February 13, 2008

I've Finished Reading "The Discipline Of Spiritual Discernment"

I wish this book had been around when I was 16. Of course, when I was that age, Tim Challies was probably that age as well so he wouldn't have much to say on the subject.

But now he has and this book is a good read for a lot of reasons. Number one, Challies really focuses on the fact that WE are responsible for our personal discernment. We should not be reliant on others to the hard discerning work for us. Ultimately we'll all stand before God and give an account for the choices we made and pawning it off on someone else simply will not do.

Second, Challies drives home the point that discernment must be based on truth. Not on our feelings, not on waiting on a divine magic eight ball to fall from the sky and tell us what we are to do. It's based on truth. I found the chapter on discernment of "God's will" really good. Tim makes the distinction that because there are two types of God's will, the one we waste most of our time trying to discern is typically the one God never chooses to revel to us. It's a helpful chapter that a lot of "mystics" really need to read.

Third, this is a good book because Challies pulls his insights from Scripture and bases them on truth. A lot of his influences have been the same as mine and they are the standard list of good solid reliable truth: MacArthur, Piper, Mahaney, Sproul, Ferguson, Harris et all. So you know he's reading the right people and being influenced in the day to day by people who have spent a lifetime discerning good and evil and movements and fads.

Fourth, this is a good book because Challies knows how to write. He does it every day at his blog (www.challies.com) and his book reflects his ability to keep the reader following along. I have to say that his illustrations and analogies at the start of the chapters were fascinating and appropriate. I enjoyed them and I've heard a lot of illustrations. He did a good job on that part of the book. Challies takes you through discernment and its':

  • Challenge
  • Definition
  • Heart
  • Truth
  • How it interacts with God's will
  • Gift as it relates to spiritual gifts
  • Dangers
  • Practices

Each chapter summarizes the key thoughts at the end of the chapter. There are helpful appendices and resources at the end of the book. He even throws in a study guide if you want to use the book as a group discussion topic.

It's 190+ pages and it's a good easy read. I whole heartedly recommend the book and think you'll get a lot out of it.

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