Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jonathan Edwards Discipline- JED

Just read The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards (Long Line of Godly Men Profile)- Steven Lawson.

I gave the book a 2 out of 4 stars. I anticipated a biography of the great man. I have heard lots about Edwards but read little. So, I was a little disappointed that the book is not really a biography.

It is a short introduction into the Resolutions of Edwards. He made 70 resolutions as a young man of nineteen and then spent his life attempting to be faithful to his resolutions and His Lord. This is one reason why Edwards was able to accomplish so much.

The book was subpar but it did give me a great interest in Edwards and a renewed vigor towards spiritual disciplines. In fact, I have resolved to follow some spiritual disciplines extra closely during the Lenten season. I have asked for volunteers from our church to join me in this and have surprisingly received a very positive response.

Beginning on Wednesday, Feb.24, here is what we intend to do.

Here is the letter of invite that I sent to our church.

Gentlemen and Ladies, Young Men and Women of at least age 13,

Would you consider taking a wilderness experience with me?

I have been reading a biography of Jonathan Edwards, one of the greatest men in the history of the United States. He was a bit austere, truly a modern Christian ascetic. I am not agitating for asceticism. But I do think some serious spiritual discipline practice is likely to benefit us. We will not be doing anything even so drastic in these 40 days as the way he spent his entire life.

Here is what I am proposing. For the Lenten season, beginning Feb. 17, let those who would willingly do so, embark upon a journey into the wilderness. For the 40 days of Lent, we will practice spiritual disciplines, perhaps in a way that we have never done before. We will meet weekly to discuss our triumphs and failures as well as the benefits or drawbacks, to such a course.

By the way, I am not trying to create a new Lenten practice at our church. I do not necessarily believe in penitential seasons. I am not proposing that. I think concentrated focus on doing the right things is good. Extended times of several weeks of personal introspection is not necessarily good. Too much focus on self and what we are doing here also might be too much focus on self. Maybe this will give us some insight on how we might want to celebrate or practice in our Pre-Easter season in the future, maybe not. But this is being done as a one-time thing.

The goal will be to practice discipline and develop habits of those disciplines that most benefit us. I imagine we will be in for some surprises. We will probably also have lots of failures but I think the successes will make it worth it.

We will call it JED- Jonathan Edwards Discipline

What will this 40 days entail?
1. Prayer three times daily, morning, noon, night. These may be short times or longer as occasion or opportunity arise. But at the minimum, 15 minutes a day, at least five minutes per prayer time.
2. Arising early, 5am, Or, not more than 7 hours of sleep per night. I know, but part of this is to see what we can get out of this time. It’s only 40 days, you can do it. Part of this discipline is simply redeeming the time. We may find that we need more sleep but we may find that we can get by just as well or even better on 7. I generally get a lot of sleep so this will be a challenge for me.
3. Reading a short biography of Jonathan Edwards and his Resolutions.
4. Read his 70 resolutions weekly. They take about 5-10 minutes to read. We’ll discuss them.
5. Develop your own life resolutions. Say, at least 12 resolutions.
6. Practice an Edwardsian moderation in diet. Well, not exactly, he was a Spartan, but choose to eat carefully and wisely such that you are not sluggish. Maybe, for this season setting some guidelines on amounts of food and drink. (ie. Only one helping, not more than one soda, beer or glass of wine per day, maybe not eating something you tend to indulge in that is not particularly good for you, that sort of thing).
7. Changing some behavior that wastefully uses up a lot of time.(For me, checking internet for news, sports, etc. Not using the internet at all at home in the evening. I can take a break for 40 days.) Each of you might have a different time waster.
8. Fast at least one meal per week.
9. Fast one full day during this 40 days. We may pick the same day so we can compare notes and talk about how it went.
10. Read the Bible for at least 30 minutes per day. (easy to do if you get up at 5am). Recommend several psalms or page of psalms, one proverb, reading in OT and NT. Or follow your regular reading plan but get in at least 30 minutes.
11. Walk or some other exercise for at least 30 minutes per day. (see number 9) Amazingly, Edwards did this and still accomplished an unbelievable amount of work. We have all the time savers but cannot get outdoors regularly.
12. Actively pursuing godliness, kindness, gentleness, serving, careful speech, goodness, etc. May want to pick one specific area of godliness where you need work and practice getting better.
13. Meet once per week on Wed. at 5:30am to discuss how things are going, starting Feb. 24.

Sundays are exempt for all requirements related to food, sleep, exercise, etc. Sunday is a feast day.

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