"An Inside Perspective"

April 2006

My dear family in Christ,

Ever-precious greetings in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ! When I was a boy, I can remember very clearly the discipline of my father. My father loved me and I knew it. I also loved him and had a deep desire to be as he was, and yet, I had a healthy fear of him which caused me to watch my proverbial P's & Q's.

Once, when I was about ten years old, I stole a bicycle tire off of a neighbor boy's bike. I thought I was real slick. At night, under the cover of darkness, I put my old broken tire on his bike and his good one on mine. Somehow, as dads are apt to do, mine found out and took his belt to my bare behind. From there on out, the sight of his belt worked immediate obedience in me. (smile)

No doubt, I was a rascal and to say the least, a full-time job for my precious mother. To my mother's advantage, she understood clearly the fear I had of my father and she wisely used it to control me. All she had to say was, "I am going to tell your father when he gets home from work", and thoughts would arise in my heart of my last encounter with Dad in the basement. It worked immediate obedience in me.

Dad never punished me right away, he would let it fester. He knew, I knew, it was coming. Now, with hindsight, I know that was part of the discipline, me knowing that the belt was coming but not knowing when. He wanted me to think about what I had done and the upcoming consequences it would bring. I was always scheming a way out of it, working more evil as it were, instead of learning a lesson. It is written, "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore, the heart on the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."

We would then have our normal family dinner as if nothing was wrong. Meanwhile, my insides were in turmoil and I was shaking in my boots. Then after dinner---I waited---de-da-de. Finally he would call me to the basement. There was no talk now, just the dreaded, "Drop your drawers boy and bend over." I will never forget that leather belt. It was just an ordinary belt to him and to everyone else, but to me, it was a terror that worked immediate obedience in me. It is written, "Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live?"

True Biblical discipline comes from our Heavenly Father's loving hand and is intended for our good. The best real life illustration I can think of was my Uncle George. He liked to smoke and drink. Over time, it had an effect on him. The doctors told him that if he did not quit, they would have to cut off his toe. He did not listen and they cut off his toe. He loved smoking and booze more than his toe. Then they said, "Quit or we will cut off your foot." He did not heed and they cut off his foot. He loved his habit more then his foot. Again they said, "Stop or we will take your leg." He didn't and they did. At last they said, "Quit or die!" He died smoking and drinking. He loved his habits more than life. Discipline is often progressive. The consequences of not taking heed may snowball. The Lord told Paul, "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."

Prison was God's merciful, final, discipline for me. For many years, while I was still on the streets (out of prison), I resisted and rebelled against the Lord's call on my life. Time and time again the Lord sent His people into my life. I just would not take heed. I loved drinking and drugs more than the Lord. First, He took my toe, as my business began to fail. I loved drugs more than my business. Then, He took my foot, as my marriage fell apart. Sadly, I loved drugs more than my marriage. Next. He took my leg, as my family was forced to back away from the lying thief I had become. Lamentably, I loved drinking more than my family. Then, in the horrible pangs of my sinful addiction, He took me whole leg, as I lost my house and literally became homeless. Yes, I loved dope more than having a home. Finally, I shamefully took a life while dancing with my beloved alcohol. Wow! What power sin had over me! I was the dope.

Yet, God mercifully gave me the discipline of prison, as opposed to the death I so justly deserved. The grace of prison was the final means that the Lord used to break me. Ten days after my arrest, in a dirty hole with a noose in my hands, God's mercy sent another Christian to me and finally---I took heed and was saved by His grace.

Daily now, right outside my cell window, I can see "the wall." Not quite unlike the sight of my father's belt, the sight of "the wall" now works immediate obedience in me. It is a reminder of who I was and what I have done.

Is there something in your life that the Lord has His hand of discipline on? Are you resisting? What do you love more than obeying the Lord?