Tag Archives: discipline

Running To Win

I went to a pretty small high school where if you were athletic, you pretty much played every sport. If you ran track, you didn’t just run one race, you ran several which meant several heats for each race. We had to be in great shape. I remember my running coach teaching me to breathe a certain way so that I wouldn’t get that pain in my side. She also taught me aerodynamics so that my body would channel the wind. Then there was the conditioning to get my body in shape to survive so many races. I put a lot of miles on my shoes so that I could win the races I ran. After high school, I decided had ran enough miles for a lifetime, but in the course of it, I had won many races.

Running takes discipline and mental strength to push through when your body wants to quit. It’s a lot like living out your faith. It takes being dedicated, being mentally focused and being disciplined. Your flesh is always fighting against you and is trying to slow you down so you have to be prepared mentally to push back. It tries to play against your sympathies to get you to stumble and fall. You have to be disciplined enough to catch it early so you can stop that line of thinking. You also have to keep your eyes on what’s at stake in your life and in the lives of others. It’s not a 5k Fun Run. This is more like a marathon or an Iron Man. Every part of you must be disciplined so that you’re making determined progress and are be becoming more like Christ every day.

1 Corinthians 9:24 says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours!” (AMP) Each of us are running the race God has called us to. No one can run your race for you. It’s up to you to run your race in a manner that you’re not just providing traffic for the other runners, but that you’re running in order to win. When you’re running to win, you push yourself to stay in the front of the race. You lean on lessons you’ve learned from the past and ensure that you’re spiritually fit. You use the discipline of reading and applying God’s Word to keep you on track. You continually seek God and His presence so you can endure. You invite the Holy Spirit into your life to encourage you daily to keep going. If you’re going to live a life of faith, be 100% committed and give it your all.

Photo by Fitsum Admasu on Unsplash

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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The Shortcut To God

If you haven’t noticed, there are tons of self help books out there. They offer a few steps to make your life better. They promise if you’ll do these three things, your life will improve. Just like there’s no get rich quick formula, there’s no be a better you today formula. Both require hard work, dedication, and discipline. All the steps in the world won’t help you achieve what you want without those three things. You have to be willing and able to sacrifice the things you want now for a later payoff.

Living a Christian life is no different. There’s no three step program to being a better Christian. There’s no new formula that makes living like Jesus easier. People are looking for that, so publishers fill the void with those type of books. The steps seem so easy to follow until you try them out. When you fail, you wonder why you can’t be successful at living this life when you’ve read “Christianity for Dummies” over and over.

There’s no easy formula for living like Jesus taught us. There’s not an easy path to follow. If it were easy, the road wouldn’t be narrow with few who find it. Jesus warned us about these easy, self help Christianity books in Matthew 7:13-14. He said, “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention” (MSG).

There are no shortcuts to God or to living a godly life. You can’t do it while focusing on other things. You’re going to have to give it your full attention. You’re going to have to put in effort, dedication, and discipline. Those things aren’t what saves you. They’re what helps you live the life lined out for us to live. There’s no easy way to do. You’re going to have to want it more than the temporary pleasures of this life. When you live like that, you’ll find you’re walking on an uncrowned road that is straight and narrow. 


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Content With Discontentment

Yesterday morning I was meeting with my accountability partner. I was sharing some areas of discontentment in my life with him where I thought I would have been further along by now. A year ago, things were moving rapidly in my life towards my goals. Now, they seem to have slowed to a crawl. It’s frustrating to be moving so quickly towards a God-given dream and then have it screech to a halt with no explanation.

As I was talking, the stories of Saul’s and David’s ascension to the throne came to mind. For Saul, he had no idea the leaders of Israel were asking Samuel to tell God they wanted a king instead of a prophet. He was out looking for some lost donkeys. After several days of looking and running out of food, his servant remembered there was a prophet in a nearby town. Maybe he could tell them where the donkeys were.

When they arrived, Samuel immediately knew that Saul was the man chosen by God to be king. He invited him to dinner with the elders and also let him know the donkeys had been found. The next day, Samuel told him he would be king and to go wait for him in another town. There Samuel anointed him king in front of everyone, but not everyone thought he was a good pick. A month later, he led Israel into battle and was victorious. The doubters went away.

David, on the other hand, was watching sheep when Samuel anointed him to be king. He didn’t become king a month later either. In fact, it was around 15 years that he had to wait. During that time, God was preparing him for the throne. He still had to watch sheep and do his daily duties. He still had to serve his brothers when they went off to war. Even though he and his family knew he was destined to be king, he still held his position and did his job faithfully while waiting.

I imagine he had to go through times of discontentment too. He had to wonder if the prophet was right. He had to think, “What am I doing out here watching sheep in this kind of weather?” He didn’t let those things get in the way of what God was doing in him as he was being prepared for the throne. He didn’t think he was above the menial job of watching the sheep which had been assigned to him because he was the youngest. He used that time to grow closer to God and to learn how to care for God’s sheep.

It was at this point that my accountability partner looked me square in the eyes and said, “You know, discipline is doing what you don’t want to do right now because you know what results it will bring in the future.” Those words went straight to my heart and challenged me. David was disciplined enough to watch sheep even though he was supposed to be king. The discipline God created in him during that time helped him to be the greatest king he could have been. Whereas Saul lacked the discipline required to be king and that cost him the throne.

If having discipline were easy, everyone would have it. Instead, few of us are able to endure the menial things in our life right now to have the strength needed in the future. We’d rather be given a great future without having to do the work in the present. We want the throne without the waiting. I’ve resolved to watch sheep as long as God sees fit. I’d rather He build the discipline in me now so I don’t fall later. I’m willing to put in the work now, so I can be effective when God says, “It’s time.”


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Smacked by God

My brother said I could share what happened to him yesterday. He was pulling into a fast food restaurant with his son to grab lunch. As he was turning in, a lady whipped in front of him nearly hitting them. She was in a hurry to eat as well until she got in the drive through line. Once she got there, she started using her phone. The line would pull forward, but she was oblivious. She’d look up and notice and then pull forward.

After what seemed like an eternity and I’m sure 10 minutes of complaining about her, they got to the window to get their food. He handed his card to the person at the window and they said, “Actually, the lady on front of you paid for yours. It’s free.” He looked at my nephew and said, “That’s how God disciplines us. It’s in love, but it hurts.” They then laughed the rest of the day about how he had been behaving and how God smacked him.

A lot of times, each if us let our pride, anger or selfishness get in the way of our attitudes. We let those things change who we are into people we don’t recognize. We complain, scream, argue and find fault with others. One little, insignificant in the face of eternity event happens and sets us off. We let it dominate our thoughts, our attitude and our actions. Before you know it, we aren’t in control anymore. Our blood is boiling for what seems justified at the moment, but not long term.

Thankfully, God cares about us and usually will do something to end it. In this case, and I think in most cases, a little dose of humility was in order. But God didn’t just impugn him to humble him. God blessed him and at the same time showed him the error of his ways. That’s what I love about God. He doesn’t act like us or think like us. If I were in charge, I don’t think I would have blessed him for how he was behaving. Thankfully I’m not God.

In Isaiah 55:8, The Lord says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” He loves each one of us individually and corrects us how He sees fit. He knows if we need to be beaten over the head with a 2×4 because He can’t get through to us any other way (guilty). He knows if we need a gentle, quiet rebuke. His discipline always fits the situation and the person. No matter how He does it, it’s always done in love with our best interest at heart.

Hebrews 12:5-6 says, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when He corrects you. For The Lord disciplines those He loves.” If God corrects you or disciplines you, don’t get angry at Him. He loves you enough to correct you and to point you in the right direction just like a parent would for their child. Accept it in love, laugh about how you were behaving and then make the adjustment so He doesn’t have to do it again.


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Training for Godliness (Pt 1)

This week, I’m doing a series on training for Godliness. Many Christians don’t look at the life they lead as a marathon and therefore don’t train their spirit to handle struggles that come. These lessons will provide you with the tools you need to keep your spirit strengthened for a lifetime. Our core scripture I Timothy 4:8. It says, “Physical Training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. (NLT)”

There are several parallels between physical exercise and being spiritually disciplined. Both require time, hard work and dedication. There is more to it than just wanting to do it. You must make being disciplined a priority or it will not get done. Weight loss and exercise are among the most common new year’s resolutions each year. Christians typically resolve to read the Bible more and to pray more. Resolving is good and we’ll see why in a minute. However, most people don’t maintain their resolutions because they are unprepared mentally and physically to achieve their resolutions.

It’s the same when it comes to spiritual disciplining. Many Christians aren’t mentally, physically or spiritually prepared to handle spiritual training. Their heart is in the right place, but their ability to carry it out lies in the battle of the mind. We end up where Paul was in Romans 7. In verse 21-23 he says, “I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. (NLT)”. The first battle you need to win is the battle of the mind.


My sister in law recently ran a half marathon. I researched some things to help her and I discovered several things that apply to us who are training for Godliness. Like I said earlier, resolving is the first step. If you never make a resolution, you will never begin. The next thing is to be motivated. There is a difference in being motivated to start being disciplined and being motivated to keep going day after day, week after week. You must learn how to discipline your mind first.

David understood this principle well. He was referred to as a man after God’s own heart, yet he struggled all the time. Just because you struggle it doesn’t mean you don’t love God or that you aren’t a good Christian. It means that you’re human. Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. (NLT)” In Psalm 43:5, again David gets his mind prepared. He says, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again – my Savior and my God! (NLT)”. He had to tell himself these things over and over.

You need to start each day talking to your self. Out loud. Seriously. Your mind, heart and soul need to hear you say, “This is the day the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and be glad in it.” An article in “Psychology Today” says, “Practicing this technique reprograms the mind and body, allowing them to release unwanted habits and tendencies while supporting positive change. The mind is very powerful, and it needs to be spoken to.” If David did it, we should do it.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at setting spiritual goals and wearing the right gear.


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