Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review [Discipline: the Glad Surrender]

Discipline: The Glad Surrender
Elisabeth Elliot


Rear Cover:
"We have come to imagine that discipleship is somehow an 'extra.' ...Yet to be a Christian in New Testament terms is to be a disciple. There are no two ways about it."

* * *

With honesty and grace, beloved author Elisabeth Elliot guides you to a deeper understanding of discipline.  It is not merely self-improvement or developing specific routines.  Discipline defines the very shape of the believer's life.

This book explores areas of discipline that you may not have considered before -- the disciplines of:

  • body
  • mind
  • place (honoring others)
  • time
  • possessions
  • work
  • feelings

Being a disciple means answering yes to God's call, gladly surrendering yourself to the Master's orders.  Discover how to place every aspect of your life under God's authority and find happiness and freedom there.

I really enjoyed this book, as I have others of Mrs. Elliot.  She speaks plainly and honestly, from her own experiences and the example of others.  Each chapter centers on one of the themes above mentioned, breaking down definitions and grounding them in Scripture.  

"Discipline is the believer's answer to God's call."  (pgs 15)

One of my favorite illustrations she uses is an excerpt from C.S. Lewis' novel, Prince Caspian, in Chapter 3 of her book, on the subject "How do we know we are called?"

            "Now, child," said Aslan, ..."I will wait here.  Go and wake the others and tell them to follow.  If they will not, then you at least must follow me alone."
            It is a terrible thing to have to wake four people, all older than yourself and very tired, for the purpose of telling them something they probably won't believe and making them do something they certainly won't like. "I mustn't think about it, I must just do it," thought Lucy.

Mrs. Elliot continues: "She does it, and eventually they follow her... For Lucy, believing was seeing.  The others could not at first because they would not.  It is always thus.  The believer alone will be able to hear the call."  (pgs 20-21)

We must be available to listen.

The Discipline of the Body (Chapter 7)
This is a biggie.  At least, it should be.

"Discipline, for a Christian, begins with the body.  We have only one.  It is the body that is the primary material given to us for sacrifice.  If we didn't have this, we wouldn't have anything.  We are meant to present it, offer it up, give it unconditionally to God for His purpose.  This, we are told is a an 'act of spiritual worship.' The giving of this physical body, comprising blood, bone, and tissue... becomes a spiritual act." (pgs 43)

We are the body of Christ.  His temple.  Should we treat His body as nothing more than trash?  Feeding it a daily diet of junk food, exercising only when we feel like it?

No.  He freely offered Himself as a sacrifice of grace and mercy on the cross, torn and broken, and yet, we were on His mind!  O the deep, deep love of Jesus!  How can we do any less?

"What sort of body is this?  It's mortal.  It will not last.  it was made of dust to begin with and after death will return to dust.  Paul called it a 'vile' body, or one 'belonging to our humble state,' a 'body of sin,' a 'dead' body because of sin.  But it is also a temple or shrine for the Holy Spirit; it is a 'member' of Christ's body.  It is, furthermore -- and this makes all the difference in how we should treat it -- wholly redeemable, transfigurable, 'resurrectable.'" (pgs 44)

Oh, dear.  I could go on and on, and eventually end up posting the whole book... You don't know how hard it is to summarize when you think of ALL the quotes you jotted down intending to share.  I will do my best, but you might as well find this book and read it yourself.  =]

Chapter 8 on Discipline of the Mind, was especially good.  

"'Reality' is often evil.  There is a common belief that a frank expression of what one naturally feels and thinks is always a good thing because it is 'honest.'  This is not true.  If the feels and thoughts are wrong in themselves, how can expressing them verbally add up to something good?  It seems to me they add up to three sins: wrong feelings, wrong thought, wrong action." (pgs 63)

In this chapter, Mrs. Elliot takes the subjects of justice, human rights, abortion, divorce, masculinity and femininity, and compares these to the currently popular opinions versus Scripture.

"On abortion: which arguments in its favor would stand if the thing disposed of were called a baby instead of 'tissue' or 'the product of conception'? Are we permitted to ask whether it is a human being? Is our answer from God or from man?
"On divorce: how many would seek one if it was the happiness of the other they desired above their own?
"On masculinity and femininity: how many discussions about roles, equality, and personhood would grind to a halt if sexuality were seen not as a biological question, but as a theological one, a glorious mystery of two complementary beings who bear the image of the invisible God?
"If we take each question, doctrine, problem straight into the presence of Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and ask, 'Which way to the Kingdom of Heaven?' the answer will be there." (pgs 68)

Do you truly understand what is going on in the abortion clinics?  Have you heard of the Gosnell trial?  (A word of warning should you wish to visit the Gosnell link.  They tell it as it is.)  It is beyond saddening to hear and read the reality of these murders.  There are no words to describe what I feel when I read of them.  

Moving on.  Chapter 10: The Discipline of Time.

"Time is a creature -- a created thing -- and a gift.  We cannot make any more of it.  We can only receive it and be faithful stewards in the use of it." (pgs 93)

Pinterest
I cannot sum up this chapter any better than that. 

The few remaining chapters: 
- Chapter 11: The Discipline of Possessions
-Chapter 12: The Discipline of Work
-Chapter 13: The Discipline of Feelings
-Chapter 14: Exchange: My Life For His

... are, again, so good.  I wish I could share with you the rest of the points that really stood out to me, but alas, I must let you find out for yourself. 

In conclusion, I will end with this:
"He offers an exchange: His life for ours.  He showed us what He meant by giving Himself.  The overwhelming fact of the Son's obedience to the Father -- hell itself harrowed by the Infinite Majesty -- does it not call us far out of ourselves, far beyond the pitiful, calculating, cowardly, self-serving, self-saving pursuit of what the world calls happiness?
"He offers us love, acceptance, forgiveness, a weight of glory, fullness of joy.  Is it so hard to offer back the gifts that came in the first place from the wounded hands -- body, mind, place, time, possessions, work, feelings? ...
"When discipline becomes a glad surrender, 'Every day, we experience something of the death of Jesus, so that we may also know the power of the life of Jesus in these bodies of ours.'" (2 Cor. 4:10, NEB)

My rating:


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3 reflections:

Morgan said...

Sounds like a good book Sarah. I haven't heard of that one by Elisabeth Elliot. I'm reading her Through Gates of Splendor and an really enjoying it.

I liked that Kung Fu Panda quote he was one of my favorite characters on that movie.

Looking forward to visiting with you!

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Thanks so much, Morgan!

Yes, I love my movies ^__^

And so am I! See you soon!!!

Jody Dake said...

Wow! Great review Sarah! Yes! I.Must.Finish.It! Good job.

In His Grace,
Mom