Discipline and Discovery

“As Christians we are an undisciplined people,” writes Albert Edward Day. “That is the reason for the lack of spiritual insight and moral power in the church today. Where is the denial of self, if we are left to our own? That is why we need each other. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). The author continues:

We have forgotten the faithful practices that have given to Christendom some of its noblest saints.[1] What the Church primarily needs today is the presence of God-conscious, God-centered Christians. Even a few here and there would greatly help a church confronted by the chaos of this age.[2]

“Paul was a disciplined disciple.” We should not have to say it twice, but as the word disciple does not mean all it used to, we have to get the meaning back. “I subdue my body and bring it into subjection” (I Corinthians 9:27). “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth.” (Colossians 3:5). “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us” (Hebrew 12:1). “No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life” (2 Timothy 2:4). These are not the words of a man who scorned discipline![3]

The Disciplined Order of Christ. Under the leadership of Dr. Albert E. Day in the summer of 1945, one hundred and twenty clergy and lay persons met at Albion College in Michigan to seek God’s guidance. Together they caught a vision of what life can be under Christ—a life of ethical sensitivity, spiritual insight, social concern, and heroic devotion to the Kingdom of God. To foster such a life, the Disciplined Order of Christ was founded.[4]

Dr. Ralph Winter said: “Bob Munger and others were inspired by this book and this movement. The Catholic Opus Dei has the same idea, but with a more effective accountability.” Members of the Disciplined Order of Christ pledge to God and to one another certain practices and self-denial. The goal: “An intelligent mastery and faithful practice of these disciplines are a certain road to communion with God.”[5]

Refraining from Speaking Evil. “Speak evil of no one” (Titus 3:2). Do you refrain, or under pretext of ferreting out wrong, do you let your tongue dwell on a morsel of gossip?

‘Tis a Gift to be Simple. “When there is simplicity one does not keep people guessing.”[6]

  • Simplicity in Plain Speaking
  • Deflating One’s Pride (Mortify the flesh)
  • Simplicity and Things. When others pay you tribute, say to yourself, ‘I must strive to become what people think I am.’[7]
  • The Disciplines of Simplicity. “Use these suggestions not as moral “big sticks,” but as guides and stimuli to the behavior that will lead you into the liberty of Christ.”[8]

Humility. Begin the day by looking at Jesus. Nothing is quite so humbling as even a cursory glance at His perfections.[9]

  • Recall your own sins and imperfections
  • Forget the imperfections of others.
  • Beware of seeking honor from others
  • Consider others better than yourself.
  • Learn the joy of giving and serving anonymously
  • Avoid the trap of self-exaltation

Living with Less. “Frugality is one way to shake us free from the tyranny of things.”[10]

  • Begin with Food; let health, not appetite, be the measure of your eating.[11] Learn to say no to friends who insist on your joining them for food or drink.[12] Practice fasting regularly.[13]
  • Frugality in sleeping.
  • Frugality in all the expressions and satisfactions of the physical nature is demanded.
  • Avoid buying things even when you can afford to.

Generosity. “Real Generosity towards humanity is seldom practiced.”[14] Begin now to give yourself to God. Begin anywhere—with your next ten minutes or with the money in your pocket. Give that to God and ask what you should do with it.[15]

  • Generosity vs. Possessiveness
  • Poverty for Some, Generosity for All
  • Giving all to God
  • Renew your consecration during the day
  • Daily examine the management of your life: Consider how much God has done for you. Consider giving a whole day of your time to God. Remember your stewardship of God’s resources. Make the matter of entire consecration a subject of frequent meditation.

The Disciplines of Truth-telling. Watch your words; Watch your tones; Watch your actions; Study your associations; Searchingly appraise your calendar; Examine the impression you make. Deal ruthlessly with hypocrisy.

Purity. “Unless ego can be defeated in its usurpation of sex, it will remain a tyrant on the throne of one’s entire life.”[16] “Do not be deceived; bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Practice mortification in all your enterprises—that is, a holy indifference to the success or failure of an enterprise to which you are giving everything you have and are.

Charity. Having Charity toward God. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice” (Psalm 51:8). Show charity towards humanity; Forgive others before they ask it

Important Reminders

  • First is Discipline. This is the Starting Place. Then Discovery, then Deliverance, then Doxology
  • The Danger of Keeping Score; keeping score is likely to cause inflation instead of deflation of the ego
  • The True Test is your disciplined life what you do when no one is there to see but God alone.
  • Discipline is Not Bondage. Accept the sufferings that are involved in the death of our own egocentricity.

References Cited

[1] Albert Edward Day, Discipline and Discovery (Nashville: Whitaker House, 1988 (first published 1947)). 11

[2] Ibid. 12

[3] Ibid. 14

[4] Ibid. 183

[5] Ibid. 35

[6] Ibid. 56

[7] Ibid. 61

[8] Ibid. 63

[9] Ibid. 79

[10] Ibid. 90

[11] Ibid. 94

[12] Ibid. 94

[13] Ibid. 94

[14] Ibid. 107

[15] Ibid. 108

[16] Ibid. 130