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Pastor to Pastor

The Disciplined Life

All of life is discipline. But what kind?

Columbanus (2)

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should have become disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9.27

Many folks find the word “discipline” a bit off-putting. It sounds like punishment. Or an unwelcome grind.

But the root of the word, of course, is the same as the root of “disciple”, and all it really means is “training” or “learning.” Discipline is whatever regimen of repeated activities we adopt to help us realize the goals for growth and learning we have set for ourselves.

And since our ultimate growth and learning goal is Jesus (2 Cor. 3.12-18; Eph. 4.17-24), we need to make sure that whatever disciplines we subject our soul and body to will be those that conduce to realizing that outcome.

Jonas wrote of Columbanus, “Then he endeavored to enter a society of monks, and went to the monastery at Banchor (in the County of Ulster, in Ireland). The abbot, the holy Comgall, renowned for his virtues, was a faithful father to his monks and was held in high esteem for the fervour of his faith and the order and discipline which he preserved. Here Columban gave himself entirely to fasting and prayer, to bearing the easy yoke of Christ, to mortifying the flesh, to taking the cross upon himself and following Christ, in order that he who was to be the teacher of others might show the learning, which he taught, more fruitfully by his own example in mortifying his own body; and that he who was to instruct others might first instruct himself.”

Note that phrase “might show the learning, which he taught.” Over the past fifty years of ministry, I’ve known and worked with many pastors. Many of them have expressed that their lives were not as disciplined as they would like them to have been. For too many pastors the disciplines that should shape their souls and form their bodies for sacrificial service – not just spiritual disciplines but all the disciplines that help us in redeeming our time – are too haphazard, catch-as-catch-can, and inconsistent. The result is not much spiritual vitality or vision, little aptitude for discipling others, and a kind of listlessness about the work of ministry overall.

Columbanus knew he would be of no long-term use to the Lord without a disciplined life. His life proved the truth of his convictions. We should learn from him and take the time to assess the state of our own disciplines. To that end, I invite you to write to me and I’ll send you our free, seven-part study on “The Disciplined Life”, together with some resources and tools to help you improve your own daily disciplines.

Resources for Shepherds
Here again is the schedule for the four men’s reading groups we will be sponsoring in the fall and winter:

The Patient Ferment of the Early Church, by Alan Kreider. The first Christians won their neighbors by

their habitus more than their preaching. Ralph Elmerick and I will lead. Every other Friday, September 2 through January 13 (excluding 11/25), via Zoom 3-4pm Eastern. See my brief review of this excellent book on the Resources for Shepherds page at www.ailbe.org.

The Case for the Psalms, by N. T. Wright. David Timbie and I will lead this study on why the psalms

matter and how to make best use of them. We’ll meet every other Wednesday, 2-3pm Eastern via Zoom. We’re going to take on the challenge of learning to pray the psalms as we work through this book, September 14 through December 7.

The Sermons of Columbanus. I’ll be leading our discussion of the thirteen extant sermons by this greatest of the Irish peregrini every Monday (they’re real short, I promise) 4-5pm, September 12 through December 5. When you sign up, I’ll send you his sermons in PDF for free.

Our discussion of Pagans and Christians in the City, by Steve Smith will be held every other Friday, 3-4pm, September 9 through January 20.

Men, if you would like to enroll in any of these discussion groups, now is the time to drop me a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.indicating which group(s) you will be joining for the fall. This is our last call for you to enroll, so if you’re interested, let me know.

Don’t forget to visit the Resources for Shepherds page at our website, where you’ll find reviews, insights, and exhortations to help you in your walk with and work for the Lord.

From the Celtic Revival

Here is Columbanus on the discipline of encouraging one another in the Lord:

...and let us all hasten to approach to perfect manhood, to the measure of the completed growth of the fullness of Jesus Christ, in Whom let us love one another, praise one another, correct one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, that with Him in one another we may reign and triumph.

  - Columbanus, Letter to Certain Bishops, Irish, early 7th century[1]

By his disciplined life, personal example, consistent disciple-making, and faithful witness, Columbanus brought awakening and renewal to the moribund churches of 7th-century Gaul. Led multitudes of young people to faith in Jesus, started four monastic foundations, and left a legacy of writings which, albeit few and brief, give us insight to his heart and life.

Sign-up at our website, www.ailbe.org, to receive Crosfigell every Tuesday and Thursday and learn more from and about the great leaders of the Celtic Revival.

Click here for a free copy of our PDF, The Celtic Revival: A Brief Introduction.

T. M. Moore.

Please pray

It is our privilege to provide resources and opportunities to equip and encourage church leaders in building the Lord’s Church and advancing His Kingdom. Please pray that God will move many of those we serve through this ministry to share with us financially in its support. If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal or Anedot, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[1] Walker, p. 23.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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