GoDeeper with Andy B, as he looks at self-discipline, both in physical training and spiritual training.
Whatever we're working towards, we need both focus and determination - whether that's bird watching, running or going through a physical selection test for the Army or Police Service.
So. GoDeeper. Self-discipline. Another way of saying self-discipline might be focus.
Urm, and, let’s just read from 1 Corinthians chapter 9, verses 24 through to verse 27 and today we’re using the CSB version.
“Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. So I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air.Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
So…I’ve dropped my piece of paper…so I'm thinking about whether you're birdwatching, whether you're trying to paddle a canoe, whether you're applying for a job, whether you're going through some sort of physical selection training -there's a degree of focus and self-determination, self discipline, that we have to have.
It's no good thing I'm going to race in a triathlon but I'm never gonna get to bed on time, I'll eat junk food all I can: if you want to compete at that kind of level, it isn't just being able to cycle, and to swim, and to run – if it’s a triathlon - it's also ‘what am I going to feed myself in order to be able to run, and cycle, and to swim.
And it's much more than just having a go. You have to be really serious and really dedicated.
The whole point of this Endurance Episode, that we create week-by-week is we know that physical exercise is really, really important. Personal health is really important. But, at the same time, the Bible is really clear that Spiritual Exercise is even more important.
It doesn't diminish the importance, it’s just more important!
When, urm, I fell in love and I got married to my wife Jo I, urm, had lots of love for her as we got married and we settled into life together. And then we got pregnant with our first child. And when Steven came along I, like so many days before me, was worried ‘where am I going to find more love for my child’?
If I loved Jo with all my heart, and I love God with all of my heart, where am I going to have anything left to love Steven? And actually, you just do. It kind of generates - it doesn't diminish the love I have for Jo; it doesn't diminish the love I have for God. It just is there!
And it's the same when we had a second child, and our third child - who we lost - and our fourth child.
Every time that happens you have an additional capacity of love which doesn't diminish the love you have for your other children, your wife, for your Heavenly Father. It doesn't go away and in the same when we are saying that Spiritual Exercise is more important, it doesn't diminish the importance of physical exercise. It's just saying it's more important. But it actually doesn't diminish anything cause physical exercise is still important.
If you want to preach the gospel; if you want to be a missionary, or whatever it is you want to do, you need a certain level of stamina and fitness.
Now! If you're going to go birdwatching being quiet and still is your focus - if you want to get that amazing shot of an eagle, or whatever your bird you're trying to get a photo of - you need to be still; you need to have a good camouflage; you need to have a good camera; you are going out prepared: you don't just wander down the road with a camera, think – ooh there’s an eagle, let's take a snap, ‘cos it's not going to be that perfect shot; you're not going to win the prize.
If you're doing a triathlon, or the long jump or whatever it is you're doing. Perhaps it’s a physical selection training exercise for the police or the Army. You need to have prepared and just arriving, and having a go, it's not going to work. You need to have been prepared. And that includes sleeping; that includes everything about who you are to get past that.
Now, we're talking about self-discipline and how that relates to Spiritual Exercise, and physical exercise. Ok we can train. We can do weights. We can do endurance training. We can do intensive, whatever.
What does that look like for Spiritual Exercise? Well it's really simple! It's exactly the same - we pray; we get no our knees; we say ‘do you know what - I might be tired but I'm going to pray’. In the same way, when you’ve finished your day's work ‘I won't bother going cycling tonight, I'll be right for the triathlon at the weekend’. No, No, you’re gonna to keep going.
And in the same way, Spiritually, you’re gonna pray because it's important; you’re gonna read your Bible. If you think ‘you know what my day hasn't got enough hours’ - get up earlier to pray. Don't just think my run out of time, get yourself up earlier; get yourself to bed: it's called self-discipline!
So if we want to focus and become more like Jesus Christ. If we want to become more like the people that we know that God wants us to be - to share His Love, His Peace, His Joy, His Hope - with the people we are, in our workplace, wherever, then we need to be focused, and we need to spend our time and our effort not just having a bit of a pray, and having a bit of a read of a Bible: we need to actually plan it.
So we need to plan our prayers. So we have a prayer book. We write down things and we pray through them in an itemised way. In the same way when you’re preparing your bike for a cycle you don't think’ yeah that looks alright’, you going to actually check the PSI on your tyre – ‘are they hard enough for a road ride?’ ‘Are they soft enough on the mountain bike for mountain biking?’ No good and thinking that's hard, that’ll do. If you’re mountain biking you don't want a hard tyre - so you have to prepare your bike appropriately; if you're going on a road you don't want a mountain-bike-pressure-tyre because it's going to be rubbish on tarmac.
So we think about what we're gonna to do. We Focus, we prepare and we get ourselves ready.
And spiritually? Exactly the same!
So. Self-discipline. Think of it as focus. Whatever it is you're trying to do, whatever it is we are trying to do - for our God - to become more like Him; more like Jesus Christ. Let’s just not ‘have a go’ and let's plan; let's prepare; let's have a Bible Reading plan; let's write down those prayers; let's set aside a time - as the scripture teaches us ‘get yourself into a room; close the door; get before your God’.
Get on your knees and pray! We had a quick chat the other day – oh, does the Bible really say to get on your knees in prayer? And I flipped through the scriptures and we came through one after the other, after the other, of ‘get on your knees and pray before God’.
So don't just have a pray - if you're in an emergency - arrow prayer it might be called – great, nothing wrong with that. But if that's all you're doing, it's not enough. It's a bit like training for a triathlon by having a look at your bike, or having a quick pedal. It's not gonna do it - you've actually got to go through the motions of going through it, the follow through (which we’ve spoken of in the last Season) not just the beginning, but the end.
So, self-discipline; focus; Spiritual Training.
If you wanna win the prize, you gotta keep going, and you've got to be prepared and plan for what you want to do - to get closer to Christ.
Written by Andy B