played songs. After music and announcements, children ages 3 through 5th grade are dismissed to Sunday school, 6th and up stay in the service. The young ones have an opportunity to learn at their own level so that they can more firmly grasp the concepts when they do graduate to 6th grade and “big church.” The Bible tells us “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” (Matt 28:19-20). The word translated as discipline in Greek indicates self-discipline, while in Latin the word “discipula” means “student”. Our children will not be discipled through entertainment, but through self-discipline and study.

At the second church my family attended, from the time I was 6-13, we did not have Sunday school for all the students. When I was little (and easily bored) I remember reading during service, sometimes a pamphlet they had on a table about something (like the true origin of  St. Nick), or sometimes a book I brought, or a Bible coloring book. As I sat there I learned and listened, and eventually was able to focus more on the message (I’m a bit ADD, so sometimes I still doodle as I listen and take notes). I STILL remember some of those sermons, and I understood quite a bit of the things we were taught. I was in service watching my dad take notes, and I learned how to listen and create an outline to help me remember what I had heard. Sometimes the sermons and concepts come back to me when I think about certain topics. Maybe being bored in church isn’t such a bad thing for kids after all.

 

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In the past few years I have gained a new perspective, a new life, and a new me. I am always undergoing changes, and by the grace of God I am making improvements slowly but surely. I feel that I have overcome many obstacles in my path; trials that are natural to mankind, frustrations brought upon by my sin nature, and difficulties inflicted on me by family failings. I am overcoming them all.

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about poverty, and namely how to avoid it. A proverb is a wise and trusted saying, so the Christian book of Proverbs is a veritable gold mine of wisdom (which it reminds us to seek). Among the sayings about poverty we are reminded that someone who neglects discipline will surely come to poverty and shame (Pvbs 13:18). There is profit in all labor, but those who simply talk will come to poverty (14:23). The glutton, drunkard, and drowsy person (someone who is lazy/sleeps a lot) will come to poverty. (23:21). And I particularly like the imagery of Proverbs 6:10-11:

“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to [a]rest”—
11 Your poverty will come in like a [b]vagabond
And your need like [c]an armed man.

(See this page for more references.)

My family has always been poor, and as a child I looked upon it as something that was put upon us, an unfair disadvantage brought about by adverse circumstances (such as family health problems) and through no fault of our own. As I grew up and expanded my mind beyond what I knew I came to realize that most of our problems in my family could have been fixed by one thing: diligence. This can apply in any area of our lives. Diligence in discipline (train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it), diligence in maintaining healthy behaviors, and diligence in working at home and on the job. All this is to say that I hope and pray that I can be diligent in the future and keep my children from the issues that I have had to face.

Things that I have overcome or am overcoming:

Poverty: I work hard at several part-time jobs (subbing, lessons at 2 studios, instrumental coaching), and I keep my spending to a minimum. (Some tips on that later.) If it’s not needed and not justifiable, I don’t get it.

Housework: Rather than leave the work for someone else to do (my husband), I just get up and do it! Rather than putting it off until tomorrow, I just get up and do it! My household is thus far clean and fairly well-organized, though not perfect by any means.

Weight: My family has always struggled with weight. Part of it was due to lack of self-control in eating habits, but also because cheap food is usually not health food (white bread, anyone?). I am down from the obese 180 that I was in high school, to a healthy 128. I know the properties of the food I eat, how many calories I consume, and choose when to have those special treats. I avoid getting food on the go and my waistline thanks me. I also work out when I can. I feel great!

Anger/Impulsiveness: One of the consequences of the lack of diligence and self-control that Iw as exposed to during childhood caused me to be rather angry. Sometimes there was hypocrisy, which didn’t help matters. Being intelligent and angry, and well-read, often caused me to say harmful things before thinking about them. I was a miserable child: fat, unpopular, awkward, poor, smart, and to top it all off, a Christian (values and standards were frowned upon). Not many people liked me. I was angry. Depressed. I feel that if someone had helped guide me through the torrent of emotions of my teenage years I might have been better for it. This is something I have made great progress in, and the majority of my battles are now internal, but something I am still working on.

Some wonderful new changes in my life, thanks to the goodness of God: I have a wonderful husband, and we live in our own little apartment. I have a job at a new lesson studio, with Christian proprietors, and am looking into another job. I have new and better friends than some of the people who I was hanging around with at work and college, and have been developing these friendships. I am less stressed/angry than I was in high school, have lost weight, and I feel more confident about myself. And I have a new outlook on life, renewed faith in God, and a renewed determination to seek Him out and to gain knowledge of theology, etc. Life is good!

I want you to know that you can overcome anything! With patience, diligence, self-discipline, and by leaning on God and his grace, you can have the abundant and joy-filled life God has called you to have.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22)

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