I believe the word discipline is one word which brings negative connotations with it. According to the dictionary discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior. Discipline is not a negative experience but rather a positive one. Discipline is a word which brings much character and godliness to ones life if applied correctly.
I will admit I am not a very disciplined person. By God's grace I am learning more and more the importance of discipline in my life. I want to share some practical ways how God is using discipline in my life to conform me more into the image of Christ:
1. Bible Intake and Memorization.
The discipline of reading God's Word on a daily basis is of uttemost importance. This is a discipline which I believe many Christians may do, devotionally, but not in large portions. Also memorizing Scriptures is another discipline which is helpful to being conformed into Christ's image.
A few suggestions: Instead of reading the Bible devotionally take the Book of Genesis for example, it has 50 chapters, read 10 chapters a day and give yourself one makeup day if you miss along the week, as to not get discourage and quit. Read Genesis over and over, everyday for a month, two months or even three months, continually. You'll be amazed at what God will reveal through his word. But remember it will take discipline.
Another suggestion is memorization. Our family started the ABC's of Memorization. It is a simple way to help you and your children memorize God's Word going through the alphabet. Here is a link which helped us: http://www.ccwtoday.org/teachersparents.asp.
About 6 months ago, God begin to convict me about my weight and my eating habits. So, I did what all red blooded Americans do, I tried a diet and started walking/running. This lasted for a few weeks and of course I fell "off the wagon," when my knees and ankles started hurting (honestly I just was lazy). I often tell people after my conversion to Christ, drugs and alcohol have not been my problem, but rather 'banana pudding.' By God's grace a little over a month ago I purchased me a set of running shoes and have been consistent in 'disciplining my body, which has some value (1 Timothy 4:7). I have felt much better, with more energy than I have had in a long time. I also have been trying to watch my food intake. As one man at my church said, "this becomes your lifestyle and it is one day at a time."
If you are struggling in this area of your life, I want to encourage you to start today and take it one day at a time. The Apostle Paul even spoke of disciplining his body in 1 Cor.9:27, "But I discipline my body and keep it under control."
3. Seminary or Theological Training.
Many see seminary or theological training as a waste of time and money. Some would say, "seminary will make you a dead head or cause your preaching to be dull." My response is, they do not know what their talking about. Seminary takes discipline. I have the privilege to continue my theological education, which is humbling and a great blessing. I am able to read books and do research papers I would have never read or written if I had not taken a seminary class.
Yesterday, I began a week long class with Dr. Al Mohler on, Current Issues of Theological Debate, here in Louisville, KY at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This is an apologetic class in its nature. The class comes with assignments of reading 4 books on different theological issues and writing an analysis paper of each book. Also assigned is a 15 page research paper on a theological topic, of my choosing. The time and day in which we live in demands pastors and laymen to be ready to "contend for the faith which was delivered to the saints (Jude 3)." This class will better equip me to teach God's people at PHBC how to "contend for their faith" and to better equip myself.
I remember my great uncle responding to me after I told him I wanted to go to seminary. He said, "We all have axes (capacity of growing in God's grace in the Christian life), you are choosing to sharpen yours a little more than others."Seminary takes discipline.
I am not trying to 'toot' my own horn. I know that I have only begun in each of these areas but I pray God would give me strength and wisdom to 'redeem the time' He has given me and to be disciplined in the areas of life which will cause me to gain more knowledge of Him, for my good and His glory!
What do you think? Agree or disagree?