Books That Shaped Our Lives

Mark Isaac, Director of Seminary Advancement

Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster


My sophomore year in college was pivotal for me spiritually. Though as a child I had accepted Jesus as my savior, memorized scripture in AWANA, and worked on a teen mission trip, I wanted more. I yearned to know God personally, to walk and talk with him, and to hear and obey his voice. I longed for a deeper experience of God than I found in just reading my Bible and saying my prayers. The librarian for whom I worked as a student employee seemed to understand when I shared this desire with her. It was not long after that she gave me a copy of the book, Celebration of Discipline. This book shaped my life.

Written by Quaker professor Richard J. Foster Celebration of Discipline is a topographical map of the inner life. Through chapters on meditation, fasting, confession, solitude and service among others the reader is guided to experience the transforming presence of God “who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13 NIV). Such disciplines are not offered as ways to salvation but as paths for a personal relationship with Jesus to be worked out in life. My copy’s tattered dust-jacket reminds me of ventures shared, treasures discovered, and vows made. Worn pages, underlined sentences, and scrawled margins mark both struggle and serendipity for me in lines such as—“Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies” (as quoted from Dietrich Boenhoeffer). Celebration of Discipline helped me know how to make the most of my times with God, and I began to recognize his voice.

Arriving on campus as a junior I accepted God’s leading to add a biblical studies co-major to my natural science degree program. Now after 22 years of serving churches as a pastor I am grateful for a librarian who took the time to know me and to offer me a book that helped me know God better.