The Disciplines are those practices that we do regularly, mostly daily that result in our growing spiritually, growing in character, growing closer to and more intimate with God, conquering sin habits, and bearing much fruit. They are called Disciplines because our flesh hates to do them, the devil will work overtime to keep us from doing them , and the world thinks they are foolishness, so it will take self-discipline, encouragement from others, and accountability from others to successfully make the Disciplines habits in our life.
Of the different disciplines the most powerful is memorizing and meditating on scripture. It is the most powerful and it is also the most difficult to maintain with any degree of faithfulness. Very few Christians systematically and regularly memorize and meditate on God’s Word. I hear so many people say, “I can’t memorize”. They say it like it is the way they were born , that is who they are, and there is no possible way that this curse in their brain will change. Memorizing is great exercise for our brain so that we can think better, and as we start working our lazy brains they start to work better. At first our attempts to memorize even the shortest of verses is agonizingly slow, but as we persevere our brains get stronger and stronger and memorizing gets easier and easier.
The Bible is called the mind of Christ, and when we memorize it we are putting His mind into ours, we begin to think like Jesus. When we put the Mind of Christ into our minds we begin to act the way He acted.
I used to put verses on 3 X 5 cards, and then I would laminate them or put clear packing tape on them because I would review and practice them in the hot tub each evening. Now I use an App on my phone and Ipad called “Bible Memory” which is amazing. I have memorized over 500 verses well since I have started using this App. My goal is to work on my verses 30 minutes every day.
“Fruit are those things we do or say that influences others to become more devoted to following, serving, and obeying Jesus”. Jesus admonition in John 15 is to bear fruit, and then God the Father will prune us to bear more fruit, and then when we develop a lifestyle of faithfully reading His Word and praying we will bear much fruit.
When Jesus was baptized God the Father spoke from heaven and said, “this is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased”. I believe that as we pursue a life style of bearing much fruit for God that He will express His pleasure to us. He won’t probably do that in an audible voice from heaven, instead He will prompt a person to say something to us. It is very important for me to say in my mind, “thank You Lord”, when a person comes up and expresses gratefulness to me for positive change and growth in their life to remind myself that though a person is speaking it is really God who is expressing His pleasure in me. Praise from God won’t cause pride to erupt in me, but praise from people could. At the seminar that we just finished a person came up during a break and handed me a note, I am excepting it as God’s expression of His pleasure in me.
“Dear Pastor Dee, I wanted you to know what an impact your teaching has had on my life. Three years ago, I attended your ‘Impact Prayer Seminar’, and that seminar changed my life. Prior to attending I constantly felt like a failure because I knew what to do, but I never seemed able to do it, I was undisciplined. After attending that seminar I made my first list of goals. I started prioritizing my time so that I could accomplish more things that were important. I started getting up at 6:00 am to read my Bible and pray and I am continuing to do it to this day. Your instruction on goal setting, time management, and discipline was exactly what I needed. Now God has given me opportunities to pass these lessons off to others. Thank you so much for your willingness to teach truth. I will always remember the things that I learned from you and I will use these lessons in my life until the day I die. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you.”
I will save this note and when I get discouraged and wonder if I am doing anything that really matters I will pull it out and read it.
I have the ability to live my life is such a way that I give God pleasure as He watches me. The cool thing is that He is so much into my being successful that He puts in me the desire to do great things with my life and He gives me the strength and the resources as well.
Philippians 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
The thing is, I can resist that desire to do good that God put in me, and I can follow my flesh, the world around me, and the devil instead. When I do that I bring disappointment to God. It is quite amazing to me as I ponder on it that I can give infinite God pleasure and I can make Him feel disappointment. He is connected into my life as a unique individual and He desires my success.
2 Corinthians 5:9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
That is my ambition in life, to please the Lord in all that I do, and to grow close enough to Him that I can sense His pleasure and disappointment in my life, my decisions, and my accomplishments.
I taught for about 10 hours the last 2 days at the seminar that we did on “Leadership Development” in the local church.It turned out good with a number of pastors wanting to start “Leadership Training” in their own church. The next couple of years it will be even better as I rewrite some of the seminar material to adjust to questions, comments, and suggestions from those who came. Tonight I am all tuckered out from the teaching and interacting with those who came as I labored to make everything make sense. There is a sure cure for the tiredness I am feeling tonight, sleep in a couple of hours in the morning and get some extra rest, and then I will be as good as new😀 and ready to teach tomorrow night at our Wednesday night service. Regular systematic rest and some extra rest after strenuous times is a fairly established discipline and routine for me. At 71 years of age I have figured out how and when to rest my body and mind, in order to be refreshed and renewed. Our physical bodies are a creation of God, and His stamp of excellence is all over me.
“I don’t have time” is a comment that many make. Dads often don’t have time to spend with their kids, husbands don’t have time to take their wives on a date, Christians don’t have time to serve in a ministry, people don’t have time to help their neighbors with a need, and on the list goes. The reason many don’t have time for really good things is because they have filled their life up with stuff that has little real value. It is the nature of our world to convince us that we need things that we don’t really need. The goal of advertising is to convince us that we can’t possibly be happy without this newest gadget. Everything we own, owns us, it requires fixing, greasing, cleaning, adjusting, and protecting. We have to work a little more overtime to pay for it, and to put gas in it. A simple life has so much more free time, so much less to worry about, and a “to do” list with activities that make a difference. Simplifying our life is a constant activity and battle. It takes several garage sales a year, and at least one 10 yard dumpster a year, every year to keep the junk cleared out of our life. An annual commitment of, “I will simplify my life” is good, but an every month commitment is better, and an every week commitment, ” I will simplify my life” made seriously will begin to make some difference. Once the brakes are put on to the mindless pursuit of more some progress can be made in the incredibly hard pursuit of less. One line that works wonders for me is, “joy comes from spending quality time with family and friends, not in owning stuff. The more stuff I own the less time I will have for what matters”.
Tomorrow begins our 2 day seminar that I will teach about 10 hours at, with about 12 different other people from JBC speaking another 5 hours. I have been writing the material for the seminar for the last year. We held a seminar for over 20 years on these same dates on the topic of prayer. Two years ago I decided that we needed to change the content because just about everybody who was going to come probably had over the years. As I thought about what next to teach it wasn’t hard to decide. I have observed that one of the major needs in many churches, especially smaller churches was a system and program for training the people in the church to do the work of the ministry in the church. Most think that doing the work of the ministry in a church is the job of the pastor. The problem is that there is so much more that needs to be done than one person can possibly do, and smaller churches don’t have the finances to hire another Associate Pastor to help do the work. The training is typically called discipleship in the church world, but we have used the term “Leadership Training” instead. Over the years I have taught 8 month long “Leadership Classes” to several hundred men in our church and recently started teaching Ladies as well. The classes have been incredibly fulfilling for me to teach and the result has been that we have many in our church who lead and are involved in many different ministries that meet the needs of lots of people.
So tomorrow is the day. I think my material is ready, meals are organized, and homes are lined up for those who are attending to stay at. I am sitting here in my recliner going over the material I am going to teach feeling very nervous about the next two days. It isn’t the teaching I am nervous about, it is the content. Will it make sense? Will it be something that will be practical for other pastors and churches to use? Will it produce the same results in other churches that it has in ours? The biggest area of hesitancy is it seems so presumptuous of me to offer up myself and our church as a model to other pastors and churches on how to successfully do this important ministry. Am I or our church worthy to teach and model,this material?
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I fear that my passion to do more, and to make a difference in churches will cause me to jump the gun on God’s leading. I hope not! I have been praying diligently that God will give me and all those involved, the strength and the wisdom to glorify Him, and to make a huge difference in the ministries of every church represented at the seminar tomorrow. Well, it is to late to back out now, so ready or not here we come! If it wasn’t so late I would go to a movie. If I wasn’t off of all sugar I would eat a half gallon of my favorite ice cream! I think I will just go to bed.
I hate it when this happens, I can’t think another thing to write and it is midnight and it won’t be long now before the curse takes over and I am brain dead, then I won’t be able to write for sure. But I could switch everything over to auto pilot and default settings. What that really means is I could go back 2 years, pick a blog at random, read it to make sure I wasn’t brain dead when I wrote that one and hit “republish”. Awe, I hate to do that, I know how I am , I do that once and then a second time and then that is all that I am doing, repeat, repeat, repeat. The problem is that I have been writing for hours at a time getting ready for this seminar that JBC is putting on Monday and Tuesday. I will be teaching for about 10 hours and I need to have the notes done to put in the syllabus for the pastors that are coming. But, there is hope, a few more minutes of this mindless gibberish that I am writing and I will have enough words to call it a night. Oops, I fell asleep 15 minutes ago with my hand on the screen, and talk about gibberish! Nothing but g’s, I couldn’t leave that on the screen, a little to boring. OK, I think I have pulled it off, a blog of nothing but nonsense, a half step below my normal blog!