A Milk Chocolate Discipline


I love chocolate.  This confectioner's delight is truly one of my major weaknesses.  What makes it even worse for me is that I enjoy chocolate in nearly all of its creative variations - fruit dipped in chocolate, chocolate infused with fruit, chocolate milk, milk chocolate, mint chocolate, hot chocolate, chocolate with chilies, dark chocolate, and on and on.  Much to my delight, I am told that chocolate even has some health benefits (Okay, maybe it is just a way to assuage guilt over an obsession. If so, it works!).

However, I also know that I cannot live on chocolate alone.  Even though it is tasty and may have limited health benefits, chocolate cannot become the staple of my diet.

Life is that way, too.  There are many things in which we may take delight, that are no replacement for the things which will ultimately lead to health and growth.  It seems as though part of the job description of parents is to help our children make healthy choices until they can develop these healthy patterns for themselves.  Let's face it, our children would much rather have ice cream instead of broccoli, gummy worms instead of green beans, and chocolate chip cookies instead of grilled chicken. If we are honest, we would make those same choices. We have just become more disciplined in our decisions about food.  In learning the disciplines of healthy eating habits, one learns to take delight in the broad flavor profiles and textures of food.

There are other areas of life where this same pattern holds true - studying for the test instead of spending time on the computer; getting much needed sleep instead of staying up to watch the horror movie; going to dinner with the family instead of playing another video game. It is through practicing the discipline of such things that one discovers the delight to be found in them.

The end of the summer and the beginning of another school year gives us the opportunity to make some adjustments in our commitments and priorities for our families.  We have the opportunity to refocus our attention on some of the disciplines that may have been less of a priority during the restful days of summer.

I occasionally hear the comment that youth do not like to sit in worship.  Guess what, that is most likely true.  Where else in our culture are young people encouraged to join with people of all generations in the same activity?  In addition, worship is a unique discipline. It is not supposed to be entertainment for those gathered.  Rather, it is the people of God gathered to give glory and honor to God.  In an entertainment culture, this is indeed an odd activity.  One must learn the discipline of setting aside self to join with the multitude in prayer, confession, praise, and adoration.  It is only through practicing this discipline together that we all discover the delight to be found within it.

Make the commitment to sit with your family in worship regularly.  Even if such a family commitment leads to whining and a rolling of the eyes.  Don't forget, we were all whining, eye-rolling teens at one time.  It is part of the job description of parents to help our children make healthy choices until they can develop these healthy patterns for themselves. Worshiping together is one of the disciplines that will indeed lead to long term spiritual health and growth.


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