- Right intent.
- Check your heart.
- SMART Goals.
- Check your plan.
- Check your path.
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you. ~Matthew 6:33
Jesus, Others, You.
When I was twelve-years-old my wise father, the Preacher said, Cody, if you really want to be happy, follow this acronym:
This is the only way to find real joy.
I cannot say that I always followed his sound advice but I will tell you that as I have grown to understand its truth. And I have come to believe that THIS is the solution for the undisciplined life. When we put Jesus in the proper place, FIRST, everything else will fall into place.
My favorite definition of discipline is this:
the rigor or training effect of experience, adversity,
a set or system of rules and regulations
See, I cannot walk down a path of legalism. While I have to admit I might have an uncommon affinity for order as created through clearly defined boundaries (which you will see me try to impose initiate through this process), I hate legalism and sinshaming that can overtake the body of Christ.
I need freedom.
Freedom from guilt. Freedom from fear. Freedom from my unrealistic expectations.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. ~Galatians 5:1
I find myself slipping back into that slavery often.
I need to bathe myself in grace by drawing close to the One that grants it. I have to discipline myself to make time to nourish the relationship that means the most.
And there were times in my life that I was so disciplined in my discipleship and times that I have not been.
I know that before I go about righting any other part of my
fractured fragmented being, I have to right my heart. We can only right our hearts if we know the heart of the Father and his Son.
How can you expect order and discipline to take place in any other realm of our lives if this most critical area has not been shored up?
When we begin to seek discipline or order in our lives we must begin with aligning our hearts with the heart of Christ. We cannot do this unless we know Him, and know him well.
Imagine the start of a new relationship…. and Christmas or a holiday comes upon you.
- You desire greatly to give a gift worthy of this person you are beginning to like– possibly love.
- You want to buy a gift that demonstrates that you are paying attention– that you are beginning to know this person well.
- This is not possible without an investment. An investment of time…. of resources.
- You ask around…. interviewing your beloved’s friends– inquiring into what it is that ignites their passions.
The same is true with Christ.
He is the truest lover of our souls.
There must be an investment.
And it will be undoubtedly inconvenient at first.
The great John Wesley arose every morning around 4:30 to begin his prayers and he spent on average over 3 hours studying the Bible everyday. That fact arises in me instantaneous outburst of “Ain’t nobody got time for that….”
But I do have a 30 minute commute every morning, during which I make myself pray. If I’m driving I pray as soon as I leave our neighborhood. Out loud. And I won’t lie: some mornings I am shouting, some mornings I whisper in my soul, but when spend my commute asking begging the Spirit to be with me throughout the day I am more likely to remember that He is with me as the day progresses.
Friday, I had a marathon meeting that lasted for four hours. In the corporate world that may be normal but for a teacher…. nah. The meeting had potential to be difficult but overall it went well. I am convinced that the extra 3 minutes I stole when the meeting participants were waiting in the lobby impatiently made all the difference.
I knew they were waiting and I knew they were impatient.
I greeted them, walked past them and into the restroom where I leaned on the wall and prayed. I didn’t even have the words to ask for anything specific, but I begged the Spirit’s presence and that He would speak through me and save me from saying anything stupid.
And while I’d like 3 hours a day to study, I because of my work +real life existence I simply don’t have it. I struggle to read a paragraph devotional. Most days I squeeze one in off my phone. I love the blessed idea of a devotional on my phone- I even set a reminder,but… it doesn’t work. Mostly because I don’t like reading off my phone. But I endeavor to do better.
One way in which I have chosen to do make sure I am opening my Bible more than on Sunday morning is to volunteer to teach Sunday School. Back at it, after a few years off. I teach 3rd grade Small Group at our new church. Right now, even if its the same Bible Stories I’ve known since I was in 3rd grade, I’m an overachiever so I will make sure I have read through it a few times to know what is coming. And it gets me out of my comfort zone. For the past two weeks I have gotten to ask sweet children if they “know what it means to have eternal life.” This is exercising a spiritual muscle that has only ever been exercised at home.
My most favorite thing! is that we joined a small group. Every Saturday night we meet and discuss the Word. And when I feel unsettled or un-grounded or all those other emotions that seem to create a superficial distance between us and our Father, I find that by just listening to wise counsel I begin hearing the Father’s heart and witness it being practiced by those around me.
And this is so easy. All I have to do is show up and let myself be present.
This is the first step. Show up and be present. Baby Steps.
Pray out loud for grace to offer when someone cuts you off in traffic and then keep talking…yeah, your kids might think you are crazy but they will learn by example, that an open line of communication to Heaven is a priority. And read a verse …. just a verse a day. It can even be pretty with a nice font over a lovely picture. I hear there is an app for that….
I wish discipline for me this year in my discipleship.
I want to be close to the Father.
I want to know his heart, so that mine may mirror His.
I wish discipline in your Walk this year as well. What disciplined things do you do to stay in tune with Christ?
Let us endeavor to walk together as we seek the heart of Christ, and may the overflow restore order to all the rest.