You would think I would remember the exact year during which my spiritual life totally changed! But I only know that sometime in the late 80’s or early 90’s, I read Celebration of Disciplines (which celebrates its 40th birthday this year) and joined Renovare, an organization founded in 1988 by Richard Foster in Wichita, Kansas, to “advocate, resource and model the with-God life.”
Foster recruited his friends James Bryan Smith, Dallas Willard, Bill Vaswig and Marty Ensing to become early members of the Renovare team. You can read more about the history and goals of this organization on the Renovare website.Foster has been ribbed since the organization started about naming his organization something than no one could pronounce – Renovare. Having studied Latin for two years in high school I knew exactly how to pronounce it and what it meant: new again. I was filled with anticipation because becoming new again was exactly what I was looking for.
When I joined Renovare, I received a card which invited me to sign the Renovare Covenant which I did immediately. The Covenant reads:
“In utter dependence upon Jesus Christ as my everliving Savior, Teacher, Lord and Friend, I will seek continual renewal through spiritual exercises, spiritual gifts, acts of service.”
I signed this covenant thoughtfully and with huge hope for co-creating with God a transformed life. I have been at that task ever since.
On the back of this membership card are six “Common Disciplines,” based on the six streams of Christianity explored in another Foster book, Streams of Living Water, Celebrating the Great Traditions of the Christian Faith, published in paperback in 2001. I am currently part of a small spiritual formation group that is using the Renovare Spiritual Formation workbook, based on these traditions. I thought it would be interesting to use my blog occasionally to reflect on these six dimensions of faith and practice in the Christian tradition which have enriched my life. I anticipate that these posts will be my personal experiences and reactions, not an academic study of the disciplines.
The common disciplines are as follows:
Common Discipline #1: By God’s grace, I will set aside time regularly for prayer, meditation, and spiritual reading and will seek to practice the presence of God. (The Contemplative Tradition)
Common Discipline #2: By God’s grace, I will strive mightily against sin and will do deeds of love and mercy. (The Holiness Tradition)
Common Discipline #3: By God’s grace I will welcome the Holy Spirit, exercising the gifts and nurturing the fruit while living in the joy and power of the Spirit. (The Charismatic Tradition)
Common Discipline #4: By God’s grace, I will endeavor to serve others everywhere I can and will work for justice in all human relations and social structures. (The Social Justice Tradition)
Common Discipline #5: By God’s grace, I will share my faith with others as God leads and will study t he Scripture regularly. (The Evangelical Tradition)
Common Discipline #6: By God’s grace I will joyfully seek to show forth the presence of God in all that I am, in all that I do, in all that I say. (The Incarnational Tradition)
I hope you will join me in the journey of becoming new again through the practice of spiritual disciplines.