Sunday Sermonette

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Thorncrown Chapel



There is one thing that almost all of us can agree on. We don’t like discipline. That general feeling notwithstanding, discipline to principles is required of any nation. In the military, everything is run based on orders. Violation of orders subjects you to the discipline prescribed in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Civil law, corporate regulations (to make things regular), the vehicle code, all try to create order and establish discipline.

A productive life requires discipline. If you want to be a combat swimmer in the Navy you must go through drown-proofing during the dive phase of training. As with all things, you have to hang together or you in trouble. You must discipline yourself if you are to survive. One way of demonstrating that is the beehive, wherein swimmers are pushed into the deep end of the pool by a line with floats attached.  Cadre pull the floating line tighter, creating an ever-tightening group until you’re all shoulder-to-shoulder. Everyone treads water, trying to stay afloat. It only takes one person to break discipline, panic, and grab a shoulder to try to stay afloat and that person grabs the next guy and it sets off a chain reaction. Bedlam results and nobody treads water anymore.

The chain is only as strong as the weakest link.

There are a lot of elements to drown-proofing after the lesson of the beehive, and they are done with you in the water with your hands and feet tied. Completing the test requires that you exercise discipline. I won’t go into each element of the training, but you get the picture.

During the era when Rome ruled the world, the cohesiveness of its military – the discipline that they showed – was why they were successful. Breach of discipline could be flogging, crucifixion, or decimation based on the nature of the crime.

The root word in “Disciples of Christ” is DISCIPLINE. We all know that salvation comes to those who discipline themselves (Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  [Matt. 7:13–14]).

One story that is retold in the gospels is that of Jesus and the rich young man Gospel of Matthew 19:16–30, the Gospel of Mark 10:17–31, and the Gospel of Luke 18:18–30 in the New Testament.

Jesus taught in Perea, east of the Jordan River and one of the people who had been following him was a wealthy young man. The man asked Jesus what he should do to find eternal life. First, Jesus advises the man to obey the commandments (DISCIPLINE). When the rich man responded that he already followed the Torah, and asked what else he should do, Jesus added

If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” The eye of the needle referred to was a gate in Jerusalem. To get through the low gate, the camel had to be unloaded and it went through walking on its knees.

The non-canonical Gospel of the Nazarenes is mostly identical to the Gospel of Matthew, but one of the differences is an elaboration of this account. It reads:

The other of the rich men said to him “Master, what good thing shall I do and live?” He said to him “Man, perform the law and the prophets.” He answered him “I have performed them.” He said to him “Go, sell all that thou hast and divide it to the poor, and come, follow me.” But the rich man began to scratch his head, and it pleased him not. And the Lord said to him “How can you say ‘I have performed the law and the prophets? seeing that it is written in the law ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,’ and look, many of your brothers, sons of Abraham, are clad with dung, dying for hunger, and your house is full of much goods, and there goes out therefrom naught at all unto them.” And he turned and said to Simon his disciple, sitting by him, “Simon, son of John, it is easier for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle than a rich man into the kingdom of the heavens”.

You cannot serve God and be enslaved to the things of this world. (I paraphrased) Putting off the enticements of this world and following Christ required discipline then and it requires discipline now. Few people genuinely find that appealing. They prefer to pick and choose their “disciplines”.


Middle Eastern Religions



Medieval cathedrals weren’t actually supposed to be dark and rundown places with only stained glass as color. They were bright places full of light… the reason they look like that now is because of the centuries of accumulated grime and dust, here look at this restoration of the Cathedral of Chartres in France:




It’s based on actual paint from the times, and when you think about it, it makes a lot more sense, after all a church is supposed to be a bright place of hope. Yet when we think about the middle ages we think about grimy and dark cathedrals. I wonder how much of our conception of history is shaped by our current visions of historical buildings.


More Maps


35 thoughts on “Sunday Sermonette

  1. A Spectator Editorial
    Joe Biden has spent his first couple of months in office enjoying what his predecessor never had: a presidential honeymoon. Americans have rewarded Biden with early approval ratings of 60 percent or higher. He may be benefiting from the inevitable diminishing of the coronavirus as cases decline and more states reopen. Or the public may simply be relieved to have a president who isn’t perpetually in the spotlight, even if he doesn’t always seem aware of the fact he is president.

    But no honeymoon can last too long, and Biden’s is coming to an end at America’s southern border, where a crisis is escalating. Eighty thousand people tried illegally to cross the border in January, double the figure of a year ago. In February, nearly 100,000 did the same. At current rates, the spring and summer may bring hundreds of thousands more. Caught off-guard, the Biden administration has scrambled to reopen ‘facilities for migrant children’. Just weeks earlier, Democrats had called such facilities American ‘concentration camps’.

    America’s border has become the first serious failure of the Biden presidency. Texas congressman Vicente Gonzalez has warned that the rate new arrivals are being admitted at will invite thousands more to make the journey north, and will be ‘catastrophic’ for his district and the country. Gonzalez isn’t a white nationalist; he is a Hispanic Democrat.

    In Tijuana, and at othe points at the boarder, migrants have been seen wearing Biden’s welcoming t-shirts and printed signs begging “Biden, Please Let Us In!” And why shouldn’t they? It is exactly that kind of sentimentalism that the Biden administration wanted.
    President Trump had by 2020 stabilized the situation with his ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. Without the promise of easy entry to America, new arrivals at the border dried up.

    Throughout 2020, Joe Biden openly campaigned to throw out everything Trump had done and start over. He didn’t just promise to halt construction on Trump’s wall and junk the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. He also promised to reverse Trump’s public charge rule, which blocked immigrants from instantly claiming public benefits. Biden promised a path to citizenship not just for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, but every illegal immigrant in the US. Throwing the Good out with the Bad he did exactly as he promised. Even though most of what he had done was not exactly a good thing.

    Most memorably of all, Biden promised that in his administration, ICE would only arrest immigrants suspected of felonies, and in his book drunk driving wasn’t a felony. Biden described his plans as ‘reform’. But to millions abroad who wish to come to America, Biden was promising something more: if they arrive at America’s doorstep, they’ll never have to leave. For purely political reasons, Biden took a manageable situation and broke it. And thanks to the nature of the modern Democratic party, he will find it difficult to fix a second time. While the American proletariat has gradually grown addicted to pain pills and antidepressants, Washington is addicted to an even more pernicious drug: sentimentality. Leaders increasingly believe there is no difference between the best policy and the most superficially feel-good one. All the difficulties of governing throughout human history, apparently, are the work of masochistic minds eager to choose an inferior and painful policy over the correct and easier one.
    President Biden will have to find the courage to resist his own party’s new ideology, or the border crisis of his first months could turn into a disastrous problem for his entire presidency.

    This article was originally published in The Spectator’s April 2021 US edition.

    1. President Biden will have to find the courage to resist his own party’s new ideology

      Slow Joe was never that bright. He was Obama’s life insurance policy. Nobody would knock off Barack for fear that Biden-the-Buffoon would take charge.

      Yet here we are. Biden, ever the corrupt, dim bulb, grown dimmer through senility.

  2. From somewhere on the web, long ago.

    “We are ever confronted with two kinds of pain: the pain of discipline, and the pain of regret. You can avoid one, but never both.”

    1. We all fall into that trap, Ed. Worse still we become hearers of the Word and not doers of the Word. The only way to avoid that is discipline.

  3. “We shape our buildings, and thereafter, they shape us.” — Winston Churchill

  4. HAPPY 40th Anniversary to MRSLL. She doesn’t read this blog, but, all credit to her, mother of four daughters, grandmother to nine wonderful grandchildren.

      1. Happy Anniversary to you both!

        Agree with WSF 100%. It takes two to tango, and two to make a marriage. They’re both fun, and they both take a lot of work to do right.

      2. Agree as well. It takes two to make a marriage work and, despite advice from certain quarters about a village, it takes two to raise well disciplined children.
        Congrats to both of you.

  5. As always a great Sermonette, feels like I went to service and the pastor was reminding the congregants to quit being lazy about important things, starting with the Godly ones.

    Duly noted. I see some self-reflection in my day, starting with a day off going to Estes Park to stroll around relaxing, first time in a year and a half.

    Churches like those WERE stunning, restoration efforts are worth the result. Hoping to see Notre Dame come back in full glory.

    Congratulation son your 40th…Happy Wife, Happy Life is certainly wisdom. I like to say “If she wants it painted red…paint it red, what do you care?

      1. Even better said.

        During the back to the studs master bath remodel I was reminded how well I had married. MrsPaulM did not mind the toilet sitting in the bedroom for 6 months awaiting it’s reinstall (was working out of town so weekends were it)…and…one day while I’m redoing the plumbing she walked in with some found out in the pasture ancient fence post with nails and barbed wire and moss on it, asking, “Can’t we use this somewhere? I like it and it fits our rustic chic look.” Four hours later, after making a special table saw jig and preserving the details, it was installed.

        My job was/is to execute the requests, and not a day goes by when I see it that fence post in the MB and think of that “paint it red” moment…and we have lots of those. The good stuff, the rest is just noise from the machine.

      1. Gungor is great!…hadn’t seen that in moons. Sruth is always spot on. Maybe that stuck in my brain because I know I co-opted it, along with a Kenny Chesney song about “the good stuff” – call it “modern proverbial” wisdom.

  6. I’m not really a grammar nazi (or OED devotee), but I’m having difficulty with the word “proscribed” in its usage in this sentence:
    “Violation of orders subjects you to the discipline proscribed in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. ”
    Obviously, I read your commentary very closely/carefully

  7. Congratulations to both of you!. Keeping a relationship takes work and discipline ( Now where have I heard a sermonette about discipline lately?)

  8. Medieval life was much more color-vibrant than what we think of today, from light-filled cathedrals to colorful castle rooms (we only see the rooms without the plaster and paint, but restored and recovered castles are very bright inside, in comparison. A lot of plaster and whitewash goes a long way to brightening a room) and even to the clothes. They had some spectacular natural dyes back then. Proof is the Bayeaux Tapestry (really an embroidery) that still to this day, after all it has survived (being set on fire, being used as a cover for wagons, being stored and hidden and neglected) still has deep blacks, good reds and greens and even blues.

    And I blame the ‘Dark’ ages and dark Medieval ages outlook squarely on the ‘historians’ of the 19th and early 20th Century. The Victorians and Edwardians, who managed to screw up so much history that we’re still trying to clean up their messes (and the history f-ups that Marx and Engels based their dog-squeeze on…) Like ‘secondary brains’ on dinosaurs. Or Plate Armor is too heavy (based on jousting armor, not field plate.) That medieval medicine was horrible (it was no worse than pre-antibiotic 19th and 20th century medicine, and in a lot of ways was superior. They knew that ‘bad air’ was bad for sick people, believed in sunning and wrapping and fresh air and draining wounds and using natural antibiotics and so much more that the Victorians and Edwardians poo-pooed.)


    Even the Victorian and Edwardian slant on scriptures has had a negative effect on people’s understanding of the Word.


    1. > Or Plate Armor is too heavy
      Oh geez. Flashback. Freshman year in college, talking to a history major named Bruce. Bruce insisted that medieval knights were barely able to walk in their heavy heavy armor, and had to be hoisted onto their horses with block and tackle. Plus, a knight who fell over would be much like a turtle flipped on its back, unable to get up without help.
      “So you’re telling me that an unhorsed knight is basically helpless. Trip him up with a rope or long pole, then jam a pointy stick through his visor after he falls over. Good thing the peasants never thought of that.”

      People are allowed to have stupid ideas, but I’d prefer they not be stupid in their specialties.

      1. Yeah.

        Like, you know, there wasn’t a requirement for knighthood to be able to get on and off the horse in full armor.

        In fact, several militant knightly orders required one of their knight-candidates to be able to exhibit the ability to armor up, tack up his horse, get on the horse, ride for 5-6 hours, charge, jump off the horse, jump/crawl/climb a ditch, climb a short wall, fight on the walls, jump down into the town/fort/whatev and, if poop goes sideways, go back and get back on the horse and go back to the camp.

        French knights, even at Agincourt, were noted for being able to ride a dead horse down and walk out of the saddle.

        Then there’s one French knight, during the 100 Years War, who was apparently so offended by a certain English knight that he rode into the English encampment, jumped off his horse, did a forward roll while taking off his gauntlet, smashed said English knight full in the chops with said gauntlet, challenged said knight, then when getting an answer as to day and time for a duel, jumped back on his horse and rode off, to the clapping and cheering of the English for such a display, all while in full 14th Century Plate. Chronicled by the English!

        So, yeah, f’in hate ‘historians’ who have no actual contact with reality.

        Back a couple years, after they found Richard III and got good radiographs of his spinal deformities, a group of researchers found a young man with much the same deformities and used him to determine what, exactly, Richard III was capable of physically. After getting him physically fit, they got him to armor up and learn to ride while in armor. He was able to get most of his armor on himself, able to saddle his horse, mount, fight while on horseback. And walk around in full armor. Only when excercised in full armor did his deformity work against him (as the armor actually stabilized his back, and the war saddle actually took most of the weight and stress of the armor off of his shoulders.

        Stupid historians…

  9. Happy anniversary LL. I hope that its a good day for you both. After a couple remodeling projects including a home built in the 1880’s I have come to understand “it looks good painted red dear” though honestly it took some time.
    As for discipline, I fail often but keep trying. Thanks for a great sermonette as it was timely. Discipline is needed in the coming days.

  10. Beautiful photo of Chartres. Imagine the mind and soul of the people who built it, filled with space and light. How did they get that?

    I think you give the answer, discipline. We must thank God for the grace which perfects our fallen endeavor.

    Of topic(ish). We’re told that sailors coming into Constantinople were guided by the light beaming through the windows on the dome of Hagia Sophia. Magical. The barbarians killed that, let’s take it back.

    1. Finding the will to take back Constantinople exceeds the capacity of this generation.

      1. Yep. Too bad the Christian world wasn’t as united as the muslim world was. Then civilization would never have lost the Holy Lands.

        And now, with Fumbles McPuddingbrains screwing up the whole middle east… well, so much for Peace in Our Times.

        All because of OrangeManBadMeanTweets had to go.


        Though there is some hope with the non-Parisian French getting all stroppy about muslim interlopers in France, since, well, France is where the Crusades started from.

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