October 19, 2006

5 Things learned from Celebration of Discipline

I just finished reading Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline for the second time. This book, along with Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain, was instrumental in changing my life and ministry.

Here are somethings I learned (again?):

1. I am far from finished. Those who know me, know this is very true.

2. I want so much more. Every time I read this book, I am re-convinced that God has so much more available than I am taking advantage of on my journey. I also realize that my lack is not God's fault. I am responsible to be in the place where God gives His grace. I always think of Paul's use of sporting metaphors. We are training. We are preparing. We are growing stronger.

3. I realize that it is all about God. It is not my effort that causes me to grow. I must show up. I must use the disciplines that God has given, but God is the one who gives the grace and deepens me spiritually.

4. I also realized that my pursuit of God and Christlikeness is the priority. This is not self-seeking or egotistical, but simply a recognition that God has called me to be an example of the life he desires. I am fallible, but that too is an example to others. I need to be giving the best me I can give. This takes place through simple, but rigorous obedience to His commands.

5. I also re-discovered "conviction." We don't speak of that word much because of the negative connotations of guilt. But God-inspired guilt is really what conviction is all about, and without it there is no access to forgiveness. We realize we are in the wrong, need to change, are helpless to do anything on our own, and so we accept all that God has and does for us.

This is probably not a point, but I also decided that this book should be a must-read for anyone entering the ministry, and should be at least an every-other-year read for me.


  1. Eric,

    I totally agree with you on your recommendation. Foster's work and that of Dallas Willard has changed my life and focus.

    This is something all of our churches need more of!

    Scott Cheatham

  2. Sounds like something I need to read. Over the last few months I've had more than ample opportunity to evaluate my past ministry experience, my walk with God (or non-walk in my case, rather religious piety). Some days, actually most days lately, I look at these twenty somethings who are these incredible "men of God" and I just want to scream why didn't I get it back then? Why am I THIS old and just NOW getting it?

    Discipline. The people in my past saw the giftings I had and rather than discipline me in love (which is what you are suppossed to Pastors!!!) and disciple me into who God wanted me to be, they manipulated me to control me, and used shame to keep me in line. Praise GOD I don't have that now. I'm going through my "teenage" years now... and God is working. So, by the time I'm a "twenty something" spiritually... hopefully He can use me.

    I want to be used, I'm being prepared to be in ministry, that is obvious, and I just pray that I get it so deeply that I can be what my pastors are to me now to someone else in the future.

    Conviction... yeah got a dose of that recently too. It's a good thing though... and keeps you from getting mired in your own crud.

    Keep persuing His face and I'll be right there beside you man.