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The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex, and Power

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The Challenge of the Disciplined Life explores the three great ethical themes crucial to people of faith living faithfully. Drawing upon practical examples, Richard J. Foster guides the reader in day-to-day ethical decision making while helping each of us determine "the proper place in Christian life of money, sex, and power." The Challenge of the Disciplined Life explores the three great ethical themes crucial to people of faith living faithfully. Drawing upon practical examples, Richard J. Foster guides the reader in day-to-day ethical decision making while helping each of us determine "the proper place in Christian life of money, sex, and power."


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The Challenge of the Disciplined Life explores the three great ethical themes crucial to people of faith living faithfully. Drawing upon practical examples, Richard J. Foster guides the reader in day-to-day ethical decision making while helping each of us determine "the proper place in Christian life of money, sex, and power." The Challenge of the Disciplined Life explores the three great ethical themes crucial to people of faith living faithfully. Drawing upon practical examples, Richard J. Foster guides the reader in day-to-day ethical decision making while helping each of us determine "the proper place in Christian life of money, sex, and power."

30 review for The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex, and Power

  1. 5 out of 5

    Louis

    With a title like this you wonder what Foster will say, especially when you think that this book was targeted toward people who take their faith (Christianity) seriously. You half expect him to say 'money, sex, power bad'. Of course, the real world is not that simple, and Foster lives in a complex world that has at its root a paradox that is at the core of the Christian faith: when God created the world, when he created was good. However we are fallen, and live in a fallen world. So everything h With a title like this you wonder what Foster will say, especially when you think that this book was targeted toward people who take their faith (Christianity) seriously. You half expect him to say 'money, sex, power bad'. Of course, the real world is not that simple, and Foster lives in a complex world that has at its root a paradox that is at the core of the Christian faith: when God created the world, when he created was good. However we are fallen, and live in a fallen world. So everything has both the good from creation as well as the results from the fall. So Foster does not just say Money - Bad, Sex - Bad, Power - Bad. What he does is looks at each of these topics, and seeks to identify the good that it was created for as well as its fallen nature. Then the third stage, redemption. Each of these major themes is handled within a clear structure as he developes what essentially is a theology of money, sex and power. If you want something simple or a simple set of rules, go somewhere else. If you are interested in looking at something that will challenge a christian faith in the real world, or if you want to see a christian work through the issues that permeate life, this is a good book to read. Of course, reality is Money, Sex and Power are fairly major influences. This book was written with a reality that the target audience is caught up in these three goals as much (or more) as everyone else, which may be why Foster felt compelled to write the book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    This book is full of wisdom; and so my review is going to be quite long, as I am utilizing this forum primarily for preserving and cataloguing my reading. In the book, Foster asserts that the demon in money is greed, the demon in sex is lust, and the demon in power is pride. Traditionally, these demons have been combated with calls to poverty or industry, chastity or faithfulness, and obedience or order, respectively; but Foster admits these time-honored solutions are not always sufficient. This This book is full of wisdom; and so my review is going to be quite long, as I am utilizing this forum primarily for preserving and cataloguing my reading. In the book, Foster asserts that the demon in money is greed, the demon in sex is lust, and the demon in power is pride. Traditionally, these demons have been combated with calls to poverty or industry, chastity or faithfulness, and obedience or order, respectively; but Foster admits these time-honored solutions are not always sufficient. This book offers wise advice, which I will segregate into sections pertinent to the relevant headings. MONEY Money as an Idol: Foster asserts that Money is a rival God that seeks to dominate us. And truly, Money does inspire the devotion of many and is actually worshipped openly by many. We too often hear people openly expressing their awe for money and for the wealthy. Wealthy people are often offered prestige, status, and honor, just because they have money. Money as an addiction: People become addicted to the pursuit of money. Even the super wealthy, who have no real need for more money, still seek it furiously. They seek it not just as a “medium of exchange”, but simply for its own sake! For the sake of just having it, hoarding it, and relishing in it! As a result, money demands their first allegiance and dominates their lives. Money afflicts us nationally: The same is true not only of individuals, but also of nations. Foster postulates that GDP is the modern “Golden Calf” that seeks to possess us. We think we are seeking to possess money when in fact money is possessing us, demanding our constant attention, and ultimately our devotion. How to Combat Money: To combat the money demon, Foster encourages us to stand in contradiction to the dominant culture of greed, permissiveness, and selfishness. Clearly, we shouldn’t define people by their net worth. We must openly reject the modern mania for wealth and the narcissism associated with it. Instead, we should uplift the sanctity of honest work and recognize that work is essential to the spiritual life. Get to Know the Poor: Foster encourages the reader to get to know some poor people! According to Foster, because we distance ourselves so far from the true poor, we loose the concept of how well off we really are. Getting in touch with the poor will prevent our affluence from shielding us from their pain. We must stop despising the poor! Foster points out that the poor, the bruised, the broken, and the downtrodden, are special objects of Christ’s blessing and concern. Live Simply: Foster also encourages a simple life with the single purpose to obey Christ in all things. Foster points out that we must learn to bear no anxiety, to be free of covetousness, to embrace modesty, to receive gratefully, to give generously, and to use our resources for human need. Foster entreats us to not fritter away the world’s resources for stupid things when there are people around us that need to be fed, clothed, and educated. Stop Your Hoarding: People seek to hoard things in quantities of vulgar excess and the process of hoarding actively denies these very same things to others. Take only what you need. Don’t grasp and grab so frantically. Break the spell that money has over you by using your possessions to further the Kingdom of God. Huge stockpiles only become lost or spoil, so distribute them – share them – unleash them to be a blessing to many instead of a festering source of worry for a greedy hoarder, ever afraid of losing his stash. SEX Why pornography is bad: Friendship, cheerful surroundings, and strong relationships are infinitely important. Foster contends that “relationship” is at the heart of what it means to be ‘in the image of God’. Pornography eliminates the “relationship” part of the sexual experience. This is because pornography involves lusting after the other person as an “object”, not having a real relationship. Pornographic objects are often praised, elevated, and inadvertently worshipped. Hard core pornography can become violent and sick, leading ultimately to sadism and masochism instead of loving and caring. The very thing intended to give joy and life to relationships gets twisted into misery and death through pornography. Why Fidelity is Important: We are clearly sexual creatures: God created humans as male and female. Sexual intercourse creates a mysterious, unique ‘one flesh’ bond between partners. We become somehow tied spiritually to a person with whom we have had sexual intercourse: the union is not only physical, but also spiritual. In Gen. 2:24 it says that “they become one flesh”. Sex somehow ushers us into the depths of each others being. The physical coupling is also a deeper spiritual coupling. Therefore, when the participants bear no ‘intent to unite’, the act becomes, as Foster says: “a hollow diabolical parody against sacred union”. To engage in a life uniting act without life uniting intent wounds the inner spirit and these wounds can become infected and fester until they scar and poison the spiritual life. Relationships as sacred: The author reinforces the importance of nurturing our marriage relationships, stating firmly that neglecting a marriage relationship, even in favor of Bible Study or prayer, is a sin! He states that attention to our marriage is an act of obedience to God and equates to serving Christ! The author understands how important relationships are to Christ and that no measure should be left undone to guard against a degraded relationship. The author contends that, in certain ways, we commit a sort of latent adultery anytime we purposely “degrade” any relationship or cause any relationship to deteriorate unnecessarily. The single life: Foster contends that what we call “sexual needs” are really “sexual wants” because, unlike our need for food, air, and water, no one has ever died from a lack of sexual intercourse. I’m not sure if I fully agree with this. I’m certain that the psychological need for sex is very great and there is no question that sexual desire is physical, just as is the consumption of food. In certain ways, people can die from loneliness and disconnection from others. Humans are social creatures that have always existed in relationships with other humans. There is no evidence for there ever being any sort of solitary human existence. The love of Christ calls us to exist for others. However, the author does recognize there are those who are called to the single life. The author calls for the church to exhibit special tenderness to those who are excluded from our couple-oriented world and to oversee the care of widows, widowers, divorcees, and the victims of desertion. POWER Organized demonic activity: The author cautions us that many huge organizations, institutions, and structures within society are dominated by diabolical forces and consist essentially of organized sin. Foster concludes that every power, whether a religious organization, nation, or corporation, tends to have an inner spirit or driving force that animates and regulates its physical manifestation in the world. Examples cited include the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi regime. The author rightfully states that it’s hard to view the crematories of Dachau and Auschwitz without perceiving the presence of organized demonic power and perversion. These forces seek to dominate, control, devour, imprison, and instigate war. How do we combat it? We defeat the powers by hearing the voice of the Lord, calling us to turn from our violence, our greed, our fear, and our hate and to instead passionately embrace Christ’s love, compassion, and peace. Opening channels of love, exhibiting compassion, rousing people to action, sharing the gospel, stimulating children to think, facilitating competence in others, meeting the needs of others, etc., all should become much more important to us than owning anything in particular. The threat of war: Diabolical powers would like nothing more than to push us to destroy the world in nuclear war. Many of us are quick to despise suicide when we hear of it and yet we all dwell amidst the potential suicide of all humanity by nuclear war. How different is it for the world to live under the constant threat of nuclear war than it is for the disheartened individual to ponder beneath a hangman’s noose, or with a gun in the mouth, or with an overdose of pills in the hand? Individuals ponder suicide out of fear they cannot face something in life. Humanity lingers beneath the threat of nuclear arsenals from fear of facing down narcissistic leaders that wield such weapons. Humanity must not subordinate its belief in the kingdom of God to a reverence for nation-state kingdoms. We must call the nation-state to its God-given function of justice for all people alike, commending it when it fulfills its calling and confronting it when it fails. And not just the nation-state, but all systems of power: school boards, corporations, regulatory agencies, state legislatures, city councils, etc. We must awaken a social conscience that thinks in terms of “we” instead of “me”. The author cites Acts 5:29: “we must obey God rather than men”. Understand that “relationship” extends to diverse peoples: The Kingdom of God should be about restoring relationships, not separating people into hostile factions bearing guns, tanks, and MX missiles. The Kingdom of God doesn’t do battle with whips, prison, tortures, torments, killing, destruction, hatred, or weapons of mass destruction; but rather with fasting, mourning, lamentation, patience, faithfulness, truth, love, long suffering, and a prolonged call for peace. Think of Jesus. Jesus didn’t carry a gun! Christ encourages people to open their eyes, to be changed, to see, to reject the worldly powers that call us to pedigree, status, and demonic power structures. To instead embrace and lift one another up into a wholesomeness that we must first “believe” in order to ever “realize”. Beware of narcissism: We must be ready for power, before we can wield it successfully. God doesn’t want us drawing attention to ourselves, putting up signs, or carrying on advertising campaigns in a frantic attempt to show that we are important. God wants us to simply do his work, humbly, without building ourselves up in any way. We must seek to be “invisible”; saying “no” to narcissism, saying “no” to the old mechanisms of power; turning instead to a new life of love, joy, peace, patience, and all the fruit of the spirit. This was a truly great book with much Confucius-like wisdom. Reading it is well worth the time.

  3. 4 out of 5

    alwayss.rejoice

    Richard touches on three topics money sex and power. the book started off strong I really enjoyed the section on money. I however did not agree with everything said within the other topics.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    If, in our lives as followers of Christ, we could choose just 3 aspects to focus on, I can't think of better choices than Money, Sex and Power. They encompass everything that is wrong with our souls and the cause of our wandering. In this book, Foster talks about them so elegantly and his words are so applicable that it convicts and instructs to the very core. Foster is, in my mind, the only modern writer that comes close to the genius and insight of C.S. Lewis. His words ring with such truth tha If, in our lives as followers of Christ, we could choose just 3 aspects to focus on, I can't think of better choices than Money, Sex and Power. They encompass everything that is wrong with our souls and the cause of our wandering. In this book, Foster talks about them so elegantly and his words are so applicable that it convicts and instructs to the very core. Foster is, in my mind, the only modern writer that comes close to the genius and insight of C.S. Lewis. His words ring with such truth that they cannot be denied. This writing contains, hands down, the best Christian response to the issue of homosexuality I've ever read (or heard). He challenges us with the traditionally (and short sighted) taught view of Christian sexuality. We are challenged to think about money as a spiritual tool and power as a complex weapon that can destroy us or win victory for others. All the way around, this is a fantastic read, and is worthy of my 5 stars like few books I've read in the previous years. This is one I'll come back to again and again.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    Brilliant, just brilliant. Foster doesn't present theoretical fluff but rather theologically sound, wholly practical advice for right Christian living regarding the widely discussed and debated topics of money, sex and power. Handling these controversial issues with sensitivity and authority, this is a must read for all Christians. (Personally, Foster's teaching on sex, chastity and fidelity is the best Christian instruction I've ever found.) Brilliant, just brilliant. Foster doesn't present theoretical fluff but rather theologically sound, wholly practical advice for right Christian living regarding the widely discussed and debated topics of money, sex and power. Handling these controversial issues with sensitivity and authority, this is a must read for all Christians. (Personally, Foster's teaching on sex, chastity and fidelity is the best Christian instruction I've ever found.)

  6. 5 out of 5

    logankstewart

    I read Foster’s Celebration of Discipline almost ten years ago. It had a big impact on shaping my life and gave plenty of practical suggestions for living out the Christian life. This book, The Challenge of the Disciplined Life, is very much related to the other, just focused on three areas of life. It was amazing to me as I read this how Foster was addressing issues of 1985. Now, thirty-six years later, these three problem areas are amplified in the world. The church has not done a good job at f I read Foster’s Celebration of Discipline almost ten years ago. It had a big impact on shaping my life and gave plenty of practical suggestions for living out the Christian life. This book, The Challenge of the Disciplined Life, is very much related to the other, just focused on three areas of life. It was amazing to me as I read this how Foster was addressing issues of 1985. Now, thirty-six years later, these three problem areas are amplified in the world. The church has not done a good job at fighting back the darkness I dare say. The book is short and split into three neat parts: money, sex, and power. In each section Foster examines the historical views, the dangers, the beauty, and offers some suggestions on living a God-pleasing life in this world when dealing with the topic. I underlined and highlighted a lot in the book, either because it resonated or was beautifully written. Money is the strongest and most compelling section, followed by sex, and then power. But truthfully, and in the vein of Foster’s argument, it’s possible that the power section is the most dangerous and subtle area for sure. From an editing standpoint I think this section would’ve been better suited first as a groundwork for the other two topics. Recommended for people who are interested in practicing Christian disciplines, but I’d start with Celebration before picking this one up.

  7. 5 out of 5

    John Kennedy

    The sections on money and sex are particularly insightful. Scripture is clear about the dangers of money, and Jesus spoke on the topic frequently. In many Christian quarters these days, admonitions of not allowing money possess us have been disregarded, replaced with a doctrine of how God wants us to be blessed with material possessions.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I did not agree with everything in this book but I found much to think about. He has obviously thought deeply about these topics. He does not condemn money, sex or power but rather reflects on the good and bad of each subject and points to a guiding principle to find the good in each.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Morrison

    What a beautiful response to some of the hardest topics to face. Mammon is met with the Vow of simplicity, sexual immorality is met with the vow of fidelity, and power is met with servanthood.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Allan Hernandez

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. La prioridad sobre todas las cosas es Dios, lo demás es complementario..!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Rader

    I read Celebration of Disciplines last month. I was really challenged by it to grow in some personal disciplines like fasting, meditation, and silence. This book was good but in different ways. It was quick because I had just read the other book. I did really enjoy the chapters on how we need to address sex more especially for those outside of marriage. The section on power was good but not as easy to work with as the first two sections.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Really enjoy Richard Foster's highly practical look at things - felt the first 1/3 stronger than the second 2, but a good and edifying read Really enjoy Richard Foster's highly practical look at things - felt the first 1/3 stronger than the second 2, but a good and edifying read

  13. 4 out of 5

    Becky Coke

    This book gave me a whole new perspective on the issue of money, or mammon, which is the Aramaic term that Jesus used when he discussed money with anyone. This word gives money/wealth a personal and spiritual value, not purely a means of exchange. I learned so much about the dark/light side of money and how it really affects us so much in each of our lives and how we should choose to use money and to view it, but we usually don't. This book also gave me a different perspective on sexuality and sp This book gave me a whole new perspective on the issue of money, or mammon, which is the Aramaic term that Jesus used when he discussed money with anyone. This word gives money/wealth a personal and spiritual value, not purely a means of exchange. I learned so much about the dark/light side of money and how it really affects us so much in each of our lives and how we should choose to use money and to view it, but we usually don't. This book also gave me a different perspective on sexuality and spirituality, sexuality and singleness, fidelity, etc. I'm in the process of reading the part entitled "Power". So, we'll see what I learn from that. "Challenge of the Disciplined Life" is very real and not like most books I have read on these subjects. It does not try to cover up issues that are unpleasant to talk about. It does not beat around the bush. It gets to the heart of the matter.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This book looks at Christian attitudes towards money, sex, and power, and provides guidance for everyday life. It is a good introduction, and while most of the material is available elsewhere, the author does a good job bringing it all together. He does a good job of evaluating the good and bad sides of the issues he discusses, and overall, tries to avoid the extremes of both legalism and superficial faith. I felt that on some topics, he was a bit too permissive, likely trying not to offend the This book looks at Christian attitudes towards money, sex, and power, and provides guidance for everyday life. It is a good introduction, and while most of the material is available elsewhere, the author does a good job bringing it all together. He does a good job of evaluating the good and bad sides of the issues he discusses, and overall, tries to avoid the extremes of both legalism and superficial faith. I felt that on some topics, he was a bit too permissive, likely trying not to offend the reader, but overall, a good introduction.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Strickland

    This is a balanced, practical and respectful treatment of the timeless issues and attitudes that we are immersed in and that challenge all of us. The fact that Foster exposes their deeply spiritual natures(light and dark sides) provided many 'aha' moments that have given me a more heightened awareness as I respond to these principles in real life. His 'vows' of simplicity, fidelity and service provide a framework for being more intentional in my choices and expose my core values. Thank you, Rich This is a balanced, practical and respectful treatment of the timeless issues and attitudes that we are immersed in and that challenge all of us. The fact that Foster exposes their deeply spiritual natures(light and dark sides) provided many 'aha' moments that have given me a more heightened awareness as I respond to these principles in real life. His 'vows' of simplicity, fidelity and service provide a framework for being more intentional in my choices and expose my core values. Thank you, Richard Foster.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenn Raley

    Richard Foster is so talented at making challenging topics relatively simple, without minimizing the challenging aspects. In this volume, Foster tackles the quintessential challenging subjects of our time, with compassion, realism, and authority. I highly recommend this book to any serious follower of Jesus.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    A very thoughtful and insightful book. At times, particularly in the power chapters, he slipped into more cliched analysis, and some of his writing was unnecessarily duplicative, which is what I docked the stars for. However, very good thoughts about sex, money, and power and how we interact with them. The chapters on the vows of simplicity, fidelity, and service were particularly useful.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dora Okeyo

    Read this book today- and there's a lot more on money, power, sex, poverty and women. Richard Foster gives all these factors a new approach- it felt like having a one on one talk about topics that as a Christian I consider challenging, but still part of life. It's a great book. Read this book today- and there's a lot more on money, power, sex, poverty and women. Richard Foster gives all these factors a new approach- it felt like having a one on one talk about topics that as a Christian I consider challenging, but still part of life. It's a great book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    if you are wanting/looking to put your faith in to every day life, this book will give you the challenges that'll come with it. really good stuff. if you are wanting/looking to put your faith in to every day life, this book will give you the challenges that'll come with it. really good stuff.

  20. 5 out of 5

    April

    from spring '09 VOM from spring '09 VOM

  21. 5 out of 5

    Blaine Vorster

    Great book on ethics, a must read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Garrett

    ...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

    Didn't reach the depths I hoped, but was of value. Didn't reach the depths I hoped, but was of value.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Geraldine Cooper

    Not a good as I hoped, somewhat of a surface evaluation of the issues involved in these compelling topics. But it did open up the subject for thought and reflection.

  25. 4 out of 5

    sergei

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kayla M

  27. 4 out of 5

    Filip De

  28. 4 out of 5

    Trevor Lloyd

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elisabet Svahn

  30. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Gillette

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