Richard J. Foster's Study Guide for

Richard J. Foster's Study Guide for "Celebration of Discipline"

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by Richard J. Foster

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Brief, incisive essays clarify key issues raised in Celebration of Discipline and encourage a fuller understanding and practice of the spiritual disciplines.  See more details below


Brief, incisive essays clarify key issues raised in Celebration of Discipline and encourage a fuller understanding and practice of the spiritual disciplines.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Chapter One


As you begin this study of the Christian Disciplines, advance warning may help you to avoid several pitfalls. Briefly, I shall list seven of these pitfalls--though, surely, there are more.

The first pitfall is the temptation to turn the Disciplines into law. There is nothing that can choke the heart and soul out of walking with God like legalism. The rigid person is not the disciplined person. Rigidity is the most certain sign that the Disciplines have gone to seed. The disciplined person can do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. The disciplined person can live in the appropriateness of the hour. The disciplined person can respond to the movings of divine grace like a floating balloon. Always remember that the Disciplines are perceptions into life, not regulations for controlling life.

The second pitfall is the failure to understand the social implications of the Disciplines. The Disciplines are not a set of pious exercises for the devout, but a trumpet call to obedient living in a sinracked world. They call us to wage peace in a world obsessed with war, to plead for justice in a world plagued with inequity, to stand with the poor and the disinherited in a world full of individuals who have forgotten their neighbors.

A third pitfall is the tendency to view the Disciplines as virtuous in themselves. In and of themselves, the Disciplines have no virtue, possess no righteousness, contain no rectitude. It was this important truth that the Pharisees failed to see. The Disciplines place us before God; they do not give us "brownie points" with God.

A fourthpitfall, similar to the third, is the tendency to center on the Disciplines rather than on Christ. The Disciplines were designed for the purpose of realizing a greater good. And that greater good is Christ Himself, who must always remain the focus of our attention and the end of our quest.

A fifth pitfall is the tendency to isolate and elevate one Discipline to the exclusion or neglect of the others. The Disciplines are like the fruit of the Spirit--they comprise a single reality. Sometimes we become intrigued with fasting, for example, and we begin to think of that single Discipline as comprising the whole picture. What is only one tree we see as the whole forest. This danger must be avoided at all costs. The Disciplines of the spiritual life are an organic unity, a single path.

The sixth pitfall is the tendency to think that the twelve Disciplines mentioned in Celebration somehow exhaust the means of God's grace. I have no exhaustive list of the Christian Disciplines, and as far as I know, none exists. For who can confine the Spirit of God? Celebration is merely one attempt to compile those acts of devotion that the writers of Scripture and the saints throughout the history of the church have said were important in experiential faith. But Christ is greater than any attempt to describe His workings with His children. He cannot be confined to any system, no matter how worthy.

The seventh pitfall is the most dangerous. It is the temptation to study the Disciplines without experiencing them. To discuss the Disciplines in the abstract, to argue and debate their nature or validity--these activities we can carry out in comparative safety. But to step out into experience threatens us at the core of our being. And yet there is no other way. Prayerfully, slowly, perhaps with many fears and questions, we need to move into this adventurous life of the Spirit.

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Celebration of Discipline 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
ephesians2_10 More than 1 year ago
When you use the study guide along with the book, Celebration of Discipline, you will get much more out of the book and grow in ways you have always hoped and prayed for. This will transform your life if you put a little time into it. A big WOW for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have owned all three editions of this book. Every time I read it, I learn something new about the Christian Disciplines. If you want to be challenged in your faith walk and convicted of your need to go deeper then this book will help you do so. It lends itself to group study and has a companion study guide to help guide such study. I highly recommend it for those who are looking to develop their understanding and practice of the Christian Disciplines.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the 2nd time our Faith study group has chosen to work through this book. We are all gleaning something new the 2nd time around, and the new members are enjoying it as well.
HennaHutton More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book that is sure to help any earnest seeker grow and understand in his or her faith. Whether you are new to faith or a lifer, Richard Foster has much to offer you. (I would recommend it to someone with a few years under their belt, however.) He is a rare voice who understands the problems and dangers of legalistic thinking when combined with religion. He offers a more generous understanding and thereby, life. Occasionally he could do a better job at defining a particular discipline, but in general they are well explained. For some of us he can at times be too conservative, but that is easily overlooked. He clearly knows his subject and has walked the life; his humility, grace, and generous spirit come shining through. It is refreshing to find a contemporary Christian author who is not self-promoting or aggrandizing; who does not seek to tell the world that he has the sole license on understanding God; and who understands the fallacy of the "prosperity gospel" school of thought. Foster is so much more engaging and true to the life in Christ than most of the books and authors that are publicized in the media. I am using this, the study guide, and the workbook in a year-long study (the workbook is designed to be used over the course of a year), and I am learning and growing every day from it. I have/am also read other Foster books as I progress through the year, most notably Prayer: The Heart's True Home and Life With God (see below.) Might I add that I have had an excruciatingly difficult 2008 and it continues. I have been thrown an experience that challenges my faith and perhaps even seeks to destroy it. My resolve will not let it; and Richard Foster is helping me come through it with growth and understanding and new life. He has been a wonderful companion and guide during an unusual horrific experience. Rather than sink into the darkness, he is helping me (along with some other sources of support) fly to new heights above the fray. This is must reading for any Christian; if we all could read it and put his thoughts into use, we would walk as a more unified bunch and avoid much of the valid criticism from the world at large. Better yet, we would be more inspiring examples of the Christian faith and life, and thus, more enticing evangelists. I would give all three to every person I know, if I could.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Quick, buy this one and read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my second time reading this book since last year and I still get something out of it. I read it for one of my classes lsat year and to see the affect that it had was phenominal. I recommend this to anyone who is searching and wants to grow closer to God. It will stretch you and pull you to new limits.
JeffNC More than 1 year ago
Assists in getting the most out of Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline. Appreciated the help.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful aid to the quest for righteousness. It explains and defines the classical Christian disciplines in simple understandable language and dismisses a number of the misunderstandings so typical in our consumer culture.
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