Thursday, June 13, 2013

Self Control

In our country, self control is something that is almost non-existent. We're being taught that we should do as we please. I don't believe in living selfishly. I  believe that my life is not my own but the Lord's and everything I do is to glorify Him. My brother recently had to lead a fellowship where the topic was self control. I love what he wrote and that he captured my thoughts perfectly. I asked him if I could post it on my blog and he graciously agreed. So here it is: 

SELF CONTROL - By John Paul Senyonyi

Each of the different characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit focuses on how we respond to God and how we treat other people. Joy and faithfulness are expressed vertically while peace, patience, kindness, goodness and gentleness bear directly on how we interact with others. And, the juiciest fruit, which is at the center of our spiritual fruit salad, is love, which has both a horizontal and vertical dimension. 

Nestled among the Spirit’s produce is the seemingly out-of-place fruit of self-control. This characteristic of a Christ-follower seems to focus more on me instead of on my relationships with other people. I can exercise self-control when I’m the only person in the house. In fact, sometimes the hidden, private moments when no one else is looking is precisely when I need self-control the most. 

However, if we properly exercise the fruit of self-control, it will benefit those around us. In some ways, we might consider this virtue the most important because without self-control the works of the flesh cannot be overcome and the other elements of the Fruit of the Spirit will not be evident. 

When the Greeks wanted to illustrate self-control, they built a statue of a man or a woman in perfect proportion. To them, self-control was the proper ordering and balancing of the individual. Aristotle once said, “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is the victory over self.” Plato believed that our animal urges must be governed or else they will produce “a feverish state in the soul, a city of pigs” which knows no limits. When we’re not self-controlled, our life is like a pigsty. That’s quite a word picture.

The word translated “self-control” in the NIV is rendered “temperance” in the King James Version. It comes from the word “strength” and means, “one who holds himself in.” To be self-controlled is to not live in bondage to the desires, passions and appetites of the flesh. My body is a good servant but a miserable master. 

While “self-control” is a good translation of the Greek word, it’s a bit deceiving because we all know that we can’t control ourselves simply through our own willpower or self-determination. Self-control is more than just self-help. Paul speaks of our dilemma in Romans 7:18: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good but I cannot carry it out.” 

We can get a fuller meaning of self-control from Paul’s extended discussion of his ministry in 1 Corinthians 9. In this passage, Paul contrasts exercising control over his body with running “aimlessly” in verse 26. He argues that athletes exercise self-control because they have a clearly defined purpose or goal. They cannot afford to be distracted by every passion or desire that comes along. We can therefore define this final fruit of the Spirit as the “control of the self by the Spirit for the sake of the gospel.” What looks like self-control is actually the result of letting someone else take control. Self-control, biblically speaking, means walking by the Spirit, under the Lordship of Christ.

Broken Down Walls

In order to fully understand this fruit, it’s helpful to describe what the absence of self-control looks like. Proverbs 25:28 provides a dramatic description of the individual living out of control, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” When the book of Proverbs was written, one of the main sources of strength and protection for a city consisted in the building and maintaining of walls. A wiped out wall was considered a breach in security. A city with walls in disrepair was a city with a shameful reputation. 

That’s one of the reasons Nehemiah was so motivated to begin a building campaign in Nehemiah 1:3. Those who lived in the capital were in “great trouble and disgrace” because the wall of Jerusalem was broken down. It was open to attack and ultimate destruction. The man or woman who lacks self-restraint is like a city that has no effective defense. They are not able to resist those things that can destroy their lives and the lives of others. When occupants of a city for whatever reason neglected their own safety by failing to build and maintain strong walls, they would have been looked upon as a weak and foolish people. Likewise, when we forfeit the fruit of self-control, we are feeble and not very wise.

The Bible offers several vivid examples of people who lived out-of-control lives. One of the most dramatic stories is of Samson, found in Judges 14-16. He is a portrait of self-destruction. As one of Israel’s judges, the Spirit of God empowered him. He was known for his strength and led God’s people for 20 years. One of his primary tasks was to protect his people from the influence of the pagan Philistines. But because he did not have self-control he instead visited Philistine prostitutes and eventually told Delilah about the secret of his power. Lacking sexual self-control, he soon lost his hair, his strength and his life.

Benjamin Franklin was right when he said, “He is a governor that governs his passions, and he is a servant that serves them.” 

Unfortunately, some of us have allowed our walls to be broken down. Instead of governing our desires and appetites, most of us are “bingers” by nature. Some of us binge on food, some on sleep, others on work, and still others on TV, sports, spending or sex. Solomon reminds us of the importance of keeping a watch on how we’re doing in Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life

Self control inventory
Are you struggling with self-control in any of these areas that are addressed in the Book of Proverbs? 

Uncontrolled lust. Proverbs 6:26: “For the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life.”

Uncontrolled ambition. Proverbs 23:4: “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.”

Uncontrolled drinking. Proverbs 23:29-30: “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.”

Uncontrolled anger. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”

The emphasis in this passage and the key to seizing self-control is grace – God’s lavish favor poured out on undeserving sinners. This grace does at least two things.

1. Grace redeems us (11, 14a). There is no way we can save ourselves. God took the initiative and brought salvation to us. Verse 14 explains that Christ “gave Himself for us.” He paid the price to buy us back from the shackles of sin.

2. Grace reforms us (12, 14b). Salvation not only changes our position before God, we’ve also been given a change in attitude, appetite, ambition and action. We’ve been given freedom from the condemnation of sin and we also have freedom from the domination of sin. Warren Wiersbe writes that the “same grace that redeems us also reforms our lives and makes us godly.” God is training us through the Holy Spirit to be the kind of people that bring glory to Him. 

Practical steps to obtain self control
Admit you have a problem with self-control.
Yield to the lordship of Christ. Galatians 5:16: “Live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
Cultivate the disciplines of Bible reading and prayer.
Invest in spiritual friendships. Ecclesiastes 4:10: “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”
Curtail bad influences. Avoid those things that tempt us. 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
Practice good habits. Job 31:1 says that Job made a covenant with his eyes to not gaze lustfully at a woman. 
Welcome gracious correction. Things would have ended differently for Samson if had listened to those who warned him to let God control his sex drive.

The key to displaying each of the nine character qualities known as the Fruit of the Spirit is not to try harder but to understand the short phrase that appears right after the spiritual fruit salad in Galatians 5:23: “Against such things there is no law.” This means that these characteristics cannot be legislated or enforced by a set of rules. You can’t make somebody be kind or patient or gentle. Likewise, no law can keep us from displaying luscious fruit in our lives. The only thing that is keeping us from allowing His fruit to ripen is our own selfishness and sinfulness.

I want to close with a very powerful reminder from Jim Cymbala. He writes this in his latest book, Fresh Power: “While Christ’s work on the cross...was the only way to settle the problem of guilt, sin, and condemnation; the coming of the promised Holy Spirit was God’s way of changing human beings from the inside out. The law given to Moses had failed on this very point. It was in itself holy and just, but the problem was the sinful nature within people. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Today I’m really thankful for the gift of breast-feeding. It amazes me how God created this seemingly simple thing to be able to nourish a child both nutritionally and emotionally. What amazes me even more is how much it does for the mother. Mwagala is 14 months now and is still nursing. Today it hit me how it has helped us bond. As she was nursing this morning I looked down at her and she looked up at me – straight into my eyes and then she smiled. What followed were gestures of love that we have developed through the months that are just for us – a playful hi-five, a kiss on the forehead, she places her hand on my cheek and I tickle her a little. Throughout the time she was feeding I didn’t say a word and she didn’t make a sound but the love between us was almost tangible. My heart soared. I looked at my little girl and understood why God gave us this precious gift. It’s a chance for me to let my child know that I love her and that she is cherished. And it’s a chance for her to let me know that she appreciates me – even though she may not be able to say it clearly yet. Actions do speak louder than words.

Mwagala, this bond between us is strong and getting stronger. I love you my little princess – forever and a day J

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Birthday to me!

It’s my birthday today. This morning I woke up and remembered what birthdays were like when I was little. I’d wake up on the morning of my birthday and go to my parents’ room. They’d sing happy birthday and then hand me a gift. I always knew what the gift would be – a Psalty’s Kids Praise Album cassette tape. It was always exciting to see which album I would get. Then I’d wash, get ready for school and listen to the album while I had breakfast. We’d have a party or something later on in the week and I’d get more gifts but I remember the cassette tape the most. It made me thank God for parents who took time to celebrate my birthday while at the same time teaching me to enjoy singing praises to God. Those songs are etched in my memory and I find myself singing them to Mwagala as if I just learnt them yesterday. I thank God for the foundation that gave me. I would not be where I am today if it was not for small things like those.

This year I’m thankful for memories like those and for the chance to make new ones with my family. Happy birthday to me! J

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Disciplining Mwagala

Mwagala is starting to develop a will of her own. And seeing as her parents are quite strong willed she really sticks to her guns. So the disciplining has begun.

It's been interesting to see how much she actually understands when you tell her not to do something. I usually watch to see what she is going to to do and if it is not agreeable then I say a firm 'No'. At first she used to pause and try to touch it again and I would repeat the 'No'. These days when she gets to something that I usually do not allow her to touch or play with she looks at me and then says something in her language like she is asking for permission. When I say no she walks away from it and onto something that she can play with.

Not every thing is that easy though. Several times she tests me to see what I'll do if she disobeys. The secret is being consistent. I've learned that she is testing her boundaries and that she is actually able to understand that I'm serious about it if I am consistent with my response. Most times I warn her twice and then give her a small smack on her hand. Once she has been warned and is then smacked she doesn't even cry. She just moves on to the next thing. I must say it has made my life a bit easier because she knows the boundaries now and does not run off to destroy anything. It also helps when we go visiting because she doesn't ruin anyone's property but is still able to play.

It's been quite a journey and many times I'm told not to smack her but I think that she needs to know what is acceptable and what is not. I'm laying a foundation here and I'm not going to compromise.
So far, so good :)


We're moving house! Finally! We've been looking for a new house for a while now and I was really beginning to get anxious. We live in an apartment at the moment and Mwagala didn't have enough room to play plus she wasn't getting much outdoor time. So we really needed a place where we'd be comfortable to let her play outside.

All the houses we saw were either too expensive, too small, too far away or something just didn't sit right with is. Then we found 'the one'. Surprisingly it doesn't have some of the things we were looking for but once I walked in it just felt like home. I'm excited! Plus, I get to grow some spices! Yay!

The problem is we're moving in on the 1st of May. That gives me about two weeks to pack. Yikes! I'm no good at packing. And with Mwagala trying to unpack everything I pack it's no walk in the park :(

I hope to be able to blog during this packing period but I can't make any promises...

Friday, April 12, 2013

12 Month update

I apologise for being quiet for a while. Mwagala has been ill. She is doing better now and true to her playful spirit she started walking while she was sick! We were so excited. It’s been a long time coming and for a while I was not sure if I was looking forward to it or dreading it. It’s actually exciting to see her become more independent. She looks so happy to be on her feet. 

Weight: 10.8kgs
Clothing size: 12 – 18 months
  • Two more teeth J That brings us to a grand total of six teeth!
  • She knows how to ask to nurse. It’s so funny. She does it so matter-of-factly. Hahaha!
  • She tries to communicate what she wants using words, which of course I don’t understand so sometimes, I’m not sure what she is asking for and she gets a bit frustrated. But we’re working on it. At least I was prepared for this phase so I try to make sure that she has what she wants before she has to ask for it.

Waving bye
Walking around the house
Her teddy bears
Water to drink

Getting her out of her bath water

Food:  Some days she eats very well. Other days she struggles. She is quite picky. If she doesn’t like what she smells she will not open her mouth. So I’m learning to play around with food. Sometimes she appreciates my efforts. Most times however, not so much L

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The year that was...

I was looking through photos of Mwagala and I just had to share them. She has really grown! Time flies! I kinda want her to stay a baby forever but I'm also enjoying celebrating all her milestones.

A few minutes after birth - ready to face the world :)

One month old - my smiley baby 

Two months old

Three months old

Four months old

Five months old

Six months old - serious face

Seven months old - swag:)

Eight months old - diva :)

Nine months old - copycat

Ten months old - see my new teeth?

Eleven months old - cheeky :)

Twelve months old! 
I'm so grateful for my little girl. She is such a happy child. I'm really looking forward to the next year :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

A letter to my one year old

My sweet little princess, 25th March 2012 is a day that I will never forget. When you came into my life I felt a love so intense that before that I had never thought was possible. As soon as I laid eyes on you my heart was yours. That night I couldn’t sleep. I just kept staring at you and telling you how much I love you and how happy I was to hold you in my arms.

Each day of the last year has been a new experience for me. Each day I fall in love with you all over again. Each day I feel like I’m rediscovering life. You have grown into a beautiful little girl - very playful & very talkative. Always putting a smile on my face or making me laugh out loud. I don’t know exactly what you’re saying sometimes but when you look at me and call me ‘Mama’ my heart melts.

My prayer for you my darling is that you will come to know the Lord Jesus. That He will define your life and guide you in every step you take. If there is anything I have learnt in my life it’s that Jesus is the answer to everything. He is all that you need in this lifetime. I pray that you will always stand for the Truth. Not just anyone’s ‘truth’ but God’s Truth. That you may be a light for your generation and that they will see God’s love through you.

I honestly cannot tell you how happy I am to see you turn one. I’m so proud of you. You are the most precious, most beautiful little girl in the whole world. I love you with all my heart.

Lots & lots & lots of love,


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...