The Beginning and End of Discipline
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which is a period of 40 days (not counting Sundays) until Easter. Traditionally, Christians (as least in the liturgical denominations) have given up something for Lent in order to participate in and better understand the sacrifice of our Lord. In addition, the sacrifice is supposed to bring one closer to God as He becomes that which fills the need or desire otherwise fulfilled by the thing given up. Some people give up chocolate, or desserts of any kind. Others give up watching TV or eating meat. There is an endless variety of things that one can give up, or sacrifice, during the Lenten season.
Last year for Lent, I decided that instead of giving something up for Lent, I was going to commit to doing something, and I blogged about it on Feb. 19. I fulfilled my committment to blog something positive every day for Lent. That was the beginning of a discipline of writing that has now developed into daily posting. And it all began with one short post and a committment to praise Jesus for His love and sacrifice for 40 days.
This year, my local congregation is doing something similar for Lent. We are participating in a program called Wordstrong. It involves each member of the congregation committing to reading God’s Word every day throughout Lent. Last Sunday we received our reading schedules for Lent, and we have arranged prayer partners to pray for discipline for the rest of the congregation throughout this time. Those who chose to participate signed a poster pledging their committment.
I am excited to see where this Lenten discipline takes us as a congregation. If what happened with my committment to blog every day is any indication, we should be a congregation for whom this Lenten program is just the beginning of a discipline of being in God’s Word on a daily basis. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
So if committing to doing something every day for Lent is the beginning of discipline, what is the end of discipline? It is to develop a closer relationship with God. The discipline of reading the Bible every day will draw the believer closer to God, so that they may hear when He speaks to them. It is much easier to discern God’s will if one knows God’s Word.
The true end of discipline is a relationship with God that results in an abundance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
So what do you plan to do, if anything, for Lent? Have you ever done something for Lent in the past, and if so, what was the result? Did it bring you closer to God? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Whatever you decide, I pray you will draw closer to our Lord as we approach the celebration of His death and resurrection.
Linda, I read this earlier today, but then had to go and pray about it. ha! See all the good that comes out of your posts? 🙂
I haven’t done things before for lent. I love what you are doing at church . . .outstanding. And I love the thought of doing something, adding something, to our routines, to draw us closer to Him. That is really beautiful. 🙂
As I prayed about it today, the same thing that He has been asking me to do was what came out of it. It is kind of an adding and a taking away. So praying that I can step up and begin in earnest during this special time . . .and that it lasts a life time. 🙂 My thing to do is to fast and pray two days a week. Fasting is hard for me . . .too food addicted and staying focused and disciplined in prayer is hard too for me. . .to ADHD. Must be why He’s asked me to do this, eh? ha! So thank you and God bless you for confirming and bringing this to me today!
Deb, That is awesome! I have only fasted one time in my life, and I felt I was clearly called to do so. It was in preparation for a women’s retreat at which I was scheduled to give my testimony. I fasted all day until dinner. I was so worried that I would be hungry and have low blood sugar issues, especially since I had to drive over an hour to get to the retreat. But I wasn’t hungry at all that day! Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone,” and He was right. I will pray for His strength to follow through what He has asked. Peace, Linda
Not counting my tiny-precious-Yorkie-Niles, Alzheimer’s Disease has already taken away every pleasurable thing worth sacrificing. I was quiet over dinner while I considered the possibilities, and decided that being a caregiver to someone with this disease is enough.
Observing Lent with a church family would be the best… eager to hear how the Wordstrong program blesses you all…
OMGosh… You put me on your BLOGROLL! I’m going to look at it every day. : )
Linda, Of course, I had to have an easy way to get to your blog whenever I wanted. And your blog is definitely one worth directing others to. Peace, Linda
Linda, In your situation, I definitely recommend adding some wonderful new habit for Lent, something that will make you think of God, instead of giving something up. Sounds like you’ve given up a lot already. Peace, Linda
Thanks for sharing, Linda
“The true end of discipline is a relationship with God that results in an abundance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
I love the application 🙂 Between yourself and Ben, I’ve been doing more reading (of parts of the Bible that’s not necessarily ‘favourites 😉 ) I was told some time ago that you will most what you spend most of your time doing. If I spend more of my time with Him, then I should become more like Him, yes? Working on bearing the fruit!
Ann, It’s all really about our relationship with Him, isn’t it? Nothing else matters much. Peace, Linda
Your post was very well stated. Lent is a wonderful time to deepen our relationship with the Lord and sharing His good news. Blessings
April, Thank you for the encouraging comment. I’m looking forward to our Ash Wednesday service tonight. Peace, Linda
I’m with you, I’ve tried to give up chocolate before, but it tends to drive me crazy lol.
Thanks for the comment. Yes, for me chocolate is probably the most difficult thing to give up because then it is just on my mind all the time. I much prefer adding a good habit to my discipline. Peace, Linda
That is an interesting idea and a cool way to go about it. And I love the thought that the end of discipline, whatever form it takes, is to grow closer to God. I have never formally given up anything for lent, but I like the idea behind it. Good job to your and your congregation!
Ben, I’ve never successfully given up anything for Lent, either. But I did notice last year when I started blogging every day for Lent it turned out that I did have to give up time spent on something less productive, but it was more of a by-product of doing something for God than a conscious decision to give it up. Peace, Linda
I am giving up all kinds of high calorie food for Lent. Not because it is Lent, really – just because I am 10lb heavier than I was in August.
To mark the beginning of Lent I had a go at the pancake thing. Perhaps I should give up baking for lent! http://sanstorm.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/just-how-wrong-can-a-pancake-go/
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’ve tried giving up chocolate for Lent, but I find I then focus more on the thing I give up and not on God, which kind of defeats the purpose of Lent. I could stand to give up high calorie foods in general, too, to lose a few pounds. Peace, Linda