Spiritual Disciplines For the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
Self-control, persistence, long-suffering, restraint all these words and others are words that sometimes feel foreign to me. I cherish my freedom in Christ. I appreciate the 1st amendment that allows me to express myself and not be silenced. I truly revere how Jesus compacted all the law and prophets into two commands. I love simplicity. I love fun. I hate discipline. And because of the erroneous fear of barriers and structure, this book was a necessary read. I was so mistaken on what freedom really is and Mr. Donald Whitney uses great illustrations to maximize what he is trying to say in order to help the Believer understand just what truly is freedom. He explains it best at the end of the book when he quotes John Guest:
“Discipline” has become a dirty word in our culture . . . I know I am speaking heresy in many circles, but spontaneity is greatly overhauled. The “spontaneous” person who shrugs off the need for discipline is like the farmer who went out to gather the eggs. As he walked across the farmyard toward the hen house, he noticed the pump was leaking. So he stopped to fix it. It needed a new washer, so he set off to the barn to get one. But on the way he saw that the hayloft needed straightening, so he went to fetch the pitchfork . Hanging next to the pitchfork was a broken handle. “I must make a note to myself to buy a broom handle the next time I get to town,” he thought . . .
By now it is clear that the farmer is not going to get his eggs gathered, nor is he likely to accomplish anything else he sets out to do. He is utterly, gloriously spontaneous, but he is hardly free. He is, if anything, a prisoner to his unbridled spontaneity.
The fact of the matter is that discipline is the only way to freedom; it is necessary context for spontaneity.
Whitney then elaborates and says: “I have several friends who can improvise beautiful melodies on a keyboard or a guitar. But the only reason they can play so “spontaneously” is because they have spent years in the disciplines of playing musical scales and other fundamental exercises. . . . if you desire effective spontaneity in the Christian life, it must be the fruit of a spiritually disciplined faith.
This lit a light bulb for me that shone so brightly that it knocked me off my know-it-all horse! I knew about the importance of prayer and Bible reading, but didn’t see that the more I did it, the more freedom I experienced in those areas. Mr. Whitney covers 10 areas of discipline for the Believer:
Silence and Solitude
All of these chapters were so beneficial to me and I will be implementing – very slowly – some of Mr. Whitney’s Biblical suggestions because I want that kind of freedom. True freedom!
I recommend this book to all Believers. It is not the law or a to do list, it is a heightening of the pleasures of the Christian to a new level that comes with discipline. There is so much to gain by reading this book.