Welcome to our blog! This is a place to share ideas, thoughts, concerns and joys of our faith journey. I'll be posting sporadically, but hope you will feel free to comment and join in the discussions.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Discipline and Discipleship

These two words are not usually intertwined. Discipline has sort of punitive overtones to it. You were disciplined, after all, if you did something bad as a kid. I remember my parents speaking of discipline as something that would not be a comfortable thing (especially in reference to the tracking of mud on the kitchen floor after it was just cleaned!). It wasn't until much later that I realized that discipline could be a good thing as well. Guiding myself along in a structured way had it's rewards. When you look up the word discipline it says this, "training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character." The first couple of definitions simply emphasize what I knew the word to mean growing up. But its this third definition that I want to link with the second word up there in the title.

Discipleship. This word comes before discipline in the dictionary--well at least the word disciple does. And that word is said to mean, "One who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: as in-one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ's followers according to the Gospel accounts." So to mean a disciple was a bringer of good news (you know, Gospel). Whereas, discipline meant the bringing of bad news (retribution for muddy floors). They didn't seem compatible. Except upon closer inspection.

Being a Christian was never supposed to be easy. I think that's where I fall short today in my thinking. Christianity can be a pretty easy and lukewarm thing. If we say we are Christian, we can go to church on Sundays, we can occasionally say a prayer or two, but nothing much is felt to be required. We don't have to take a test, pay an initiation fee, or even think much about it, if we choose not to. And therein lies the problem. If our faith isn't something we have to work at, why work at all? We work hard for most everything else in our lives, we think. We work hard at work. We take care of our homes, our families, our car payments, our mortgage payments. We try to remember to take time out to exercise once in a while, it's exhausting. The one thing I don't want to have to do is work for my faith.

So what do I mean then? Do I mean standing on a street corner and shouting? I think what I'm talking about is somehow becoming more disciplined in my disciplining. Becoming more aware of what it means to be a Christian and then going about doing it. Not by thumping my Bible (or even beating my chest). But by being more conscious of what I am called to be and to do. Not by quoting verses (let's not forget the chapters as well?!), but by living the grace that is freely given to me and responding in joyous affirmation. Being mindful of being a Christian. That's what I mean. Being careful of where I put my sharp tongue. Being aware of where my feet are leading me. Asking God to be with me on the path, not to push me along, but assisting me in prayer and helping me to see the path before me, whichever one I take.

So here's the deal, next Sunday we're going to begin a discussion in the Adult Sunday School Class of what it means to be a disciplined disciple. There will be no stern lectures (at least not by me!), no wagging of fingers, no being sent to the corner without supper. But there hopefully will be good conversation about what it means to be a conscious believer and how to do that better. Will you join us?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Learning to Fish

I just read a daily devotion that used this line, "Jesus taught us to fish from the other side of the boat." It is sticking to my mind like that stretchy, sticky stuff they use on labels for things now a days. The devotion was talking about when Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection. They hadn't caught anything all night, but he tells them to fish from the other side of the boat and they caught so much, it was hard to haul it in.

Fishing from the other side of the boat...it seems like a good line. Except it has scary overtones. It means doing something we have done a million times, but in a different way. It means sharing the peace with someone we'd rather not and saying, "Peace be with you," and REALLY meaning it. It means really asking for forgiveness when we do so in prayer without thinking about what the rest of the day brings. It may mean sitting in a different pew for a change.

I think what the author of the devotion touched on (and why it still sticks with me) is that it's really easy to always fish from the same side of the boat. It's easy to do the same thing, the same way in the same place all the time. There is a comfort in sameness. But the Lord asks us to do things a little differently now that Easter has arrived. We are called to remember that we are a new creation in that rebirth and new creations don't always do the same thing the same way.

How can we fish from the other side of the boat this week? What can we do that although it is the same, is also new and different? More in line with what our lives can be about as Christians? How can we come away from the fishing trip with more in our nets than we ever had before? I'm still working on that. I hope you will too!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gimme a light

I've been thinking of the lights in our lives. No, not light bulbs and smelly candles. The lights that come to us through our family and friends. Some people are just light bringers. They shine through their smiles, their laughs, their hugs. They just can't seem to help it! I'm not sure it's a conscious thing--this light bringing. I know a woman who, although she is very sick, can still light up any corner of the room she enters with her presence. She doesn't really do anything spectacular or showy. She just, well, shows up. And each time she does, people around her smile more often, exchange greetings with others after she walks away and you can see the path she has woven through a crowd.

I was reading a devotion today that reminded me of the kid's song, "This Little Light of Mine." You remember that one? We sing it once in a while to remind us about the light we each carry around with us. But we also need to remember where the light came from and what we do with our lights. As caretakers of the light given to us by God, we are compelled to share with others. Now sometimes we don't want to share the light because, well, I guess there are lots of reasons. It feels pretty good to bask in the light of God, so why share it? Won't it be colder if we "spread it around"? Or maybe we worry that someone would be offended by the light--it isn't the right wattage or the right company. It's safe to keep the light to ourselves. But I believe the light was meant to be shared, savored and given out as much as possible. Like the woman I know, it's better to give the light, then stub your toe in the darkness.

So let's share some light this week with each other, not just at church, but wherever we go. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


To those who have just joined us here at the 'ol blogspot, welcome! St. Mark Lutheran Church is located in Oaklyn, NJ. I have been a member of St Mark's for about 25 years. I hope to share some of my experiences with you and hope you will share with me as well. Commenting after each post enables you and others to share your thoughts and ideas in a public way. Encouraging each other in our faith and beliefs is what Christianity is all about, after all. Although I welcome your comments, please remember that because this is a public venue, it's a good idea to use this space to share ideas and faith stories, but not to name names even in a good way! Some people may not like having their names or certain events made public, so please try to take other people's feelings in consideration when responding.

So again I say, welcome! Let's see where the spirit leads us.