When this book was first published in 1978, there had been nothing like it for hundreds of years. Foster compiled Scripture and the wisdom of church leaders through the ages and wrote about the classic spiritual disciplines; practices such as prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, and service. When I read Foster I appreciated his easy to read style and his approach. He does not advocate the spiritual disciplines as a type of “works-righteousness” but compares it to spiritual fitness. These are the basic exercises that keep us spiritually healthy and keep us fit for life’s journey. We work out our bodies and if we play sports we drill on the fundamentals, but what practices and habits do we maintain so that we might grow spiritually? Foster is an excellent guide to help you develop good spiritual habits. In the years since 1978, many of the single disciplines that Foster lists have been expanded into other books.
Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life.
There are plenty of self-help books available on the marketplace, so how do you decide which one is most helpful? I recommend Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend because it is speaks to the stress felt by many good, hard-working Christians who are afraid that being a Christian means they are not supposed to feel stressed, and yet they are extremely stressed! Sound familiar? If so then please get this book. Cloud and Townsend have successfully written a description of personal boundaries that is much greater than selfishness or self-preservation. Furthermore, their description of self-control sounds more like one of the fruit of the spirit rather than white-knuckled, control-freak (passive?) aggression. It is a good idea to read and re-read Boundaries as a diagnostic help when you are feeling overwhelmed. We will not grow weary in doing good (Gal. 6:9) nor will we grow weary and lose heart (Heb. 12:3) if we can distinguish between serving Christ honestly and the sort of enabling, indulgence or “sloppy agape” that resists reasonable and mature boundaries.