Oh, to have more self-discipline in my life!

I am a very unstructured and even a somewhat unmotivated person by nature. I say somewhat unmotivated because, when I am passionate about anything, I am extremely motivated to persevere. I can become absolutely driven. But in day to day life, I am - for the most part - unstructured, laid back, sporadic and spontaneous in almost everything.

I love to read and I do read my Bible. But I have never seemed to be able to consistently make it a daily practice. I hate confessing that, but it's true. I read spontaneously (when I feel like doing it). I tell myself that Bible verses are a part of almost everything I read (because most of what I read is spiritual and/or theological). I view reading as a learning experience rather than a way to escape reality; therefore, I rarely read any kind of fiction. And the books I am drawn to focus my thoughts on God and Scripture. But I know they are not a substitute for the Word itself.

I have the same struggle with prayer. I pray spontaneously throughout the day. Lots of little prayers. But I struggle with the discipline of a consistent, daily prayer time. I am easily distracted by ordinary, day to day life activities.

Sunday, John and I finally watched "The Book of Eli" with Denzel Washington. It had a powerful message. Actually, it had several messages that fell into the theme of the overall message. One message had to do with our values and how complacent we can become with things that are precious. At one point, Eli was describing the world before an obvious nuclear event, and he said: "People had more than they needed. We had no idea what was precious and what wasn't. We threw away things people kill each other for now."

In case you haven't seen it (and you should), I don't want to get into too much detail. But Eli had been on a mission to preserve a book for thirty years. The movie tells part of the story of his journey. You can guess what book. That becomes pretty obvious early in the plot. The movie was so good at illustrating how the Book could be used to control and manipulate, or it could be written on a person's heart so deeply that nothing could deter him from his calling. In either case, the Book was very powerful.

When we finished the movie, I couldn't stop thinking about making changes in my routine and valuing what is precious in a much greater way. At church Sunday night, Allen spoke to us about the "beginning of birth pains" mentioned in Matthew 24, the days leading up to Jesus' return and how we will face greater and greater stress as the day approaches. He talked to us about suffering and about how we don't really long for Jesus to return when we are busy enjoying our lives. But believers around the world who are suffering in ways we have never suffered; they long for Jesus to return.

I am so thankful for the many ways in which God speaks to my heart and inspires me to want to change. All through the movie, I kept thinking (about the Eli character); The Book is written on his heart. And when the end came, I realized that I had gotten the intended message.

Parts of the Bible are written on all of our hearts if we are beleivers and we have ever spent time with our Bibles. But we can be so complacent. Because we have Bibles at our fingertips ... we have them in book form, in CD form, every translation viewable online at the click of the mouse ... we can lose sight of how precious the Book is and the sacrifices that have been made for us to read it in such comfort, freedom, and ease.

Our pastor reminded us Sunday night that we enjoy privileges that we have not sacrificed or suffered for. I know that. But I still need to be reminded. I'm thankful God led me to a church where there is depth and I am constantly challenged to get out of my comfort zone, to allow God to change me, and to resist complacency.

I began this week differently. Instead of turning on the news and then the Today show first thing, as I normally do, I have devoted the first part of my day to quiet time; prayer and reading my Bible. For the last several years, I have read primarily from the New Testament. But this week I began reading Genesis again. I have also been reading a very interesting book entitled, "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist." This morning I read several chapters from Genesis and then read from the other book about the cosmological argument for the beginning of the universe.

In light of all the evidence that the universe did indeed have a beginning, Geisler (one of the authors) posed the question, "If there is no God, why is there something rather than nothing?" It's a question we all have to answer. And he submitted that "in light of the evidence, we are left with only two options: either no one created something out of nothing or else someone created something out of nothing. Which view is more reasonable?"

Of course, I'm not reading Geisler and Turek's book because I'm trying to decide if there's a God. I'm convinced there is. I just realize that I don't necessarily know all of the scientific, logical and evidentiary arguments for belief in God. And I love to learn. I just happened to be at the Big Bang point in the book as I was deciding to read from Genesis. And the timing was good. I have enjoyed my quiet time so much this morning. I find myself wondering why I have such a hard time with this discipline.

I hesitated to write this soon about my inspiration and effort. I'm two days into it. And I am so well acquainted with failure and self-disappointment when it comes to any form of self-discipline.

Then again, I realize I'm not the only person who struggles.