Hi Reader,

My name is Caroline, and I am in charge of all the communication-related projects here at First15. Craig invited me to share about what I’m challenging myself with this year, so if you’d like to find out more and be a part of the challenge with me, read the blog below. I hope you enjoy!

My Background:

A few years ago I was part of a program through my church where I spent 9 months deepening my understanding of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus. This class provided us with numerous opportunities for growth and learning, and one of the main avenues was through an extensive reading list.

As much as I would like to say differently, I’ve never been a huge reader myself. But I was surprised to find out that the books were one of my favorite parts of the class, though I didn’t have the opportunity to give each book the time it deserved. And ever since then I’ve had a desire to go back through some of these books and really dig my heels in. Especially one book in particular: Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster.

In this book, Foster takes the reader deep into the practice of many important disciplines that we as believers have heard of, but very few of us really put into practice in our daily lives—myself very much included. Sure, I exercise one here and there, but I’m far from living a lifestyle of discipline. So that’s why, since the class ended, I’ve been drawn to the idea of taking a year to challenge myself in each of the 12 disciplines he talks about in his book.

And almost three years later, here I am finally committing to doing this. So clearly I have a lot of room to grow in this area!

The Idea:

“Discipline”. What does that word make you think of? How does it make you feel?

Right now, the word “discipline” makes me feel a little nervous. If I’m being honest, it sends thoughts of inadequacy spiraling through my mind. And, though I know better, it also sounds like a principle that is void of fun, joy, and freedom.

But I think that might be why Foster titled the book the way that he did – “Celebration of Discipline” – because it is so different from what you or I would normally think of when we think of discipline. Most of us don’t think of it as a celebratory thing, we think of it as a burden. Something that we have to strive and struggle for, yet somehow it’s always out of reach for us.

But the reality in Jesus is so different. Discipline is a joy. Discipline offers us deeper freedom. Discipline can even be fun! And it’s something that we can journey towards with God; it’s not something that we have to accomplish before we can be “good enough” for him, whatever that means.

And this year I am looking forward to going from a place of knowing that but not feeling it, to really accepting the truth about discipline and living a lifestyle that celebrates it. My hope is that, as I do this challenge and share it with you, my focus would shift. That my eyes would not be on myself and my own needs as they so often are, but that they would be first and foremost on my Good and Faithful God, and on his people that he so dearly loves. I hope that out of that place I can experience deeper levels of joy and freedom than I’ve ever known before.

Our Challenge:

Each month of this year I will be focusing on and practicing one specific discipline, and at the end of the month I am going to write a blog about it and share it with all of you through a link at the end of the devotional. So, if you’re interested in following along and joining me in this journey of discipline, I would love to share the experience with you. You can even purchase the book (Celebration of Discipline) and participate in this challenge with me, so that we can all grow to look more and more like Jesus each day this year together.

If you have any questions or comments about this challenge I’m doing, please reply leave a comment below and I’d be happy to answer them. Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful day!