Tag Archives: Bible reading

Look at My Muscles, Dad

When my children were younger, they would suddenly get it into their heads to start exercising. They’d do some jumping jacks and some push-ups, taking all of five minutes. After they were done, they would flex their biceps and say something to the effect of, “Look at my muscles, Dad. See how strong I’m getting? I’ve been working out.” Not wanting to crush their spirits, I would praise their efforts, after all I remember doing the same thing when I was younger. Not surprisingly, it would be weeks (or even months) before they would work out again. This is how Christians, including me, act towards growing in our strength. A little Bible reading here; a little Bible reading there. A prayer today; another next week. The difference is that many times, we don’t become giddy with accomplishments like a young child after doing push-ups. We lament that we are not growing in faith and strength.

Paul wrote to Timothy that he was to “train yourself for godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7, ESV). The word for “train” is where we get the word “gymnasium.” It has reference to training or to exercising. Training might work, but exercising is not helpful in our culture since many exercise like my children and I used to do. The best word is perhaps “discipline.” My godliness is linked to my discipline—my buckling down and getting to business, consistently and intentionally. If I were to consistently and intentionally do all the disciplines that Don Whitney wrote about (Bible reading, study, meditation, and memorization, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving others, stewardship of money and time, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning on my own) there is no telling what type of man I’d become! Two things are for sure: I would be a very busy man and I would be so busy, I wouldn’t have time to get ensnared by sin. That isn’t to say that I would never sin, but that being captured by it would be nearly impossible. Holiness, or as Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4:7: godliness, would be a near given state of being.

In some ways, I wish Dr. Whitney’s book was introduced by the concluding chapter, but then again, it probably would not have had the impact that it does as a conclusion. In that chapter, he articulated what discipline really was: “But even though disciplining yourself is sometimes difficult and involves struggle, self-discipline is not self-punishment. It is instead an attempt to do what, prompted by the Spirit, you actually want in your heart to do.”[1] This will probably be the point that I am going to take with me. I’m not seeking to make my life drudgery by disciplining myself; I’m seeking to give my life godliness. That’s what I really want. It is easy to forget the reason for doing anything, especially the things that go against the flesh. The flesh has a way of fogging up the mind. Whitney reminds the reader that the heart (not the stony heart, but the born again, heart of flesh) wants godliness and holiness. It is a struggle, but it is one worth fighting.

In my bullet-journal, I have a habit tracker in which I record whether or not I did a certain habit (good or bad). My goal is to actually add a Spiritual Discipline’s tracker which would include all of the disciplines Dr. Whitney wrote about. I was planning on having it done by August, but as the saying goes: “No time like the present.” As J. C. Ryle wrote, “Tomorrow is the devil’s day.” Thus, I will be sure to finish my Spiritual Discipline’s tracker today, and begin today with disciplining myself unto godliness. May God allow me to supplement my faith with virtue and virtue with knowledge and knowledge with self-control and self-control with steadfastness and steadfastness with godliness and godliness with brotherly affection and brotherly affection with love (cf. 2 Peter 1:5-7).

[1] Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, (Downers Grove, IL: 1992), 244.

Tomorrow is the Devil’s Day

I finished Holiness by J. C. Ryle yesterday. I’ll be having a full book review coming up in a couple of weeks, but as for now I will tell you the book was excellent. That being said. . .the first book I read by Ryle was Thoughts for Young Men. I remember wishing I had read it when I was still a teenager. This is a snippet from the book:

Young men, it is appointed unto you once to die; and however strong and healthy you may be now, the day of your death is perhaps very near. I see young people sick as well as old. I bury youthful copses as well as aged. I read the names of persons no older than yourselves in every churchyard. I learn from books that, excepting infancy and old age, more die between thirteen and twenty-three than at any other season of life. And yet you live as if you were sure at present not to die at all.

Are you thinking you will mind these things (spiritual matters) tomorrow? Remember the words of Solomon: ‘Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth’ (Prov. 27:I). ‘Serious things tomorrow’, said the heath, to one who warned him of coming danger; but his tomorrow never came. Tomorrow is the devil’s day, but today is God’s. Satan cares not how spiritual your intentions may be, and how holy your resolutions, if only they are fixed for tomorrow.

Who does not need that last word? Surely we all do. I’ll get to my Bible-reading tomorrow. I’ll get back to praying tomorrow. I’ll start up family-worship tomorrow. Like Archias, the general of ancient Thebes who postponed reading a letter revealing a plot to kill him the following day, we put “serious things tomorrow.” Yet what if tomorrow does not come? This isn’t to say that we are to only read our Bibles, pray, and have family worship/devotions. But it is to say that today is a great time to start. “Tomorrow is the Devil’s day; but today is God’s.” If it pertainly to godliness, holiness, righteousness, let us not put it off until tomorrow; there’s no time like the present to attend to spiritual matters.