Book Discussion: Celebration of Discipline

Ethel Gould   -  

Celebration of Discipline Book Discussion Details:

Tuesday, February 12th: 7:00-8:30  – 124 W Riverside Drive, Jupiter FL

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Let us forever center on Christ and view the Spiritual Disciplines as a way of drawing us closer to his heart. -Richard Foster

The book Celebration of Discipline challenges Christians to make intentional choices, in participation with the Holy Spirit, to cultivate a life of the Spirit. And yet, this very intentionality can lead to a spirit of pride. Foster says it is not through striving or willpower that we grow to become more like Christ. Instead, “The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us.” 

The Bible tells us that spiritual growth happens in community. If you desire to grow in your relationship with God, join us in community to discuss this book as together we grow to desire more of Jesus.

Broad Questions: 
Which chapter did you find most helpful? Which chapter did you find most challenging?

Why do you think Foster made a distinction between the “Inner Disciplines, the Outer Disciplines, and the Corporate Disciplines?

Of all the disciplines we discussed, which one do you feel most compelled to try?


For Self-Reflection and Group Discussion:

The following questions are meant to be helpful as you read the book. You may want to highlight a few of the questions you’d like to process with other people. We’ll discuss a few of them on March 12, during our group discussion. Location tbd.

Inner Disciplines:

Chapter 1 The Spiritual Disciplines: Door to Liberation

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” Psalm 42:7

Foster says the world needs deep people and that superficiality is the curse of our age. Agree or disagree and why? This book was published in 1978. What do you think Foster would say about our current age?

Describe in your own words the chasm of the heresy of moralism. Why is this chasm dangerous? 

Describe in your own words the chasm of moral bankruptcy. Why is this chasm dangerous?

Chapter 2 The Discipline of Meditation

“The great God of the universe, the Creator of all things desires our fellowship.” –Richard Foster

Foster describes Christian meditation as the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word. How does meditation help us draw closer to God?

Foster quotes Revelation 3:20 “I stand at the door and knock” and says that “Jesus very much longs to eat with us, to commune with us. He desires a perpetual Eucharistic feast in the inner sanctuary of the heart.” Do you believe that God desires a continual presence in your life?

Foster says that “we live in a universe created by the infinite-personal God who delights in our communion with him, you will see meditation as communication between the Lover and the beloved.” Has your relationship with God reflected this type of intimacy?

Which one of the four forms of meditation are you most comfortable with?

Chapter 3 The Discipline of Prayer

“Prayer ushers us into perpetual communion with the Father.” –Richard Foster

Foster said, “To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us.” How do you think God uses prayer to change us?

Foster said, “We must never wait until we feel like praying before we pray for others. Prayer is like any other work; we may not feel like working, but once we have been at it for a bit, we begin to feel like working.” What do you think?

Chapter 4 The Discipline of Fasting

“Our human cravings and desires are like rivers that tend to overflow their banks; fasting helps keep them in their proper channels.” –Richard Foster

Foster reminds us, “Wherever there is a form devoid of spiritual power, law will take over because law always carries with it a sense of security and manipulative power.” How can fasting or any other spiritual discipline become a form of law?

Why do you think Foster emphasized that “Biblical fasting always centers on spiritual purposes,”?

Foster’s chapter focuses on fasting from food, but what other things might you fast from?

Foster said, “Fasting reminds us that we are sustained ‘by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ (Matt. 4:4).” If you’ve fasted from food or something else, what was your experience like?

Chapter 5: The Discipline of Study

“The mind will always take on an order conforming to the order upon which it concentrates.” –Richard Foster

Foster points out in 2 Timothy 3:16 (All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.) that the central purpose is inner transformation, not doctrinal purity. Why is this important?

Foster discusses the difference between the study of Scripture and the devotional reading of Scripture. He calls it a vast difference. What does he mean by this? Why is the study of scripture important to do before the application of scripture?

The Outer Disciplines:

Chapter 6: The Discipline of Simplicity

“We crave things we neither need nor enjoy.” –Richard Foster

Foster said, “We should take exception to the modern psychosis that defines people by how much they can produce or what they earn.” What are your thoughts about our culture valuing people in this way? Do you think Foster is correct?

Foster argues that to cultivate simplicity, we should have neither an idolatrous attachment to wealth or an extreme asceticism. In our culture, we can more easily understand what an attachment to wealth looks like. But it might be helpful to read Foster’s definition of extreme asceticism: “an unbiblical division between a good spiritual world and an evil material world and so finds salvation in paying as little attention as possible to the physical realm of existence.” Consider which of these two extremes you might lean toward.

To counter those two extremes, Foster says simplicity, “Sets us free to receive the provision of God as a gift that is not ours to keep and can be freely shared with others.” Do you think of your possessions as belonging to God?

Foster shares ten controlling principles for the outward expression of simplicity. Pick one that you would like to practice and share with a friend why you think this one would be helpful. Remember Foster’s emphasis that these are ten principles, not laws. Laws may lead to legalism or self-righteousness.

Chapter 7: The Discipline of Solitude

“Our fear of being alone drives us to noise and crowds.” –Richard Foster

What do you think Foster meant when he said, “Loneliness is inner emptiness. Solitude is inner fulfillment”? How do you think can we find inner fulfillment?

Foster encourages us to look for the “little solitudes” that fill our day. How might practicing these small spaces of rest lead to larger spaces for solitude?

Chapter 8: The Discipline of Submission

“The biblical teaching on submission focuses primarily on the spirit with which we view other people.” –Richard Foster

Foster discusses the limits of submission and says that when submission becomes destructive, we should limit it. And then he said, “…in defining the limits of submission we are catapulted into a deep dependence upon the Holy Spirit.” Why is this true?

Foster describes seven acts of submission. Are there any of these acts that you feel uncomfortable submitting to? Is there an act that you feel newly convicted that you should consider submitting to? What might it look like to submit to our neighbors and those we meet in our daily life?

Chapter 9: The Discipline of Service

“True service builds community.” –Richard Foster

Foster said, “In some ways we would prefer to hear Jesus’ call to deny father and mother, houses and land for the sake of the gospel than his word to wash feet. Radical self-denial gives the feel of adventure.” What do you think Foster means by this? 

Foster discusses the importance of listening to others and quoted Bonhoeffer, “The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. To listen to others quiets and disciplines the mind to listen to God.” Why do you think Foster included a section on listening in the chapter about service? 

The Corporate Disciplines:

Chapter 10: The Discipline of Confession

“Remember the heart of the Father; he is like a shepherd who will risk anything to find that one lost sheep. We do not have to make God willing to forgive.” –Richard Foster

“We must desire to be conquered and ruled by God, or if we do not desire it, to desire to desire it. Such desire is a gracious gift from God.” Why is the desire to be conquered by God a gift from him? 

What do you think Foster meant when he said, “Sorrow is an issue of the will before it is an issue of the emotions,”? Do you agree?

Chapter 11: The Discipline of Worship

“God is actively seeking worshipers.” –Richard Foster

Foster discussed a sense of living under the shadow of the Almighty. What do you think he meant by that?.

Foster shared seven steps into worship. Is there one step you feel compelled to try?

Foster said that worship should end in obedience. Do you agree? Why?

Chapter 12: The Discipline of Guidance

“Perhaps the most astonishing feature of that incendiary fellowship was their sense of corporate guidance.” –Richard Foster

What do you think CrossPointe Jupiter should corporately seek God’s guidance for?

Chapter 13: The Discipline of Celebration

“Celebration is central to all the Spiritual Disciplines.” –Richard Foster

Why do you think every Foster said, “Every discipline should be characterized by carefree gaiety and a sense of thanksgiving,”? 

Foster makes an important point that scripture “does not command us to celebrate the presence of evil.” Why is this a necessary reminder?

Foster said, “God’s desire is to transform the misery, not bypass it.” How do you think God transforms misery?