I grew up with lots of rules…
A highly disciplined environment.
Mr. Adams – the principle of my elementary school – would walk around with a large paddle at recess and wack kids who were out of line. Sounds criminal today, but was normalized back in the day.
And while we didn’t have a guy walking around church with a paddle… sometimes it felt that way…
The church always seemed like just a bunch of rules…
A bunch of rules that others imposed upon the rest of us…
The same was true about the idea of self-control… just another rule…
But as I got older I began to realize that most of the disciplines of our faith are not about what you can’t do…

They are really giving us the freedom to do what we can…

The Eighth Commandment – You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor…
Sure seems like we are being told what not to do…
But the real power of the commandment comes when we live it…
The call is not to just refrain from lying about our neighbors…
But we are supposed to stick up for them when others lie about them, speak well of them, come to their defense and to think well of them…
Think about this in context of bullying… it’s not just that we should refrain from bullying…
But we are to stick up for those who are bullied…
Through the lens of today’s culture… in the context of today’s world,
A culture that is over hyped…
Over politicized…
Over conspiracy theorized…

When we talk about the kingdom of God… when we live into that… when we live the disciplines of our faith… the kingdom of God comes near.

Jesus uses a very normal event in the life of community, a wedding, to talk about being prepared for the kingdom of God.
Customary for the friends of the bride or bridegroom to escort the bridegroom to the wedding feast,
It just so happens that this wedding feast happens at midnight, at the last hour…
It’s a deliberate time to illustrate that the kingdom of God shows up when it shows up
It’s not about staying awake… all the girls fell asleep.
It’s about exercising the type of self-control that keeps us prepared to greet the kingdom of God when it comes…
Self-control is not just about saying no to things… it’s about having the capacity, the ability to say yes to things.
And to say yes to the things that really matter.

What is it that you do not have time to do that would change the world?
What is it that you want to financially support but haven’t sat down and planned to do it and when it comes time to give you can’t?

Typically when we think we don’t have time or the resources to help it’s because we haven’t grown the spiritual fruit of self-control that would inevitably give us the time and the resources to live more fully into the kingdom of God, to be prepared to respond when the kingdom of God presents itself.

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