Celebration of Discipline – Introduction can be viewed here.
Celebration of Discipline – Chapter 1: Door To Liberation
Below is a summary of our second meeting studying and discussing Chapter 1: Door To Liberation
1. What are the Spiritual Disciplines?
The Author grouped the Spiritual Disciplines into three groups or parts:
Part 1: The Inward Disciplines consisting of Meditation, Prayer, Fasting and Study.
Part II: The Outward Disciplines consisting of Simplicity, Solitude, Submission and Service
Part III: The Corporate Disciplines consisting of Confession, Worship, Guidance and Celebration.
2. Purpose of the Spiritual Disciplines
The purpose of the Spiritual Disciplines is to liberate us from self-interest, fear and the slavery of ingrained habits of sin. They are not to make life miserable but joyful, not to put us in bondage but to set us free, not to confine but to liberate.
God intends the Spiritual Disciplines to be for ordinary people, young and matured Christians.
3. Our Ingrained Habits of Sin
Our way of dealing with ingrained habits tends to be relying on will power and determination. Whatever may be the issue for us – anger, fear, bitterness, gluttony, pride, lust, substance abuse – we determine never to do it again; we pray against it. But the struggle is all in vain. Will power will never succeed in dealing with the deeply ingrained habits of sin. The Author calls it will worship. Will worship may produce an outward show of success for a time, but our deep inner condition will eventually be revealed. Will power is incapable of bringing about the necessary transformation of the inner spirit.
3. The Spiritual Disciplines Open Door For Transformation
The needed change within us is God’s work. God has given us the Spiritual Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means for us to receive His grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us. The Disciplines by themselves can do nothing; they can only get us to a place where something can be done. God has ordained the Disciplines of the spiritual life as the means by which we place ourselves where He can bless us.
Discussion/Questions & Answers
1. Superficiality is “the curse of our age” If you agree or disagree, list several indicators that illustrate this.
A curse of our age? Not sure I would agree with Foster. We can look back to the second narrative of Creation in the Bible for some insight into the human condition and our attraction to the superficial: what is visible on the surface; human reasoning and interpretation about what we think we see.
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6 NRSV)
The writer of 1 John puts the deception of superficiality based on societal values.
16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:16-17 NIV)
2. What current influences might cause today’s Christians to be more superficial than those of other centuries?
a) Social media
b) Technology – People do not require face to face interaction for entertainment or to socialize. They can easily obtained that from their tech gadgets.
3. What is the purpose of the Spiritual Disciplines? (pages 2, 8)
a) Liberation from self-interest and fear b) Spiritual growth A
4. What primary requirement must you embark on this journey? (page 2)
a) A longing after God and to know Him better b) A call deep within, a desire to explore
5. What things would keep you from fulfilling this requirement? (page 4)
a) Ingrained habits of sin b) Self-interest, fear c) Work would keep us from fulfilling this requirement. We lead such hurried life that leaves us exhausted.
6. We cannot free and purify our own heart by exerting our own will. How does this compare with your own experience? (pages 4-6)
Our self-will cannot bring about inward transformation.
I cannot offer myself eternal salvation nor can I liberate myself from the chains of self-interest and fear.
The needed change has to be God’s work in me. It has to be an inside job and only God can work from the inside. I cannot earn the righteousness. It is a given grace of God.
7. What are the 2 difficulties for those who want to explore the Spiritual Disciplines? How can it be seen in your own life? (pages 2-3)
a) Philosophic – Because of our materialist world, we tend to look at tangible real world rather than the intangible spiritual.
b) Lack of knowledge about how to explore the inward life (spiritual reality, inner attitude of the heart )
8. What concepts presented might lead people away from God rather than to God?
a) We must wait for God to come and transform us, there is nothing we can do (page 7)
b) A view of the Disciplines as law binding, external righteousness (page 9)