Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Making of an Ordinary Saint - A Review

A Review

Richard J. Foster first wrote his highly acclaimed Celebration of Discipline in 1978.  In 2014 Nathan Foster (Richard’s son) wrote a similar book for a new generation.  The disciplines have not changed:

Submission Simplicity
Fasting Service
Study Prayer
Solitude Guidance
Meditation Worship
Confession Celebration

But those who are hearing the message in 2014 are different from those who heard it first in 1978.  As Richard Foster writes in his Forward, Nathan’s book is far more “narrative” than “didactic.”  They show how they have been lived out in one man’s life, rather than telling us how to live them out.  For example, in the first chapter Nathan Foster tackles “Submission” - rather than giving us ten principles on being submissive, he tells the reader how, first, he learned to be submissive to the wind while riding his bike.  He then gives an example of spending a day being submissive to the wants of his own son - including a stop at Chuck E. Cheese.

Two small essays accompany each chapter.  Each chapter begins with a two page essay written by Nathan’s father describing and explaining the current discipline.  This allows the current book to have a concrete anchor into his father’s earlier work.  In addition, each chapter concludes with a short biographical sketch of a significant believer from history who learned to live out the current discipline - continuing the narrative theme used throughout the book.

The book ends with a suggestions for “Further Reading” focused, first, on the “Spiritual Disciplines and Spiritual Formation In General”; and, then, on each of the twelve disciplines discussed throughout the book.  These readings, covering both ancient writers (e.g. Athanasius) and more modern authors (e.g. Dallas Willard), give added value to the current book.

I found the current book to be a gentle read - almost fun - as I studied again the behaviors, when practiced intentionally and regularly, that can shape a believers life.  Whether a new believer trying to establish patterns that will allow them to grow throughout their lives, or an established believer trying to add additional vitality to their walk with Christ, Nathan Foster’s book will assist in those goals.  As I read, I occasionally found tears welling up in my eyes as I reflected on times God had taught me or times when I may have missed his teaching because I was too busy doing my thing.  Though primarily a set of true stories that focus on each of the twelve disciplines, the book is practical and designed to encourage the believer, wherever they may be in their walk with Christ, closer to the goal of being “An Ordinary Saint.”

This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

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