Category Archives: Discipline

focuses on the spiritual disciplines

Wrapping up our week with some power workouts for our words <3

We have been looking at a sermon given by Chris Otts at Antioch ATX in Austin TX (our son’s home church) all week here on the Journey. I have been learning and relearning with you and I hope it has blessed you. If you missed the series, start at Monday…and here is the link to the podcast for the original sermon

Today I am covering the bulk of his message which was based on Acts 16.I suggest a refresher read of this chapter at some point but let’s dive in.

In the Acts passages, Paul and Silas have been beaten and are imprisoned. The charges against them are based on exorcising a demon out of a slave girl. Her masters, who made a good bit of income off of her, were so angry they roused a mob and attacked Paul and Silas. Their bleeding bodies are chained in an inner cell of a prison and they are assigned an armed guard. The situation was completely out of their control as they were foreigners held in a high security prison with no means of escape or representation. 

So they sang. 

In their confinement, under the watchful eye of an armed soldier, they sang praise songs. And so the other prisoners and the guards and anyone within ear shot heard these two carrying on a worship service through the night. Pretty sure that was a first for everyone listening

When I read that I am reminded of the last trip I made to Kenya. We had left the clinic way too late in the afternoon and so as we drove, night fell. Our host missionaries had been warned by the people of the village that there were rumors of bandits waiting for us along the rough roads that led back to our home base. It was quiet and tense in the vehicle I rode in. My friend and I prayed together, but then the Kenyan drivers of our car suggested we sing praise songs. They sang the most beautiful Maasai hymn with gusto and then asked us if we would sing something. 

I am embarrassed to say we stumbled around racking our brains for some song we could sing that we would know both the tune and the words. We explained that we aren’t really talented singers, not on the praise team at all…not even asked to be when they are desperate to fill a choir. Even in the dark I could sense our brothers were a bit confused by our hesitation to bust out a praise song.

Much time has passed but as I recollect, we may have managed a feeble attempt at Jesus Loves Me. We got home safely that night and it troubled me that as Americans, we traveled halfway around the world to bring Jesus and we couldn’t even muster up a song of praise. 

I realized how much I rely on Christian radio and the praise teams to lead worship and I can just mumble along to the words on the teleprompter. I am not alone in this. Our worship music tends to be trendy and we pick and choose the songs we like to listen to without giving much thought to raising the voice God gave us to sing back to Him. 

You would think I learned my lesson, but no.

Years later I found myself in homes in Cuba where our hosts and hostesses for dinners invariably ended up suggesting a hymn sing. With windows wide open to passers by who glared in; and knowing that outward expressions of their faith could mean serious sanctions, they sang with unabashed joy.

Teenage boys and girls, young couples, children, grandparents…all singing loudly. Again I found myself red-faced amongst my American friends having to try to drum up some song we stood a chance of remembering the lyrics to. Without the help of a few instruments and some strong lead singers, we warbled out what we could. It was a noise, but not so very joyful. 

It was, as I think of it, extremely self-conscious…which is completely the opposite of what a praise song is supposed to be. 

So as I have pondered this week about speaking words of life instead of death, and the power of the tongue and the example of Paul and Silas, it occurs to me that instead of using many words to explain to God what is so very wrong around me or share with my fellow humans the plight of my misery as I struggle with keeping myself upright in a world that has gone topsy-turvy or consuming the many words of others who are in similar chains of the times, perhaps the lesson here is to use my tongue to learn to sing praises first. 

For Paul and Silas, praise broke the chains that bound them, flew wide open the doors that confined them and brought the entire household of the jailer to salvation. 

Yes. I think I need to go dig out that journal I started many years ago where I was collecting the lyrics to old hymns and new praise songs and practicing singing them all  by myself….off key, wrong tempo, sometimes substituting words in that sounded like what I thought they were saying…but God-conscious instead of self-conscious. 

Then with a tongue that has been eating words of Life…and a heart that is bearing the fruit of worship…I can speak life and hope and Jesus to those around me who are desperate for hope and healing. 

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And the cycle goes on and on….

I wanted to thank you for your prayers and kind words for knee/shoulder mess that I got myself into. 

The surgery went well, the recovery has gone well.

So well, that when I went for my pre-op check up and check in/therapy for my shoulder both the doctor and the physical therapist made it a point to tell me that while there were improvements and I was doing remarkably well; the damage that has been done needs time to heal properly.

They said I would feel like I could do more than I should and to respect that this will take time. 

I thought about how often this happens to us in a faith journey. 

There is something ingrained deep in us that longs to be strong and independent. We get just enough of God and His help to get us up on our feet and we wave our good hand heavenward and say, basically, thank You God but I’m doing great and I can take it from here. 

Only we forget that the sin nature and the fallen state of creation are still alive and well. 

And before long…or maybe it takes several years…we realize that we are not doing so well.

Old aches and pains that we thought were resolved surface and once again we are back on our knees (if we can get down on them) and asking God to bail us out. Help us figure what went wrong. Show me how to get back to being healed and whole, please.

He is so patient. 

Time and again, He stoops down and scoops us up. Picture Jesus carrying that one lamb over His shoulders as He makes HIs way back to the flock. 

I am thinking we don’t need to beat ourselves up because we seem to circle around in this pattern over the years. Instead I think our failure to continue to lean hard into God even when we are feeling strong, or particularly when we are feeling strong, is something that builds and develops our deeper walk of Fatih over the years. It reminds us that we are 100 percent human and He is 100 percent God.

At least I know it is true for me. 

With quite a few turns around this world, I notice that while I do it less, I am still prone to trying to convince God that He can busy Himself with some other poor sinner because this girl has finally got her act together.

I am as thankful for His sense of humor as I am His grace. 

This morning, with this post floating around in my head and feeling rather jaunty after my good report yesterday and a successful therapy and good night’s sleep, I caught my right toe on the bottom of the sliding blinds this morning.

The metal bar at the bottom was merciless and gave me no forgiveness. My knee jerked funny and my right arm instinctively jerked out to an unwelcome angle to try and catch my stumble. A sharp pain reminded me that I have miles to go before that shoulder can be used in all directions. 

As I gathered my wits and headed to gingerly do the stretches that will bring about a strong shoulder, I had to laugh.

Thank You God for reminding me of my constant and eternal need for you. And for your love that always calls me back <3

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Setting the ground work for 2021

Well Happy New Year! 

It’s Monday and we have a service call lined up for our fireplace, I have already made a call to the Village Hall with a water consumption question and some Santa figurines are begging to be hauled back down to their boxes. The washer and dryer have been humming since 6 A.M. and Russ is back in his at-home office. 

Anybody else ready for a little routine again?

We really did enjoy the holidays. Even though they were different with family and friends not able to gather like we used to, it was restful and joyful in many ways. A respite from the craziness of the world. We watched some sports and documentaries. Russ had a couple of movies he wanted to see and we read and napped and goodness…we ate. 

As we head into 2021, I am not feeling called to make any attempt at resolutions.

I instituted one last year where I would try a new habit each month and that was fun until the pandemic hit and just figuring out how to safely navigate that with my mental and physical health in tact was enough of a “new habit.”

So today, I am just going to let you know my plans for my daily quiet time as of right now and share some tidbits gleaned from both a documentary and a ten day devotion I signed up for.  There will be a list of resources at the bottom of the post.

For quiet time I am reading through The Message this year. It works out math wise much like last year. Using the Eugene Peterson The Message Study Bible, I will be able to read about 5 – 6 pages a day to make it through the whole text. This includes some of his mediations and contemplative studies so I decided to set my beloved My Utmost for His Highest aside this year. 

I have a daily devotional that was gifted by my friend who has been prayerfully selecting an annual devotion book for me for more years than I can even remember. They are lined up on my shelves and are a reminder of her faithfully holding my arms up in love and prayer every day of the year for a very long time. This year’s selection is Jesus Centered Daily by Rick Lawrence. 

In addition, I received a Threadbare Prayer book from another friend and the author is doing a 100 day prayer commitment. Which coincided nicely with my decision to use yet another gift, a journal with personalized Scripture verses on each page, to journal my prayers for our family this year. 

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of committing to a daily time of intake of God’s Word, study and prayer. We simply cannot subsist on a weekly visit to our local church, a sermon, a couple of inspirational Bible verses posted on Instagram and be fed and grow and really follow Jesus. I couldn’t have made it through 2020 intact and thriving if I had just snacked on the Bread of Life when convenient. 

My second little item so share is from our viewing of the Social Dilemma on Netflix. It confirmed some of my suspicions and it definitely explains how we are seeing more and more conflict, confusion and conspiracy theorizing.

Money talks and fuels all manner of sin. Which brings me to the ten day devotion. I am receiving ten days of meditations and questions from Well Watered Woman that center on using Instagram for Jesus. The articles have been convicting as the attractions and pitfalls of social media are universal. 

Both The Social Dilemma and these writings (the Social Dilemma is not a Christian effort, but as a Christ follower I can appreciate the ethics and moral issues at risk with our current lack of standards for the internet market place), remind us that we don’t have to play into the hands of those who would use a wonderful tool like the internet for greed and profit only. 

Some of the reminders at the end of the documentary are reinforced in the study I am doing. 

  • Monitor your time – budget how much time you spend on social media. 
  • Live in the real world, not scrolling through a fake one. 
  • Fact check what you share and post.
  • Disable notifications and don’t let a social media platform choose what you watch, follow interact with. 
  • Make the choice to set limits on when you will check your social media and discipline yourself to stick to it. 
  • Put the phone away during times at the table or when with people. 
  • Recognize where you are replacing finding your comfort, guidance, peace in God with a means that will never satisfy your deep needs. 


Lecture over. 

Have a blessed day! 


Threadbare Prayers:

Jesus Centered Daily

The Well Watered Woman website http://well watered woman

Personalized Scripture Journal

The Eugene Peterson Study Bible is sadly out of print and available from used book places for a rather hefty price…sorry

The Social Dilemma on Netflix

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