- Paperback: 266 pages
- Publisher: NavPress; 1st edition , Unknow edition (June 1, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1576830276
- ISBN-13: 978-1576830277
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 317 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #333,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life Paperback – June 1, 1997
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From the Back Cover
About the Author
Don Whitney has been Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation (the first such position in the six Southern Baptist seminaries) at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri since 1995.
Don grew up in Osceola, Arkansas, where he came to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He was active in sports throughout high school and college, and worked in the radio station his dad managed. After graduating from Arkansas State University, Don planned to finish law school and pursue a career in sportscasting. While at the University of Arkansas School of Law, he sensed God's call to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He then enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 1979. In 1987 he completed a Doctor of Ministry degree at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. Don is currently completing a Doctor of Theology degree in Christian Spirituality at the University of South Africa.
Before coming to Midwestern, Don was pastor of Glenfield Baptist Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) for almost fifteen years.
He is the author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (NavPress, 1991), which has a companion discussion guide. He has also written How Can I Be Sure I'm A Christian (NavPress, 1994), Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church (Moody Press, 1996), Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (NavPress, 2001), and Simplify Your Spiritual Life (NavPress, 2003).
Don's wife, Caffy, ministers from their home in Kansas City as a women's Bible study teacher, an artist, and a freelance illustrator. The Whitneys are parents of a daughter, Laurelen Christiana.
Don's website address is www.SpiritualDisciplines.org.
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Whitney bases the book around a simple command from 1 Timothy 4:7: “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” Whitney explains, “If your purpose is godliness—and godliness is your purpose if you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, for He makes godliness your purpose—then how do you pursue that purpose? According to this verse, you “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” It is absolutely crucial that the Christian discipline himself to live a distinctly Christian life.
In the first chapter Whitney dives right into the concept of spiritual disciplines, explaining that they exist for the purpose of godliness. They do not save us and do not make God love us more; rather, they are the means God uses to conform us to Christ’s image. “The Spiritual Disciplines are those personal and interpersonal activities given by God in the Bible as the sufficient means believers in Jesus Christ are to use in the Spirit-filled, gospel-driven pursuit of godliness, that is, closeness to Christ and conformity to Christ.”
Through eleven chapters Whitney explains and unpacks ten important disciplines. He covers the disciplines of Bible intake (which receives two chapters), prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning. As he does this, he provides a framework for living a God-glorifying Christian life.
The book has several notable strengths.
First, it is bounded by Scripture. It would be easy to go far beyond the limits of Scripture, and to make every good idea a biblical discipline. Whitney allows Scripture to speak and always submits to its authority. This is especially noteworthy since so many similar books tend to tip into mysticism or to advocate practices that are unbiblical. Whitney teaches nothing but what is modeled in Scripture. He advocates a sola scriptura spirituality.
Second, the book draws deeply from the Puritans and other Christians who have been committed to lives of godliness. Whitney pulls out many powerful quotes and illustrations drawn from days gone by.
Third, the book is broad, covering ten important disciplines ranging from those done in quiet and secrecy (fasting and solitude) to those done in public view (worship and evangelism). Through the eleven chapters, the reader will receive Bible-based guidance that will impact every area of life.
Fourth, the final chapter is a powerful call to persevere in these disciplines. If you are like me, you find it simple enough to maintain a discipline for a week or two, but then find your self-control lapsing and your old habits returning. These disciplines may bear some fruit if practiced for a week, but they will bear much better and much more lasting fruit if practiced over an entire lifetime.
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life was a book I read almost a decade ago—the first book I ever read on the subject of the spiritual disciplines. It proved foundational to my life and faith, and its lessons remain with me to this day. I am thrilled that there is now a second edition that has been both improved and expanded. I cannot commend it too highly.
I picked this book up after hearing Don Whitney speak on the "ask Pastor John" podcast (by desiringgod.org). He was speaking on the importance of the spiritual disciplines in our Christian life. To this point, I had never heard of the spiritual disciplines, at least not by that name. However, as a Christian you will be familiar with all of them. Pastor Whitney, using very ordinary language and examples, has encouraged me to not only pursue the spiritual disciplines in greater measure, but also be intentional in my pursuit.
I can not recommend this book more highly. Buy this book.
*“Discipline without direction is drudgery.”
*“I define godliness as both closeness to Christ and conformity to Christ, a conformity that’s both inward and outward, a growing conformity to both the heart of Christ and the life of Christ.”
*“So the Spiritual Disciplines are those personal and interpersonal activities given by God in the Bible as the sufficient means believers in Jesus Christ are to use in the Spirit-filled, gospel-driven pursuit of godliness, that is, closeness to Christ and conformity to Christ.”
*“The word rendered “discipline” in the New American Standard translation is the Greek word gumnasia from which our English words gymnasium and gymnastics derive. It’s a sweaty word with the smell of the gym to it.”
*“Freedom and discipline have come to be regarded as mutually exclusive, when in fact freedom is not at all the opposite, but the final reward, of discipline.”
Highly recommended for anyone but especially for new believers.