Friday, June 02, 2006

LBY - Week 10 - Self-Control

Since I've been a mama - and especially over the last year and a half - I've found myself using the same phrases over and over: "Obedience brings blessing, disobedience brings consequence"..."Don't step outside the circle of protection your daddy and I have created for you"..."Alex, you're going to need God's heart to make good choices - you can't just rely on your own."

During this week's study on self-control, I felt a little reprimanded my OWN self - like God wanted me to absorb those very same lessons that we've been teaching Alex for the last 18 or 19 months...those very same lessons that we'll probably still be teaching in 18 or 19 years...those very same lessons that, in so many ways, I'm still learning myself.

Self-control, according to Beth, "is an issue of mastery, of authority, of boundaries." She goes on to point out that "without self control, we are like a city with broken down walls" - and that's an analogy that I love...even though I can be way too literal, it makes perfect sense to me. And we can see so easily that when there are cracks in the walls of our self control, cracks in the protection that God gives us from flesh and the world and the enemy, inevitably our boundaries start to crumble. Beth says, "God demanded walls in every dwelling place He chose to grace," and our bodies - the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, the very temple of God - are no different.

It's all about obedience, really: "self control is the ability to make choices wihich invite and enhance the authority and filling of the Holy Spirit. Self control is the decision to remain within the boundaries of victory." When we let those walls crumble, we make ourselves vulnerable to attack and destruction - many times in ways we never could have imagined. Sin doesn't storm the walls...instead, it creeps in, seeps in, and spreads so subtly and slowly that many times it's taken us over before we even realized it was there.

So in what areas am I lacking self control? How much time do you have? :-) I can honestly say that I don't struggle so much with what comes out of my mouth anymore - I understand the importance and value of "a bridled tongue" - but I continue to struggle with what goes in my mouth. The discpline of good health is so hard for me -and I am so consistently inconsistent with it. The discipline of PRIORITIES can get the better of me from time to to keep out the stuff that hinders, how to throw off the junk that holds me back. The discipline of realizing that life is not about what you have, it's about Who you serve - sometimes it's hard to keep sight of that in suburbia. But like Solomon teaches us, all the material possessions of this world are "meaningless" - and while David and I certainly understand that, we've got to get that across to Alex, too.

But here's the "big deal" lesson, at least for me: self control is the component of the fruit of the spirit that enables all the other qualities to show. The discipline of self control brings blessing (OH for Alex to be able to realize that at an early age)...because when we are under control, we can display love, patience, peace, joy, gentleness, kindness - we can enjoy true freedom in our Christian walks. Can anyone else appreciate the irony of that? That when I am controlled, when I am disciplined, then I am FREE? It goes against everything the world tells us (the world says, "don't put up walls" or "you need to break down your walls" or "don't be so restrained") - but God wants us to have walls of protection, walls that are impenetrable to the forces of the world. I want that, too.

Now, aside from the topic of self-control, I have to say something else. I never, ever thought that I would "meet" people through blogging. I never expected to participate in a Bible study, or make a friend, or feel a sense of community, or use my blog to communicate with anyone other than my "forever friends" and family. So can I just tell you? This Bible study? And the people in it? Awesome. I have been overwhelmed by your kindness, and your support, and your prayers, and your posts, and your comments, and your encouragement. It's been exactly the study I needed at exactly the right time - and I hope y'all will continue to come by and "fellowship," even though the study is over. Thanks, Lauren, for having this Bible study idea to begin with - and thanks to all of you who have studied and posted and shared. I am grateful. And I have been blessed.

JannaFlipflop Robin
This is a list of the women participating in the study and the links to their blogs. New postings on the study will be published for the next ten weeks, between Friday 8pm - Saturday 8am. Please feel free to visit each of us and comment. Everyone is welcome to participate in this discussion as we seek to live beyond ourselves. May God bless you richly from the hearing of His word.


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