Teaching Series
Wisdom That Works
Thursday—Wisdom for Life at the Extreme

Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: Wisdom for Life at the Extreme
Preacher: J. Murdock
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Proverbs 3:9-12 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent His rebuke” (Proverbs 3:11).

I would much rather be buked than rebuked. I’m assuming that being buked would be somebody’s first attempt at chastising me for something dumb I’ve done. Being rebuked would be the second attempt. Right? Maybe my English skills are lacking. Either way, I’m not a huge fan of having someone tell me that I’ve done something wrong. I’m guessing nobody is. 

But I need it. I need people I trust to tell me when I’m an idiot. Why? Because usually when I’m an idiot I’m not self aware enough to realize that I’ve been an idiot.

My first job with the church was as a boy’s dean and Bible teacher for a small academy in British Columbia, Canada. Three quarters of the way through the school year my principal called me into her office to have a chat. 

“Mark, you have some qualities that are quite redeemable. Unfortunately, I need to share with you that the school board decided that we are not renewing your contract for next year. Please keep this to yourself until the end of the school year; we don’t want to upset the students.” 

I was stunned. I asked, “Why? What did I do wrong?”

Her answer hit me in the gut: “You are always late for everything. You are messy and disorganized. We need someone with more self discipline.”

I wish I could have said, “No! You have it all wrong! I’m none of those things!” But I couldn’t. I couldn’t because I knew everything she said was true. And I hated myself for it.

For the rest of the school year I put my mind to being a better teacher and dean. I put in place systems that worked for me, and by the end of the school year, I made great progress toward being a better teacher, dean, and, frankly, human. The same principal called me in to her office and said, “Mark, we’ve noticed the changes. If you’d like your job back, it’s yours.” I did want my job, and I stayed successfully for three more years. 

Thank God for a godly person willing to discipline me. I’m so appreciative of the honesty of a friend.

Recalibrate: How do you respond to discipline? What are the times in your life that you’ve been rightly called out that awakened you to a better new reality?

Respond: Pray these words: “Lord, thank you for wounds from friends. Help me to accept them as Your gift.”

Research: Read Faithful Are the Wounds of a Friend by Christina Fox.

Remember: ““The Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects the child that He likes” (Proverbs 3:12, ICB).

Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.

Play Mirrors with your little one. Sit face-to-face and see if they can copy what you do. See if they can touch their nose with their thumb. If they use their finger, gently show them which is their thumb and place it on their nose. Let them do the same to you. This is discipline—taking time to teach and train in a way that gently encourages. Discipline does not force—it gently guides. Practice this with your little one in all that you do. This is a discipline for you.

Ask your family about a time they learned how to do something. Ride a bike, ski, bake a cake, you name it! What is something you would like to learn this next year? Maybe you want to learn how to skateboard or play another sport. Draw a picture of you doing this new skill or activity and write next year’s date on it, so a big “2020.” Do you think you’ll be able to learn in one day? Why or why not? Usually learning how to do something takes time. When I was learning how to snowboard, I spent a lot of time with my butt in the snow. Honestly, I still do! Do you think God expects you to know how to do everything right away? No way! He is there cheering you on and helping you get back up to try again. How are you going to learn how to do that thing you chose? You’ve gotta practice!

Once, when I was younger, I decided I was going to run away from home. I was so mad at my parents for something they did, that I finally had enough. So I took a blanket and filled it with my favorite toys, a few shirts, and a water bottle, and walked to the front yard to plot my course away from home. I think I made it all the way to the field across the street at the end of my block before I realized it was already starting to get dark. I hadn’t thought about bringing a flashlight . . .  or a sweatshirt . . . or dinner . . .

Time for Plan B!

I walked back home, and in the time between the end of the block and the front door, I had a change of heart. Inside the house where all my anger had started, I wanted nothing more than to get out! But once I got outside and all the creature comforts were gone, and it was cold and dinner wasn’t being served, it was harder to hold on to my anger. I had grown weary of life lived on the streets. And, in comparison, the punishment I faced at home was way better than the punishment of living outside with nothing more than a few toys, some shirts, and a water bottle.

Proverbs 3:11 says that we should not be weary of the Lord when He disapproves of our actions. Instead of looking merely at the bad side of the coin, there is room to turn it over and see the other side. Sometimes when we focus on just the negative, it’s tough to see the life lesson waiting for us on the other side (or at the end of the block).

What are some lessons that you have learned the hard way? How might you go about learning a lesson when you have been disciplined that doesn’t involve taking things to the extreme? How might trying not to be weary of hard times change you for the better?

When I was younger, my family had a play set in our backyard. Under most swing sets, people have a soft surface, like wood chips. Not under our play set! We had a bunch of little rocks underneath our swing set, which, as you will see, was not the best idea. I remember when I was three years old, I was swinging on my stomach and all of a sudden I fell forward and my head landed on the rocks. My first reaction was to cry and scream (mind you, I was three at the time), and I did that until my mom came rushing out of the house and carried me into the bathroom. She told me I would need to get stitches, but as a three-year-old I knew I didn’t want stitches because I thought it would cause even more pain. So my mom gave me a butterfly Band- Aid, which is essentially a heavy duty Band-Aid. Because I wasn’t willing to undergo stitches, I now have a big fat scar on my forehead.

It is easy to avoid discipline because we think that it will involve pain. I tend to back away when it comes to discipline and confronting certain areas in my life I know I need to address! But if we don’t deal with those issues now, they might become scars later on. “Do not despise the Lord’s instruction, my son, and do not loathe His discipline” (Proverbs 3:10).

Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jessyka Dooley is assistant youth director for the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Denver, Colorado.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Emily Ellis is a senior studying theology at Walla Walla University in College Place, Washington.

Join us for Worship
Boulder Church meets every Saturday for worship at 9:30am.
Learn More