God is calling into being a Church that can openly confess its frail humanity and know the forgiving and empowering graces of Christ. May God give grace to the Church once again to recover the Discipline[s].
The word “discipline” is not often associated with any happy words, words like “celebration”. Discipline conjuers up images of spankings received as a child, curfews and limited driving time as a teenager and the unpleasant but necessary dietary restriction for adults.
Discipline is usually associated with bad things, the withholding of the things we enjoy. This may very well be true. But we would be sorely mistaken if we thought that disciplining ourselves, disciplining our spiritual lives, was withholding some good from ourselves. In fact, disciplining ourselves can release a cornucopia of spiritual goodness and blessing. And with that news, we should celebrate.
Richard Foster invites the Christian community to live a different kind of life. A life of intentional spiritual growth, moving us into a space where the church can be moved by God in powerful ways. Though originally published in 1987, Celebration of Discipline continues to provoke and provide valuable insights into the life God wants for us.
Can you muster the strength to live a life that is filled with celebration and discipline?
Let him who cannot be alone beware of community…
Let him who is not in community beware of being alone…
Each by itself has profound pitfalls and perils. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation and despair.
This isn’t the first time I have read Celebration of Discipline, and I can guarantee that it won’t be the last. Foster opens up a new world of Christian life every time you read it. New concepts grab and compel you to reexamine your Christian walk. After every chapter a part of you is challenged and leaves you in a very humbling place. Not a humiliating place, shaming you and telling you should be more spiritually mature, but humbling. It is humbling because God has opened up wonderful doors of grace through which you may encounter His goodness. Whether it is the discipline of simplicity or service, ideas our narcissistic society has forgotten, or the disciplines of worship and prayer, things we tend to think we have mastered, Celebration of Discipline has plenty to teach all of us.
For most Protestant Christians, the things that Foster discusses are foreign and strange. But as the book goes on, one is overcome by the relevance and necessity of these things for all Christians. For those that are not aware of what these Disciplines are, Foster walks through them all in a very simplistic way. For those that have practised the Inward, Outward and Corporate Disciplines before, there is a gentle push towards deeper and more intense action as a move towards holiness and more Christ-like living.
The Spiritual Discipline[s are] not a lost dream, but a recurrent vision throughout history.
It can be recaptured today. It must be.
Here is one reason why some books last through the ages: they are great. Being informative and simplistic, without disregarding the complexity of the spiritual life, Foster has written a gem that is worth a lifetime of reading. I am keeping Celebration of Discipline ON MY SHELF for years to come.