The Making of an Ordinary Saint: My Journey from Frustration to Joy with the Spiritual Disciplines
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The Making of an Ordinary Saint: My Journey from Frustration to Joy with the Spiritual Disciplines

Baker Books / 2014 / Paperback

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Stock No: WW014642


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Product Description

More than thirty years after his father's classic book brought them to the masses, Nathan Foster took his own unique path into the spiritual disciplines. As he sought day by day to develop habits that would enable him to live more like Jesus, he encountered problems both universal and personal. Along the way, he found creative new ways to practice the disciplines and discovered that a vital, conversational relationship with God was truly within his grasp. Now he invites you to join him on the journey. You may just find that holy habits are truly possible for all.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 176
Vendor: Baker Books
Publication Date: 2014
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0801014646
ISBN-13: 9780801014642

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Publisher's Description

Nathan Foster was just a child when his father's classic Celebration of Discipline brought the spiritual disciplines into the popular evangelical consciousness. More than thirty years later, Nathan made his own journey into the spiritual disciplines. As he sought day by day to develop habits that would enable him to live more like Jesus, he encountered problems both universal and unique. In this engaging narrative, he draws insights from saints of old to uncover fresh ways of living for the contemporary, postmodern Christian.

Through his successes, struggles, and failures, Foster invites readers on a journey of freedom, pain, frustration, and ultimately joy as he learns to rise above selfish desires, laugh at his own failures, and fall in love with God. Those who have read Celebration of Discipline will find in Nathan's book creative new ways to practice the disciplines that have been so formative in their lives. Those who are new to the spiritual disciplines will find that developing a vital, interactive, conversational relationship with God is within their grasp. As a result, the holy habits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are truly possible for all. Includes chapter openings and a foreword from Richard J. Foster.

Author Bio

Nathan Foster is director of community life at Renovaré. Formerly he served as the Andrews Chair in Spiritual Formation at Spring Arbor University and the pastor of spiritual formation at a Free Methodist church in Jackson, Michigan. Nathan is a licensed clinical social worker and a certified addictions counselor and he plays bass in the indie rock band Istra Blue. Learn more at nathanfosterprojects.com.

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  1. Floyd Johnson
    Upstate NY
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Spiritual Disciplines for a New Generation
    December 9, 2014
    Floyd Johnson
    Upstate NY
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Richard J. Foster first wrote his highly acclaimed Celebration of Discipline in 1978. In 2014 Nathan Foster (Richards son) wrote a similar book for a new generation. The disciplines have not changed:

    Submission

    Simplicity

    Fasting

    Service

    Study

    Prayer

    Solitude

    Guidance

    Meditation

    Worship

    Confession

    Celebration

    But those who are hearing then message in 2014 are different from those who heard it first in 1978. As Richard Foster writes in his Forward, Nathans book is far more narrative than didactic. They show how they have been lived out in one mans life, rather than telling us how to live them out. For example, in the first chapter Nathan Foster tackles Submission - rather than giving us ten principles on being submissive, he tells the reader how, first, he learned to be submissive to the wind while riding his bike. He then gives an example of spending a day being submissive to the wants of his own son - including a stop at Chuck E. Cheese.

    Two small essays accompany each chapter. Each chapter begins with a two page essay written by Nathans father describing and explaining the current discipline. This allows the current book to have a concrete anchor into his fathers earlier work. In addition, each chapter concludes with a short biographical sketch of a significant believer from history who learned to live out the current discipline - continuing the narrative theme used throughout the book.

    The book ends with a suggestions for Further Reading focused, first, on the Spiritual Disciplines and Spiritual Formation In General; and, then, on each of the twelve disciplines discussed throughout the book. These readings, covering both ancient writers (e.g. Athanasius) and more modern authors (e.g. Dallas Willard), give added value to the current book.

    I found the current book to be a gentle read - almost fun - as I studied again the behaviors, when practiced intentionally and regularly, that can shape a believers life. Whether a new believer trying to establish patterns that will allow them to grow throughout their lives, or an established believer trying to add additional vitality to their walk with Christ, Nathan Fosters book will assist in those goals. As I read, I occasionally found tears welling up in my eyes as I reflected on times God had taught me or times when I may have missed his teaching because I was too busy doing my thing. Though primarily a set of true stories that focus on each of the twelve disciplines, the book is practical and designed to encourage the believer, wherever they may be in their walk with Christ, closer to the goal of being An Ordinary Saint.

    ______________

    This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.
  2. Jon Gibson
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A skeptic's journey through the disciplines
    November 24, 2014
    Jon Gibson
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Its got to be pretty tough to be Richard Fosters son. The man who wrote Celebration of Discipline, the modern textbook on spiritual disciplines, casts a very large shadow that would be hard to escape. Nathan Foster has spent his fair share of time trying to live out of that shadow, pursuing a life of rebellion and angst, but now he is back to let the rest of us know that there is hope beyond the shadows, hope beyond the larger than life legacies that have been left behind by those who have gone before us.

    The Making of An Ordinary Saint is a memoir of sorts. It feels as if Foster simply published his journal as he intentionally journeyed through the spiritual disciplines outlines in his fathers book. In fact, each experience of a discipline is prefaced with a brief word and synopsis from Richard Foster, Nathans dad, outlining and highlighting the significance of the discipline. For those who are familiar with the disciplines, its a helpful recap to reacquaint yourself with them. For those unfamiliar with the disciplines, these serve as helpful introductions to wet the whistle of those who may embark on their own spiritual journey through the disciplines.

    Nathan Foster is wide open, unafraid and unhindered by the truth of who he is and who he is becoming. Hes not afraid to reveal his flaws and mistakes in an effort to help the rest of us feel better about our own pursuits. With humor and stirring narrative, Foster moves through the disciplines: submission, fasting, study, solitude, meditation, confession, simplicity, service, prayer, guidance, worship, and celebration. He brings the reader into his own journey, allowing us to see, think, and feel all that he sees, thinks, and feels.

    The Making of An Ordinary Saint hits the mark closer to home for me, the son of a pastor who has had to find a way outside of the shadow of my own fathers legacy. To experience and relive the journey of another fellow sojourner is a comfort, like a warm blanket on a cold and rainy day. Foster invites us all to join him in the journey and to celebrate the fact that the practice of the disciplines is not as far away and unattainable as we might think.

    The disciplines reveal our shortcomings. Im beginning to see that practicing the disciplines for any reason other than as a response to love is potentially dangerous.Choosing to practice the disciplines for selfish reasons or personal gain will be a frustrating experience, fraught with failures and shortcomings. But if we enter into it with humility and reluctance, we may find, as Foster did, that the disciplines are much closer than we think, that they blend into one another, and that practicing them may become as easy to us as breathing.

    The Making of An Ordinary Saint wasnt written for the scholars among us, those who are seeking to find a play by play description of how to apply these disciplines to our lives. In fact, Nathan Foster still seems to be on a journey back to the church, the Bride of Christ, after a long hiatus. It seems that there is still hurt and bitterness there, still healing that is in the process. That being said, some may be disappointed that Foster doesnt dig as deep into theology as they might hope, but it serves as a reminder that this book was most likely written for those who are in the process of coming back, the prodigals whose journey will end with them in the arms of the Loving Father after wallowing in the filth with the pigs and squandering their inheritance on frivolities and self pursuits. It is for those that this book was most likely written, those who simply need to know the love of the Father.

    I would highly recommend The Making of An Ordinary Saint for anyone who is interested in knowing more about the spiritual disciplines. Whether you are a newcomer to these disciplines or an old novice, this book is a refreshing tale of one mans journey through the disciplines, his survival to tell the story, and his willingness to share with the rest of us who find ourselves becoming just ordinary saints.

    (This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Baker Books. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)
  3. Jen Pen
    Midwest
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Finding true joy...
    November 12, 2014
    Jen Pen
    Midwest
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 4
    SUMMARY:

    Learning and applying the spiritual disciplines in life can be overwhelming; however, in his book, Nathan Foster shares though not perfect, you can indeed find joy. With an introduction to each discipline from his author father, Richard Foster (Celebration of Discipline), explanations of the twelve different disciplines, personal past stories and the commitment to personally experience each, a brief history lesson of a Saint who attained that discipline and closing with a further reference/ reading list, this book will make you consider your life

    A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:

    As truly human, Nathan Foster shares his very personal (albeit not saintly) life with the reader as an effective way to connect. As an ordinary guy, the author demonstrates that following the spiritual disciplines can truly bring happiness in life to oneself as well as to others. An interesting read, I am intrigued to return to his fathers book,Celebration of Discipline, to read the prequel to this authors actions while understanding his true celebration.

    RATING:

    4.5 (out of 5) pennies

    *I received a complimentary copy of The Making of an Ordinary Saint from Baker Books for my honest review*
  4. Michele Morin
    Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    "Going Saint"
    November 7, 2014
    Michele Morin
    Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    The memoir meets spiritual formation literature in Nathan Fosters The Making of an Ordinary Saint; and in case the name Foster has a familiar ring to it, think Richard Foster of the seventies-era classic Celebration of Discipline. Nathan is Richard Fosters son, and a handful he was, apparently. Now with addiction and bitterness in the rear-view mirror, Nathan is reporting on his alternative mid-life crisis: no red convertible for him! He took on a year of celebrating the spiritual disciplines (which ultimately became a four year project).

    Most significant is Fosters demonstration that the Christian life is not a check list, and the twelve disciplines he highlights should not be treated as such. Rather they are an interconnected web of righteousness in which:

    God initiates and we respond. When music sparks the love of God within us, we sing. When nature speaks to our hearts, we give thanks . . .[W]e acknowledge God and his beauty. Prayer, fasting, and meditation allow us to tune in. Submission, service, confession and simplicity create a humble posture. Study teaches us how to tap into the frequency of gratitude. Guidance shows us where to find God.

    In a sense there is only one discipline: an active response to a loving God.

    Nathan has overcome significant obstacles, and goes out of his way to help his readers to see that a life infused with prayer, fasting, solitude and some of the more strenuous disciplines does not necessarily come easily, even if your father is a spiritual formation guru. Intentionality was the word that kept coming to mind as Nathan shared his experiences of drafting [in a bike race as] a perfect metaphor for community. He took the risk, and God met him more than half-way.

    Of particular value in this book are:

    1. The section of Further Reading, which provides resources specifically on each of the twelve disciplines Foster examines.

    2. Richard Fosters introductory words at the outset of each chapter, which provide background and understanding of the topics.

    3. The portraits of extraordinary saints which come at the end of each chapter, profiling an historical figure who excelled in or had exceptional insight to the practice of that chapters discipline.

    For anyone who would become something other than incidentally Christian, this book is a kick in the seat of the pants, a chat over a cup of coffee with someone who has made the effort, and an historical and theological argument in favor of the practice of the spiritual disciplines.

    I received this book free from Baker Publishing Group. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.
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