BOOK THREE of Ten that have shaped my life. Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster.

A young believer in the faith, at Bible College, reading theology, learning about the Bible and church history, much emphasis on mission and evangelism and exhortation to love God and the world. Knowing what you should and what you desire to do was different from actually doing it. How? Then into my possession came this book. A revelation that was transformative. The preface captured my attention, “Superficiality is the curse of our age”.
The book covers 12 classic disciplines of the spiritual life, classic both because they are ancient and also because they are central to experiential and applied faith. Foster invites us, through the disciplines to move beyond surface living into the depths. He writes about the inward disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting and study; the outward disciplines of simplicity, solitude, submission and service and the corporate disciplines of confession, worship, guidance and celebration.
Its power and influence continues to shape my life and faith, revisiting the book during Lent most years since its publication in 1978. What adds weight to the writings of this and other books by Richard is that we have become good friends and I can testify that he is a writer who lives what he teaches. It’s been my privilege and joy to have helped set up and serve on the Renovare Board here in Britain for over 20 years, drawing richly from the friendships and resources of that spirituality movement, seeking to serve the renewal of the church.
I was tempted to include his “Streams of Living Water” and at least one of his great friend Dallas Willards books but I’ve chosen Celebration of Discipline because it was the book in those early days of spiritual formation that was to lead me as a new believer, a passionate evangelical and soon to be charismatic, into a deep appreciation of the spiritual disciplines, the need of the transformation of the heart and a valuing of streams of spirituality outside of my own and at times preferred expressions of faith. Still a classic.
2 Quotes from the book:
“The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”…. “A farmer is helpless to grow grain; all he can do is provide the right conditions for the growing of grain. He cultivates the ground, he plants the seed, he waters the plants, and then the natural forces of the earth take over and up comes the grain…This is the way it is with the Spiritual Disciplines – they are a way of sowing to the Spirit… By themselves the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done.”

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