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Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life Paperback – July 1, 2014
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About the Author
DON WHITNEY has been Professor of Biblical spirituality and Associate Dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, since 2005. Before that, he held a similar position (the first such position in the six Southern Baptist seminaries) at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO, for 10 years. He is the founder and president of The Center for Biblical Spirituality. Don is a frequent speaker in churches, retreats, and conferences in the U.S. and abroad.
Don grew up in Osceola, AR, where he came to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. After graduating from Arkansas State, 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, TX, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 1979. In 1987, Don completed a Doctor of Ministry degree at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. He earned a PhD in theology at the University of the Free State in Bloemfonteine, South Africa in 2013.
Prior to his ministry as a seminary professor, Don pastored Glenfield Baptist Church in Glen Ellyn, IL (a Chicago suburb), for almost 15 years. Altogether, he's served local churches in pastoral ministry for 24 years.
He is the author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, which has a companion Study Guide. He has also written How Can I Be Sure I'm a Christian?, Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, Simplify Your Spiritual Life, and Family Worship. His hobby is restoring and using old fountain pens.
Don lives with his wife, Caffy, in their home near Louisville. She teaches classes for seminary wives and is an artist, muralist, and illustrator. The Whitneys are parents of Laurelen.
Don's website is BiblicalSpirituality.org. He's on Twitter @DonWhitney and on Facebook.
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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.
If you haven't heard the gospel, here it is:
Our Heavenly Father sent His son Jesus Christ to earth in the form of a man. He was born of a virgin supernaturally through immaculate conception and lived a perfect sinless life here on earth for 33 years. Because He was God incarnate, He was able to successfully live without sin. His sole purpose for being sent to Earth was to die for our sins through Crucifixion. One the third day, Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead by His own power, thus proving that He is God and fully capable of defeating Hell [eternal separation from the Heavenly Father]. Jesus came to Earth to become a human sacrifice for those who put their full trust in Him, so that they would spend eternal life in Heaven with Him, as opposed to eternal damnation that all of us rightfully deserve due to our sinful nature. In order for us humans to enter into heaven on our own, we must live a sinless life. This is an impossibility, as we all are sinners. This is why we need salvation from Jesus Christ. When we place our full trust in Him by confessing to Him all of our sins, asking for His forgiveness and repenting, He gives us His precious gift of eternal life. Instantly He will place His Holy Spirit inside of you and when it is you're time to pass away, your spirit and soul will resurrect by the power of His Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead! It is only by the power of Christ's Holy Spirit that we can enter into heaven. Those who reject His Holy Spirit [people who continue to live in sin and never repent] will be sentenced to Hell by default. Jesus didn't have to do this for us, yet He was willing to die for our sins and withstand our punishment on the cross. The punishment that He didn't deserve because of how perfect and Holy He is. God humbled Himself to die in our place. What an amazing demonstration of love. This is real love. Glory be to God Alone <3