Friday, January 1, 2010

Discipline- Making it all happen

If you've been following my series on Jonathan Edwards, you know I've taken most of it directly from Steve Lawson's book, The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards. Today I want to look at how this godly man accomplished so much.

Edwards was passionate about discipline! It has been said that his greatest ambition was to be the most “complete Christian” of his age and to realize his maximum usefulness for the glory of God. (Lawson p. 105) He knew complacency was a huge road block to the Christian life and that halfheartedness would never produce holiness, so he refused to allow it in himself.

Resolution 6: "Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live." (Lawson p. 107)

Resolution 28: “Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same. (Lawson p. 113)

Resolution 61: “Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it. (Lawson p. 118)

“Edwards defined ‘listlessness’ as a state in which his mind was less than fully fixed on spiritual things.” (Lawson p. 118) We may think this spiritual giant never struggled in this area, but that’s not true. His diary reveals discouragement over this very thing.

Dec. 21, Friday. This day, and yesterday, I was exceedingly dull, dry, and dead.
Saturday, Dec. 29. About sunset this day, dull and lifeless.
Tuesday, Jan. 1. Have been dull for several days. Examined whether I have not been guilty of negligence today; and resolved, No. (Lawson p. 119)

Edwards also gave credit where credit was due when his heart was enlightened.
“Saturday, Dec. 22, 1722. This day revived by God’s Spirit. Affected with the sense of the excellency of holiness. Felt more exercise of love to Christ than usual. Have also felt sensible repentance of sin, because it was committed against so merciful and good a God.” (Lawson p. 119)

Edwards knew that he would never be able to keep any of his resolutions, especially not those that required such great devotion to the Scriptures, without self-discipline. He further recognized that self-control in his physical life affected self-control in his spiritual life. For this reason he exercised self-denial in eating, drinking, and sleeping, in order to maximize his health and effectiveness.

Resolution 20: “Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.”

It was said of Edwards that he often had an “emaciated” appearance and that he lived among people as an ascetic. John Piper explains that Edwards “carefully observed the effects of the different sorts of food, and selected those which best suited his constitution, and rendered him most fit for mental labor.” (Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision for Jonathan Edwards p. 56)

The purpose then of strict physical regimentation, including exercise, was to empower his spiritual disciplines. Edwards had a profound knowledge of the Bible and was known during times of his life to study God’s Word for as many as 13 hours per day. Edwards didn’t study the Bible because it was his job, but because it nourished him. He wrote about the strength that he found in Scripture.
“Saturday, May 23. How it comes about I know not; but I have remarked it hitherto, that at those times when I have read the Scripture most, I have evermore been most lively, and in the best frames.” He called the the Bible “life-giving” and had a sense of the “excellency of the word of God, as a word of life; as the light of life; a sweet, excellent, life-giving word: accompanied with a thirsting after that word, that it might dwell richly in my heart.” (Lawson p. 113)

I made 5 resolutions for 2010 and beyond. I made very general resolutions, but they require me to live each day to the fullest as Edward resolved to do. I know that to accomplish this I must discipline myself. And lately I’ve been struggling with discipline, especially over the holiday. I’ve been staying up later and later and getting up in the morning later and later. Now we start homeschooling again on Monday and I need self-discipline more than ever. I did read my first 12 pages for the 90 day Bible challenge and loved it. I'm not used to reading such large chunks of Scripture at a time and I can already see that it's going to give me a new perspective. I encourage you if you’re a Christian and have never read the Bible in its entirety to take the challenge with me. You can go over to Mom's Toolbox and sign-up or just follow along the 90 day schedule with me.
Here's to climbing new heights together in 2010! Happy New Year and resolution-making, or should I say resolution-keeping?

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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.