A book for life: Celebration of Discipline

At the family reunion yesterday I joked with someone about how I stopped reading books after about five or six really good books, and now my personal reading consists solely of reading those books over and over. And while I was mostly joking there was at least some truth to the statement. So here is one of the books I’ve recently finished re-reading, and I offer it as a recommendation for everyone who it’s interested in deepening their personal spiritual journey.

Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster

In our day, discipline is truly something to celebrate, and something that we often aspire to. In the Christian world, there are several habits, or disciplines, that have been practiced by Christians through the ages. These are the things that are prescribed in Christian Scripture, and are the activities through which God has said he will speak. In other words, when we do these things, God has promised he will show up.

Here is the list: 

  1. Meditation
  2. Prayer
  3. Fasting
  4. Study
  5. Simplicity
  6. Solitude
  7. Submission
  8. Service
  9. Confession
  10. Worship
  11. Guidance
  12. Celebration

The presence of God is a constant and does not change during our day-to-day struggles on this earth; the concept of God “showing up” is actually misguided. However, our perception of his presence does change, and journeying through this list will heighten the believer’s awareness of him in all circumstances.

Dr. Foster explains each of the habits in depth and gives helpful ways to apply each one in day-to-day life. One can read Celebration cover to cover in a week, or study it slowly over a month and give proper attention to all the Scripture references and footnotes. Both methods are profitable for the reader and offer their own level of benefit. Celebration is a treasure to have on any bookshelf or nightstand.

Interview with Richard Foster

Preview Celebration of Discipline here:

Why theology is the most important subject you could possibly study

If you’ve been in a church for any length of time, you may have heard someone state that everyone is a theologian. Books have been written on the premise; countless sermons have begun with that line; all making the claim that, though most people think of theology only as the discipline of¬†dry seminarians, all people actually operate on the basis of some conclusion they’ve made about God — consciously or subconsciously.

While I don’t particularly like the attitude with which the statement is usually offered — the intention is usually to say something that seems counter-intuitive, in the same way that one would mention at a party¬†that flying an airplane is many times safer than driving a car — I believe it, and I also believe¬†it is more meaningful than one would casually think at first. I suppose this betrays my own intention to write something that would strike a reader as counter-intuitive, but… I digress.

It doesn’t matter if you believe in God — you have still reached a conclusion about God.

Your theology may simply be that God doesn’t exist, or it may be every bit as deep and involved as that of the oldest Presbyterian seminary professor. If you are yourself an atheist, know that¬†I don’t¬†consider the atheist’s conclusions to be necessarily¬†shallow — I know that many of us religious types could be¬†one cataclysmic life experience away from drawing the same conclusions ourselves.

But belief in God’s existence or non-existence doesn’t change the fact that one has at least considered the concept and come to a conclusion.

The God-concept conclusion governs all other conclusions, decisions, and emotions.

I’m hoping the reader will allow me the leap I’ve made with the above heading — the “God-concept conclusion” is our answer to the question of God’s existence, along with all of our beliefs about that existence. In an effort to spare us a lengthy trip through the usual¬†“I think, therefore I am” paths that¬†these discussions usually take, I am¬†making this claim without much justification, hoping that it will be received with an open mind:¬†our conclusions about God’s existence govern, consciously and subconsciously, all of our other conclusions, decisions, and emotions.¬†

I realize that I’ve just made a rather large claim; however, taking that for granted a little bit, I’m choosing to limit the discussion¬†at this time on the¬†decisions¬†that one makes in one’s lifetime — and limit that even further to the kinds of decisions that are rather large and involve large sums of money, time, or personal energy. The conclusions and emotions, we can talk about at a later date.

Most of our big decisions come from somewhere deep down

One may say that they bought their house because of their preference for its¬†red door or white picket fence, but before seeing the house, value judgments were no doubt made, and those value judgments necessarily came from some value system in one’s head where one has made a conclusion about God’s existence. The fact that one would see the location of a domicile as completely unconnected to a belief about the existence of God betrays several related conclusions that had been made long before the purchase of that home became a possibility.¬†Conversely, choosing a location because of some idea about God and his ongoing activity in one’s life also betrays an alternative set of conclusions.

And I believe it is fair to suppose that a change made to the basic God-concept conclusion would necessitate — at least eventually, as subsequent¬†conclusions succeed in seeping out into the rest of one’s life —¬†life-altering decisions made down the line.

Application

Weirdly enough, there is an application for this post. Go out there and read. Read, read, read — and then think, think, think. It just happens that my reading recommendations are generally Christian, as my understanding of God is from a Christian perspective. But I believe not only that he exists, but that he is living and active, and is able to lead those who honestly search for him into all truth.

So at the very least,¬†invest some of your mental energy into the God-conclusion. I believe it’s worth the time.

God makes no mistakes: Abigail Fisher

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. – Psalm 139:16

This story was recently featured on the Bosnian web portal klix.ba. I came across it the other day, and couldn’t help but click, read, and research the story a bit in the American media. Here’s a link to the Klix version of the story (Bosnian language). This is my take on it, as a father of three.

Abigail Lynn Fisher was born on January 11, 2016, with a rare disorder called Treacher Collins syndrome. In the months leading up to Abigail’s birth, her mother, Kristina, was single and “practically homeless” — short on money and unprepared for the challenges of raising a child. So she went to an adoption agency and found a couple from Georgia who was looking to adopt. No one yet knew of Abigail’s condition.

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