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A confession:

I've tried the whole spiritual discipline spiel before.  I've decided I was going to get up earlier to study harder and pray longer.  I've decided I was going to practice fasting and remembered my vow as I scarfed down breakfast the morning said fast was to begin.  I've never attempted a Sabbath because, like everybody else, there's just too much to do to stop for a day.

Recently the Lord has placed the disciplines on my heart again.  This time things are different.  The resolutions that I've made have (more often than not) stuck.   I've remained committed through projects being due, my wife being sick for 3 consecutive weeks, and a stressful few weeks on the job.  

The difference has been my motivation.  In the past I've undertaken discipline as something that I "ought" to do because I'm supposed to be a spiritual leader.  Now, I understand discipline to be a response to the grace of God in Christ showered on me.  I want to discipline myself to become more like Christ because He is worth becoming more like!  The only real reason to even practice discipline is to conform oneself to the image of Christ through communing with the Father.

But really, how can this be accomplished?  Here are a few practical suggestions:

  1. Know yourself.  If you're not a morning person, don't commit to too much in the morning.  Find consistent points in your day which you can devote to disciplines (i.e. prayer, Bible study, Bible reading, reflection, etc.).
  2. Identify a truth to reflect on throughout your day.  Pray about it before you start your day, as you go through your day, and before you end your day.  Write it down in places that you will see regularly.  I have a chunk of Scripture that I try to memorize every week that I write on note cards and put in front of the keyboard of my home computer and my office computer.  Every time I sit down I read it and reflect before I do whatever it was I was intending to do.
  3. Create habits.  This requires some pre-planning.  Know the times and portions of your day that you regularly have free and utilize those times.  
  4. Eliminate distractions.  The best pre-work that was done for devoting myself to discipline was getting rid of cable.  Cutting cable was done in my house for the extremely spiritual reason of budget cuts, but nothing that has been done in the last 6 months prepared the way for the Lord to move in my life like eliminating this needless distraction.  I am now much more likely to come home and reflect on my day and the truth of God instead of vedging out on the couch to ESPN.

How about you?  How do you discipline yourself for godliness?  

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Comment by Benjie Shaw on April 4, 2012 at 3:01pm

I love the Sermon on the Mount!  It was actually the catalyst for re-examining how I approached my faith and, in many ways, spawned my rediscovery of discipline.

Comment by Gerald Polmateer on April 4, 2012 at 2:59pm

For right now I am writing on the Sermon On The Mount. At first I thought it would be easier but it is a daunting task. I am learning more than I expected. During this time I have been forced to do more study on ancient Judaism during the time of Jesus. During this time I did some study on what a disciple of a rabbi did to learn and become a rabbi. I realized that Jesus came on the heels of that and when he called His disciples to follow Him they came immediately because they already knew what it meant.

Writing on the Sermon On The Mount has challenged and driven me to study more with the goal in mind.


Sometimes I write a few sentences and other times I write several pages depending on what I need to do to get a grasp on the text before I write.

Comment by Benjie Shaw on April 4, 2012 at 1:54pm

Thanks for your input.  I personally downplayed the importance of writing things down and providing reminders for myself throughout the day for a long time and, consequently, found myself in quite a spiritual rut.  Now, I'm convinced that there's no substitute to continually placing truth before yourself.

Comment by Gerald Polmateer on April 4, 2012 at 9:49am

I think there is a reason it is called discipline. Too often people have not narrowed it down to the essentials. For me it is essential that I have a daily devotional life. In that devotional life is Bible study and prayer. The Bible study is an ongoing system of writing down and organizing what the text is teaching from a historical perspective. Throughout the day I check to see how I am doing on what I need to think about. Godliness is not a one day thing that is accomplished and then counted as done. It is a dynamic relationship with the living God not like rungs on a ladder to be achieved.

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