When correcting wayward members, laxity and expulsion are not the only two options.

The following ad appeared recently in a Kansas daily: "We will oil your sewing machine and adjust the tension in your home for only $1." I can well imagine the flood of phone calls this company received. Where in our world exists the home without tension?

Where is there a church family without at least some tension? And where tension erupts, the need is for gentle but firm discipline.

Before you write this off as another sermon on the "thou shalts" of disciplining church members, let me confess that exercising discipline makes me as shaky as a woodpecker on a petrified tree.

I come by my quaking honestly. I learned in schoolyard "conflict resolution sessions" that my pain threshold was reached with the first punch. I carefully avoided stepping on toes or making a scene, even when Ross Spina, the local bully, extorted my lunch money. From then on, I decided that playing the enforcer was for fiery preachers and IRS agents. That, most likely, is why God in his infinite sense of humor made me ...

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