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Kelley recaps the hows and whys of discipline

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–The severe winter storm that hit the
Northeast in early January, resulting in weeks of bitter
cold with no electricity, is one of several ways God can use
even “the things that happen normally in life” as a lesson
of discipline, said Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans
Baptist Theological Seminary.
Such lessons of discipline teach what really matters in
life, Kelley said during the seminary’s opening chapel
service for second semester, Jan 20.
Speaking in preparation for the annual campus revival
Feb. 3-5, Kelley said God uses discipline to “clear the deck
and get us down to what we really need and what we really
When passages in the Bible such as Hebrews 12:11 refer
to God’s discipline, Kelley said, the original meaning is of
a parent bringing up a child.
“God uses all means at his disposal to shape us,” he
said, just as his father and mother, Doris and Charles S.
Kelley Sr. of Beaumont, Texas, relentlessly through the
formative years disciplined their four daughters and one
son, all of whom are today active in Southern Baptist
ministry in various parts of the United States.
While growing up, the Kelley children repeatedly
learned — in hard ways and easier ways — both what it
meant to be a Kelley and what it meant to be a Christian.
Being a Kelley meant three things, he said:
— “Your life is going to revolve around church,” being
there whenever the doors were open or standing outside
waiting for the doors to open.
— “You are going to be generous since God has blessed
us so abundantly,” by always giving a tenth to the Lord
through offerings collected at church and by giving
something to everyone, not just close friends.
— “You were going to work hard and do everything to
the best of your ability.”
Whenever Kelley and his sisters would complain to their
parents about what their friends could or could not do, they
soon learned to count on “Dad’s motto:” “But their name
isn’t Kelley.”
“It’s not any surprise that life is hard,” he said. “An
essential characteristic of being a Christian is
discipline.” God uses various forms of discipline — not
only life’s normal events, but also sometimes direct
affliction — to a specific purpose, he said, “to tell us
we’re going the wrong way.”
God uses discipline “so we will learn to choose only
things he will desire,” and so “we will learn to listen to
that still small voice in our spirit that says, ‘Don’t do
Just as the Kelley family motto was the parents’ way to
reinforce characteristics they thought should be in their
children’s lives, “using my natural resistance as an
opportunity to learn,” God wants Christians “to go against
the grain of the world around us,” Kelley said, and to be
excellent examples of who God is to the world.
While discipline “is never fun and is always a
challenge, it brings an incredible freedom,” he said. “The
discipline my parents put into me made some decisions easier
later in life because I knew I was a Kelley.
“There is nothing like the freedom you experience when
you have the fruit of a disciplined life. That’s what
discipline is for, to pull out of you everything God put in.
It’s the instinctive response of excellence. That’s what God
is going for in our lives.”

    About the Author

  • Debbie Moore