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Celebration Of Discipline [Hardcover]

Rich Foster
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 19 1988

In the twenty years since its publication, Celebration of Discipline has helped over a million seekers discover a richer spiritual life infused with joy, peace, and a deeper understanding of God. For this special twentieth anniversary edition, Richard J. Foster has added an introduction, in which he shares the story of how this beloved and enduring spiritual guidebook came to be.

Hailed by many as the best modern book on Christian spirituality, Celebration of Discipline explores the "classic Disciplines," or central spiritual practices, of the Christian faith. Along the way, Foster shows that it is only by and through these practices that the true path to spiritual growth can be found.

Dividing the Disciplines into three movements of the Spirit, Foster shows how each of these areas contribute to a balanced spiritual life. The inward Disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, and study, offer avenues of personal examination and change. The outward Disciplines of simplicity, solitude, submission, and service, help prepare us to make the world a better place.The corporate Disciplines of confession, worship, guidance, and celebration, bring us nearer to one another and to God.

Foster provides a wealth of examples demonstrating how these Disciplines can become part of our daily activities-and how they can help us shed our superficial habits and "bring the abundance of God into our lives." He offers crucial new insights on simplicity, demonstrating how the biblical view of simplicity, properly understood and applied, brings joy and balance to our inward and outward lives and "sets us free to enjoy the provision of God as a gift that can be shared with others." The discussion of celebration, often the most neglected of the Disciplines, shows its critical importance, for it stands at the heart of the way to Christ. Celebration of Discipline will help motivate Christians everywhere to embark on a journey of prayer and spiritual growth.

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When Richard Foster began writing Celebration of Discipline more than 20 years ago, an older writer gave him a bit of advice: "Be sure that every chapter forces the reader into the next chapter." Foster took the advice to heart; as a result, his book presents one of the most compelling and readable visions of Christian spirituality published in the past few decades. After beginning with a simple observation--"Superficiality is the curse of our age.... The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people"--Foster's book moves to explain the disciplines people must cultivate in order to achieve spiritual depth. In succinct, urgent, and sometimes humorous chapters, Foster defines a broad range of classic spiritual disciplines in terms that are lucid without being too limiting and offers advice that's practical without being overly prescriptive. For instance, after describing meditation as a combination of "intense intimacy and awful reverence," he settles into such down-to-earth topics as how to choose a place and a posture in which to meditate.

Perhaps most interesting and useful is Foster's chapter on the controversial Christian discipline of submission. According to Foster, submission does not demand self-hatred or loss of identity. Instead, it simply means growing secure in the conviction that "our happiness is not dependent on getting what we want" but on the fulfillment that naturally flows from love of one's neighbors. Such wise and encouraging suggestions have helped many readers to discard the idea that discipline is an onerous duty and to move toward a liberating and simpler idea of discipline--whose defining character, as Foster never forgets, is joy. --Michael Joseph Gross


"Celebration of Discipline has quietly asserted itself in the lives of multitudes around the globe, and has taken its place as a guide to the uplands of the spiritual life for the late twentieth century. Everywhere I go I meet those whose lives have been changed by encountering it. It places us on the path of life with those who have succeeded in walking with Jesus in every circumstance and shows us accessible patterns of action through which interaction with his Kingdom is assured to us. This is the secret of its power. If you wish to know in your self the reality of the gracious life of God seen in the Bible, you may find no better counselor than Richard Foster." -- Dallas Willard, author of The Spirit of the Disciplines and The Divine Conspiracy

"Celebration of Discipline won me when it was first published. If everybody in this country could read--and heed--this book, what a difference it would make to the planet; nay, to the cosmos." -- Madeleine L'Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time and The Crosswicks Journals

"Like a child exploring the attic of an old house on a rainy day, discovering a trunk full of treasure and then calling all his brothers and sisters to share the find, Richard J. Foster has 'found' the spiritual disciplines that the modern world stored away and forgot, and has excitedly called us to celebrate them. For they are, as he shows us, the instruments of joy, the way into mature Christian spirituality and abundant life." -- Eugene H. Peterson, author of Leap Over a Wall

"Richard Foster has given us a rare gift. . . The celebration of each discipline in this book hands us a tool that can be useful in helping us to integrate our inner and outer lives." -- Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B., author of A Tree Full of Angels

"The best modern book on Christian spirituality. . . No other book apart from the Bible has been so helpful to me in the nurturing of my inward journey of prayer and spiritual growth." -- Ronald J. Sider, executive director, Evangelicals for Social Action

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and inspiring guidebook. April 2 2002
In Celebration of Discipline, Foster has provided a well-written guide to help Christians enhance their relationship with God. He breaks the book down into three major sections: the Inward, Outward, and Corporate disciplines. The disciplines covered are meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, and celebration.
For the most part, this book is a great starting point. Foster backs up each of his statements not only with Biblical references, but also with quotations from Christianity's most prominent writers and thinkers. I found, however, that he falls just short of providing a complete picture of each discipline. Often additional time is required of the reader to research the writings that are quoted.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to move forward in his or her relationship with God.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spiritual Growth / Easy to Understand March 22 2004
The topic of the disciplines, e.g. fasting, praying, etc, is not an easy, quick fix topic like most the christian literature littering our bookstores today. Foster draws on centuries of tradition to form this wonderful book on spiritual development through the use of the disciplines. These are time honored techniques that will push you spiritually to deepen your relationship with God.
This book is a great read for anyone who wants to go deeper in their faith and be pushed out of their comfort zone.
Joseph Dworak
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faith without works is dead Jan. 2 2004
By Tricia
As a former evangelical Christian who is in the process of converting to Catholicism, I believe that Richard Foster's disciplines perfectly define the writing of James 2:26 - "...faith without works is dead." Foster's disciplines are the "works," service (or good works) being only one of them. I for one plan to practice the disciplines, and I'm not worried that I will be steered into new age mysticism. I am convinced that I will draw closer to Christ.
This is a wonderful book, based fully on the practices of Jesus and his disciples during the time of Jesus' ministry here on Earth. Naysayers are guilty of the very malpractice that Foster cautions against - that of legalism and regarding the practice of the disciplines as the end in of themselves, rather than as a means of placing ourselves nearer to the presence of God. One of Foster's detractors says that Foster relies on the opinions and practices of men, rather than relying on Scripture - yet on almost every page, Foster quotes Scripture and interprets its meaning in the context of the disciplines. As another (favorable) reviewer mentions, Foster not only analyzes the various disciplines, he provides practical advice for putting them into practice so that novices are not overwhelmed at first.
I find no fault in Foster's ideas about meditation - he keeps focused squarely on listening to God and His will for us. One evangelical Christian church I used to attend defined meditation as listening to God, while praying is speaking to God. Foster does not deviate from that definition.

I am amazed that Foster draws on so many sources for his writing. I would not have expected a Quaker to be so well versed in the writings of the early Church fathers. There will always be Christians who cannot see beyond their narrow interpretation of Scripture and who don't understand that their beliefs are also based on the interpretation of men who broke away from the Catholic Church.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book March 7 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I heard of this book many years ago from another friend. Some how I had this impression that this book would be too deep for me to comprehend. The truth is this book is completely accessible to everyone. The language is simple and teachings are not hard to comprehend, but there is a lot of depth to it. It requires time and effort to digest the teachings and apply them to life. I like it that although the book was written 20 plus years ago, the teachings are still relevant today.

I agree with Foster that the Disciplines are intended to bring us to a place where God can work in us and through us. On their own, the Disciplines have no intrinsic value.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hope for those of us who stumble. Aug. 15 2003
Let's face it. Spiritual discipline is difficult. We see it as unattainable; the mountain we cannot scale. That's why I'm so thankful for this book. Foster does not deny that it's difficult, but by laying out the disciplines in a concise, systematic layout, he has most certainly made it clear what we are shooting for, and that is a close intimate walk with God.
Foster starts with what he calls the 'inward disciplines'; what most Christians mean when they say 'spiritual disciplines', but Foster moves on. He talks of the 'outward disciplines', those that are our outward actions, but not necessarily those that affect our relationships with others. Then he moves towards the 'corporate disciplines', disciplines that we use with other believers.
Throughout the whole book Foster stresses the point that all 'mystics' on the road to discipline fail and are never perfect. This is particularly helpful for those of us who are discouraged and wish to give up.
One point that should be clarified, though: when Foster speaks of meditation, he doesn't mean eastern meditation which seeks to empty one's self of all thought AND personality. The goal of meditation, according to Foster, is to fill the mind with one thought and continually think on it. (It CAN be done, surprisingly.) Foster does clear it up in the book, but some stigma is attached to the word 'meditation' itself and that could drive some believers away without a second glance.
I wish someone had given this book to me five years ago. So much toil in getting to a disciplined life would have been unnecessary. I do not recommend this to new believers (puts too much on your plate) but to semi-mature believers everywhere who are striving to get close to God.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An all time favourite book of mine
An all time favourite book of mine, read it a few times and enjoy the sense of freedom and encouragement it gives!
Published 7 days ago by Becky Fehr
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
Excellent Book! Really helps to understand God best four our lives. This was on e of the best purchases I have ever made, well worth it.
Published 6 months ago by Thoywell Hemmings
5.0 out of 5 stars Celebration of Discipline
Celebration of Discipline By Richard Foster

This is an excellent book and even better on audio CDs. I listen to it during my commute to and back from work. Read more
Published on Oct. 9 2010 by technologist
1.0 out of 5 stars How To Practise Your Christianity Like A Buddhist!
I was introduced to this book by many Christian leaders from my local church many years back. Many Christian leaders and publications continue to advocate the reading of this book... Read more
Published on June 13 2004 by Edmund Lau Kok Ming
3.0 out of 5 stars Balance in Christian Thinking Is Elusive
Richard Foster's work inspirationally motivates the reader to consider disciplines as a means to draw into a closer relationship with God. Read more
Published on May 27 2004 by Kevin Hutchison
3.0 out of 5 stars Helpful, but some dangerous theology ...
There is certainly some wisdom in this book. I first read Celebration of Discipline a number of years ago and was challenged in every facet of my spiritual walk. Read more
Published on April 29 2004 by FJC
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book that Spawned a Genre
I don't know how to encourage you to purchase this book. Look at the reviews. With the exception of one or two unusual reviews that speak for themselves, notice how... Read more
Published on Feb. 27 2004 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A Book Through Which To Grow
As with one of the other reviewers published on this site, I read Foster's book in the process of converting to Catholicism. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2004 by M Leonard
1.0 out of 5 stars Richard Foster's Spiritual Formation is not Biblical
Millions of Christians and Christian leaders do,in fact,promote and believe that Richard Foster's teaching is Biblically solid. Read more
Published on Oct. 22 2003 by James Sundquist
5.0 out of 5 stars not for the faint of heart
What can I say, if you are a luke warm Christian interested in only maintaining a minimal relationship with God, don't get this book. Read more
Published on Sept. 6 2003 by Adam J. Walker
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