This year has been a year of learning discipline for me. Let me explain.
At our church, I started a year-long study of the New Testament called “Mayfair Project 3:45”. The idea is simple: it takes, on average, about three minutes, forty-five seconds to read a chapter of the New Testament. Rather than setting out to read the entire Bible cover-to-cover in a year’s time, we decided to try to read more slowly, favoring quality over quantity. When you think about it, what real benefit is there in reading through the entire Bible in a year? Now, don’t get me wrong: I know plenty of people who do this and these individuals are no doubt blessed by reading through God’s Word in this way. But what I’m getting at is this: isn’t it a bit arbitrary to read the entire Bible in a 12-month span? Why not 24 months? Or 36? Or 72? What’s the rush? Coupled with the fact that most people’s fervor wanes somewhere around Leviticus 5 and…you get the point.
So instead, we decided to read more slowly, beginning in the New Testament. Most people I know can find four minutes to read their Bibles every day. So we set up a reading plan that breaks up the New Testament by chapter and the idea is that we read one chapter each week day (Mon-Fri) and by the end of the year, we’ll have completed the entire New Testament.
And so far, this has been a very rewarding experience. I’ve set up a Facebook page (aptly titled “Mayfair Project 3:45”) where I post a few reflections from that day’s reading. Other people are free to read along, share their own comments, insights, questions, etc. There’s a synergy that comes from reading God’s Word in community. But there is also a rich blessing of discipline that many of us have discovered: training ourselves to read the text each morning or evening and spend time reflecting on what we’ve read.
All of this has led me to reflect on the importance of discipline in our lives. As Christ’s disciples, we discipline ourselves by consuming His teaching and seeking to apply it to our lives. We’re seeing connections in God’s Word that we’ve never noticed before. Slowly, over time, all of this is starting to come together for many of us. Disciplined exposure to God’s Word is making us better Christ-followers.
And you can extrapolate this to other areas of our lives as well. The discipline of prayer is something I hope to discuss more in the coming months, both on this blog as well as on our Facebook page. (Feel free to join us if you’d like. No exclusivity.) For the first time in my life, I’m enjoying the benefits of physical discipline as it pertains to my diet and exercise. In the last year, I’ve lost over 30 pounds by watching what I eat and exercising routinely. Over time, these habits have contributed to a greater sense of health, both physically and spiritually.
I know we normally reserve the language of “resolution” for New Year’s, but I want to encourage you today to consider some healthy habits, for both your body and your soul. Good habits lead to long term results. Whether you’re an athlete, a coach, a teacher, a business professional, a minister, an administrator, or something else, we could all use a little discipline in these undisciplined times.
May God’s blessings rest upon you. And may your habits of mind, body, and soul reflect the goodness of our great God.
Proud of you for losing those 30 pounds! And, you’ve done a great job with the Bible reading. I, too, feel the benefits of making healthy habits for my physical and spiritual well-being.
Congratulations on your 30 pounds! I think I find it easier to be disciplined with physical things and less so with the spiritual…and I think it should be the other way around (not that I want physical disciplines to suffer, I just want the spiritual to be even more important). As I approach parenthood and want to pass these disciplines onto my children, I realize I’ve got to get these in order of importance not only for myself but for the little ones who will be watching. Great post!
Jane, I think the language of spiritual discipline is off-putting to most people. Sounds too much like “super Christian” stuff. But I’ve learned how predisposed I am to lack of discipline and that makes me aware of how much I need it. I don’t want to say anything here that couches spiritual disciplines in some sort of legalistic light — something we “do” that’s all about our effort, etc. But I like thinking of the connection between discipleship and discipline. These disciplines seem to be part of what it means to follow Him.
Anyway, you weren’t asking for all of that. Just more of my random thoughts on this whole thing!