When a minister boarded an airplane, he found that he was seated next to a young lady wearing an army uniform. During the flight, they talked, and the minister asked her, “Why did you join the army?” She replied, “Because I was hungry for some discipline in my life.”
Discipline is one of the great needs in our lives. When John the Baptist began preaching, Matthew said that it was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. It was “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” Strange thing about how John wound up in the wilderness. His parents didn’t live in the wilderness. In fact, his father was a priest who lived in a city in Judah and who ministered in Jerusalem. Everyone thought that since John had surrendered to preach, that he would do it in Jerusalem. Why John went to the wilderness, I’m not sure. It may have been for the discipline of the wilderness. He roughed it out there, and he learned to fast, pray, and get in touch with God.
Those are important things to learn. God’s army needs to be the most disciplined army in the world. They must learn the discipline of praying and studying the Word of God. They need to be disciplined enough to let other matters go so that they can come to worship with the people of God. Nobody on earth ought to be more disciplined than Christians.
I remember the first time I ever saw a football team run the “hook and ladder/lateral” play. Many years ago, my wife and I went to a high school football game. The score went back and forth until our team scored late in the fourth quarter and went ahead by 5 points with less than a minute left in the game. The opposing team got the ball back on the kickoff and returned it to their 30-yard-line. With 10 seconds left, the quarterback threw a hook pass to a wide receiver. As the defense collapsed on him, he lateralled the ball to a running back who was circling out of the backfield. The back took the ball down the right sideline 70 yards and scored the winning touchdown with no time left on the clock.
You talk about a letdown! Why doesn’t a team run that play 20 times a game? You don’t run that play very often because a team can’t live on gimmick plays. If a team is going to win, it must have the discipline to grind out four yards off-tackle on a regular basis.
And we can’t live off gimmicks in the church or in our Christian lives. Whether we are able to live the victorious Christian life or not is ultimately dependent upon how committed we are to the spiritual disciplines. May God give us the grace to be His disciplined people!
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LYNN JONES is a retired pastor, supply preacher and author who lives in Oxford. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.