Archives for posts with tag: control

When a friend of mine is driving he will ask his passengers, “If you were going to (wherever they are going), which way would you go?” This is a wise decision since he has a poor sense of direction.

It’s alright to ask for assistance when driving. After all, isn’t that what we are doing when we enter a destination into our GPS? It’s another thing when the advice is unsolicited.  Like “You should be in the lane to the right.” Or, “The light is about to change.” Or, “Better slow down, you’re going to get a ticket.” You know the kind. Nobody likes backseat drivers.

I wonder if God feels the same about people who offer advice and instruction to the Almighty. The Creator offers direction but it is questioned. An alternative is offered but a “better” way is suggested.

Humans are created with the ability to make choices- to think for themselves- but we are finite beings who cannot always see clearly. Our vision is limited but God sees all things from beginning to end. Nevertheless we often offer God advice on what is best for us. In effect, we are backseat drivers on the road of life. We want God to be in the driver’s seat but we feel out of control and so we second guess God’s ability to guide us in the right direction.

I am willing to allow God to be in the driver’s seat but I seem to assume the right to be a backseat driver. To question God’s knowledge and wisdom. To doubt that God knows what is best for me. Joyce Meyer says, “Trusting God is simply believing that He loves you and knowing He’s good, He has the power to help you, and He wants to help you.”

I want to do what God wants me to do, how God wants me to do it, and when God wants me to do it. I believe that God knows and cares about all of the circumstances of my life. I don’t really want to be a contrarian- but often I am. I seek to live like a Child of God and to conduct myself in a manner that honors God but I find it difficult not to be a backseat driver.

The psalmist said, “(God), You will show me the path that leads to life; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever” (Psalm 16:11, GNT).

I agree with the psalmist. I know it is true! But I guess I am like the man who said to Jesus, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). With that confession, my prayer and hope is reflected in the hymn by Joseph Gilmore.

Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful foll’wer I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Jamie Jenkins

As a child did you ever have your mouth washed out with soap because you said a “dirty” word? If so, those are not pleasant memories. Chances are pretty good that if you are reading this, you of an age when that is not going to happen again.

I have been thinking a lot about two dirty words lately. Actually there are three words but one of them is hyphenated. Are you ready? The words are “discipline” and “self-control.” They are not the kind of words that result in a soapy cleaning of the mouth but they are not among the favorite words of most folks.

Jennifer Cohen, says that “Self-discipline is the number one trait needed to accomplish goals, lead a healthy lifestyle, and ultimately be happy.”* While this may be true, discipline is something that most people find easier to impose on someone else than on themselves. It is not easy to exercise restraint over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.

I tend to articulate more easily in verbal rather than written form. One of the problems, though, is that I can go on and on trying to make my point if I sense that the hearer is not getting it or if I am having a hard time finding the right expression. I can rightly be accused of often talking a lot and not saying much.

In an attempt to discipline myself I have taken on writing assignments with deadlines. It started with accepting the responsibility of writing a weekly newspaper column. The editor expected me to have it ready by Monday and it was not to exceed 500 words. The timeline pushed me to get it done and the limited space required that I carefully selected my words. In later years my job included a weekly e-newsletter with some of the same limitations. Thoughts for Thursday that you are reading right now is an effort to continue that self-discipline even though it is not a requirement of employment and there is no compensation.

My daughter and son-in-law and another family came from California to visit over the Labor Day holidays. We had a wonderful time and food was at the center of much of our enjoyment. When I weighed myself after they had gone I realized that I needed to get serious about the weight I had been gaining.

I decided to begin a routine of walking several miles daily. Three or four miles in the morning. Three or four miles in the evening. At least 4-5 times a week. In the beginning I was faithful to the commitment I made to myself. Then other things took too much of my time. One day it was raining. It was hot in the evening. Then it turned cool in the morning. There are so many excuses that make it hard to discipline myself to keep up the routine.

Of course, discipline is needed not only to make you do things you would rather not do. It also serves a preventive purpose. It is imperative to exercise self-control to avoid actions or thoughts that are harmful to us or to others. One of the definitions for discipline in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.”

John MacArthur asks the question, “Why is discipline important?” Then he provides an answer. “Discipline teaches us to operate by principle rather than desire. Saying no to our impulses (even the ones that are not inherently sinful) puts us in control of our appetites rather than vice versa. It deposes our lust and permits truth, virtue, and integrity to rule our minds instead.”

One of the most famous studies of self-control is known as “the marshmallow test,” which found that children who were able to resist eating one marshmallow—in order to be rewarded with two in the future—later showed higher academic achievement than those who had wolfed the treat down immediately. The study’s results seemed to indicate that self-control is an innate ability with wide-reaching implications for our lives, but later studies have suggested that our self-control actually changes significantly over our lifetime, and can be improved with practice.**

Self-control is a desirable trait for every person and is essential if one is to live an honorable and decent life. I wish that discipline and self-control were the “one and done” kind of experience but I know it is not. It is a lifelong effort. The Apostle Paul includes self-control (self-discipline) as one of the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) that characterizes followers of Jesus. The good news is that we are not alone in this lifelong exercise. God is present and willing to help us.

Jamie Jenkins

* https://www.forbes.com/sites/jennifercohen/2014/06/18/5-proven-methods-for-gaining-self-discipline/#4367ccb23c9f

**Psychology Today

As is my custom I was present for worship at church last Sunday. The sermon was based on Micah 6:8. “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

The following was the Pastoral Prayer at that service of worship.

Loving God, You are a great God and a good God. Compassion, kindness, mercy, and generosity match Your power and might. You are great and worthy of our praise.

We gather in this place this morning after a week of tumult and trouble. We need respite from the anger, hostility, and harshness of our world. Our spirits are troubled by the struggles for power and control. Our hearts ache for those who are in distress and face an uncertain future.

We pray for those whose names have just been mentioned in our hearing and for the persons and needs that we hold in our hearts. For all who are sick, suffering, or mourning we pray that they will feel Your great love and will be reassured that they are in Your hands and that You offer healing, help, and hope.

We pray for persons whom we know only through the news media. For the accusers and the accused, the victims and the violators, the powerful and the vulnerable, the leaders and the followers, persons in places of responsibility and the common laborer. O Divine Creator, help us to realize that all are Yours and Your grace is available to everyone.

Help us to understand that You call us to do what is just, to adhere to the high standards of morality that we expect from others, to show constant love and generosity to our neighbors, co-workers, family, and strangers and help not to think too highly of ourselves as we live in in community and in fellowship with You.

Help us and all people everywhere to experience the grace You offer through Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Give us the will to follow His example of justice accompanied by mercy and kindness.

Father God, teach us how to live with a sense of right and wrong. Encourage us and guide us in our efforts to provide equity and protection for the innocent while promoting justice and mercy for all people. Help us to show love to our fellow humans and to be loyal in our love toward You.

Hear our prayer, O Lord, as we join our voices to pray as Jesus taught us:

Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Jamie Jenkins