Expands on the inward Disciplines of meditation & prayer, the outward Discipline of simplicity & the corporate Discipline of celebration. He provides a wealth of examples, demonstrating how these Disciplines can become part of our daily activities.
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December 24, 2002
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Excerpt from Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster
It is a wonder to me how God uses squiggles on paper to do his work in the hearts and minds of people. How are these squiggles transformed into letters and words and sentences and, finally, meaning Oh, we may congratulate ourselves on knowing a little about the function of neurotransmitters in the brain or about how endorphin proteins affect learning and memory retention, but if we are honest, we know that thinking itself is a mystery. Doxology is the only appropriate response.
At this writing, it has been two decades since this particular I set of squiggles, Celebration of Discipline, was first published. After the first decade, the publisher, no doubt puzzled by its longevity and popularity, wanted to celebrate this milestone, and asked me to revise the original text-which I was glad to do. And now, after a second decade, the puzzle continues. Somehow (who can ever explain how ) people continue to find help in their daily walk with God through the pages of this book. To celebrate this twentieth anniversary, the publisher has asked me to write an introduction, and, again, I am glad to comply. And perhaps in fulfilling their request it is appropriate to tell how the book you hold in your hands came into being.
Fresh out of seminary, I was ready to conquer the world. My first appointment was a small church in a thriving region of Southern California. "Here," I mused, "is my chance to show the denominational leadership, nay, the whole world, what I can do." Believe me, visions of far more than sugar plums were dancing in my head. I was sobered a bit when the former pastor, upon learning of my appointment, put his arm on my shoulder and said, "Well, Foster, it's your turn to be in the desert!" But the "sobering" lasted only a moment. "This church will become a,shining light set on a hill. The people will literally flood in." This I thought, and this I believed.
After three months or so I had given that tiny congregation everything I knew, and then some, and it had done them no good. I had nothing left to give. I was spiritually bankrupt and I knew it. So much for a "shining light on a hill."
My problem was more than having something to say from Sunday to Sunday. My problem was that what I did say had no power to help people. I had no substance, no depth. The people were starving for a word from God, and I had nothing to give them. Nothing.
Three Converging Influences
In the wisdom of God, however, three influences were converging in that little church that would change the direction of my ministry, indeed, of my whole life. Together they would provide the depth and the substance I needed personally and the depth and the substance that, in time, would lead to the, penning of Celebration. But that is running ahead of my story.
The first thing to happen was precipitated by an influx of genuinely needy people into our small congregation. They simply flowed in like streams after a thunderstorm. Oh, how they hungered for spiritual substance and, oh, how willing they were to do almost anything to find it. These were the castoffs of today's fast-track culture-"the sat upon, spat upon, ratted on"-and so their neediness was quite obvious. Just as obvious was my inability to give them substantive pastoral care.