I’m a sucker for old books, especially by certain writers that have demonstrated such depth of insight. Just about anytime I see an ad for a Library sale I’m going to attempt to be there and make some purchases. Last Friday was one of those days and I picked 25 or so books. One of the interesting things about buying a used book is what you may find inside them in the form of notes that the previous owner wrote or even some letter or card that was left there from another time.
Today I was looking through a couple of the volumes I picked up and inside the book “The Future of the Christian” by Elton Trueblood was several pages of notes the first owner had made as he read the book. He also wrote freely on the pages themselves of his thoughts as he read. But the most interesting thing was a card. On one side of it was a picture of an ancient yoke that would have been used with oxen in the early days of Christianity. Under the yoke are these words, “The bearer of this card is recognized as a Yokefellow because he is one who seeks to be a member of Christ’s team in common life, accepting the discipline explained on the opposite side. Under that was the name, National Yokefellow Office, 230 College Avenue, Richmond, Indiana 47374. On the opposite side it had the title, “A COMMON DISCIPLINE.” Then it says, “I, the undersigned, voluntarily undertake:
1. The Discipline of Prayer. To pray every day preferably at the beginning of the day.
2. The Discipline of Scripture. To read reverently and thoughtfully every day, a portion of Scripture, following a definite plan.
3. The Discipline of Worship. To share, at least once each week, in the public worship of God.
4. The Discipline of Money. To give a definite portion of my annual income to the promotion of the Christian Cause.
5. The Discipline of Time. To use my time as a sacred gift, not to be wasted.
6. The Discipline of Work. To strive to make my daily work, whatever it may me, a Christian vocation.
7. The Discipline of Study. To develop my mental powers by careful reading and study.
Both the man’s name and a witness had signed the card. I don’t know if this was an organization assocaited with Elton Trueblood or just something that was left at some point in the book. The looks of the card indicate it has been around for a long time.
I wonder if the organization still exist. Those seven disciplines would be great for anyone to commit to. The fact that it has a place for a person to sign and have it witnessed makes it all the more likely that the one signing will follow through with the commitment.
The idea of discipline doesn’t tend to fit well in our society. We tend to picture discipline as some sort of punishment. The root of the word is “Disciple”. It has to do with the intentional practice of that which leads one to be a disciple. It is amazing how much we admire discipline in sports when we don’t seem to share the same attitude toward our faith.
Would you be willing to put your name on the line with a witness commiting yourself to follow these seven disciplines? It would be a powerful way to grow in your faith toward God.