All posts in “DISCIPLINE”




Proverbs 16:28

A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends.

I tried to go through the Bible and count how many times it talks about gossip, slander (making a false statement that damages a person’s reputation), or malicious talk, but I gave up counting. Believe me, I tried; there are just so many. Why would Jesus talk about this topic so much? Every single one of us gossips and some of us struggle with doing it all the time. We mask it by saying that we’re just, “saying it how it is,” but really it’s just an awful way of building ourselves up and destroying others, even if we’re not intentionally trying to hurt them. Jesus talks about it so much because it is that important. He wants everything out of our mouths to be full of truth, life and love. Where does gossip or slander fit in?

I spent a year traveling the world with a small team of missionaries and we had this system in place where if you ever talked bad about someone behind their back you would get 24 Hour Ruled by the person you were complaining to. You had a 24 hour window in which you had to go to the person you were gossiping about and tell them what you said and talk it out. It sounds terrifying and it certainly was, but it also very quickly stopped our gossiping tongues. You don’t necessarily have to go to that extreme, but next time a bit of gossip rises to the tip of your tongue think about whether you would want to tell that person to their face what you’re about to say. Then replace those hurtful words with words that will build them up or make them feel loved.

QUESTION 1. Are you a gossiper? If you say no, go through your day and count how many times something comes out of your mouth that is not truth and life giving. You’ll be surprised.
QUESTION 2. Do you find yourself joining in on gossip when your friends do it? Are you scared to take a stand against it because of what your friends might say?
CHALLENGE: Take a stand against gossip and slander. Try to say something complimentary about the person you were just about to slander, or better yet, pray for them.




Ephesians 4:29 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Have you ever said something that you really regretted later? Whether just through gossip or in a fit of anger, it’s so easy to hurt or lash out at someone and, in turn, ruin their reputation. The problem is that, once you say those hurtful things, it’s not very easy to take them back. You may have heard the popular phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” However, we all know that this phrase doesn’t hold true. In fact, if we are really honest with ourselves, names and rumors do hurt, and sometimes they can hurt far more than any stick or stone.

It’s interesting how a bruise from being hit can eventually heal and fade away, but a bad rumor or hurtful word can stick with us for a lifetime. God wants you to live a life that is geared towards lifting people up, not bringing them down. If you have said some hurtful things to someone or about someone, it’s time to come clean. It’s time to allow some healing of the wounds you’ve caused upon yourself and others. It’s time to be free and lift those you’ve hurt up according to their needs, just as the Apostle Paul so rightly calls us to do (Eph. 4:29). May your life be rich and full of God’s love, and every time a word is uttered from your mouth may it benefit and bring joy to God and the lives of others.

QUESTION 1. Have you ever participated in gossip or hurt someone with your words? Explain. Have you ever been hurt by someone’s words?
QUESTION 2. Based on your answer to question 1, have you ever reached out to the person you hurt to ask for forgiveness? Have you ever forgiven someone who said hurtful things to you or about you?
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to use your words as a way to lift God and others up, not as a way to tear them down. Let God’s love speak through you for the benefits of others.




Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Have you ever gotten so busy that you feel the stress and the weight of it crushing you? It gets so bad that no matter what you’re doing you’re always thinking about that errand you have to do or that project you need to get done and on and on and on. Even if you do get to spend a little bit of time with God it still feels empty because you’ve got so much else on your mind, despite your good intentions.

Busyness can overtake your life. The enemy wants this to happen and he’ll constantly put lies in your head that tell you that you must keep going or it will all build up, or you won’t be as important anymore. Busyness fills our lives to the brim with worldly pursuits so that we all but push God out and basically say to him that we have no time for what he wants us to do. Busyness leaves no room for spontaneously beautiful God moments. We need to learn to step back and assess how busy we are. Sit in quiet reflection with God and ask him what it is in your life that you could give up. We must stop quenching God with things that won’t last. Ask Him to guide your days, hours and minutes and then allow Him to work in you.

QUESTION 1. Are you busy? Answer this honestly. How often do you get to focus on the things that really matter, like God and loving and serving others?
QUESTION 2. What in your life could you give up so that you will have more time?
CHALLENGE: Next time you start to feel weighed down or stressed just stop what you’re doing and spend some time with God, because he will bless that and bring you peace. Give your time to God.




Ephesians 6:11-12

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Imagine it is the Middle Ages and you are a knight about to go into battle. The enemy is marching on your castle so you quickly put on a helmet, pick up your sword and run out to meet them. Instead, you meet a volley of arrows. But hey, at least your head was protected.

This is a silly illustration but it’s an accurate depiction of what we as Christians so often do. We are in a spiritual battle but we run headlong into our days without being prepared to face the battle. It’s no wonder we get knocked down so easily. God tells us we need to put on the full armor every single day if we want to stand a chance against the forces of darkness. We tend to forget we are soldiers in God’s army (II Tim. 2:3); it’s time to start acting like one.

But how do we do this? We can’t literally put on Christian armor; we would look a little weird. When I was doing mission work overseas I would wake up every morning and, before doing anything else, pray each piece of God’s armor over myself. These can be found in Ephesians 6:14-18. It was stunning the difference it made in my day and what I let affect me. Try it for yourself. Make a habit of praying God’s armor over yourself every morning and you will quickly discover you are no longer going into battle unprepared.

QUESTION 1. Do you find yourself getting knocked down quickly at the first sign of trouble?
QUESTION 2. How are you preparing yourself for spiritual battle?
CHALLENGE: Pray on God’s armor every morning. Read your Bible and know God is with you as you face the spiritual forces of evil.

Discipline -Connor Cippola



Revelation 3:15-16

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

A vast majority of us are living double lives. During the week we ignore Jesus, make fun of others, use God’s name in vain, get drunk, and then on Sunday lead a small group. We put up a front while at church that says we’re this great and holy Christian, but the rest of our lives say something different. Jesus tells us that the world will know us by our actions; so what are your actions saying about you? What are they saying about Jesus?

God wants all of us, but not our fake Sunday selves. He tells us in Revelation that He would prefer we be either all or nothing. He doesn’t want our half hearted, empty attempts at being a Christian. If we continue to act as double agents, God says he will spit us out and say, “I never knew you.” Those are some pretty strong words. Do you want that? Who are you going to be? Either take following Jesus seriously or don’t take it at all.

The American church is drowning in lukewarm, Sunday Christians. Be the one who stands up and says, “Enough is enough! I’m going to let God’s love and light invade every area of my life no matter how unpopular.” Or will you continue to live the week out as if Jesus doesn’t exist? Author and pastor Francis Chan says it perfectly, “Jesus wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a Christian without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd.” What will you choose?

QUESTION 1. Do people know you’re a Christian by your actions? Or do your actions show that Jesus isn’t that important to you?
QUESTION 2. Is being lukewarm fulfilling? Is it helping people come to know Jesus?
CHALLENGE: If you’re going to call yourself a Christian then you have to live it out not just in words but also in actions. Give God everything and refuse to be a lukewarm Christian anymore.




Colossians 4:6

Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

Words can lift people’s spirits, make them laugh, inspire someone to greatness, and can wipe away tears. But words can also break people down; they can literally kill. Think of the numerous stories you’ve heard of someone who had been verbally abused and it led them to commit suicide. Words have so much power. What are you doing with that power?

The mouth we use to proclaim God’s love is the same mouth we use to curse or slander someone. The mouth that praises God on Sunday is the same mouth that denies him to friends when they start to make fun of you for your beliefs. There are so many verses in the Bible that tell us about the power of the tongue and how we should be careful what we say. But are we being careful?

Make a conscious effort today to take note of what you’re saying. Are you frivolous with your words? Do you talk too much? Here’s something to think about: would you say those same words to your church friends on Sunday? Someone once told me, “Handle words carefully, for they have more power than atom bombs.” So how will you handle your words?

QUESTION 1. When was a time that someone used words to build you up? What about to break you down?
QUESTION 2. Do you talk the same way in church as you do outside of church? Are you living a double life?
CHALLENGE: Think about what you’re saying and weigh your words carefully. Instead of saying words that can kill, or words that mean nothing, speak truth and love and speak them often. The world needs truth and love now more than ever.




Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Most of us have done seemingly meaningless and boring work at some point. You’re sweeping the floor for your parents and you skip a whole corner. “It’s not dirty over there,” you say to yourself, “They’ll never even notice.” Or you’re told by your boss to go clean out an awful smelling fridge so you do it as quickly as possible and not very well while trying to avoid the smell of the sulfur like smell of rotten eggs emanating from it.

It’s true, in some instances no one would ever notice a job half done. And many times no one notices a job very well done; but God does. He tells us that everything we do is done as if we were working for God and not for our parents or boss. Would you want to do a sloppy job if Jesus were to come up after and inspect it? And for those moments when you do an amazing job at a task and no one says a word, God notices and he says you will be rewarded for it. Yes, we work for people but how much better would the world and our menial jobs be if we did every single thing with excellence, working not for praise from men, but for the glory of God.

QUESTION 1. How often have you done a poor job at something thinking they would never even notice?
QUESTION 2. Have you ever viewed your work as working for the Lord? How did that change your work ethic and perspective on the task?
CHALLENGE: Whatever task you are faced with, whether great or small, serve with all your heart because you are working for Jesus, not for man.




Hebrews 12:11

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

I hate working out, especially when I haven’t done it in a while. However, I love the results that come from healthy exercise. Toned muscles, endorphins pumping through my system, and increased confidence are all reasons why I tolerate working out. Far too often, my body starts to feel the side effects of an unhealthy lifestyle and I know it is time to throw on my running shoes and get active again. Starting back up again is the worst feeling–my lungs burn, my muscles decide to get revenge the next day, and I feel even worse than I did before I decided to get healthy again. Then something possesses me to do it again the next day, sore muscles and all. Then the next day comes and I exercise again. As the days pass my exercise routine intensifies, and suddenly what I was struggling to do a few weeks ago is too easy now. This is the result of discipline.

Now, the author of Hebrews is not necessarily referring to exercise when he talks about discipline, but it helps to give us a clearer picture of the “harvest” that comes as a result of discipline. In fact, earlier in Chapter 12, the author is using the imagery of a race to explain why we should persevere. He continues on to talk about the discipline God uses with his children. God is a good Father and everything he does is done out of his love for his children. There are times when He has to discipline us or teach us to be disciplined in order to teach us something that will bring us into better alignment with His heart and will.

When we go through these times of discipline, we can rest assured that God is going to use it for good. Discipline may not be enjoyable at first, but the results are worth it in the end.

QUESTION 1. What is God trying to teach you through discipline right now?
QUESTION 2. What areas of your life could you discipline yourself in more in order to better please God?
CHALLENGE: Do not let pain or hardship be an excuse to not aim for the right living that results from discipline.




Have you ever gotten caught cheating on an assignment or test lately? Or maybe you’ve been lying to your parents for so long about who you’ve been hanging out with, and they’ve finally found out. Perhaps you’ve been exposed involving what websites you’ve been looking at online. It’s never fun being exposed and afterwards there is humiliation, punishment, and frustration.

But always remember this, God brings discipline in our lives to purify us, and because he loves us. God needs to shake us up from time to time, and move us from a lifestyle that dishonors him – to one that pleases him!

QUESTION 1. What is it for you? Maybe, at this moment, you are doing something you know is wrong – but haven’t gotten caught. It may be fun, exciting, or thrilling in the moment – but you need to ask yourself, would Jesus agree with this behavior?
QUESTION 2. Is there something that is holding you back in your relationship with Christ?
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to reflect on one or two things in your life that you know are not pleasing to God – and ask him for the strength to develop new habits to overcome them. Remember, submitting is much less difficult than the pain God brings into our lives through discipline. It’s your choice, make the right one today!




II Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

When we accept Jesus into our hearts there is a collision. Our old sinful lives collide with the new, pure life God has for us, creating friction. This friction is good because it is our beautiful new lives overtaking our ugly old ones, producing a spark. Where many Christians run into trouble is in that, once the spark occurs, they leave it at that. They consider it to be enough and neglect to nurture the dwindling flame.

Breathing on a fire will help ignite it, so will reading God’s word, which is the breath of God. You need his word breathing your flame to life every single day; otherwise, it will go out. And what good is an extinguished flame? It doesn’t provide warmth or light; it is dead.

You have got to spend time nourishing the flame God has given you. He has called us to be light in this dark and dying world. Read your Bible daily; saturate yourself in the truth of God’s breath. I’ve heard many excuses, the most common being, “I don’t have time.” But do you have time to binge watch Netflix? Do you have time to read romance novels? You have plenty of time, and what better way to use it than to nurture the beautiful flame God has given you, the flame that will take the gospel to every corner of the earth.

QUESTION 1. Are you spending time nourishing your flame by reading God’s word?
QUESTION 2. What could be extinguishing it? Too much social media? Too much TV? What is distracting you from God’s breath of life?
CHALLENGE: Spend time reading God’s word. If you think you have no time, make time. This is one of the most important activities you can do during your day. Treat it as such.




Psalm 18:2

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

You’re hanging out with your non-Christian friend playing some old-school Nintendo 64 Mario Kart when suddenly he starts grilling you with questions about why you believe in Jesus. You’re thrown off guard and instead of saying a quick silent prayer asking God to give you the right words you fumble, “Um, just because?” So often when we find ourselves in a stressful or tight spot we don’t think about asking God what he wants in the situation; we only seek to fix it in our own power. God has our back and he will always help when we ask. Sometimes it may not turn out the way we would’ve liked it, but God is God and he has our best interest in mind much more than we do.

When things start to get hard in life we should immediately run to God for refuge, not our own strength, not a relationship, not a substance, nothing else. None of those things can deliver us and it would be pretty hard to stand on our own feeble strength. Doesn’t a rock sound so much better? Next time something tough comes your way, stop and ask God for wisdom and his strength to stand on. Then watch as you’re able to overcome your trial with more peace and guidance than you thought possible. Life is too hard to do alone; seek God first.

QUESTION 1. Where do you turn in times of trouble? Is it to God? Or is it to something that wobbles when you try to stand on it?
QUESTION 2. Do you find it hard to trust God to be your strength?
CHALLENGE: Put your whole trust in God; his is the only strength on which you can stand




Hebrews 4:15-16

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Lust is a hard subject to talk about, yet it is something that affects the vast majority of Christian men and women. Countless studies have found that sex outside of marriage, porn addiction, or lust is universally affecting almost every believer. With these issues come guilt beyond belief and so much shame that at times it’s hard to function in your everyday life. You may put up a front that everything is A-Okay but inside you feel about ready to give up.

But we have victory! We have victory in the blood of Jesus and we need to start believing that and walking in it. For too long we’ve wallowed in the guilt and shame; Jesus is waiting for you to give it all to him so he can wash away all of it for good. He understands perfectly what you are going through; He went through it too. Give it all to Him.

It is also important to find a trustworthy, godly person with which to share your struggles. You need to get your secret sin out of the darkness and into the light, because the enemy of our souls cannot survive there. You can beat this, but it is only through the strength of Jesus that it can happen. And remember, as you fight this battle, it isn’t what you look at or watch that defines you; it’s your eternal worth in Jesus Christ.

QUESTION 1. Are you struggling with a secret sin? Does it feel like all the joy in life is gone?
QUESTION 2. How have you tried to beat it? Have you ever truly tried?
CHALLENGE: Surrender your struggles to Jesus. Cry out to Him. He knows what you’re going through and He is more than willing to help you through it so you can once again be white as snow.




Matthew 5:37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

You may have heard people make oaths like, I swear on my mother’s grave, cross my heart and hope to die, or I swear to God, etc., but have you ever asked yourself about what message this is giving to other people?

Jesus takes the entire matter of swearing by an oath to a whole new level in the Bible. He does this by eliminating the general necessity of oaths altogether. For Jesus, a believer’s word should be relied upon without qualification and without the need of the further guarantee that an oath might afford. Oaths, according to Jesus, are thereby rendered unnecessary. With the dawn of the new era comes a wholly new standard of righteousness, one in which a yes is really a yes and a no is really a no. It is a mistake, however, to approach this passage too literally ; for example, not taking an oath in a court of justice (e.g. I agree to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God). The issue for Jesus in Matthew 5:37 is nothing less than and nothing more than truthfulness. He calls us to be people of our word. As Christians we need to practice integrity, and let people know by our integrity that we will not compromise our words for our own selfish ends.

QUESTION 1. Have you ever sworn an oath to someone, or to God? (Explain)
QUESTION 2. When it comes to telling the truth and keeping your word, how would people view you? How do you feel you measure up to what Jesus is calling you to do?
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to not swear by anything, but rather let your yes be yes and your no be no.
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